Doug Pederson’s Wednesday news conference took an odd turn when the Eagles’ coach was asked to once again affirm his support for Carson Wentz as his starting quarterback, heading into Monday night’s matchup with the Seattle Seahawks.
The confusion began in a long answer to a question about how he filters out media and fan criticism to stay focused. Pederson said he respects people’s opinions, but that his job is to make tough decisions, such as “the decision now to whether you’re going to make a move at quarterback or not.”
This brought a quick followup from the next questioner: “You’re not making that move, right Doug, to a different quarterback?”
Pederson: “Not today, on Wednesday no.”
Another followup: “Possibly for Monday?”
Pederson: “I’m focused right now on getting better today. I would say no, no, no.”
Yet another followup: “Carson’s your starter for Monday?”
At that point, questioners moved on, but the last query of the day sought to make sense of Pederson’s apparent hesitation, from a coach who previously has treated any speculation that he might start rookie Jalen Hurts instead of Wentz as ridiculous and unworthy of discussion.
“Your hesitation to answer that question about the starter on Monday is going to be overanalyzed and micro-analyzed, and I know you’re not paying any attention to it, but can you explain why there was a hesitation? Are you thinking about it? Has that even crossed your mind?”
Pederson: “I think about a lot of things. … The question was ‘Is Carson my starter,’ he’s my starter, end of story. You guys can blow it up however you want it, and that’s fine. I’m focused on this team, these players, this coaching staff, and the Seattle Seahawks.”
Asked what he is doing to help Wentz, who leads the league with 14 interceptions and 40 sacks, and whose passer rating of 73.3 ranks 31st, Pederson seemed tired of the topic.
“I mean, we keep going round and round with this. I’ve gone back and looked at ’17 and ’18 tape, our coaching staff has, I know [Wentz] has. We’ve looked at everything from play calling, me, am I different? Am I using personnel right? Am I making decisions that are beneficial for the team? I look at a bunch of that stuff. It comes down to just each person, each player, each coach taking a look at yourself, looking in the mirror, see what you see. If you don’t like what you see, we got to change, and you got to make improvements and you got to get better,” Pederson said.
“We’re helping the offense. We’re helping the offensive line. We’re helping the receivers. We’re helping everybody get better and we’re using everything we can to make these adjustments.”
This all seemed reminiscent of a few weeks back when Pederson was asked about something his friend and ex-teammate Brett Favre said, Favre opining that the Eagles should have kept Nick Foles in 2019 instead of Wentz. Pederson’s answer then seemed more concerned with making sure no one thought he was angry with Favre, rather than supporting Wentz.
At Wentz’s weekly presser, minutes later Wednesday, the quarterback said he has not had any sort of discussion with Pederson about his job, and doesn’t need to have one. “I’m preparing the same,” he said. “I’m approaching the week, attacking the week, and going to do everything I can to be ready Monday night.”
Wentz said his understanding is that he is starting against Seattle, He said his wife, his daughter, and his religious faith help keep him grounded through tough times.
“Obviously, this is a job. A lot of people in this city and in this country care a lot. And I approach it the same way; I care, sometimes too much. Sometimes, you want to succeed so badly, but for me it’s just that constant reminder of a much bigger picture, a much bigger purpose.”
Center Jason Kelce was asked Wednesday about how players handle the intense criticism Wentz is facing. Kelce said the first priority is to do your job, and also “try and support your teammates, be a good person, be a good human being. … I think that everybody’s just trying to do their part just a little bit better. That’s all you can do in situations like this.”
Kelce said Wentz is “an incredible teammate, an incredible person” who “works his tail off, fights with everything he has.”