Pederson’s Play Calling Kills Eagles… Again!

Gianfranco Illiano, Centurion Staff

For the second consecutive week, the Eagles lost to a division rival in heart-breaking fashion. This time around, they lost to the New York Giants 28-23.
There are plenty of reasons why the Eagles failed to win this game, but there’s one that really sticks out—the play calling. Doug Pederson, for the second week in a row, called a terrible game on offense with his abysmal decisions that led to negative plays that ultimately cost the Eagles the game.
People may argue that the two interceptions thrown by Carson Wentz were the main reason why the Eagles lost. However, those setbacks came very early in the game and there were plenty of opportunities later in the contest to make up for those turnovers. Nonetheless, Carson Wentz struggled throughout the game.
There’s an old saying in football, “take what the defense gives you.” Eagles’ head coach, Doug Pederson, seems to not understand that concept.
When the opportunities came to score three points, the Eagles’ coach decided to go for it on fourth down, and in the end, the team didn’t convert. Yes, hindsight is 20/20, but all good coaches know that there are good and bad times to be aggressive. However, Doug Pederson evidently disagrees with that philosophy, which is strange considering last week’s game against the Cowboys, he seemed to be too conservative. Obviously, there seems to be a lack of balance.
Believe it or not, the Eagles started the season 3-0 and rookie coach Doug Pederson looked to have all the makings of a veteran who called decent games. The Eagles won those games because their offense was balanced when it came to running and passing the ball.
In those three games, the Eagles ran the ball 96 times and passed the ball 102 times which is almost as good as it gets when it comes to being balanced. Since those three wins, the Eagles are 1-4 and the play calling has been atrocious. In the past five games, the Eagles have run the ball 117 times and passed the ball 174 times. That is clearly unbalanced and a recipe to lose.
It’s simply unfair to ask a rookie quarterback to throw that many times, especially with suspect wide receivers who can’t run routes and have trouble catching the ball.
The best way to win games with or without a rookie quarterback, is to establish the run game because it opens up everything and it keeps the defense on their heels. The Eagles seemed to understand that in the first three games of the season. Now, it’s like they completely forgot that they’re allowed to have an even amount of run and pass plays.
Doug Pederson needs to get back to calling a balanced offense immediately, as the team now stands at 4-4—the bottom of the NFC East. Pederson needs to also feature the tight ends more consistently in the passing game, especially Zach Ertz, who can become a matchup problem for defenses. Thankfully, Pederson did include Ertz in the game plan on Sunday, as Ertz finished the game with eight catches, 97 yards receiving.
Watching these games in the past few weeks, the play calling on first and second down has been so defective, especially against the Giants. If you watch closely, the Eagles are running plays that feature delayed handoffs, which are never effective unless you’re in an obvious pass situation where you might catch the defense off guard.
On one of the fourth down plays, the Eagles needed one yard to get the first down and the Eagles ran a run play with Darren Sproles, who stands at 5’6” 190 pounds, to the right side and was immediately stopped. It doesn’t make sense to run that play with the smallest player in the NFL. In that situation, the Eagles should’ve plugged in Ryan Mathews who stands at 6’0” 220 pounds.
There were a lot of bad play calls in this game, but there’s two plays in short yardage situations the Eagles desperately needed to convert and they failed to do so by calling a quarterback sweep, not once, but twice! As far as anyone knows, the only quarterback in the NFL that should be running sweep plays is Cam Newton and Carson Wentz is far from being Cam Newton despite being similar in size.
The bottom line is that Doug Pederson called a terrible game, especially in short yardage situations. He needs to get back to calling a balanced offense that features a fair amount of run and pass plays. The aggressiveness is great, no doubt about it, but Pederson needs to understand that there are times where it’s okay to settle for a field goal, which proved to be costly on Sunday, as the Eagles left six points on the field and lost the game by five points.