Q. Obviously the turnovers from QB Carson Wentz last night were concerning. What’s your messaging to him and what do you hope he can accomplish this bye week taking a look back at his first eight weeks of the season? (Kristen Rodgers)
COACH PEDERSON: Well, the first thing we know that any turnover is unacceptable both by himself and us as a team. It just puts our defense in a position obviously on a short field, and we just can’t do that. We can’t do that consistently and that’s been kind of the theme the first half of the season.
What we can do this week, is really look at all the turnovers and take a look and study those and see were there opportunities to complete the throw, were there opportunities to run, was it protection break down, whatever it might be and take a look at them. Then, when we get the players in here to really even go through that. I can remember back when I was a player, we used to go through the turnover reel just to have sort of a sense of awareness moving forward.
But we all know that it’s unacceptable, something that we definitely have to correct and fix in the second half of the season.
Q. To kind of follow-up on that, Carson said after the game he doesn’t want to lose his aggressive mindset. He thinks that’s what makes him the player he is. We’ve talked about this a lot but that’s a fine line. How do you scale back in sort of the decision-making, not always trying to extend the play, not always trying to push things? (John McMullen)
COACH PEDERSON: Well, this just goes back to the statement I just made. It’s something that we have to show the players, right? We have to go through the tape. We have to go through the cutup of the turnovers and see if there’s decisions that we can make otherwise. Really that’s the only way to begin to correct these types of mistakes is if — it’s no different if a player makes a few mental errors during the game. We have to show them the mental errors and we fix it and correct it and move on. It’s no different with the turnovers. We’ve just got to make sure that we eliminate them, or at least reduce them, and give ourselves a chance to — because we’re leaving points on the field, right? And a couple of these have come in the high red zone or the red zone where we have opportunities to put points on the board and that’s where we have to really focus in and not turn the ball over.
Q. I’ll get the injury questions out of the way. CB Darius Slay and DT Malik Jackson, what is their status? (Zach Berman)
COACH PEDERSON: Both those guys are okay. We didn’t have any significant injuries coming out of the game. This week is getting to us at the right time with guys getting healthy and those two guys should be okay moving forward next week.
Q. And then we didn’t get the chance to ask you, with T Lane Johnson, what happened Sunday that caused him to miss the game? (Zach Berman)
COACH PEDERSON: It was unfortunate. He had a really good week, trending in the right direction. Friday, Saturday, practices were good. Just woke up Sunday not feeling it, not there, and we didn’t want to risk putting him out there and missing him for more weeks in advance. It was just unfortunate that it happened, but I thought [T] Jordan Mailata stepped in nicely, got the reps there all week, really with that position and did a nice job.
Q. You said that you didn’t have any conversations about sitting Carson after that fourth turnover. Wondering what your philosophy is with that sort of thing. We saw former Eagles head coach and current Chiefs head coach Andy Reid in 2008 sit former Eagles QB Donovan McNabb for a spell. What does the threshold have to be for you and what’s your philosophy when it comes to riding with the quarterback? (Tim McManus)
COACH PEDERSON: Listen, Carson is our starter and we got a lot of trust and faith in him that he can get the job done, and by no means was I in a position to make a decision or make a move yesterday.
It’s just something that we’ve got to continue to coach and we’ve got to continue to get better. He understands he has to get better in that area. We also understand that our backup quarterbacks here, [QB] Jalen [Hurts] and [QB] Nate [Sudfeld] have got to be prepared, whether it’s a situation like that or an injury situation where they have to go in and play.
We continue to coach. We continue to work every day. Carson understands that he has to get better. He’s mentioned that. He’s said that. And we move forward.
Q. Can you explain that a little bit? Why weren’t you in a position to do that by any means, if you can flush it out to help us understand? (Tim McManus)
COACH PEDERSON: It’s pretty simple. My mind wasn’t there. I wasn’t going there. I was going to give Carson every opportunity to win that game for us, and he’s capable of doing that, and I wasn’t in that frame of mind.
Q. During the bye week as you self-scout, what are some areas you really want to concentrate on, and is this bye week any different because of COVID-19 and everyone kind of staying local, I guess? (Dave Zangaro)
COACH PEDERSON: Well, from the local standpoint, yeah, we have to test every single day. We have to do the COVID testing, so we’re still testing every single day this week. So, the players and coaches can’t get away.
