It was an ugly end to what started out as a step in the right direction on Sunday, when the Philadelphia Eagles fell to the Carolina Panthers after the visiting team launched an unanswered 21-point comeback with just over 10 minutes to play. There were some good things to come out of the Week 7 matchup, but the absolute collapse in the fourth quarter has brought to light a whole new round of questions.
Head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media on Monday and talked a bit about what went wrong, what they’re doing to fix it, and why the sky isn’t falling just yet.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
On 4th quarter collapse
During the Panthers fourth-quarter run, they averaged nine yards per snap, and Pederson was asked if that’s a scheme issue or personnel problem. After a bit of hedging, the head coach noted it wasn’t really a problem with either.
He went on to explain how the pass rush was still making an impact on Cam, but sure, the team could do better with their tackling and limiting the yards after catch. Pederson also said that the guys could do a better job with situational awareness, about where they are in the game and the timing of it.
Even watching the film today, the head coach said he doesn’t feel like the defense slowed down at all in the fourth quarter.
He also noted that you could sit and point fingers at the defense, but the offense had a chance to win the game at the end, and they didn’t come through either — and on special teams missing that kick could have been the difference in a win as well.
Pederson said there’s enough blame to pass around for the problems on Sunday.
On motivating his team moving forward
Pederson expanded on his post-game comments about the pressure being off of players, and wanted to clarify that by no means does that mean they aren’t going to put in the work. But rather, sometimes players and coaches put added pressure on themselves to create plays, and that’s where they have to learn you don’t have to seek out those moments, and instead wait for the opportunity to present itself and when it does, make the play.
On why guys are putting that extra pressure on their shoulders, and Pederson noted that they are professional athletes and they have a want and need to perform — not to mention having some younger guys out there trying to earn a (more permanent) roster spot with each play.
Pederson said he wanted to reiterate that to the team, to just relax and go out and play and have some fun.
Later on, the head coach was asked how he can get his guys to dial back that pressure especially coming off a loss when they might feel like they need to prove themselves. Pederson said it’s about coaching them up and talking to them, he also mentioned (although emphasized it was just spit-balling) maybe scaling back the number of plays they run on offense, or scale back some of the load at practice — whatever he can do to keep the guys refreshed and energized heading into a game.
On Carson Wentz and the offense
Pederson was asked if he thought the quarterback tried to hard to make something happen late in the game, especially when there may have been other options available. The head coach stood by Wentz and said that trying to create a big moment is in a quarterback’s nature, but at the end of the day, in those situations, Pederson wants the ball in Carson’s hands. He wants Wentz to have control of helping the team winning a football game.
The head coach was asked what he sees missing personnel-wise as a play caller, and Pederson pointed out that they were facing a big and tough Carolina defense, so it was a tough team to run the ball against anyway, but that most of the runs were off RPOs.
Despite the lack of the run game, the team managed 300-plus passing yards and were able to capitalize in that aspect of the offense — including big games for Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz. So overall, Pederson thinks the Eagles offense is right where they need to be in order to find success personnel wise.
There were some questions later on about Pederson’s play calling and whether he thought he should have been more aggressive in some situations (no) and whether he thought he should have called some more deep passes (also, no). Bottom line, he called what he called and hindsight is 20/20.
You can also tell that Pederson is super over answering questions about his running back room, and he emphasized again today that he has not lost confidence in the run game at all. He continued to say that the offensive line is a really talented group and the backs are as well.
He’s not giving up — that’s for sure
“Listen, I got so much confidence in this football team, you don’t understand.”
Pederson went on to say that just the difference of 2 or 3 plays, and then Eagles would be sitting at 5-2 and the conversation around the team would be a lot different.
“We’re gonna get this fixed.”