Well, it wasn’t pretty, and there’s plenty of blame to spread around for the Eagles overtime loss to the Titans in Week 4, including the somewhat surprisingly conservative (read: boring) play calling from Doug Pederson.
The head coach spoke to the media on Monday to recap what went wrong for the Philadelphia team, and whether they expect to return any of their injured players ahead of next Sunday’s game against the Minnesota Vikings. The Vikings are looking for revenge from last year’s playoff and the Eagles will need to bring their “A” game in order to get back on the winning side of things.
Here’s what the head coach had to say:
He was asked about the red zone snaps on Sunday and whether there was a common thread in not getting into the endzone. Pederson talked about having some negative-yard plays, not being able to shoot the ball down field and penalties all being contributing factors.
“Bottom line, you can’t make mistakes in the redzone.”
He talked about the team putting themselves into opportunities to score by getting down there, but they need to do more offensively to make the most of those changes.
Pederson also elaborated on the lack of big throws, and says its a combination of protection and all the different offensive weapons, including the quarterback. He said looking back at the film there is improvement needed by all three of those aspects.
He was then asked about giving up three fourth downs, including the 4th and 15, and Pederson didn’t hesitate to say “we know that can’t happen”. He also acknowledged if that 4th and 15 didn’t happen, the Eagles would have put the game away right then and would be celebrating Victory Monday 3-1.
He did say it’s all fixable and coachable, and that it’s not an issue related to scheme.
Pederson was asked about Jalen Mills and what some of the cause for his performance so far this season.
“Well, it’s tough,” said Pederson. “I mean, these corners are on islands a lot. I think, too, I look at it from an offensive perspective. That when you see a guy that maybe you can attack, you attack. And I think that’s what offenses are doing right now.”
“He’s a good player. We have a lot of confidence in him. He has a lot of confidence in himself. A lot of it just comes down to detail the work. And understand the situation, what teams are going to try to do against you, understanding that, and trying to use that as a strength. He’s working through it. He’ll get better. And we’ll get better as a team.”
Pederson was later asked whether teams targeting them deep is scheme related or personnel related, the head coach noted it wasn’t the scheme. He continued to talk about how until the Eagles prove they can stop it, opposing team’s will keep challenging them down the field — pointing out specifically, “You saw Tampa Bay do it, now you saw Tennessee do it”.
The media dug a little deeper and asked then if that meant it was personnel related. In what probably wasn’t supposed to be, but really was, a dig at Mills, Pederson said that it wasn’t really personnel related, but moreso each man understand their job and doing it a little better.
Later in his press conference he clarified that he didn’t think offenses were attacking Mills specifically, but rather the defense as a whole. He talked about allowing enough big plays at this point in the season that opposing teams think they can take advantage of a struggling secondary.
The head coach was asked how he chooses which personnel moves to make — or not — related to some of those mistakes on defense. Pederson talked about this being a team sport and in all three phases, the Eagles as a whole need to get more efficient.
He continued to talk about how the coaches have a tough job to take an overall look at efficiency of players and positions before arbitrarily swapping people out. If you start moving people around, it in turns move others guys around, and it can get messy.
Pederson noted that they are going to take the next few days to evaluate everyone, including the coaching staff, and see if there’s a change to made. If there is, they’ll make it, and if not, they’ll leave it alone.
At the end of the day though, he admitted that they can coach a little bit better and get the guys prepared to play. Pederson also noted that they make these personnel assessments each week as they review film from the game before.
He also noted that they aren’t making any moves at safety just yet, but they are bringing in some guys to look at on Monday afternoon and then they’ll make a decision that’s best for the team.
In the meantime, Avonte Maddox was moved to yet another new position as a first-year player, and while it might put some extra pressure on the rookie, Pederson noted that is what these guys are asked to do. Especially for the Eagles, the guys in the secondary are often asked to cover in different roles.
Pederson said it’s important for the team to understand how to play as Champions. Players and coaches with the Philadelphia Eagles have certain expectations, and when they aren’t living up to those expectations, they need to zero in on what they can fix and figure out why.
He said the sense of urgency needs to be heightened at the moment. Pederson was sure to note that it’s not time to panic just yet, but it’s a heightened awareness of where we are as a football team and where they want to get to.
They have to eliminate the penalties and turnovers, which are coming at the wrong time — although he noted there’s never a right time for those errors.