Philadelphia Eagles News

Game Vs. Browns: Head Coach Doug Pederson

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** How impressed were you with the way QB Carson Wentz handled himself out there?

 "It's not surprising, because of us and myself being around him for so long now, and just knowing the maturity level that he has and the things that I was trying to get across to the fans, to the media: This is who he is. This is his DNA. And he really handled himself great all week long. He prepared like he was a five-, six-year veteran and obviously he played that way. Just so happy for him and his family and then the team. They are so excited to get this first win but again with Carson, how he handled himself with the maturity level was outstanding."

 At one point, he moved -- very early in the game, he moved RB Darren Sproles from one side to the other. Seemed like he was changing plays, but he was doing a whole lot --

"Just in game plan. It's some of the things we do just by plan. That's really all that is. Nothing more than that."

 In the first drive, what were you trying to accomplish?

 "I wanted to get him, and really the offensive line, settled into the football game. First two plays, we wanted to run the ball with potential throws attached to it, and then really just sort of let the game sort of unfold from there, and the other thing, too, was get Carson kind of on the perimeter, where he does some of his best work outside the pocket. And then, you know, we got down into the red zone and he made a great throw to Jordan in the back of the end zone for the touchdown to finish it off. Again, wanted to get him in there comfortable. Get our offensive line just sort of rolling off the ball and eventually build up to some more down the field stuff."

 The fourth and four, you went for it, and the next play, you had WR Nelson Agholor on the fly. What went into the thinking on that decision and on the touchdown throw?

 "You know, when you do -- when you sit down and look at a lot of the math involved with the field position, the score, the time of the game, I mean, all the math just indicates that when you're around that 30-yard line, you're right on the cusp of a long field goal; if you miss it, they get the ball at the 48-ish. Even if you don't get it, now your defense is still on the field around that 25-, 26-, 27-yard line if you don't get it. And then if you do, man, that's great. You're rolling. And we were so fortunate, you know, Carson and [TE] Zach [Ertz] made a great play. So for me, it was just a great opportunity to just keep our drive going."

 The throw to Agholor, you wanted to hit him quickly after going?

 "Yeah, and normally in those situations, it's a little bit of -- kind of takes the wind out of the sails defensively, and you know, I was in that mode of, I wanted to stay aggressive with Carson and the guys, and just dialed it up the next play. And Nelson, great release off the ball on a great corner, and Carson put it right where he had to be. So it was just another aggressive play back-to-back."

 During the course of the game, he targeted WR Jordan Matthews at least ten times that I counted. How important was it for him to have that chemistry with Matthews and working with him to have him back on the field after missing so much?

 "The one thing that Carson and Jordan did, even while they were sort of down in preseason is they worked together. They threw routes together. They worked out together. So they maintained that chemistry that they needed. Jordan had a great week of practice. They really connected well all week long and it was great to see Jordan out there doing the things that he's very capable of doing. And Carson feels very comfortable throwing him the football. A couple of things were by design to get Jordan the ball, and again, credit the offensive line for giving him some protection and allowing him to do that."

You got the ball in a lot of receivers from that first drive -- is that more important for Carson or more important for the receivers?

 "Both. Both. It's great for the receivers to get touches early. It gives them confidence for the rest of the football game. And then for Carson, just to get into that comfort level of trusting his guys and for any quarterback, being able to spread the football around, gives you that confidence going forward and it's great for a young quarterback to feel that success."

 What was your pregame interaction with Carson like? Seemed like you had a couple light moments on the field pregame.

 "Yeah, I was just trying to lighten. I don't know if it was more for me or for him. My nerves were a little high, as well. I was a little jittery at going out. I just wanted him to relax and take a look around and just see this; this is a great feeling before the football game, and everything that went on and just to soak it all in. And then once the ball was teed up and kicked off, it was business as usual. Try to keep it as light as possible and just let him know that we're also here to have fun."

 What did you tell him after that first drive?

 "I said, hey, we're going to stay this way all day. Let's just keep this mind-set, this mentality going. It's the first drive. There's a lot of football left. You know, it's the first time these guys have played a full 60-minute game. It matters now that when you not only score on your first drive but how well you can bounce back those next two, three series. We kind of struggled right in there a little bit and had some opportunities. Missed a kick, made the kick. So you know, we had chances. Those are things we've got to look at and clean up and make the corrections going forward."

