Q. If you guys were in any other division right now, you would be in the basement. But you’re not in any other division, you’re in the NFC East. How do you view this right now because your team hasn’t played very well — (Dave Zangaro)
COACH PEDERSON: Listen, I don’t care about the rest of the league. I care about the Philadelphia Eagles. Our division, what are we, still a half game back? Look, it is what it is. I’m going to pull out my inner [Patriots Head Coach] Bill Belichick and say I’m focused on Baltimore.
Q. In the other game yesterday from the division, we saw a terrible injury to Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, and here is a guy that’s a huge rival of yours, but I know it brought out a lot of well wishes from your team, and I am sure had to bring memories from QB Carson Wentz’s injury. Can you talk about watching that and your thoughts? (Jamie Apody)
COACH PEDERSON: As I said with [Sportsradio 94WIP Morning Show Host] Angelo [Cataldi] this morning, that my heart goes out to Dak and obviously his family. You never want to see anybody, whether it be on your own team or even a rival or anybody in the league, suffer these types of injuries. We know that this game is hard enough. Injuries are a part of the game. But these types of injuries, where he could miss, obviously the remainder of the season, multiple weeks for sure, it’s terrible.
And having gone through it with our quarterback, with Carson, and Dallas is in that same boat now, it’s the next-man-up mentality. They will rally and be behind [Cowboys QB Andy] Dalton and get him prepared and ready to go, just like we did with [former Eagles QB and current Bears QB] Nick Foles back a few years ago.
You never want to see it happen. My thoughts and prayers are obviously with Dak and his recovery, and hope to see him out on the field soon.
Q. Yesterday we saw a good offensive performance, maybe not the best defensive performance. Going back a few weeks ago it was the defense that showed up and the offense that was struggling. Feels like there’s some inconsistency trying to get both sides to play at a high level. What’s it going to take to get both sides of the ball to be on the same page? (Kristen Rodgers)
COACH PEDERSON: You’re absolutely right. We haven’t put four quarters, or we haven’t put two sides together, really, three phases, when you think special teams, as well. Listen, there’s enough, when you watch the tape again today, there’s enough football plays offensively, defensively and even on special teams — we need to be better in the kickoff return game. There’s enough plays out there that we have to continue to show our players and continue to teach and coach. With the amount of players, new players, new faces, young guys that are playing, every game is a new game, and so we’re continuing to coach and get these guys ready to play and try to have complementary football.
If the defense struggles, the offense needs to pick it up, right? And if the offense struggles, the defense needs to pick them up. So we’re building towards that and we continue to work to hopefully put that all together.
Q. While most of us outside the building would look at WR Travis Fulgham’s success and think it’s a surprise, for those of you who see him day-in and day-out, what are you seeing in practice that allows you to think that he can go out there and have this impact that he’s having? (Rob Maaddi)
COACH PEDERSON: Well, I think the first thing is Travis has played in games, NFL games before. So it’s not new to him. Even though he’s new to us and new to the City of Philadelphia and obviously to you guys, we’ve seen him on tape. Now, maybe not the same type of production, but we’ve seen him in action. And then when we got him here to our football team, we saw him in practice make plays.
He just attacks each day ready to learn, ready to get better. He’s always throwing with Carson. Carson’s grabbing him between periods at practice and working on routes and details of routes and timing of routes and that’s what it takes with everybody and not just one guy. It’s a pleasant surprise to see him step up the way he has the last couple weeks.
Q. You had the two deep shots to WR John Hightower, one looked like it was setup for him all the way with a match protect look and he got open, just wasn’t able to connect. And then you had the other in the back of the end zone in the end of the first half. What did you see on those and were you encouraged in any way on those plays even though the results weren’t there? (Jimmy Kempski)
COACH PEDERSON: Yeah, on both plays, I thought he ran good routes. He was obviously — on the first one, he was kind of the second part of that play. It’s all based on the safety read and all that. But Carson had to get the ball out just a touch sooner than he would like. Did take a shot on the play, but just missed by about a yard or so on that one.
