Aggressive Doug Needs To Pick His Spots
By Rob Maaddi
Aggressive Doug needs to pick his spots better.
The Eagles won a Super Bowl with Doug Pederson being unconventional, putting his trust in his players to execute in situations when most coaches would be more conservative. We all remember the “Philly Special” against the Patriots.
But this isn’t the same team.
With a 17-0 lead against Washington and 1:44 left in the second quarter, the Eagles got the ball at their 28. Pederson called a pass on the first play on the team’s first four possessions. He finally called a run on the fifth one. Boston Scott lost 3 yards.
So, Pederson went back to the pass. He does that often, losing patience with the run game quickly.
Carson Wentz underthrew Jalen Reagor and the ball was picked by Fabian Moreau at the Eagles 45. Wentz made a poor throw, though Reagor didn’t make a strong play to break it up. We don’t know if the route was run correctly, either. Can’t have that turnover.
Washington took advantage of the short field, Dwayne Haskins connected on four straight passes after starting 3 of 12 and his 6-yard TD pass to Logan Thomas gave the team momentum. Haskins then stepped in for coach Ron Rivera, who was getting an IV treatment, and fired up his teammates with a passionate halftime speech.
Pederson doesn’t believe in taking his foot off the gas pedal, but a 17-0 lead, a porous offensive line and the ball to start the third quarter should have been enough reason to run on first down and work the clock going into halftime.
“I guess you’re asking me if I could have run the ball when we were up 17-0 the rest of the game,” Pederson said Monday. “Yeah, that’s being less aggressive, but listen, I’m going to do what I feel is the best interest of the football team and we cannot turn the ball over. We cannot have eight sacks. We cannot put our defense on the short side of the field as an offense. We have to execute better on fourth down. We have a guy open; we don’t execute the protection. We drop a pass on another fourth down in the game.
“So there’s all kinds of things that we can point the finger at. I can do a better job with a couple of play calls throughout the game, and those are all things that we take away from this first game and we are probably sitting here asking different questions.”
Pederson also went for it on fourth-and-4 from the Washington 45 with a 17-14 lead late in the third quarter. Carson Wentz got sacked and Washington got the tying field goal on the next possession.
At a different point in the season, especially if the offensive line is actually protecting Wentz, or against a better offense, that call makes sense. But Washington hadn’t show any ability to drive the ball. There was no reason to give them a short field.
Again, Aggressive Doug doesn’t have to turn into Mr. Conservative. He just has to choose his spots better.