The Eagles may have fallen at the final hurdle in Sunday’s loss to the Ravens, but had a 2-pt conversion attempt been successful, the Eagles would have caused their fourth upset of the season. While many question Pederson’s decision to go for two points as opposed to sending the game to overtime, the decision to do so is symbolic of a swift change in Philadelphia.
It was only this time a few weeks ago that questions surrounding Doug Pederson’s long-term future were raised after an embarrassing loss to the Bengals. From concerns over a shifted mentality to how his players responded, the future began to darken for the Eagles.
The team resurged against the Redskins, those whose lack of effort was critiqued played hard and the team lost by five against a battling Washington Offense. Would the wind be knocked out of the sails one final time after Carson Wentz played his best game of the season, or would the losing finally take a toll on the Eagles?
Despite losing four consecutive games en route to watching playoff hopes slip away, the Eagles showed up with a fighting attitude on Sunday. The game started relatively slowly, with the birds struggling to balance the Offense and sustain drives..but some big Defensive plays and come confident throws from Carson Wentz thrust the Eagles back into the mix.
At this stage in the season, teams who are out of the playoff race traditionally show up to play in the first half, but if the game gets out of hand or begins to slip away..the effort dips. That could not have been farther from the truth for the Eagles yesterday though.
The Defense battled mightily in the second half to come back from a 20-14 deficit, forcing the Ravens into two punts and an interception during the closing stages of the game and giving their Offense a shot at a comeback.
Carson Wentz then led his team down the field in a crunch time situation, managing the game clock and driving his Offense to the goal line before rushing it in for the score. Doug Pederson then had a tough decision to make with little time left and his team down by one..but it was a decision that unified the team.
After talking with the Offensive leaders, Pederson elected to go for the win. The players were on the same page as their Head Coach once again in a mutual decision. The trust and vision of Doug Pederson was reciprocated by his players who had fought valiantly until this point.
Regardless of whether you agree, or disagree with Pederson’s game-deciding call, the fact is that there was a decision to be made to begin with. This game had the potential to be very one sided..from a statistical, talent and bigger picture standpoint. But Pederson rallied his team for a fight..and the Eagles went down swinging.
The Eagles never-say-die attitude may not have been rewarded with a victory, but it very nearly was. The Redskins and Ravens are two teams competing heavily for the playoffs..and just two weeks after a blowout to the Bengals that sent severe shockwaves through the Locker room, the Eagles played as if their season had just been getting started.
The play-calls may be debatable, the talent may be lacking in some areas and the team is still very young. But once fractures rippled through the locker room one year ago, it resulted in the firing of Chip Kelly. Doug Pederson’s emotional side and connections with his players has instead pulled his team closer together than ever, dispelling any questions of effort or desire..and given the incredibly unique circumstance that this team finds itself in, that is beyond impressive and an encouraging sign for the future.
The Eagles are all in on Doug Pederson..just as Doug Pederson is all in on the Eagles. A very subtle, but also indicative sign of this is the following:
Pederson says he relies on charts/percentages/analytics more each day. Also, tarot cards. Runes. Tea leaves. #Eagles
— Marcus Hayes (@inkstainedretch) December 19, 2016
Pederson recently told the media that he has become far more reliant on analytics in recent weeks. It would be no coincidence then that the Eagles had taken on an Analytics Intern after the loss to the Bengals, as well as hiring Bryce Johnston. Unfamiliar to some, Johnston was a former employee of “Over The Cap” and has worked extremely closely with all things salary cap and Eagles related. He now finds himself a member of the Eagles organization, with the title of Football Administration Intern.
Culture is everything in the NFL..and for the Eagles to be stood on the edge of a cliff no less than three games ago, only to be pulled from the brink by Doug Pederson is a sign of things to come. Through injury setbacks, a lack of depth at key positions and a clear mismatch on paper..the Eagles Head Coach helped his team see through the smoke and mirrors and re affirmed his “one game at a time” mentality.