Q. Do you have any injury updates on a few guys: S Rodney McLeod, CB Avonte Maddox, CB Darius Slay, DT Malik Jackson, DE Josh Sweat? (Dave Zangaro)
COACH DOUG PEDERSON: Josh Sweat is going to be okay. He got chipped by the running back in the game on his right side, right arm area. He’s going to be okay for the game.
Darius Slay is going to be in the concussion protocol, so no further — obviously can’t comment on that other than he’s in the protocol.
Rodney McLeod, I can say he’s going to miss the rest of the season. Torn ACL. Showed up on the exam again this morning. Unfortunate with him that he’s going to miss the remainder of this season.
And Avonte will also miss some time here the next couple weeks.
Q. Now that you’ve watched the film, do you have any better idea as to who will start at quarterback on Sunday? (Jamie Apody)
COACH DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, after going through the film and really looking back even into last week and the preparation and everything, I’m going to continue with [QB] Jalen [Hurts] this week as the starter.
Q. Can I follow-up on that real quick? Yesterday during your press conference, it sounded like you chose your words a little carefully when it came to either praising Jalen Hurts, or — I was wondering, did you weigh QB Carson Wentz’s feelings on that or was it also part of it you don’t want to put too much pressure on this kid who just went out and performed for you going down the road? (Jamie Apody)
COACH DOUG PEDERSON: I was thinking of a lot of things, quite honestly. I was thinking about Carson, but I was thinking about the rest of the team and how the rest of the team played in the game. Jalen did, after looking at the film again today, Jalen played well. He was a big part of the success we had on offense and obviously helping us win that football game.
But there were a lot of other great individual performances on both sides of the ball. I think of [RB] Miles Sanders. I think of [DE] Josh Sweat and [DT] Javon Hargrave and [DT] Fletcher Cox had a big game, big sack. We had two defensive takeaways in the game. There were a lot of positives coming out of the football game and I just didn’t want to say, ‘Hey, it was all about one guy,’ because you guys know me and my answers. I’ve always been about the team and really that was a team win yesterday.
Q. You’re now 11-2 with starting your backup quarterback excluding that 2017 Week 17 game. Why do you think you’ve had so much success without your starting quarterback, and do you think as a play caller, you call a better game for the backup? (Zach Berman)
COACH DOUG PEDERSON: I think that’s a great question and it’s something, I have thought about that. I think about not just our team, but I think about other teams in the National Football League who play a backup quarterback and the success that those teams have. I think about New Orleans. Think about the opponent we just played. With [Saints QB] Taysom Hill, I think they are 3-1 with Taysom Hill as a starter this year. Go back when [former Saints QB and current Panthers QB] Teddy Bridgewater played a couple years ago, I think he was 5-0 with New Orleans. You can pick out a lot of different teams that have had backup quarterbacks with success. There’s just not necessarily a lot of film out there on these guys.
I think as play callers, as you put plans together, maybe you keep things a touch smaller. You keep the verbiage down a little bit. Maybe you pull back or pull plays that you’ve used earlier in the season, time on task, all kinds of things play into that. Then of course, you’ve got to take the backup quarterback himself. He’s getting an opportunity to play. Tends to play well and you always see what’s going to happen the next time out, right?
So, it’s hard to pinpoint, but I think you can kind of point a finger at a couple things.
Q. If I can follow-up on that, you mentioned the Saints and how Saints head coach Sean Payton was able to have success with Teddy Bridgewater and Saints QB Taysom Hill, but he had great success previously with Saints QB Drew Brees. Conversely your record with Carson is just a little over .500. Is it fair to question whether the chemistry between you and Carson isn’t what it is when you have a backup as your quarterback? (Jeff McLane)
COACH DOUG PEDERSON: No, and listen, Carson and I, our relationship’s great. We’ve had great communication. I just look at this year and the amount of adversity that we’ve faced and played with all season and trying to make things work.
But there’s no issue with Carson and I. I look at maybe what I do or how I call a game, maybe I can approach it a little bit differently moving forward that way. But that’s something that I haven’t — listen, teams have a lot of film on your starter. They have ways to prepare for your starter. They can take away certain things and we’ve got to be able to compensate for that.
But there’s been no issue between us.
Q. To that point, talking with some of the guys yesterday, they said they felt like the flow of the game was different. Did you feel the same way, and then how do you build off of that with Jalen Hurts now as the starting quarterback for the second straight week? (Kristen Rodgers)
COACH DOUG PEDERSON: I felt like the flow was different, and obviously started with me as the play caller. One of the things that we try to go into every game and try to keep a defense off balance, and I felt yesterday — each week, sometimes on Monday, I sit up here and go, ‘Hey, we’ve got to do better on first down, we have to stay ahead of the chains.’
