PEDERSON DAY-AFTER PRESS CONFERENCE: EAGLES TO LOSE MATHEWS FOR EXTENDED TIME
Eagles Head Coach Doug Pederson Press Conference
DOUG PEDERSON: Just want to update you on injuries from the game: First of all, [G/T] Allen Barbre, his left hamstring just got tight on him, and therefore he couldn’t continue in the game. So, that’s why you saw Wiz [C/G Stefen Wisniewski] in there.
[LB] Jordan Hicks has an ankle sprain, but with the rest now he’s going to be fine for next week.
[S] Jaylen Watkins is in the concussion protocol, so we’ll know more next week.
[RB] Ryan Mathews, this one is a little different: He’s got a herniated disk. It’s his C6 and C7. So, it looks like that he could miss obviously some significant time with this. It’s a pretty significant injury, so probably going to miss him the rest of next week and the rest of the year.
Q. Is it his neck?
COACH PEDERSON: Yeah, the C6 and C7, herniated disk. So, that’s a pretty major deal.
[WR] Jordan Matthews’ ankle is going to be okay. It’s just sore.
[G] Isaac [Seumalo], the same way with his ankle. It’s fine; sore.
And then Big V [T Halapoulivaati Vaitai], who was inactive for the game, [we] put him through an extensive workout prior to [the game] and he’s fine with that. So, we should expect a little more out of him next week.
Q. Ryan Mathews, when you talk about it being a pretty major deal, is it career threatening?
DOUG PEDERSON: I don’t think it’s career [threatening]. Again, I don’t have all the information. Right now they are — what I got from our doctors this morning is that it looks like surgery is in the near future, but nothing that’s — it just has to get fixed.
Q. How would you evaluate Ryan Mathews’ season now that it looks like it’s over, and is he in the plans for the future with this team?
DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, I think that Ryan obviously got off to a good start and then there was a little bit of a lull in the middle and he’s finished up strong. That’s kind of been the nature of the season for him. These last couple of weeks he’s kind of been our workhorse at the running back position and did some really good things for us.
This obviously is unfortunate now that he can’t finish the season for us.
Q. Is there a sense of when and how the injury happened?
DOUG PEDERSON: Looking at it on film and the timing of it, it was the third-down goal line play before the fourth down. He stayed in on the fourth down play and was stopped, obviously. But it appears that it was that third-down run.
Q. Is he someone who’s in your plans for next year? I know the running back situation is a little clouded right now.
DOUG PEDERSON: Listen, I’m not going to speculate on any of that kind of stuff right now. We’ll save all those for the offseason and wait until that time to make any decisions.
Q. On the reverse you called to WR Nelson Agholor a few plays after QB Carson Wentz came back into the game, what is Carson’s specific job in that play? Is he supposed to throw a block? Does he have the option of trying to block somebody if there’s someone in front of him? What is he supposed to?
DOUG PEDERSON: He is supposed to block. Most double reverses, the quarterback is actually, him and the tackle are actually — in this case, [T] Jason Peters — were both out in front and he is supposed to block if there is a guy to block. He actually got the guy on the ground and actually took out our guy at the same time.
Q. Did you have any hesitation? He was five plays removed from coming off the concussion protocol?
COACH PEDERSON: I didn’t. He was cleared. He went in, came out. How many guys run into [the tunnel after] a concussion deal or a banged-up head injury? He ran in, ran out. We talked on the sideline and we talked before the play; we talked before the series. He was good, he was cleared, so I had no hesitation.
Q. Even without the concussion protocol and all that stuff, we’ve talked so much this year about the importance of him protecting his body. Do you hesitate at all to even put him in a situation where he has to block like that when he’s the future of the franchise?
DOUG PEDERSON: I don’t know. We can speculate all day, I guess. Obviously our goal in everything we do is to try to win a football game. I think the second that you sort of hesitate in any situation is a time you get beat.
And again, I had no hesitation on making that play and putting him in that situation.
Q. Do you evaluate on a curve based on the meaning of the game? I know these guys were trying to win last night and everything. The playoffs were out of the picture, a little less pressure on the guys. Does that change things?
DOUG PEDERSON: As far as?
Q. Performance-wise, guys play better sometimes when the pressure is off.
DOUG PEDERSON: I think our guys have played well these last few weeks, to be quite honest with you. We just haven’t made enough plays to finish the game.
Last night was just a great team effort. Defense came up so big for us and the offense scored when we needed to, made some big plays in the passing game; had the big long run on the first drive with [RB] Darren [Sproles].
And that’s the thing, these guys, as I mentioned after the game, there’s a lot of pride in that locker room. Our season is not over. We’ve still got games left. That’s the thing, we’re going to continue to compete and we want to win every game, obviously.
So, whether guys are more relaxed because there’s nothing on the line, maybe that’s part of it. But at the same time, these guys want to win and they want to go out with a good taste.
Q. During the five-game losing streak, you talked a decent amount about how you are playing and there are parts of a rebuilding here, that you are playing certainly for the future. Yet you’ve had seven games in which it could have gone either way. Six of them you obviously lost to one-score games. My question is: Was this team built to contend, and do you think it was able to compete for a playoff spot this year, or do you feel like it’s more of a rebuilding roster?
COACH PEDERSON: I approach the season as if we were going to — probably like every team in the National Football League – that we’re going to contend. We’re going to do whatever we can to fight and scratch and claw for the NFC East and then put yourself in a position to make the postseason. And everything was still right there in front of us. Even in the middle of your season, when you were at that .500 mark, everything was still kind of right in front of us.
