Q. You said on the radio this morning you weren’t going to make the official announcement for starting quarterback until 12:30, so who will start at quarterback this week and will it be the same guy moving forward for the rest of the season? (Kristen Rodgers)
DOUG PEDERSON: Man, you got the first question out of the gate. Well, obviously I’m going to have [QB] Jalen [Hurts] continue to start this week, and obviously I’m focused on this week and this week right now. I want to see how our team and he respond after a tough loss yesterday. So, Jalen will be the starter this week.
Q. So QB Jalen Hurts is the starter; obviously it looked like he took a huge step forward yesterday from the first week when it had so much to do with his legs. What did you see? You’ve rewatched the game now. What impressed you the most about what he did in getting you four touchdowns? (Les Bowen)
DOUG PEDERSON: Yeah, I mean, that’s it. He just ran the offense. He did what Jalen can do. We protected the football, and I’ll tell you this, as I said this morning, too, the guys around him have played better. They’ve elevated their game, as well, and they’re improving each week. That’s all part of I think Jalen’s success, too, is having the guys around him play better.
But yeah, he led the team. He played mentally and physically tough, which was good to see. He obviously extended plays with his legs. He had to throw probably more from the pocket yesterday because of the nature of the game and getting behind early in the football game.
But yeah, he — I guess the biggest thing is just leading the team and keeping the guys engaged for the entire game and gave us a chance there at the end.
Q. If Jalen Hurts ends up starting these last four games, is that enough of a sample size to get a true evaluation of him as an NFL player? Will you know what he is after the season is over? (Dave Zangaro)
DOUG PEDERSON: Well, that’s obviously kind of probably a loaded question a little bit. I think you have a good idea. Obviously, we haven’t had a full body of 16 plus games, a preseason. We really don’t know necessarily. I do think you can go back and just watch him from his college days. Again, Alabama, Oklahoma, how he’s led those teams and the success he’s had there, I think that gives you a good indication as to maybe who he is and what he can be, I think, down the road.
We still have to improve, though. There’s room to grow. Nothing is perfect, and there are some mistakes that are still being made that we have to correct, even in his game. It is a little bit of a small sample size to really probably make that determination, overall.
Q. You said the players around him are raising their performance. Is that because of Jalen Hurts? Is that because of the play calling? What’s the reason why the rest of the team is playing better now that Jalen is in there? (Zach Berman)
DOUG PEDERSON: Personally I think that because these young guys are playing so much now and you see [WR] Jalen Reagor having missed time during the season and now he’s in the mix, [WR] Alshon [Jeffery] is healthy, I just think it’s that time of year where guys just begin to — it’s almost like the lightbulb goes off. It’s like sort of those “aha” moments like oh, this is what they’re talking about, and this is what happens with young players. It just kind of comes together this way.
We have sort of scaled back on the game plan a little bit so these guys can get more repetitions on plays during the week, and we’re trying to do our best as coaches to try to eliminate the amount of mistakes that happen so these guys can go play and play fast.
Q. So do you think this still would have happened if you did not make a change at QB? (Zach Berman)
DOUG PEDERSON: You’re asking a question that’s hard to answer. I don’t know. I’m not sure. All I know is that the guys have been improving all season.
Q. How involved have Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Jeffrey Lurie and Executive Vice President/General Manager Howie Roseman been in the quarterback decision from week to week? (Jeff McLane)
DOUG PEDERSON: None, absolutely none.
Q. You have explained before that you speak to Jeffrey periodically every week as well as Howie about everything. You’re having no conversations with them about the quarterback decision at all? (Jeff McLane)
DOUG PEDERSON: The conversations that we have and I have with them, I’ll keep those private and to myself.
Q. You’ve worked with young quarterbacks before; how good do you think Jalen Hurts can be? (Bo Wulf)
DOUG PEDERSON: Well, obviously a lot of that depends on Jalen. I know his makeup, his chemistry. He is an extremely hard worker. He’s diligent. He wants to improve. He took the loss yesterday very personal, and he wants to get back out there and keep going.
I think there’s a lot of room for him to improve, and it’s just a matter of just understanding the game and understanding the guys around him and the reps with them and just gaining continuity, gaining consistency. That’s where teams can have the most success is when you don’t have the amount of injuries that we’ve had on both sides of the ball and you play with that consistency week in and week out.
Q. How would you characterize the situation that the team is in now with Jalen Hurts and with QB Carson Wentz? From the outside looking in, it looks like you would be in quite a dilemma, but do you look at it as somewhat of a positive in that Jalen is proving that he can play and you have a quarterback in Carson who has already shown in the past that he can play? Is there something that you can draw out of that as opposed to a very difficult situation? (Rob Maaddi)
DOUG PEDERSON: This is a situation where it’s not Carson versus Jalen or Jalen versus Carson. This is a team that we’re fighting and scratching each week and still have an opportunity to pull this thing out and see what happens here in the next two weeks of the regular season. I can honestly say that Carson has been a professional about what he’s about, what he’s doing inside this building, on the field during games, and helping.
