Head coach Doug Pederson addressed the media for the first time since it was determined that the Eagles will host the Atlanta Falcons in this Saturday's Divisional Round matchup. Here are five takeaways from the press conference.
1. What Was Coach's Message To The Team?
"(My message) to the team is the same thing: We (have) a great opportunity. Back's against the wall. Let's come out swinging and see what happens," he said.
2. At The End Of The Day, It's Just Football
Sure, Coach Pederson wonders how the players who are experiencing the playoffs for the first time will handle the pressure. Pederson said it's the job of the coaches to get the players both physically and mentally ready for Saturday afternoon.
"I think sometimes the outside, whether it be the media, the fans, can make it bigger than it really is. When you boil it down, it's football at the end of the day," Pederson said. "It's football at the end of the day. Just go do your job. Do what you've been coached to do all week long and give it your best effort on Saturday. If it's good enough, great. If it's not, then we focus on next season."
3. Pederson Preps For First Game As Head Coach
Pederson has won a Super Bowl as a player and coached in the postseason as an assistant, but Saturday will be his first playoff game as a head coach. He's using those previous moments to help in his preparation.
"A lot of it is just past experience as a player. Even my time as an assistant coach being in the postseason, just leaning on those times, leaning on the guys," he said. "To be where we're at and to have a home playoff game and feed off the fans and the crowd, which is going to be electric on Saturday afternoon. And again, just stay in the moment. Do the things that got us to where we are today, and that's kind of been my mindset the last couple of weeks."
4. Scouting The Falcons' Defense
"I'll tell you, this defense," Pederson said, "it's much improved over the course of the season. They are fast. You saw it the other day against the Rams. They are fast. They are flying to the football. Secondary is aggressive. Guys know how to cover. A lot of single-high (coverage). They are going to challenge our receivers and that's what you're seeing on tape. It's a quality defense, but that's what we expect this time of year.
"You know where they are going to be. That's the thing with this defense. They are going to line up and show you exactly - I mean, that's the way they play. They play with a lot of confidence. It's an aggressive style. It's fast flow and they are not going to pull any punches. They are not going to try to trick you or do anything to get in your head or anything like that. It's just line up and try to beat us."
Pederson noted that the scheme is comparable to previous opponents from this season such as the Chargers and the Seahawks.
"It's very similar. When the Seahawks are healthy it's very similar, defensive scheme. So we feel like we've kind of played this defense a little bit already this season. But at the same time, (there is a) different set of challenges," he said. "These guys are healthy and they are playing good. But having played this scheme already guys are familiar with it, yes."
The Eagles begin the postseason against the defending NFC champions. Here are the Atlanta Falcons to watch.
5. What Did Pederson Learn From Wild Card Weekend?
You have to win at the line of scrimmage.
"I think what you're seeing, even in the Wild Card Weekend is the line of scrimmage, control the line of scrimmage, both offensively and defensively," he said.
Pederson knows the Eagles' defensive line has quite a challenge trying to contain the running back duo of Devonta Freeman (1,182 yards from scrimmage, eight total TDs) and Tevin Coleman (927 yards from scrimmage, eight total TDs).
"Our defensive line is no different. We have to make sure that - this is a two-headed monster offensively with this running game that they have and we've got to be able to control that and sort of slow that down the best we can, and a lot of that falls on the defensive line," he said.