Doug Pederson had to change things up if the Philadelphia Eagles were going to rebound from their most embarrassing loss of the season. After all, the Dallas Cowboys are putting the NFC East up for grabs with their recent losses, and the 5-7 Eagles are just one win away from a first place tie for the division lead.
So Pederson pulled a power play with the extra day to prepare for Monday’s division battle against the 2-10 New York Giants. Per the Philadelphia Inquirer, Pederson decided to not have his weekly meeting with the Eagles leadership council and chose to have a fully-padded practice, the team’s first in months, without the players’ consent.
“We’re coming off a long break from Sunday to Thursday, and so I just wanted to put the pads back on and just work through some things that day,” Pederson said Saturday regarding the padded practice. “Got a great response.”
Pederson’s comments did not correlate to the rest of the Eagles locker room. Per the Inquirer, the full-padded practice “didn’t go over well” with all the members on the Eagles, which is to be expected when a coach changes the normal routine up.
“It was just going to be pads, and that’s what it was going to be,” said guard Brandon Brooks. “There was no talking him out of it.”
The Eagles are allowed up to 11 padded practices for the first 11 weeks, then three in the last six games, per the collective bargaining agreement. Pederson felt with the extra day off for the players, another day of preparation would be a good time to use one of practices to get the Eagles back on track after a season-worst three-game losing streak.
“I think you keep them your pocket for when you want to use them. I do look at the schedule and I look at the last six and when are those breaks. If there is a Thursday game in there and we’re coming back for ten days, I would use one the following week,” Pederson said.
“This was one of those weeks Sunday to Monday when guys had some time off, coming back on a Thursday; chance to use one there. Next week is a shorter week obviously. So definitely not going to go in pads next week.
“So you have to be smart with them, especially this time of the year. At the same time, you want to maintain that physicality, pad level, all those things that are fundamental to our game.”
Defensive end Brandon Graham said not all the players were in accordance with Pederson’s decision, but they “still had a good practice.” The latter part of Graham’s comments applied to what Pederson saw in the aftermath of the full padded session.
“That’s the thing, you get to see their reaction,” Pederson said. “I stand up here and go, ‘Hey, guys, we’re going to be in pads today,’ and they’re like ‘Uhhh,’ or they are like, ‘Ahhh,’ type of thing. Guys responded extremely well. I was really pleased, really happy with the way we practiced on Thursday. Energy level was high.
“And that’s what you see, and that was exciting.”
The Eagles still are in control of their own destiny regarding the NFC East. If they win out, they would finish 9-7 and clinch the division (along with a third consecutive playoff appearance). The combined record of opponents Philadelphia faces in the final four games are 13-36, which includes a matchup with the Cowboys in Week 16, so the division is there for the taking.
Pederson is trying to make sure the Eagles don’t squander this opportunity any further, even if he has to take the kid gloves off with how he discusses things with his players.