This is just something that — there is no — the team doesn’t feel like there’s any kind of animosity between either one of the guys. We’re all here to try to win games, and that’s what I feel with the team. That’s how I felt after the game yesterday looking in their eyes and seeing the disappointment in their eyes, just how close we came and how hard they fought yesterday in that game.
Q. We saw WR Quez Watkins make some plays yesterday. We’ve seen WR Travis Fulgham have a really nice stretch and he caught a couple balls late, we saw WR John Hightower early make some plays. They’ve all had ups and downs this year, and you could throw WR Jalen Reagor in there, all young wide receivers. What do you make of that whole group and what potential do you see in that whole bunch? (Reuben Frank)
DOUG PEDERSON: I like the group. I like their athleticism, I like their enthusiasm, I like their work ethic during the week. The sky’s the limit. You talk about the quarterback, the sky’s the limit with these guys, I think. The more they play and the better they get, I think they can really become a solid group, and they’re slowly working that direction.
Yeah, I’ve been impressed with their skill and ability, and now it’s a matter of just continuing to show up in games.
I’ve challenged them during the week that they’ve got to show up. That’s been my message to them, and they’ve done that. I’ve been impressed with that group, and like I said, I think the sky’s the limit.
Q. I think each week we keep waiting for a loss to necessarily knock you guys out, and here we go, because of circumstances, four wins, two games to go and you guys are still in it. What is that like, knowing that yes, things have to fall a certain way, but yesterday did not end it for you guys? (Jamie Apody)
DOUG PEDERSON: I’ve never been around a season where with a team that has four or five wins and maybe six wins is going to win your division. I’ve never been a part of that. To sit here today with two games to go and still everything right in front of us. Do we need help? Yeah, we need some help. But we control — when I talked to the guys this past week, it’s we control sort of our destiny right now, and we’ve got to find a way to make it through these next couple of weeks. It’s going to be tough. It’s two division opponents, Dallas and Washington, and it’s never easy with our division.
As crazy as it sounds, it gives the guys a little bit of hope moving forward here in the next couple of weeks.
Q. I know we’re going to be talking to special teams coordinator Dave Fipp tomorrow about special teams, but I wanted to get your feelings on all the new guys you’ve had to fold in there these last couple weeks, especially yesterday and how that can take its toll on all the units. (Nick Fierro)
DOUG PEDERSON: It takes a big toll on those guys on each — you’re seeing it on offense, you’re seeing it on defense, you’re seeing it on special teams, and these guys — these guys are trying to learn new schemes, they’re trying to learn new techniques, and they’ve only been here a couple of weeks. And then on top of that you throw in a guy that we want to sign, he’s got to be in the intensive protocols away from the building before we can really put our hands on him, so he really only has like one day of practice to really go and play. Even though he’s been in all the meetings and things like that.
That’s the challenge of this pandemic for all the teams that want to bring in players, and you’re seeing it more and more around the league where teams are putting guys on COVID lists or injuries are happening, so everybody is trying to get players in, and it’s hard.
These guys are battling their tails off. They’re doing whatever they can to do their job. We’ve got to dial in and focus in and make sure that we’re coaching and doing the right things there, as well, and get all our players that are new to the roster up to speed and give them the best opportunity to be successful.
Q. We’ve talked about COVID contingency plans with specialists and quarterbacks, but with P Cam Johnston out and potentially in the protocol, do you feel the need to reach out and bring in a punter to work out and maybe have that guy just in case to follow that type of protocol? (Mike Kaye)
DOUG PEDERSON: Well, that’s exactly what I’m alluding to with injuries and different things, guys that come in. I want to say the protocols have changed even before this press conference today, that we might be able to get some guys in here sooner if they’ve been in the testing cadence say on another team, a practice squad or something from another team, they’ve been testing, those things can be sped up. But that’s the challenge you have with trying to bring guys in is you don’t really get them right away. You’ve got to wait a few days before.
But I’m hoping now that the new protocols will allow us to get those guys on the field sooner.
Q. 13th different offensive line group in 14 games. How did you think G/T Matt Pryor performed? And moving forward, would you consider T Brett Toth or T Prince Tega-Wanogho or somebody like that at right tackle? (John McMullen)
DOUG PEDERSON: I thought overall he did well. Again, gave up some sacks, but listen, having gone back and looked at the film, sacks aren’t always on the offensive line. The quarterback, Jalen [Hurts], needs to know that on a three-step drop, for instance, the ball has to come out of his hand because of the technique and the aggressiveness that we ask our offensive line to do. As a quarterback you just know that, and you’ve got to get the ball out of your hand, and that happened to us yesterday on a couple of those sacks on quick game timing.
Those are things that we continue to have conversations and keep practicing with our guys, and those are things — that’s where Jalen can improve, right? Just understanding that about the protection scheme and the style and how we’re teaching certain things.
But overall, I thought he really stepped in and did some good things for us. We’ve asked a lot of him this year to play guard, to play tackle and bounce back and forth.
We’ll work again this week and get him prepared for Dallas.