Now that we’ve concluded the player section of our Eagles outlook series, it’s time to shift attention to Philadelphia’s coaching staff. There’s no better place to start with head coach Doug Pederson. Previously: Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | Offensive tackle | Offensive guard | Center | Defensive end | Defensive tackle | Linebacker | Cornerback | Safety | Specialists | Special teams coverage and return units.
In last year’s edition of this post, Pederson finished with a 99% “stay” rating. Eagles fans were clearly high on the team’s Super Bowl winning head coach heading into 2019. There was excitement about what Pederson could do with a group of skill players that appeared to be very talented and diverse. On paper, at least, the team had strong 11 and 12 personnel packages. Super Bowl expectations were abound.
We saw a glimpse of just how dangerous the Eagles’ 2019 offense could be when they overcame a slow start in Week 1 to finish with 32 points and 436 yards. The thought that DeSean Jackson’s speed would make a big difference for the offense rang true.
Then shit hit the fan in Week 2 with Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, and Dallas Goedert all getting hurt. Carson Wentz almost carried the team to victory but he was let down by his teammates. This lack of support became a common theme for Wentz — and, by extension, Pederson — throughout the season. It was hard to put all the blame on play-calling and scheme issues when the players simply weren’t executing at a competent level.
This isn’t to say that Pederson was faultless. Slow starts, which were a huge issue in 2018, still troubled the Eagles earlier in the season. The offense went through a spell after the Week 10 bye where everything looked broken: from Wentz struggling, to the receivers failing to help at all, to questionable play calls, to a lack of scheme creativity ... all of it.
The Eagles suffered the most embarrassing loss of the Pederson era in Week 13 when they lost to the Miami Dolphins. The outcome of that game — combined with the context of an overall disappointing season — raised questions about Pederson’s outlook.
Things were looking even bleaker for Pederson when the Eagles were down by a score of 17 to 3 to the New York Giants in a must-win home game on Monday Night Football. It looked like the team was done for.
Alas, they were not. In what’s become the hallmark of Pederson-coached teams, the Eagles rallied with their backs against the wall and won in overtime. The Eagles were then able to build on that victory and win their final four games of the 2019 season in order to clinch the NFC East. It was impressive how Pederson was able to cobble together a bunch of practice squad players and make the offense work anyway. Pederson’s coaching assisted in Wentz playing some of his best football of the season down the stretch.
It’s obviously hard to put much blame on Pederson for the Eagles’ playoff loss considering how Jadeveon Clowney’s cheap shot knocked Wentz out of the game early. That the Eagles were able to keep the game within one score despite being quarterbacked by a 40-year-old Josh McCown playing through a torn hamstring was a feat.
The way the 2019 season ended left no doubt that Pederson is the right coach for the Eagles. How the offense was being so productive with a bunch of practice squad players was really impressive.
Overall, the @Eagles' 4 consecutive games with 400+ yards of total offense is tied for the 3rd-longest streak in franchise history:— John Gonoude (@john_gonoude) December 31, 2019
6 (3-3) - 9/9/13-10/13/13
5 (5-0) - 10/25/53-11/21/53
4 (4-0) - 12/9/19-12/29/19
4 (2-2) - 10/2/11-10/30/11#FlyEaglesFly
And no matter how things dark might get, you can’t totally count Pederson’s teams out. They’ve shown remarkable resilience under his leadership. Pederson is 12-3 from Week 15 on over the past three seasons. His teams show up when it matters most.
Now, with that said, it’d be nice if it didn’t take the Eagles finding themselves with their backs against the wall to play their best. Pederson needs to do a better job of not digging holes that the team has to climb out of.
Pederson also needs to beef up his coaching staff. He’s previously been too reliant on internal promotions, such as he was with Mike Groh and Carson Walch. Not all the best answers are always in-house. Pederson can’t let himself go down the road that his mentor Andy Reid went in Philly where there was a struggle to replace quality assistant coaches.
Howie Roseman also needs to give Pederson more help. Although the Eagles’ offense looked pretty good on paper heading into 2019, it wasn’t as great in reality. The lack of speed was clearly the biggest issue as there was no real backup plan for DeSean. Roseman getting some explosive play-maker(s) for Pederson to work with should be a boon for the offense.
If Roseman successfuly does his part, there’s ample reason to feel that Pederson can lead the Eagles to even more success moving forward.
Doug Pederson: Stay or go?
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