I will give players and coaches some time at the end of the week to relax and sort of get away and spend time with their families like we normally do. We’re going to bring the players in on Wednesday. Want to work with the players. And we’ve got to get better. This is the time where we can look at the first eight games and really self-scout and evaluate and find ways to improve all three areas of our team. It’s also a chance to get some guys healthy and prepare.
So that’s what we are going to do. We are going to spend Wednesday with the guys. Obviously tomorrow is election day, so they are going to be out of the building. Coaches are going to work from home tomorrow, and it’s a workday, but work from home tomorrow and get back in here on Wednesday with the players.
Q. The other day you were talking about T Jordan Mailata, and he ended up playing right tackle, but you talked about how a player can learn and benefit from sitting. You mentioned former Eagles WR and current Raiders WR Nelson Agholor back in, whenever it was, 2016 when he stepped back. Could that apply in a way to Carson? Could he benefit maybe from taking a break, from sitting a game out and watching, and if not, how do you know when that applies to somebody and when it doesn’t? (Reuben Frank)
COACH PEDERSON: You’re asking to sit the starting quarterback for a game or more, is that what you’re asking?
Q. Yeah, you talk about fresh eyes, learning from watching and that kind of thing. (Reuben Frank)
COACH PEDERSON: I was in a situation in 2015 I think it was. We started the season 1-5 with [former Chiefs QB and current Washington Football Team QB] Alex Smith as our starter and Coach Reid and I made a decision not to bench Alex. He was our starter, and we’re going to get it fixed, and we did. I think we won 11 straight after that. Not saying that we are going to win 11 straight here, but what I’m saying is, we are going to work through our issues. We are going to work through our problems.
Carson understands that we’ve got to hold everybody accountable, and it starts with me, and I’m going to look at myself in the mirror. I’m going to look at some of the decisions and calls I’ve made in the first eight games and that’s part of what this week is about, and it’s about getting better. The only way we get better, especially with some young players on offense that are playing, who are getting valuable reps, is to continue to work and they have to work with Carson.
That’s what we are going to do, and that’s our focus moving forward.
Q. So turnovers aside, the offense in the second and third quarters just looked so painful and yards were so hard to come by, even running or passing. What was that about? What did you see when you were watching the tape that made that such a struggle? Did Dallas’s defense improve? I know they got rid of some people and had new people in. But what did you see rewatching that? Why was the offense such a struggle for half the game? (Les Bowen)
COACH PEDERSON: They made a couple adjustments in the second half and quite honestly taking a look at the tape today, there were just a couple of execution errors. We didn’t surface a couple blocks up front. We missed a couple of reads from the quarterback position. We dropped some passes on some key third downs in the game, and so it was just compounded errors on the offense’s part that kept us from staying on the field.
Credit the defense. This is why it’s a team sport. I credit the defense for how well they played, and I know we’re bashing the offense here, but we need to give the defense some credit. They played their tails off yesterday and kept us in this football game, and scored on defense, as well.
So it’s a team sport. We’re in it together, and we’re going to get better together.
Q. You said generally speaking that QB Jalen Hurts needs to be ready obviously if Carson were to get hurt, but is he ready at this stage of his career as a rookie? Would he be able to start if need be? Is he caught up? How would you assess where he stands right now? (Jeff McLane)
COACH PEDERSON: Jalen’s doing a nice job. He’s prepared during the week and he understands the game plan.
I think that you can’t do go in and say, hey, learn the offense like Carson knows it right now, but I think you can do some things with him that allow him to be successful if we had to. But he’s in a good position. He studies hard during the week with Nate, and he’s prepared if called upon.
Q. It sounds like a 2020 thing to say, but here you guys won to stay in first place in the division, you beat the Cowboys and yet a lot of people are treating this like a loss. Now that you looked at the tape, do you see why Eagles fans feel that way, and how do you package last night’s game big picture? Why is it that it’s a first-place win, and yet it feels kind of somber? (Jamie Apody)
COACH PEDERSON: Because you and the fans don’t get a chance to go back and watch the tape today like we did. To see the plays that are left on the field where — listen, we understand we have to get better. We know that, that’s — myself included, we all have to — we are all towing the line the same direction, and we have to get better there.
