Things are understandably looking dim when studying the Philadelphia Eagles.
They’re a winless team that is coming off a disappointing tie to the lowly Cincinnati Bengals and next have the defending NFC-champion — albeit shorthanded — San Francisco 49ers on Sunday afternoon.
Carson Wentz is playing some of the worst football of his career, his options of targets on the outside are constantly rotating and always thin, and the defense has been unable to string together a full 60-minute effort.
Yet, head coach Doug Pederson has remained positive and upbeat despite his 0-2-1 squad wallowing in one of their worst starts in 21 years.
“Listen, short season, we’ve played three games, hasn’t been our best,” he said. “We’re excited about this opportunity. It’s another week to get better as a team.”
But what does one say to a team that has been overwhelmingly underperforming?
“I think, for me, as the head coach, I think you have to show the good, the bad, the ugly, but at the same time, I think you have keep your goals right in front of the team,” Pederson said. “You have to keep the reality of, this is where we are and who we are, but at the same time, we’re close, and we’re not far away. So all that messaging, for me, is something that I spend quite a bit of time thinking about as I approach team meetings with the guys.”
Working in such a demanding market like Philadelphia though, Pederson has been aware of his team’s perception from the fan base.
“Look, we love our fans, and nobody’s satisfied. The fans aren’t, I’m not, the players aren’t,” he said. “Nobody’s satisfied with where we are. Even if we were 3-0, you guys wouldn’t be satisfied. So we’re still working every single day to get better.”
“My concern is about the guys in the locker room, getting them prepared to play, taking our bubble across [the] country and protecting our guys and competing.”
What’s been more concerning, however, is the play of Wentz, who has thrown six interceptions over his first three games of the season after throwing just seven all of last year. His inability to get it going is one of the main reasons why the Eagles’ passing offense is near the very bottom of the NFL.
And while Pederson didn’t show much confidence in Wentz during the Eagles’ final drive in overtime against the Bengals, his tune changed ahead of their Sunday-night tilt in San Francisco.
“My confidence level’s extremely high, and it hasn’t changed,” Pederson said. “I just know who Carson is. I know the type of worker he is, I know how he approaches the game, prepares each week, and so listen, he and I are in this thing together, right, and so my confidence level is hey, I want to put the ball in his hands. It’s a great opportunity for us when the ball is in Carson Wentz’s hands because anything and everything can happen.”
That won’t do much to quiet the handful of supporters who are campaigning for rookie Jalen Hurts to get a consistent look under center if Wentz continues to struggle. Such sentiments, however, seem a bit harsh to Pederson.
“Listen, I can’t speak for the outside world,” Pederson said. “I mean, I guess I can sort of visualize. Your quarterback doesn’t play well, so let’s speculate that confidence has gotta be low. Well, that’s fine. That’s a visual thing, and it might be right… But I just know who Carson is. I just know the guys around him. I know this team. They’re excited about this week to get back out on the practice field and prepare for San Fran.”