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Quotes: Head Coach Doug Pederson



COACH PEDERSON**: Before I get started, a couple things. I just want to first of all thank everybody that sent out condolences, prayers, and thoughts. My dad passed on Friday. It was expected, but it's never an easy thing to go through. I'm just fortunate that my family and brothers and sisters were there for my mom. So I appreciate everybody that sent text messages and all that. Second thing is this; I want to thank Sam Bradford for everything he's done. He came in here and he led this football team. He did everything that I asked him to do. I wish him well. I know he went to a great place [and] a good football team. [I'm] just happy for him, excited for him. I just want to thank him for everything he did for this Eagles organization the last few years. And then the third thing is this, [QB] Carson Wentz will start the game on Sunday. Chase will be No. 2. We're moving forward in that direction. So with that I'll open it up to questions.

Q. Why is Carson Wentz going to start?

COACH PEDERSON: You know, we obviously made this decision. I spent time, obviously over the weekend with my offensive staff, with Frank [Eagles Offensive Coordinator Frank Reich], DeFilippo [Eagles Quarterbacks Coach John DeFilippo], and really the entire staff. Everybody feels like this kid is ready to go. We drafted him to take on the reins. It's something now that we're prepared to do and looking forward to Cleveland. One day at a time with him. At the same time we've got to be obviously smart in how we handle it. But at the same time, fully expect him to perform like he's capable of performing. And what we've seen throughout OTAs and training camp.

Q. Is Wentz 100 percent healthy? And did do everything today with the first team?

COACH PEDERSON: He is. He did.

Q. What gives you the reassurance that he is ready? You only saw him in one preseason game.

COACH PEDERSON: The fact that I had a chance to go watch him and work him out way back in the spring --meet the kid, a mature individual. What he did in all of OTAs, what he's done around this building, the plays he's made in practice, [and] in the one pre-season game has given me confidence that he can lead this football team. I'm excited. I'm thrilled that this is an opportunity for him. It's an opportunity for our organization, our team. We're going full steam ahead. So I feel fully confident that we'll go get the job done.

Q. You have been saying even before you drafted him, with any young quarterback you are more comfortable with letting him sit for a year to get acclimated, learn the offense, and take it slow. This seems like a major philosophical change. What changed in your guys' minds with Carson?

COACH PEDERSON: Well, the trade happened. We were fortunate to get some draft picks back that we gave up for the trade for Carson. It was right for this football team. It's something that we believe in. I believe in. This is why we drafted him. Would the ideal situation be later than sooner? Sure. But right now where we are, we got a good football team around him, got a great defense, special teams, offensive line, good runners. All the pieces are here for him to be successful and for us to win some games.

Q. Why not QB Chase Daniel?

COACH PEDERSON: Chase was brought in here for a reason. Chase is a team guy. Chase is the guy that I wanted to be in this role [and] to be in this position. Chase has done everything I've asked him to do. He's an unselfish ballplayer. He leads by example on and off the football field. He's been a great mentor to Carson and even when Sam was here, as far as teaching this offense. Knowing that Chase is the No. 2 gives you a lot of confidence, much like it was in Kansas City, being our No. 2 behind Alex [Kansas City QB Alex Smith]. It's great to have another set of eyes on the field for Carson. I feel real comfortable with where we are with these two guys.

Q. Did you reference what happened to you in 1999?


Q. With Carson.

COACH PEDERSON: No. Listen, I didn't go back that far. This is what I believe in. This is what as an organization we believe in. I can't wait till Wednesday. I can't wait till we get to Sunday. But, I'm very comfortable with where we are as a football team, with Carson being the starter. This is why we drafted him. He's ready to go. He'll prepare and study all week, just like I know he will, and get ready for Sunday.

Q. Did you get the chance to gauge the temperature of the locker room about this move?

COACH PEDERSON: I did. Guys are excited. Guys are excited for Carson. Obviously when you lose your quarterback in Sam, it can be mixed emotions. But the guys were 100 percent behind it and thrilled that Carson is going to be the guy. They've seen him day in and day out like we've seen him. They know he can be a special player in this league. They've embraced it and are supporting him 100%.