 Seemed like Carson was audibling quite a bit during the game. How much did he actually change the call?

 "You know, again, it's by design. We give him in the play call, we'll give him, for instance, a run right, run left, for instance and he uses his cadence to see what the defense is going to do and from there, it's either we leave the original play on or we check it or kill it to the other play. It's just things that most teams do nowadays. You get so many multiple looks on defenses that you've got to put your quarterback and your offense in those positions and he handled those very well."

 Can you talk about the O-line, you said you wanted to get them fired up better. Can you tell me what you thought?

 "They played well. You know, without going back and watching the tape. But I challenged them before the game, I said, you know, I told them, one thing about the National Football League, if you protect the quarterback and protect him early, doesn't matter if he's a rookie or not, your chances for success to win the football game go up. And conversely, if your defense can hit their quarterback early in the football game, it just disrupts everything, and we did a great job up front protecting Carson in this game. Also, our [running backs], Ryan Matthews, tremendous football game running the ball. What a tough runner he is. It's all credit to the offensive line and how well they played."

 On the touchdown drive, you kept feeding him there --

 "It wasn't so much that I wanted to get him the touchdown as I wanted to score. It was a 12-point game at that point and two minutes to go, and I've been around enough that anything can happen in these games. So I just wanted to make sure that it was just enough out of reach that we could win that football game and just wanted to finish it off."

 On the first drive, looked like you were mixing a lot of different formations and personnel packages, run and pass. I assume that you're scripting plays, first of all, is that right and how many plays are you typically scripting going into a game?

 "Going into a game, I'll script 30, 30 plays, that are first and second down thoughts. And then once you get past that, it's -- as a play caller you're continuing to script plays. I have these cards on the sideline that I continue to put drives together and plays together based on the information that not only are we getting from the defense, but from the coaches upstairs and on the sideline. You're constantly putting drives together, so you never get stuck. You never want to be in a position to not have a finger on a call. And so you're constantly using about four or five of these cards throughout the game and continuing to script plays even throughout the game."

 What was your defense able to do against the Browns?

 "[Defensive coordinator] Jim [Schwartz] obviously had them ready to go and some of that spread stuff, whatever wildcat stuff that they do, our guys handled that extremely well. Our coaches, defensive coaches, did a great job preparing our players. And just the way, you know, it's just things that we saw and I saw during preseason that the attack style; some of those long runs were just because we're so aggressive up the field that they slip by. That's going to happen. That's the National Football League. But as they got into the game, we got more and more touches on the quarterback and we got balls, [pass breakups]. And listen, they are going to make plays, too. It's a good football team over there and those guys are professionals and they are going to make [plays] and RG3 is a great quarterback and he's going to make you pay from time to time. I just thought our defense played aggressive. Second half, came out and really got after them from a defensive standpoint and gave our offense some short fields in that second half."

 Is there word on CB Leodis McKelvin's injury?

 "Not yet. Not yet, no."

 There's been a lot of criticism coming in about the receivers. They had a couple drops but made some big plays and touchdowns--

 "Yeah, it is a great performance by our receivers. They have worked hard. Listen, they have been beat up enough to know what they need to do. When I say "beat up," you guys have definitely let them know what's going on. I've got faith in them. I've got trust in confidence in them. I see them work every single day and it just goes to show that you put the hard work in, it's going to pay off on Sunday and those guys have done a good job."

 Seemed like your special teams really pinned them back in the second half and kept them beyond the 20 at least two or three times. How well did they play?

 "Well, two things. One, when you cross the 50-yard line, you want to continue drives and get first downs. We were unfortunate there in the second half. We came short a couple times around the 40. And Donnie is a tremendous punter, getting the ball inside the five-yard line, the one-yard line down there a couple of times, inside the ten. You trade field position like that, make them drive 90 yards or more; just makes it hard in this league. I know our defense is really going to come out and swarm the quarterback in those situations and keep them backed up, make them punt again. But any time you can trade field position offensively, it's definitely a leg up for us."

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