Doug Pederson and the Eagles offense need to find their identity
The Eagles have been a lot of things this season; fluid on offense hasn’t been one of them. Whether it’s throwing Jalen Hurts into the game after finally establishing a rhythm or getting away from the run, Doug Pederson hasn’t been doing Carson Wentz any favors.
It’s ludicrous that the Eagles are forcing Jalen Hurts into the playbook for the sake of trying to prove that he was worth the pick.— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) October 23, 2020
Doug’s questionable play-calling was apparent against the Giants last Sunday. With 2:48 remaining in the 3rd quarter, Miles Sanders rushed for a gain of 13 yards and a first down. Wentz throws an incompletion on the following play (would’ve been nice to run the ball again), Doug then elects to run the ball with Hurts on 2nd-down.
Hurts lost a yard on a (predictable) read-option which then set up 3rd & 11. Wentz throws a 1-yard out to Greg Ward and the Eagles punt the ball.
It isn’t a secret that Carson Wentz is a stronger passer outside the pocket. He led the NFL in QBR outside the pocket last season. So why does Doug Pederson refuse to play his franchise QB to his strengths?
The Giants were ranked 26th in defending opposing QBs on the run heading into last Sunday’s game. Yet Doug only game-planned to get Carson on the move a handful of times.
Doug didn’t get Carson moving very much on Sunday, but when he did Wentz was accurate.— Victor Williams (@ThePhillyPod) November 19, 2020
To the surprise of literally no one except Doug himself. pic.twitter.com/pZFcab3zVL
Midway through the 3rd quarter, Wentz picked up 40 yards of offense on consecutive play-action passes. Doug never went back to it. At this point, it’s just sheer negligence from the head coach.
It seems as though Pederson is also trying too hard to maintain his reputation for being “aggressive.” From going for two in situations that don’t demand it to random 4th-down attempts when he should just let his defense play, Doug needs to lay off the “analytics” for awhile.
The play-calling hasn’t even been good enough to warrant Pederson to continue to try and convert on 4th-down. His 4th-down conversion rate has been on a steady decline since 2017:
- 2017: 17/26 on 4th-down (65.4%)
- 2018: 14/23 on 4th-down (60.4%)
- 2019: 8/24 on 4th-down (33.3%)
- 2020: 5/17 on 4th-down (29.4%)
I distinctly remember Doug passing the ball on 4th & 1 against Dallas before the bye week. Boston Scott was averaging 7 yards per carry at the time and Dallas was allowing 180 yards per game on the ground.
The Eagles have had a lot of success when running the football this season. Miles Sanders is 2nd in the league in yards per carry behind Nick Chubb. It would only make too much sense for the head coach to utilize his running backs in short-yardage situations. Boston Scott’s career highlight tape is strictly composed of big plays against the Giants. I have yet to hear an explanation as to why he only touched the ball 4 times on Sunday.
THAT’S NOT MILES SANDERS 😡 pic.twitter.com/OyvTGDWOb4— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) November 15, 2020
From the outside perspective, Doug Pederson has no idea what he wants this offense to look like (probably the result of having 74 offensive coordinators). It’s as if one day he’s structuring a Nick Foles-esque offense then the next day he remembers he has a QB with Wentz’s talents. Doug asked his QB to play mistake-free, conservative football on Sunday and he looked lost without Carson’s hero ball to bail him out.
I’m not absolving Carson Wentz of any blame, he’s played far under his expectations this season. But Doug Pederson needs to either give up play-calling to an actual OC or quickly figure out the identity of his team. Keeping Jalen Hurts off the field unless he’s actually going to play quarterback would be a good start.
Mandatory Credit: Philadelphia Magazine