Yesterday we were able to do that, whether it was 1st and 10 into a second and eight, second and seven or even a second and ten. We didn’t have many second and long situations. Now, we got ourselves into trouble on third down with some penalties, but we were able to stay ahead of the chains.
So when you do that, it becomes a little bit, I even hate to say the word easier, but the rhythm and the flow of the game you can keep a defense off-balance, and have a little more rhythm. I credit the offensive line yesterday for really blocking and doing a great job against a defensive front that is probably one of the best ones we’ve seen all year. And then being able to — the off-schedule plays that Jalen had in the ballgame, really kind of kept the defense off-balance, and that’s what you try to do each week and then try to pick your spots on some shot plays.
Q. With the play-calling looking a bit different between the quarterbacks with Carson and the back-ups, how much of that is you having handed the keys to Carson in a sense? You’ve talked about how he’s gained responsibility over the offense as the years have gone on. How much of it is that it’s built in his likeness or he’s got more control of what’s happening? (Tim McManus)
COACH DOUG PEDERSON: That’s one of the things that I really appreciate about Carson is I want him to have control. I want him to have the ability to get us in and out of bad plays or plays that aren’t conducive to what we’re seeing defensively on that snap. We’ve given him that freedom. He’s that type of quarterback that can do that, and at the same time we’ve had success doing that because he can do that. He can get us out of some plays.
So yesterday, our mindset going into the game was just Jalen, just run the offense, right? We didn’t give him a lot of freedom in this game. We just wanted him to go out, first start in the National Football League, just go play and much like Carson, his first start in the National Football League, just go play.
And then you continue to grow and build and take what we’ve — the successes we had in the game yesterday and try to build upon that this week. But that’s one of the things with Carson that I’ve appreciated with him is how smart he is to be able to fix protection, fix plays, get us in better plays and out of bad ones.
Q. Is it possible that you’ve given Carson too much freedom? (Tim McManus)
COACH DOUG PEDERSON: I don’t think so. I mean, I think we have to be careful with the amount of — I think that goes with any quarterback around the league. I just don’t think it’s with Carson, but I think it is with any starter that as play callers and play designers, you give these guys too much on their plate and you’ve got to be careful. There is a fine line.
Q. It looked like the Saints really did make some adjustments in the second half and kind of shut the offense down a little bit except for the drive after the DE Josh Sweat strip sack. How different does it have to be next week? You talked about teams not having film. Obviously, the Cardinals are going to see this. Are you going to be able to get a hundred yards rushing out of Jalen Hurts next week? What has to be different going forward for the offense to continue to succeed? (Les Bowen)
COACH DOUG PEDERSON: Well, the second half of the game yesterday was probably more about us kind of shooting ourselves in the foot. Failed to execute really that opening drive of the second half when we had an opportunity there to stay on the field. It really wasn’t about what New Orleans did.
And then just being able to capitalize. We have to sustain. Do I want to run Jalen Hurts 18 times? You don’t want to run your quarterback 18 times, not in this league, because you see the amount of hits that he took. Do I want Miles Sanders to do what he did? Yeah, I would rather give those rushing attempts to him and [RB] Boston [Scott] and [RB] Corey [Clement] and the guys and use Jalen and the quarterbacks when we have to.
But we’re going to — each week is a little bit different from a game-plan standpoint and those are things that we as coaches look at today and tomorrow and put a plan together and practice and go play.
But you never know how a game is going to unfold, either. I have a plan in my head that I want to approach the game a certain way, and when it works out, it’s great and when it doesn’t, you’ve got to find something else to do, right? You have to find another set of plays and try to make some things work.
So, we’ll see how it goes this week, but hopefully we can build on what we did yesterday.
Q. Getting back to the secondary and the injuries, is there any chance at all that CB Cre’Von LeBlanc or CB Craig James would be available to you? I know you haven’t even opened their practice window. And also, DB Grayland Arnold and CB Michael Jacquet were out for the week. Do you anticipate getting them back and how serious is this whole secondary situation? (Reuben Frank)
COACH DOUG PEDERSON: I’m hopeful that Michael and Grayland, their injuries are a little less than LeBlanc’s and Craig James that you had mentioned. I’m hopeful and optimistic those two guys can make a return.
We will see how the week goes, obviously. We have a couple days here before we hit the practice field, but I’m optimistic those two guys will be able to at least get out there Wednesday and begin their practice in preparation for Arizona.
