EAGLES TAKE STOCK, HAVE FUN WHILE GETTING READY FOR RAMS
The Eagles never expected to be dealing with an act of God while preparing for their game against the Los Angeles Rams, but they are.
One of the first questions now at any press gathering for the game starts with a question about the rampaging and destructive fires going on in Southern California.
Brave firefighters from all over the State and around the country are battling a crisis that has the attention of the entire country and around the world.
So far the game is on for Sunday (FOX 4:25 p.m.) at the Los Angeles Coliseum.
Head coach Doug Pederson was asked about how strange it would be if air quality was be a factor in weekly practice preparation, and if was any chance at all that practices could possibly be moved.
“No, but it is obviously a serious issue with what’s going on and our thoughts and prayers are obviously with the people that are affected,” Pederson said. “I know the Rams were affected these last couple of days and it makes it a little un-comforting and unsettling.
“But I can just remember back a few years ago, we had a snowstorm in Philly that pushed a game. Those thoughts do come back to my mind because I was a part of that, too.”
The Eagles defense will have big challenge containing second-year quarterback Jared Goff and running back Todd Gurley II.
Goff is having an excellent season going 244 for 392 for 3184 yards, 20 touchdowns and six interceptions.
Gurley is a major threat on offense. He leads the NFC with 1,502 yards from scrimmage (939 rushing) and 11 overall touchdowns (eight rushing).
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz was asked about Gurley II and what makes him tick.
“He’s a big back, but he picks and chooses his holes,” Schwartz said. “He can run downhill, but he also has some Le’Veon Bell in him when it comes to picking his way through. He’s the second leading rusher in the NFL, but he’s been very productive in the passing game. I think that’s something that went unnoticed from me until we really started diving into the film. He’s averaging double digits in average per reception. For a running back, that’s pretty impressive. So it’s not just the run game, it’s the pass game also.”
Schwartz was asked what Goff dos that makes him so effective.
“He’s still young,” Schwartz said. “They’re using him a lot the same way that Washington uses Kirk Cousins. A lot of the same kind of plays, a lot of deep balls down the field. He’s got confidence in throwing the deep ball. He’s got some scramble ability, nothing like we faced last week, but he’s moved around a little bit. Run some boots and play-action stuff. He’s had a good command of the offense.
They don’t take a lot of negative plays. I think they’ve had two games they’ve been held down in scoring, and everything else they’ve lit up the scoreboard.”
Pederson was asked about the status of tight end Zach Ertz. He has not practiced.
“Zach Ertz is still in the protocol,” Pederson said.
How about LB Joe Walker?
“Joe Walker is doing well,” the coach said. “We should get him in the walk-through and then get him out there today. So again, he’s still day-to-day, but he’s feeling a lot better. We should have him today.”
Pederson was asked if he a sense of how Ertz is coming along.
“The sense is that he’s doing well,” Pederson said. “He’s doing well. But again, I don’t want to get into too many details about it. But he’s still in the protocol and we just have to monitor him day-by-day.”
A local reporter asked Pederson about something Schwartz said the day before, that maybe he was just talking about the defense, but he said players had been out on the field having a lot of fun playing football. He said there’s a fine line between doing that and losing focus and maybe they need to work better. Is this a week where it’s just all about hyper-focus going into this game?
“Yeah, I agree with that statement,” Pederson said. “And listen, I’m also big about, the guys need to have fun at practice. You don’t want to make it so they are not. But at the same time, when they are in the drill, when they are executing a play or a defense, a special teams, they need to be focused and they need to be paying attention to their assignments and it’s business as usual.
“But listen, I want them to still fly around and have fun out there just like you said, and there is a fine line between how far you can go. But we’ve still got to get our work done and stay focused.”
Pederson talked about Carson Wentz and Goff and how he had said at the time that he liked both Wentz as well as Goff. What did you see in Goff, and is he surprised at all at what he’s been doing in his second year.
“Well, you see a lot of the same characteristics in the two quarterbacks,” Pederson said. “Obviously size, strength, athleticism. Both have great IQ, football intelligence. And athletic guys in both quarterbacks.
“I think, too, in both cases, it just comes down to having really good coaching around each quarterback, each young quarterback, and you can see the growth that Jared’s made over the course of the past year. And obviously it’s a direct relationship to the run game and the offensive line staying intact, and playing great defense and special teams. So all of that is something that they have benefited this season, and Jared has done a nice job with that and obviously he’s being coached well.”
Wentz comes into the game 242 of 399 for 3,005 yards, 29 touchdowns and six interceptions.
He put up big numbers in the second half against Seattle, a 24-10 loss after only 45 yards passing in the first half. He missed a wide open Nelson Agholor in the first quarter.
Wentz had a big fumble on the goal line on the first drive of the second half that ended up a touchback. He was visibly upset on the bench at the end of the game.
Offensive coordinator Frank Reich talked about the demeanor of his quarterback.
“He’s like many of the great players I’ve been around,” Reich said. “Very hard on himself, and of course you’re always hard on yourself. And I’m not saying this about a throw that was missed to any one particular player, but sometimes — I can tell you over the course of quarterback play, there are throws that you miss that you know you should have made. That still doesn’t mean everything was perfect. You could have had a guy in your face. The receiver could have run the route not quite the way he was supposed to. But when you’re the kind of player that Carson is, you’re always going to put the blame on yourself, and you should, because you want to make those throws and you want to push yourself to that regard. So he’s very hard on himself, but that’s par for the course.”