Q. Are you okay with just two quarterbacks or are you going to bring somebody in for the practice squad?

COACH PEDERSON: Obviously, going into the season you like to have three. Obviously two are usually active on game day. Obviously we're there. But we're looking right now. If we can find that and fill that third spot [of] potentially a practice squad kid.

Q. Before today, did Carson take any reps with the first team?

COACH PEDERSON: He had not. Now, he had taken some center-quarterback exchange reps with Jason [C Jason Kelce] in the past because we do that prior to practice. Listen now. He's worked with all our receivers because we've rotated our receivers throughout the training camp. This will be the first time that he's gone with the starting offensive line.

Q. How quickly does Carson's mindset have to change? Because a week ago after missing a preseason game, he potentially wasn't going to play the entire year. How easy or hard is it to change that mindset?

COACH PEDERSON: It's tough. But here's the thing, he's such a special guy that this doesn't bother him. The stage is not that big. He can handle this. That's why making this decision is very comforting for me and really easy to make. Just knowing him and knowing how he prepares, and knowing what he's done in the past. This guy is a proven winner. He's proved it all the way up through college, and fully expect him to do the same thing at this level.

Q. How did Chase Daniel take the news?

COACH PEDERSON: If I were Chase, I'd probably be a little disappointed. And I would hope so -- coming from a head coach -- because it just shows his emotion. It just shows the passion he has for the position, for this team and for playing. But again, Chase is the ultimate team guy and he understands the decision. He understands where we're going, the direction, and he's going to do everything he can to not only get himself ready but to help the starter.

Q. Doug have you assured Carson that it's his job and that he should not look over his shoulder? Have you had to say something like, 'There's going to be bumps in the road and things won't come easy all of the time, but you're our guy for the long run?'

COACH PEDERSON: For sure. For sure. I want to exude that confidence in him. I don't want him looking over his shoulder. We take this one day at a time and one game at a time. Hopefully we can string some wins together. We understand there's going to be some bumps but at the same time we're going to learn from those and I don't want him looking over his shoulder.

Q. Can you remember a time during the summer when the switch just flipped and you just said, 'This guy, Carson Wentz, could be our starting quarterback?' When was that moment?

COACH PEDERSON: I look back to rookie minicamp when we first landed him here and he had a chance to really compete at that time with that rookie camp and OTAs. Just watching him in person throw the ball; the zone read game, the run-pass option --things that we've done in the spring, in training camp. Just kind of some of the 'wow factor' throws that he makes from unconventional positions. You just kind of go, 'This guy's going to be special.' We saw that throughout training camp practices [with him] making some of those unique plays. But for me it went back to that first rookie minicamp when I first laid eyes on him in those competitive positions.

Q. How much will you go back to the first preseason game? Do you, Frank Reich, and John DeFilippo look at some of the reckless or risky plays in that game and talk to Wentz about taking care of his body?

COACH PEDERSON: He understands that. And, sure, we have to address that with him [and] with any quarterback going forward. I don't want to take that aggression away from any player, especially the quarterback position. That kind of makes him special. But at the same time he has to understand that he needs to protect himself in those situations. We will look back on that Tampa game and look at some of the plays. Some of those were design read option runs. Some of them where he can do some things better in protection and things like that. [We will] just get him caught up, coached up. Again, he's such a smart guy, I keep saying this, but I see it day in and day out. [He's] a sharp learner. He makes the mistake once, he can move on from it. But, yeah, we'll keep coaching him up that way. But again, I don't want to take that aggression away from him.

Q. What was your conversation with Sam like? This is obviously what he wanted back in the spring but he had no idea it was going to happen now. Was he shocked? What was it like talking to him?

COACH PEDERSON: Sam and I had a great conversation. I spoke to him right away. I reassured him and I wanted him to understand that he needed to hear it from me rather than reading it, seeing it on TV, or in the papers. He was very appreciative of everything. He and I sort of started this journey together way back in February, even before he was signed. I wanted him as my starting quarterback and I wanted him here on the team. So we had a little different relationship than maybe he had in the past. He was very appreciative of everything I did. Listen, he's playing at an all-time level. He's stronger physically. He's throwing the ball more accurately. Just wish him the best of luck.

