On Tuesday we began a series of approval polls to mark this moment in Eagles franchise history: halfway through the 2016 season, with the Eagles sitting at 4-4 and last in the NFC East. Yesterday was Howie Roseman’s day; as of this story’s publishing, his numbers sit around 79 percent, down precipitously from his September poll but still generally positive.
Today we turn our attention to rookie head coach Doug Pederson, who only has two approval polls to his name. Our last inquiry came in late September, with the Eagles at 3-0 and Pederson’s career as an NFL head coach off to a sterling start. He was rated at 98 percent approval.
Since then, Pederson’s team has lost four of its last five games, some of which falls on the coach and some of which does not. He can’t control Lane Johnson’s decisions, which led to the right tackle’s suspension. He can’t make his wide receivers catch easily catch-able passes. He can’t figure out what the hell’s up with Ryan Mathews.
Pederson can, however, do a much better job managing late-game clock situations. He’s run amok with time management, much like his mentor, Andy Reid, leading some to worry he’s doomed to repeat Reid’s biggest mistakes.
His game plans have also turned less innovative and more predictable. His favorite formula in Sunday’s loss to the Giants — throw on first, run if it’s incomplete on second — became so predictable that it was almost laughable.
And he was aggressive to a fault against the Giants, going for two straight fourth downs and failing on both, giving away six points in a game the Eagles lost by five.
To be certain, none of these are fatal flaws for a head coach just eight games into the job. Pederson can learn to manage the clock better. That’s a teachable skill. He can vary his game plans, especially once the Eagles have actual playmakers around Carson Wentz. That’s a fixable handicap. And he will learn when to be aggressive and when to take the points. That, too, is a teachable skill.
Four wins in Pederson’s first eight games is better than most Eagles fans would have expected heading into the season. Give the man some time to get his feet under him, and we’ll see more of what he’s made of in the next eight weeks.
Do you approve of the job Doug Pederson is doing as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles? Vote now in the poll below and leave your thoughts in the comments.