Q. How much of the no sacks was a result of Jalen Hurts’ ability to make plays with his legs and how much was the offensive line and who stood out on the offensive line? (Bo Wulf)
COACH DOUG PEDERSON: One of the things that Jalen did well when he was out of the pocket and there was nowhere to run or nowhere to throw is that he threw the ball away and that helps your offensive line. It doesn’t put you in a bad situation. Doesn’t put you in a second-and-long situation or third-and-long situation.
I think that looking at the offensive line, really, across the board, they all played extremely well. It wasn’t perfect. I think [T] Jack Driscoll played extremely tough and physical against a really, really good defensive end, and then [T Jordan] Mailata did a nice job on the left side. Got beat a couple times. But overall showed some promise there and showed improvement there. I thought [OL] Isaac [Seumalo] and [C Jason] Kelce and really, you know, [G Nate] Herbig in the interior part really did a nice job, not only in the run game but also in pass protection. This was a very active, stunting defensive line, linebacker, pick games, all kinds of things up front, and I thought for the most part, they did a really good job blocking this front.
And then Jalen, being able to step up in the pocket, obviously elude the rush a couple times and extend plays with his legs. So, that’s all part of pass protection, and the guys did a good job.
Q. Rodney McLeod was one of the vocal leaders on this team. How will you be able to replace that and who are some guys that you feel can step up and fill that void? (Chris Franklin)
COACH DOUG PEDERSON: I’ve challenged the team every week that everybody on the team can be a leader, right? It doesn’t need to necessarily be the most veteran player. Anybody can lead. But yeah, you’re right, Rodney was a big, vocal leader on this team. I would expect guys like [S] Jalen Mills to step up. I would think guys like [DT] Fletcher Cox, [DE] Brandon Graham, [DE] Vinny Curry, guys on defense, even [CB] Darius Slay, guys really would rally around that and step up and bring some of these young guys along. Just like on offense with guys like with [C Jason] Kelce and even [WR] Alshon [Jeffery] with the young receivers and [RB] Miles Sanders. These guys are great leaders in their own right.
I would expect the majority of those guys to really step up now in these next three weeks and pull everybody together.
Q. You mentioned the young offensive lineman. Where do you see guys like Jordan Mailata? Obviously he’s played both sides, but a guy like Nate Herbig, is a he a guy that you can look at and he can step in for Jason Kelce when Kelce decides to walk away, or is he more of a guard? (Nick Fierro)
COACH DOUG PEDERSON: We’ve cross-trained him at both positions, at guard and center, and he can play both right guard and left guard, which is very valuable for us. I think his best position is probably guard, being able to be a swing guard, play left and right.
But if we ever got in a pinch and I mean, we’re getting in a pinch, I guess, with the amount of offensive linemen we have, that he could step in and play some center. He’s done that before, and he could probably do that if we needed to.
Q. When we talk about the team’s record with backup quarterbacks, much of the conversation is, well, Doug must be calling the game differently or Carson must not be doing something. But how much of it is the team itself stepping up and rallying around a backup quarterback and maybe executing a little bit better because they know it’s on them to do that for their backup if the franchise guy is not out there? (Rob Maaddi)
COACH DOUG PEDERSON: I think that’s a big part of it, as well. I think everybody rallies around, and like you said, I see guys sort of step their game up when a backup comes in. Because it just — they have to do their job even better. It’s one of the things I did last week is kind of challenge everybody on offense, coaches included, and this is something we’ve struggled with all season, but to be able to coach a little bit better, execute a little bit better in practice, and really do the little things. Do the little things to help the backup quarterback. If they do their job, then it makes the backup quarterback just have to do his job and just distribute the ball and get us in and out of the right plays. And so yeah, I agree with the fact that everybody around the backup quarterback has to pick up their game and support, because you can’t do it yourself.
Q. Last night eight of your 11 starters on offense were 25 or younger, and you had a bunch of guys who were 23 or younger. Beyond just energy, what have you seen those younger guys bring to this team at some of those important positions like the offensive line? (Daniel Gallen)
COACH DOUG PEDERSON: It’s exciting to have the amount of young players that are playing and getting valuable time, whether it’s offense, defense or on special teams. It’s just going to go to help the support of the long-term roster makeup, I guess. Having these young guys out there, it is a little more energetic. They bring a little more tempo, upbeat mentality, attitude, and it’s kind of refreshing in a way because they really don’t know what they don’t know yet, right? I mean, they are new to the League and they want to play and they want to do well and they just enjoy, have fun and they really haven’t learned what the NFL is all about and that comes with time.
But I love seeing these guys out there rallying around each other, supporting each other, having fun with one another and we saw it in the game yesterday and it was kind of good to get back to that emotion of winning and feeling what it’s like to win and sustain a lead and hang on to a lead and finish the football game against a good opponent. That’s what you saw out of the young guys yesterday.