And then on the second one, with an opportunity in the end zone, had he made the play, I’m not sure if he would have been inbounds, anyway. The ball was kind of carried, the momentum would have been out of the back of the end zone. For us and him to put that out there on tape to show his speed, obviously, is something that opponents are going to see, and they are going to be aware of that and be cautious of that. It’s something we can continue to build upon. I’m encouraged by all the young players that played in the game yesterday and the last few weeks, and those are things we can build upon.
Q. The situation with TE Zach Ertz, you had time to look at the game yesterday now, obviously teams are scheming him, but they have done this before. He’s been here a long time. Last year, you didn’t have a lot of healthy weapons and he still caught passes. What is going on? Why is this so ineffective for you right now? One catch on six targets. (Les Bowen)
COACH PEDERSON: When I looked at the tape today, there were a couple opportunities for him to make plays. Carson, just the ball sailed a little bit high. We had a red zone route dialed up. We had a false start in the red zone where Zach had a potential touchdown pass there. Carson and Zach, they have to continue to work. I haven’t seen the ball travel as high towards Zach than it is right now, and those are things as we continue to work through during the week, those two guys will be on the same page.
So it’s just a little bit of missed timing right now with those two. But I know it’s something that they will work at and work on each week to get it corrected.
Q. Do you have an update on T Lane Johnson, CB Darius Slay and LB Duke Riley, any of their statuses? (Martin Frank)
COACH PEDERSON: In the case of Lane Johnson, I am waiting. Medically we’re waiting on a second opinion, so there’s some reports still coming in on Lane, so I don’t have any update yet with him. Obviously, Darius Slay is in the concussion protocol right now. So obviously can’t comment any further on that. Duke Riley, actually, came out okay. He was a little banged up in the game. But he’s going to be fine. He’s going to be okay. Expect him to be out there this week.
Q. Seemed like especially in the first half there were a lot of instances where you could send in plays and penalties and referee calls to the League. After reviewing the film, can you talk about the Darius Slay PI call, and it appeared during that last drive in the second half, there was actually 20 seconds run off the clock, or the clock kept going during that period. Did you see that on film, and have you sent anything to the League? (Mike Kaye)
COACH PEDERSON: Each week — as you know I mention after the game we’ll send a handful of plays into the league, whether they were called or not, just to get clarification on ruling on some of the plays that were flagged or not flagged. It’s a great way for us to educate our players. It’s hard to see on the coach’s copy, the DPIs on Darius, because it kind of gets out of the frame just a little bit. You have to go to the TV copy.
There’s always going to be hand fighting down the field, contact, collisions, all of that with defensive backs, and those are all subjective and they are tough. The thing I look at is we had nine penalties overall and that’s something that we can’t do, and of course eight of them were on defense and we gave them five additional first downs in the game. Those are all things that we’ve got to eliminate in order to win games like that.
Q. Having looked at the game now, is there anything that jumped out at you as far as your protection packages and schemes, and that last touchdown by the Steelers where it looked like there was some confusion there and you had a linebacker on the wide receiver. (Nick Fierro)
COACH PEDERSON: Our protection, I thought was for the most part, pretty decent. It’s a good pass rush. This is a good front, it’s a high-pressure team. They like to blitz. For the most part, our guys held up well. There was some internal pressure but that’s going to happen, and Carson was able to get the ball out. Then towards the end of the game, obviously we’re trying to shoot the ball down the field, get some chunk plays, so you know, Carson is going to have to hold on to the ball just a little bit longer, right, just to allow the routes to get to their depth. But I thought overall the protection was decent.
At the end of the game, it’s just when [Steelers QB] Ben [Roethlisberger] — it’s as much a really good call by the Steelers and really, between Ben and [Steelers WR Chase] Claypool, than it was the call on defense. He saw what was going on. He read the coverage, and it was just a one-on-one situation.
So you sit here today and we could, 20/20 and hindsight and all that. I thought it was more of a really good recognition by the Steelers and Ben to make that play.
Q. At the end of the first half, you ran out of time after the 37-yard pass to WR J.J Arcega-Whiteside, where was the breakdown on that? Is that something Carson needs to make sure the ball is closer to the sideline or what should have happened on that play? (Rueben Frank)
COACH PEDERSON: Well, I mean, you’re asking me to make a comment on a great play in the game. I go back to a couple plays before that where, we made a rookie mistake, right? We didn’t get out of bounds, and I had to use a time-out in that situation.
