Pederson’s giant headache little to do with Giants
PHILADELPHIA >> Another day, another series of awkward questions for Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, who has spent the week addressing the wreckage left by Josh Huff, his former kick returner.
Pederson reminded the audience at his Friday press conference that he didn’t suddenly change his mind about disciplining Huff, who was cut by the Eagles after his arrest on gun and marijuana charges.
“I said we were going to get more information and we were going to make a collective decision and that’s what we did,” Pederson said, referencing remarks made at a press conference Wednesday. “I truly believe that’s the best way to handle this. Dialogue, have communication and do the best thing for the organization. I think I mentioned there were circumstances and consequences to those circumstances. Those are the things that you have to decipher.”
Pederson actually did leave himself wiggle room in discussing the sad case of Huff Wednesday. He also indicated the trouble with Huff could simmer just as it has with linebacker Nigel Bradham, who was charged with felony battery before training camp, then with a misdemeanor weapons charge for carrying a loaded gun into an airport. Bradham doesn’t go to court on the more serious felony charge until January.
When it was suggested Bradham was receiving favorable treatment, Pederson replied, “As you know, this is on a case by case, individual basis, and that one had no impact on this one whatsoever.”
That’s where Pederson and the Eagles are as they get ready to play their biggest game of the season this weekend. Though the Birds have had the Giants’ number, winning 13 of the last 16 meetings between the teams, both are 4-3 and losing contact with the NFC Eastleading Dallas Cowboys (6-1). The Eagles are 0-2 in the division.
Pederson, meanwhile, has spent a ton of time addressing poor judgement by Huff, the top kick returner in the league. Pederson has heard enough ‘what was your message to your players’ narratives from one smug reporter to another to last a lifetime.
He’s been attacked for saying he tries to be a father figure of sorts to his players. How could a father flat-out get rid of his son, if you will, the next day? Tough love, Pederson explained. “That’s a tough thing,” Pederson said. “This business is about performance and how you perform. And listen, I love every one of these players. And I’m going to make sure these players are doing right by themselves, by their families and by the Philadelphia Eagles. And again, at the end of the day I’m going to continue to love on Josh and help in every way I can. But at the end of the day there’s a process that needs to be handled and you need to go through . ... It’s doing the best thing for the team and the organization.”
When a question was finally lobbed about how the loss of Huff would impact the depth chart on special teams, Pederson literally applauded.
“Great question, love it, love it,” said Pederson, who added Kenjon Barner would replace Huff and join Wendell Smallwood on kick returns. Meanwhile, rookie Bryce Treggs is slated to make his first NFL appearance at wide receiver. He brings speed to the table.
Huff’s loss will mostly be felt on special teams, where he starred as a returner and as a gunner on coverage teams. Special teams have been vital in helping the Eagles win, for the most part, the battle of field position this season.
Pederson was willing to make the sacrifice. He said he was “not persuaded” by anyone to release Huff.
“I think everybody in the organization, from Mr. Lurie down, we want to keep everybody if we can,” Pederson said. “We just felt, again, for the best of the organization, for the team, that this was obviously the best.”
In the short term, there likely will be growing pains. But now Pederson can politely decline to take any more questions on Huff.
Eagles head coach Doug Pederson has pointed out that he never said Josh Huff wouldn’t be cut, he said the team was going to take all the time it needed to look into Huff’s misdeeds before reaching any conclusions on his future. That took a day.