Regardless of a bad call, or two — or twelve — on Sunday against the Cowboys, the same issues that have plagued the Eagles all season continued to be problems. From a slow offensive start, to questionable play-calling, there was plenty of blame to go around following the overtime loss.
Head coach Doug Pederson spoke to the media on Monday and took responsibility for the things that faltered under his stead, and what their plan is now for the remainder of the season.
Here’s what Pederson had to say:
The first thing the head coach was asked on Monday was about how they had a week of practice to focus on what they would do offensively, and yet they fell so far short during the first half against the Cowboys. The initial question boiled down to how was the offense such a problem with so many playmakers on the roster.
Pederson admitted that across the board they need to do better, from coaching to playing better and playing with a sense of urgency by everybody going into any game. The bottom line, he said, was that they need to get out to a faster start and execute better.
The followup question was pointed to why those things haven’t changed, especially considering Pederson has spent many weeks harping on the team’s need to start fast throughout the season. The head coach noted that it was disappointing because their focus on those areas hasn’t translated to game days.
But Pederson did take things a step further, and talked about how it all comes down to how he is teaching plays and how he is teaching openers, and that he shoulders a lot of responsibility because he is the one calling plays. He said that is where he’s got to start.
On the option play for Carson Wentz
Pederson said that it was actually a well-designed play (on the 3rd-and-1) and that they anticipated No. 90 to spike and to come inside of Lane Johnson on their short-yardage front. They were then going to combo Wentz and Zach Ertz up to the backer and then option off No. 38, and Wentz could’ve just dove for that one yard. But, No. 90 didn’t spike and stayed on Lane’s outside, which Pederson noted was a good play by Dallas.
On Wentz’s development since his injury
It was pointed out that it was a year ago today that Wentz went down with his torn ACL/LCL and what Pederson had seen from the quarterback in that time and also what he wants to see from him moving forward.
The head coach said that first and foremost, the mental journey coming back from an injury like that and still trying to stay prepared while also rehabbing is something to laud — and something that all the other guys who sat out at the end of last season had to endure as well. He noted that in Carson’s case, missing out on training camp and the first couple of games set him up to just now be getting into the rhythm of things.
And while Pederson pointed out that Wentz is feeling good and better than he ever has, he did emphasize that the mental aspect does take a bit longer to catch up to what he’s been able to do physically. And that’s the same for guys like Darren Sproles and Jason Peters — noting that Peters fought though a few other unrelated injuries.
But when asked if Wentz was mentally there, Pederson didn’t hesitate to say “100%”. When pushed about whether the QB’s mobility was back to what it was last year, Pederson said that he has escaped the pocket some this year and does still have that mobility. In terms of Sunday’s game against the Cowboys, Pederson noted that several of the sacks came due to the collapse of the pocket and being forced to stay in the pocket without any tangible run lanes.
On Wentz’s accuracy against Dallas
Pederson said, “he’s been good, I wouldn’t say he’s been great” but said he made some great plays in the fourth quarter. He went on to say that the quarterback’s accuracy doesn’t just lie with Wentz, but Pederson also has to evaluate the route-running and coverage and protection when establishing Wentz’s accuracy.
The head coach also noted that accuracy is something Wentz, along with QB coach Press Taylor have been working on, and he does see that it’s improving.
On not going for 2
Pederson said that he has to look at a whole lot of other aspects of the game when reviewing whether or not he should have gone for two points on the final score in regulation. He talked about if they had made the earlier point after, a one-point kick would have given them the lead versus the tie.
The head coach explained that all of their analytics and numbers told them they’d have more success by going for one point versus two. He went on to say that they had the discussion about it on the field during a review, and they went through the two scenarios.
He noted that if they went for two and missed it, it’d be game over, but if they went for two and made it, the Cowboys still had two time outs left and some time left on the clock. Compared to kicking it and tying things up, when even though Dallas still had two time outs, they’d be less likely to end up going for it on fourth down in a tie situation.
After some back and forth with reporters who were questioning the call, particularly in light of his book being titled “Fearless” and that call being anything but, Pederson doubled down that he stood by his decision and in that situation, would call it the same way.
Furthermore, he explained that he didn’t call a timeout following the final sack of the game (with 10 or 11 seconds still left on the clock) to force Dallas to punt because they wouldn’t have used their timeouts anyway and if they did punt, Pederson said it’d have probably gone into the endzone resulting in them kneeling it and having no timeouts and four seconds left, and ultimately, it wasn’t worth it to him.
The team is still waiting on some MRI and test results for both Corey Clement and Josh Sweat, but they should get those later on Monday. Pederson said he’d expect to have an update for the media from those guys on Wednesday.
Isaac Seumalo will be day-to-day with his pec injury.
Pederson was asked about Sidney Jones and his hamstring not being 100% and his difficulty covering Amari Cooper. The head coach struggled to start his answer and admitted he had to be careful with his word choice. He did note that Cooper is an extremely talented receiver and is tough to cover, and pointed out that Jones had a couple of plays early on.
“You’ll have to continue to ask Sidney about the rest of it,” Pederson finished.
He was also asked if the string of injuries to Jones makes it difficult to evaluate him as a young player, and Pederson admitted a little, but that they had an idea of the kind of player they were getting based on his college film. He went on to say that Jones is a tremendous corner, and for any player who is dealing with injury, it can pull a player away from playing at a high level sometimes — and that’s something Pederson can appreciate as a former player.
Later on, he even further noted that they are going to continue to evaluate Sidney Jones daily, and not just physically, but mentally as well — particularly as it relates to getting over those injuries.
On whether anything new had happened to Jalen Mills’ foot, Pederson said they were optimistic that it’d get better, but it just wasn’t happening. He was in and out of the boot as far as reporters saw, but Pederson said that additional testing showed that he should be back in the boot to see if it could promote healing.
Finally, the are hoping to maybe get Avonte Maddox back this week to add some depth to the secondary.