Q. How involved were you in the trade?

COACH PEDERSON: Well, definitely involved from a conversation standpoint. There's some things too --that we had to look at everything. We had to look at Carson obviously, Chase, we had to look at Sam, [and] what we were receiving. I wanted to make sure that it was right for the Philadelphia Eagles. So I was involved that way.

Q. Without the trade, could you have foreseen a scenario where Carson could have overtaken Sam as a starter?

COACH PEDERSON: Probably not going into Game One.

Q. If not Game One, then later on?

COACH PEDERSON: It just depends on how Sam was playing, how the team was going, and where we were at that time. But I didn't foresee any, at the time, any change at the position.

Q. What made you sign off on the trade?

COACH PEDERSON: Number one, we felt like that Carson was ready to go. And then the fact that Minnesota wanted Sam Bradford. It makes a difference and what we were receiving in return. We got to look at the big picture and the scope of what we want to do. I think it's a great opportunity for both organizations.

Q. Does this change your outlook for the season? In terms of what this team can accomplish?

COACH PEDERSON: Not at all. I challenged the team this morning. We come to work every single day. We roll our sleeves up and go to work. The expectation level doesn't change. We expect and I expect them to compete, and compete at a high level and win football games. That's our job. That's what we get paid to do. I don't expect anything less.

Q. If Carson wasn't ready to go and you had Chase, would you have still done the trade?

COACH PEDERSON: You'd have to look at the injury and just sort of see where he was at the time. It would be probably harder to make that decision. Because then you'd really be down to one quarterback at the time. So you'd just have to take a look and factor in the whole injury and where Carson is at.

Q. But how about if you didn't feel as if he was ready mentally? What if he was healthy, but you didn't feel like he was ready to be a starter yet? Would you still have made the trade?

COACH PEDERSON: You still have got to look at the big picture. You got to look at the whole organization. We can do things offensively. I say 'we', Frank and myself; we can put game plans together that keep it simple for the quarterback and allow him to go out and use his talent. We'd have to consider that going forward. But we're a little further down the road with him and he can handle a lot more information than that scenario.

Q. A lot of quarterbacks in recent years have been able to start as rookies on Day One and have success: guys like Colts QB Andrew Luck, Ravens QB Joe Flacco, and Falcons QB Matt Ryan. That's not something that really happened in the league until the last 10 years. Did you look at that? Why do you think that is? Was that a factor in your thinking?

COACH PEDERSON: Again, it goes to the big picture, the organization and the team. You play great defense and great special teams, and you have all the pieces: a good offensive line, a good running game, and you can protect guys. That's what those guys did back early in their careers with the Roethlisberger's [Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger], and the Flacco's and the Ryan's and quarterbacks like that. I mean, look at Jameis Winston [Tampa Bay Buccaneers QB] even last year and the success he had later on in his rookie year. There's definitely a blueprint there and that's kind of the approach we're going to take here doing the same types of things.

Q. Who is your starter at left guard?

COACH PEDERSON: [G/T] Allen Barbre is going back to left guard and then Lane --

Q. So you expect T Lane Johnson to play on Sunday?

COACH PEDERSON: Right now, until I hear something further, Lane is my right tackle.

Q. Eagles Executive Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman talked about this trade being for the future. You're a first-year head coach. When you hear about it at first, is it difficult for you to accept knowing the wins and losses won't be the same with this situation?

COACH PEDERSON: I just approach it each day. My goal is to try to win this first football game and to win this week. Again, I can't speculate and put a prediction on wins and losses. Roethlisberger, those guys, they were in the AFC Championship Games their first couple of seasons. Who knows what can happen. I just know I'm going to coach the guys that we have hard. I'm going to make sure that they're ready and prepared. That's my job. We just take it one at a time.

Q. Is there a plan to bring in a third quarterback?


Q. Will that be this week?

COACH PEDERSON: We'll see. We're going to look at what's out there. If it's a young guy that we could maybe put on the practice squad, we'll do that, too.

Q. How is RB Wendell Smallwood?

COACH PEDERSON: Smallwood was good. He was out there today. He's okay.

Q. Was anyone not out there today?

COACH PEDERSON: The only one not out there was [DE] Vinny Curry because of the injury last week. He's day-to-day. We'll monitor him again on Wednesday. Thanks, guys. Appreciate it.

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