Doug Pederson was unprompted when he told the media on Monday that Nick Foles would be his starting quarterback for the season opener.
He wasn’t scheduled to speak. He decided to appear at the dais and deliver the news himself, which he expanded upon during today’s more cordial meeting with reporters.
But he didn’t have to do any of that, because he really doesn’t have to tell the media or the fanbase who his starting quarterback is. Withholding that information would theoretically give him a competitive advantage over the Falcons, who would have at least consider the small possibility that Carson Wentz might be ready to go and prepare accordingly.
Sunday’s press conference was blown out of proportion by a large majority of mostly media and some fans who felt like Pederson was being unfair to reporters by refusing to talk about the quarterback situation. The combativeness stemmed from a Saturday Ian Rapoport tweet that revealed Foles as the week one starter, which resulted in Pederson unfairly lumping Eagles media in with national folks.
This exchange with the Inquirer’s Jeff McLane started off Sunday’s availability:
Q. Have you made a decision on who will be your starting quarterback? If so, who is it? (Jeff McLane)
DOUG PEDERSON: First of all, I appreciate y’all putting words in my mouth this week. Therefore, I’m not going to discuss it.
Q. How were words put in your mouth? (Jeff McLane)
DOUG PEDERSON: You saw the reports. Next question.
Q. Who here put the words in your mouth? (Jeff McLane)
DOUG PEDERSON: Next question.
Q. What reporter here put words in your mouth? (Jeff McLane)
DOUG PEDERSON: I’m not answering the question.
Q. I know, but you said, “you.”(Jeff McLane)
DOUG PEDERSON: As a group.
Q. That makes no sense. You’re not going to lump us all together, are you? (Jeff McLane)
DOUG PEDERSON: Appreciate it. Yeah, thanks a lot. I’m going to lump you all together.
Q. What is the point of this? (Les Bowen)
DOUG PEDERSON: Exactly. What is the point of this? It’s my decision.
Q. You’re not going to discuss your decision? (Les Bowen)
DOUG PEDERSON: No, not publicly. Not publicly. I don’t do that. I don’t do it with any position on this team. I will not do it.
No, he’s not going to discuss his decision, because he doesn’t have to.
But Doug was off-base to group all of those guys together, because McLane and Les Bowen literally have nothing to do with Ian Rapoport or NFL.com. What Pederson was really doing was just expressing frustration at one media leak and the constant barrage of Carson Wentz-related questions he’s been answering for the better part of two months now.
And look, I get it, it’s the biggest topic surrounding the biggest team in Philadelphia. People care more about the Eagles’ 2018 season than they do about 90 degree temperatures in public school classrooms, the heroin epidemic in Kensington, and the 30 million dollars that the city somehow lost.
So I don’t blame McLane and Bowen and Roob and that entire group of people for trying to get an answer, but I also don’t blame Pederson for just being fucking over it.
Going back through Sunday’s presser, we had to get to question 13 before stumbling upon any modicum of common sense:
Q. Is your refusal to talk about it based on competitive advantage? (John McMullen)
DOUG PEDERSON: A little bit. Yeah, a little bit. [We are] trying to win a football game. I don’t want to put my game plan out there for everybody to see it and read it and teams can scheme. It just doesn’t make a lot of sense. So, I appreciate it.
Ding ding ding!
We have a winner!
Revealing the starter does nothing to help Doug Pederson win a football game. Maybe it earns him some points in the transparency department, but so what? Pederson isn’t exactly Nick Saban up there at the podium bitching and complaining his way through every presser. Doug has been almost entirely fair and transparent since he came back to Philly a few years ago. Does he earn goodwill with media and fans by telling Jeff McLane who the starter is? Sure, but he doesn’t need that either because he just won the first Super Bowl in franchise history.
Of course people became fake offended by the spat, which turned into a referendum on sports journalism. Some fans called the Eagles beat corps annoying and full of themselves. One scribe channeled his thoughts into a predictably whiny and shitty column.
The simple takeaway is that Doug was just sick of answering the same question over and over again and didn’t want to divluge any inside information. That’s about it.
For what it’s worth, I went back through some recent Pederson transcripts to try to figure out how many times he’s been asked about Wentz and Foles, and the prior presser, August 26th, featured 12 quarterback related questions. He’s been speaking I think 2-3 times per week since the preseason games began, with an average of six QB questions per presser, so if I did the math right that’s something like ~48 to 66 questions dating back to the first week of August. Add the first portion of training camp to the mix and OTAs as well, and you’d be approaching 100 questions regarding Carson Wentz and Nick Foles. And Wentz himself has been asked nothing but 15 different variations of “how does your knee feel?”
“Yeah, it feels good.”
I don’t know what else the guy can say.
Part of the problem here is that some sports writers hold themselves in laughably high regard, as if the work they do is akin to Peter Arnett reporting live from Baghdad while bombs explode in the background. Some American sports writers think they’re part of the White House press corps (or wish they were, judging from their Twitter feeds), just hammering Doug Pederson over and over again until he blurts out the details of Donald Trump’s secret meeting with Vladimir Putin. This ain’t that, so let’s not confuse local-level beat writing for Edward R. Murrow levels of journalism. The vast majority of media down at NovaCare are great people who do a great job, but a few folks need to get the fuck over themselves.
All of that said, they’re really just doing their jobs. They weren’t in the wrong. A national guy reported something that was unfairly attributed to the group as a whole and they appropriately defended themselves. Pederson started the non-conflict with some pettiness, but I also don’t blame him for being sick of hearing the same question worded in 400 different ways.