Doug Pederson sets the tone for his first playoff week with the Eagles | Early Birds
Doug Pederson's tone with reporters; the Eagles were back in pads; and much more.
Good morning, Eagles fans. The Eagles will practice at 12:30 p.m. on Wednesday, and the players will meet with reporters after practice.
If you watched Doug Pederson's news conference on Tuesday, you saw a coach whose answers were more terse than usual. It seemed Pederson was trying to set a no-nonsense tone for the week of the playoffs. That's Pederson's prerogative — news conferences are sometimes theater for the coaches, and they're not talking to the reporters asking the questions as much as they are the public and sometimes their players, or even the opponents. He's not the first coach to become Belichick-ian before a big game, and he won't be the last. What's interesting is that he made a point of emphasizing that "sometimes the outside, whether it be the media, the fans, can make [the game] bigger than it really is," yet Pederson's tone was clearly different than a typical game week. If it was just the "outside" that inflated game, maybe Pederson would have been noticeably loose or no different than a typical midweek news conference. Clearly, the intensity has gone up a notch. There's nothing wrong with either approach; it was just interesting to observe. His next news conference is on Thursday, and you'll read more about the Eagles coach as the week goes on.
The Eagles were back in pads for practice on Tuesday. Pederson said last week that the Eagles would have two padded practices leading up to the playoff game — one last week, one this week. The players wanted physical practices. The Eagles practiced indoors again after Monday's inclement weather. Pederson is hoping to get outdoors for some practice time this week, perhaps even at Lincoln Financial Field. "The weather's going to be mild," Pederson said. "I'm going to try to get over there later in the week if I can." The Eagles practiced at nearly full health. Linebacker Dannell Ellerbe (hamstring) was the only player absent. Defensive end Brandon Graham and tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai were full participants after missing last week.
This is Pederson's first time in the postseason as a head coach, but it's obviously not his first time in the postseason. He reached the playoffs nine times as a player and four times as an assistant coach. Pederson said he's relying on those experiences with his approach this week. "Just stay in the moment," Pederson said. "Do the things that got us to where we are today, and that's kind of been my mind-set the last couple of weeks."
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— Zach Berman
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From the mailbag
The Eagles put Jalen Mills on Julio Jones for a chunk of the game last season. I don't think the Eagles will have Mills follow Jones on Saturday; my guess is he and Ronald Darby stick to their sides. But I think the plan will be similar to last season — they'll try to keep Jones in front of them and focus on tackling and limiting big plays. Jones had 10 catches for 135 yards against the Eagles, but his average of 13.5 yards per catch was his third-lowest of the season. Jones' longest reception was 29 yards. He's so hard to cover and offers everything you look for in a wide receiver, so it's hard to lock him down — and especially without a top cornerback. But if the plan is to keep him in front of them and limit the damage, that's something they've shown they can do.