But you look at the tape today, and there’s some things — and I tell the guys all the time. We’re not going to use the excuse anymore that these players are young, right? [WR] Jalen Reagor just came back for the first time. Was it perfect? No. But there’s room to grow. [WR] Travis Fulgham has been a bright spot on the perimeter and [WR John] Hightower has been a bright spot on the perimeter, and these are guys that are getting better each week.
You go back to 2017 in that championship run, and if you remember back a couple years ago, there was consistency and there was stability around our offense. We had the same three receivers. We had the same three tight ends. We had the same running backs. The offensive line was intact and so we had continuity and things were flowing. With so many moving parts, offensively, right now with the amount of injuries, so many guys are shuffling in and out of the lineup that it’s hard to get continuity and rhythm and timing and flow. It makes it look really bad on the outside when, quite honestly, from — you probably don’t believe it, but it’s encouraging from our side that, yeah, one, we won the game, right? We’re a game and a half up in the NFC East. We have a chance to get healthy here at the bye. We have a chance next week against the Giants to hopefully get some more starters back and see what happens, and correct some of the things that are going on.
It’s about how we — the season, it’s a marathon. It’s long, right? It’s not a sprint. You don’t sprint to the finish. Are we where we want to be? Yeah, we’re first place in the NFC East, but at 3-4-1, it could easily be the other way, right? It could be 4-3-1 or 5-3 or whatever it could be. But there’s a lot of positive that we see as coaches on the inside that give us the encouragement and the opportunity to get better as a team.
Q. The last three years you guys have made a trade at the deadline. Obviously, there’s a day and a half before the deadline gets here. What are the conversations like with Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman as you enter a bye week with COVID happening and not getting a guy in for another week if you do make a deal? What’s the conversation like over the next 36 hours? (Mike Kaye)
COACH PEDERSON: Listen, you’re always going to take a look and see if there’s an opportunity to help your football team. But honestly, like you said, with the way COVID is and getting that player in here, they are not going to be caught up to speed right away and it’s going to be a week or so before you can really get them into the building. There’s all kinds of things that we talk about.
Obviously, we take a look at it and see if there’s an opportunity there. But again, it just kind of goes back to what I’ve been saying. This is a great opportunity for us as a team to get better this week, get healthy this week and to really focus on us.
Q. With respect to Carson and the offense and the turnovers, how much do you build the risk of turnovers into your play calling and overall philosophy in terms of what you want your quarterback to do and what you want your offense to be? (Mike Sielski)
COACH PEDERSON: When it comes to the turnovers, say, an interception, my philosophy, and I learned this a long time ago as a player. Really goes all the way back to my days in Green Bay with Coach Holmgren [former Packers head coach Mike Holmgren]. I would even take it back as far as Miami with Coach Shula [former Dolphins head coach Don Shula] and watching him and being around [former Dolphins QB] Dan Marino and those guys.
One of I think the greatest lessons you can learn or provide your team or a player is to put the ball right back in their hands. If it’s Carson that makes the interception or throws the interception, put the ball right back in his hands to make a completion on the next series. If it’s a fumble, give it back to that running back and give him a chance to redeem himself because that’s all mental. That’s the thing that they can learn from.
So for me, that’s what that’s about. I just trust the players enough to put the ball right back in their hands to make plays. We can coach the mistake on the sideline and we can talk about it on the sideline and all of that, but for me, it’s about putting the ball right back into their hands to make the play the next series.
Q. You were talking a little bit about a bit of an unusual bye week this week. Carson even said last night with everything going on, it’s a good time for a break. Is the emotional part or mental part more needed now, even though you’re still testing, just because of all the other outside stuff with COVID and everything you and the players have had to deal with all year? (Ed Benkin)
COACH PEDERSON: It’s a good time. I love having the bye week in week eight, nine or ten in the season. I think it’s a good time because then you kind of focus and get healthy for the second half of your season.
Right now, too, I think with COVID and the fact that we have to test every day, it keeps our team here. It keeps our team grounded right here in our city, and that’s why it gives us a chance to really work, you Wednesday and bring the guys back in and get some stuff done and look at some tape and self-scout and show them with calmer eyes. We’re not game planning this week, yet we can go back and watch us and see where we need to improve, and also show them the good that came out of the first eight weeks. I think it’s important that we do that, and obviously if there is a positive with the COVID, it’s the fact that we get to stick together as a team.