We look at that as coaches and say, okay, we’ve got to coach that situation better. We’ve got to make sure that our receivers and ball carriers understand our two-minute situation. We overcommunicate it, overcommunicate clarity, and you get out of bounds in those situations, and you don’t have to burn the timeout. Because if I had the timeout on the J.J. play, you call the timeout and you kick the field goal, right, before the half.
I thought it was a great play by those two. Carson made a great throw. J.J. made a heck of an over-the-shoulder catch. He did the right thing popping up. He brought the ball into the hash, so the officials could spot it, and obviously we didn’t have the timeout there, so we were trying to hurry up and clock it.
The only thing we could have done better is probably gotten out of bounds sooner on a play earlier that would have saved us a time-out.
Q. Following up on that Chase Claypool fourth touchdown, you said Ben Roethlisberger recognized the matchup. Why was that the matchup that you guys went with in that situation? (Zach Berman)
COACH PEDERSON: It was the coverage, it was the defense that was called, it was an empty formation. It’s no different when offensively, we go empty, I give Carson the play and then Carson audibles or checks to something, whether it may be a quick slant to [WR] Greg Ward or to [RB] Miles [Sanders]. He’s understanding the leverage of the defense and the matchup that he likes and so that was the case at the end of the game.
Q. Could you have called timeout when you saw the match-up that you didn’t like and is there anything the defense could have done on that play? Should LB Nate Gerry have gotten more depth or S Rodney McLeod have been helping over top? (Jeff McLane)
COACH PEDERSON: You call a timeout and you burn a timeout in a situation where you’re trying to stop the offense on a third and seven, third and eight situation. Listen, we as coaches have to put our players in situations to be successful, and that falls on me as the head coach and I’ve got to make sure that I do that.
I didn’t want to burn a time-out in that situation because I knew that we were going to have to get the ball back, and we could have used those timeouts there.
So listen, it’s, again, it’s all about them making a play and recognizing the defense and making a play. I mean, we sit here today and go, okay, yeah, call a different defense. Okay, yeah, do this, do that, and it’s — it is what it is – they made a play —
Q. I’m not questioning the call. I’m wondering how it was defended, the execution. Was the execution the way you would draw it up? (Jeff McLane)
COACH PEDERSON: Well, ultimately it was a touchdown, so obviously we can coach the defense and coach the play a little bit better. The awareness of where we were on the field, the down, the distance, all that kind of stuff we teach during the week. I mean, listen, it’s about awareness, down and distance, could Nate have maybe backed up a touch and tried to keep the play in front of him? Sure. The way the coverage was designed, though, from — listen, it was five wides. It was empty. The safeties had to be wide. Again, it’s great execution by the Steelers. I mean, I don’t know what else to tell you guys. They recognized the defense, attacked and got the touchdown.
Q. So you could possibly have some of your veteran receivers back this week or next week and you’ve seen some good things out of the youngsters and you’re trying to build chemistry on offense. I saw that you’ve had the most starters on offense in the NFL. When you figure out how much playing time you’re going to give your receivers, what goes into that trying to get chemistry and getting everybody in sync? (John Clark)
COACH PEDERSON: You’re right. We’re hopeful that [WR] DeSean [Jackson] gets incorporated into practice this week. We’re obviously hopeful that [WR] Alshon [Jeffery] gets back out there this week. You know, we’ve got to make sure that these two guys obviously are healthy first, right, No. 1 and make sure they are 100 percent heading into the game.
But you’re right, you’re trying to build chemistry. You’re trying to build sort of I guess a package of plays that these guys are comfortable with, and at the same time, you’re bringing back — hopefully bringing back a couple of veteran players that could give your offense a boost.
We’ve got to see where they are, first of all, from a health standpoint. We’re sitting here today on a Monday, and we’re hopeful, but again, we’re also realistic from the standpoint of the guys that are in the game have been playing well. Has it been perfect? No, it hasn’t. But they are playing hard. They are playing fast. And it’s things that we can coach and teach, and continue to get better at with these young guys.