Job 1 for Doug Pederson is the care and feeding of quarterback Carson Wentz, and as the Eagles prepare for Monday night’s visit from the Washington Redskins, it’s hard to fault how Pederson has performed that task.
A reporter noted Saturday, in Pederson’s final media session of the week, that right now, Wentz is the favorite to win the NFL MVP award, according to Bovada.com. The reporter included in his question the phrase, “if the season ended today,” which brought an inevitable response.
“The season is not going to end today,” Pederson pointed out. He added that Wentz “doesn’t really listen or pay attention to that.”
The coach and the quarterback have a weekly Thursday night get-together, Pederson said, where he gets a sense of what Wentz is thinking, and Pederson doesn’t believe he’s thinking about awards.
“We just kind of talk about a lot of things. A little bit of football, a little about life. That kind of stuff doesn’t really faze him … he has a broader picture of the team concept,” Pederson said. “He knows that if the team does well, obviously, he’s going to do well, and he could be in the conversation at the end of the season. But right now his focus is just week to week.”
For a young, second-year QB such as Wentz, that focus is especially important, Pederson said.
“He can get better, improve each and every game, each season, and I know that he’s probably going to be in those discussions for the rest of his career,” Pederson said.
Asked about the weekly meetings, Pederson said that it is “important for myself as a play-caller, and [him] as a quarterback, that we be on the same page. I want to hear his thoughts from the week of practice, he wants to hear my thoughts. We spend maybe 10 or 15 minutes talking football. The rest of it, we’re talking deer-hunting stories … Of course, I was talking about my days in Green Bay with Brett [Favre, Wentz’s boyhood idol].
“It’s just that time when we can just sort of take a deep breath, exhale, and kind of get on the same page going into the game. I think it’s important to do that … I want to make sure he and I are seeing the same thing.”
Pederson said the Thursday night sessions began last year and “evolved a little bit more this season. Probably has picked up a little bit more the last couple of weeks.”
In making them a priority, Pederson said he was carrying on something he’d seen Mike Holmgren do in Green Bay and Andy Reid do here and in Kansas City, though their QB meetings weren’t necessarily in the evening, he said.
Pederson, offensive coordinator Frank Reich and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo all spend time with Wentz. Pederson said he’s confident there are no mixed messages, that Reich and DeFilippo reinforce the points Pederson emphasizes.
“The message has to be consistent and constant,” he said.
In preparing for the Redskins, Pederson said corner Ronald Darby, sidelined with an ankle injury since the opener, also against the Redskins, will be listed as “questionable,” that the coaching staff wants to gauge how Darby looks and feels Saturday and Sunday before making a decision on his participation. Since Darby has been listed as a limited practice participant all week, his first week back on the field, it seems unlikely he will play.