Eagles Players Disagree With Doug Pederson Questioning Their Effort

Plus: Zach Ertz and Rodney McLeod respond to criticism of their play.

Malcolm Jenkins. (Jeff Fusco)

Malcolm Jenkins. (Jeff Fusco)

Two days after questioning his players’ effort in the Eagles’ 32-14 loss to the Bengals, Doug Pederson said Wednesday morning that the locker room’s response had been “great” and “positive” and how “they understand.” But several players significantly disagreed with Pederson’s comments on Wednesday afternoon.

While Nigel Bradham called Pederson’s comments “shocking,” Jalen Mills said he “didn’t see that” and Nolan Carroll pointed to the two late fumbles the Eagles’ defense forced in the fourth quarter. Malcolm Jenkins added that “it’s not an issue.”

“I know the intent of the guys that I practice with and play with everyday, and I didn’t see effort being an issue,” Jenkins said. “It puts us in a little bit of a tough position as players because now everybody wants to know, ‘Well, who were you talking about?’ But that’s not something that we’re worried about. I think everybody in this room understands that our effort is the last thing to go. We understand in ourselves that we’re not quitters and we trust that the guys next to us aren’t quitting either.”

While some players disagreed with their head coach, others thought Pederson didn’t mean what he said and that he just worded his answers wrongly, including Rodney McLeod. Brent Celek, meanwhile, offered a different interpretation.

“Guys are giving effort, but I think we can take it to another level. There are levels to that,” Celek said. “I think Doug’s saying, ‘We can all do better. We can give more effort. We can hustle a little bit harder to the ball.’ It’s just a team thing.”

Zach Ertz And Rodney McLeod Respond To Criticism

Even before Pederson’s comments, many criticized Zach Ertz for not blocking Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict on a Carson Wentz scramble in the first quarter. Ertz defended his decision to avoid contact with Burfict on Wednesday afternoon.

“I could have maybe got in his way, impeded his progress a little more to ensure that he didn’t get near Carson by any means. But like I said, there was a thousand things going through my mind on that play and there’s a million reasons why I do stuff on each and every play,” Ertz said. “I understand all the criticism and stuff.

“I’m not going to get into the details of every thought I had on that play. I’m focused on giving this city everything I have on each and every play. I promise going forward, I will do that. I think I have done that in the past. I understand how it looks on the film, but I’m not going to get into the minute details of what I saw on the play and what I didn’t see on the play and how it impacted the play and vice versa.”

Rodney McLeod, meanwhile, came under fire because he didn’t hit Jeremy Hill on Hill’s two-yard touchdown run in the first quarter. McLeod also disagreed with the criticism on Wednesday afternoon.

“I really don’t see it. If you look any play before then, any game [or] any practice film, I’m one of the guys that’s giving it his all out there for this team and for my teammates. I’m a prideful guy. I take pride in that. Effort, hard work, dedication — all those things describe who I am as a player,” McLeod said. “I thought the ball was going to hit somewhere else, and then obviously it came through. By the time I could react, Hill already crossed the plane. Just got caught flat-footed, tried to react and by the time I did, I feel like if I were to hit him it could possibly be late. Just a tough situation.

“It definitely hurts. I know what type of player I am; I’m going to take pride in that. I feel like effort and hard work are all the things that got me to where I am today; that’s what my game’s built on. When somebody questions or has doubt in that, it does hurt.”