When you look back on the season, it’s going to come down to about six or seven plays that could change the outcome of your season and flip it for you. So, we were right there. The guys believed it. By no means was anybody thinking rebuilding or retooling or looking to next year because we’re only guaranteed the next day, the next week, and that’s all we were focused on really and trying to win that next game.
Q. S Malcolm Jenkins said that you designed a new defensive strategy for that last Giants series. Can you describe what was going on there and also how that speaks of Jenkins as a leader?
DOUG PEDERSON: Well, as far as design, that would have been something with the defense. I was engaged in the game itself, so I wasn’t involved in those discussions. You are always making in-game changes or whatever you can, and we made some on offense in our blocking schemes. You sort of redesign some things based on what the offense or defense is presenting. Obviously it worked, some of the changes that were made. Guys just took it upon themselves. It just came down to — these last few games, it’s come down to the last play. It’s come down to the last play of the game. All the changes are usually things that we either have worked on and/or can be a combination of concepts or defenses that [Eagles defensive coordinator Jim] Schwartz wanted to put together. So it was obviously beneficial, it worked and we got the win.
Q. On Wentz’s interception, was that a throw you want him to make and was there anything more WR Bryce Treggs could have done on the receiving end?
COACH PEDERSON: You never like to throw late deep, but at the same time, Bryce was open. Carson did everything he could to avoid the rush and the sack, and he spun out of it. As a receiver you are always taught to come back towards the ball and things of that nature. But [Giants CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie], again, he just did a nice job. He kept his momentum coming. Great two young players on our behalf, things that they can learn from and down the road get better from and we’ll make a few of those.
Q. Getting back to Jenkins, he plays every snap for you. He plays special teams. Can you put it into perspective the season he’s had for you?
DOUG PEDERSON: I’m going to tell you, obviously he’s an alternate to the Pro Bowl. Obviously deserving, I mean, deserving of that. For him to start the season at safety and really feel comfortable, he and [S] Rodney [McLeod] back there, and two veteran guys; then with the injury to [CB] Ron Brooks, we’re asking him to go play nickel and then back to safety when you bring in more cornerbacks — it just shows you the type of player he is, the type of person he is. He sacrifices not only himself but his position sometimes, that safety position, to do whatever it takes for the football team. Last night was no different. The pick six was huge. He had another one on the sideline. I mean, just time after time he keeps making play after play and gets those guys lined up and has really put together a good season.
Q. The high volume number of fourth-down tries that you’ve had this year, do you anticipate that’s going to be your style moving forward or is it dependent on circumstances of the season?
DOUG PEDERSON: I think it’s circumstance, to be quite honest with you. I know, going into the game, we were like at 25, something like that, fourth-down attempts. That’s a lot during the course of the season. At the same time, we’ve kind of put ourselves in that position where we had to do it. I’m hoping in the future we do better on first, second and third down, where we’re not putting ourselves in a lot of makeable fourth downs. But at the same time, if it benefits our team and we can stay aggressive with it and it’s smart and it’s a good decision, then I will continue to do that and go for those fourth downs.
Q. What goes through your head when you watch Wentz avoid all those hits? He didn’t get sacked once, but it looked like they had him dead a few times and he was able to avoid all that pressure.
DOUG PEDERSON: I think what you’re seeing with Carson as the season has gone on, he’s really sort of let the game unfold. Things are beginning to slow down for him. What I mean by that is being able to use his legs, seeing the field a little bit differently, checking the ball down, not hanging on to the ball. That’s the maturity of your quarterback, a young quarterback. Last night, very encouraged to see him use his legs, pick up some valuable yards that kept some drives alive. And these are all things that you talk about. Some quarterbacks can do it. Obviously he’s very athletic and can move, and he’s strong and can break some tackles. These are things going forward now that we can utilize, utilize this strength of his. It’s just a big part of your offense whenever your quarterback can run and make plays that way.
Q. Do you have to caution him moving forward because he is getting more comfortable? He has that spin move now that he increasingly has added to his repertoire. Do you have to caution him more about not becoming too dependent upon that and too often holding the ball and turning into that gun slinger?
DOUG PEDERSON: Well, you are always going to caution against it. At the same time, I don’t want to harness it to the point where he can’t be effective using his legs. Listen, there’s going to be times where protection is not always going to be the best and you’re going to have to escape and do things. Like the Baltimore play, where he scores inside the red zone. There was nothing there down the field. He backdoor turned it and made a safety miss and he’s in the end zone. Those are things that you love to see from your quarterback, being able to pick up those types of valuable yards. At the same time, if you remember earlier in the season, we were guarding against him being hit when he’s out of the pocket. Get out of bounds, throw it away, slide. So those are all the things you are seeing now. He’s getting out of bounds, he’s throwing it away and he’s sliding. So that part of it is the maturity of him and where he’s come from the beginning of the season.
Q. At running back, can you survive this final week with just two? Are you looking at promoting RB Terrell Watson from the practice squad?
DOUG PEDERSON: [Jokingly] Do you want to play? It’s tough. We’ll take a look at it. We’ve got time, obviously, with the weekend. Players won’t be back until Tuesday. We’ve got time to evaluate it and see if there is anybody else available. If not, then by no means hesitate to bring Watson up and have him as an emergency third running back for next week.