The narrative heading into week three of the regular season is crystal clear by this point. The Eagles have struggled for two consecutive weeks to run the ball and the signs of an unbalanced offense are only growing more alarming by the day. What happened to LeGarrette Blount? How will things change in the upcoming game against New York? Both are very valid questions that point towards the accountability of Doug Pederson.
As far as Blounts first game without a carry for what feels like forever is concerned, Pederson simply put it down to situational football. “A lot of times, when you’re in these games like this, and you struggle to run your core runs, it becomes hard.” Pederson told the media on Monday. “And then you put yourself in a second and 12, a second and 13, or even a first-down sack and it’s hard. Now you’re playing — you’re going uphill.”
Situational or not, there’s no denying that for two weeks straight Carson Wentz has had to put the entire Offense on his back. Oddly enough, despite throwing for a combined total of 85 passes in two games, he also leads the team in rushing yards…something which frankly should not be the case for any franchise, let alone a team with a budding offensive line and committee backfield. The offensive front wasn’t the problem as far as Pederson was concerned however.
“Well, this front’s a good front. They put six, they put seven; at times there were eight in the box.” Pederson said. “They choke your tight ends, meaning the guy is right over the top of the tight end. It’s hard to find run lanes against a defense that way and so much man coverage; the ability to shoot the ball down the field in the passing game, where I felt like was going to be our strength in this game, was the area that I focused on.”
Could it be that both the Redskins and the Chiefs simply snuffed out the run and forced the Eagles to become a one-dimensional Offense? Potentially. But with a “punch up the gut” mentality, the Eagles have the pieces to overcome those setbacks both in front of the Wentz and behind him. The problem is that the team simply throw in the towel too early and instead place all their chips on a young quarterback and a versatile wide receiver group.
The development of Doug Pederson as a play-caller is just as important, if not more so than what we see on the field. There’s only so much that Carson Wentz can do if the odds are constantly being stacked against him. Pederson believes that he’s making changes to break outside the norm…but are they having the inverse effect?
“My gut tells me that we’re actually — we’re actually on track. We actually kind of flipped from previous years.” Pederson explained. “Great example was [TE] Zach [Ertz] and [RB Darren] Sproles on the field at the same time. In our past, it’s been heavy pass, and we were actually heavy run. So those are things that we’re focusing on. And then the next thing you do is you look at formations, where are they formationally lined up? Is Zach attached? Is he detached? Where is Sproles in the formation? Those tendencies we’re trying to break as much as we can outside of the normal third-down situation or maybe a two-minute situation.”
If it’s breaking from the norm that Pederson is trying to do, then running the ball would be a start. By now it feels as if the Eagles are being bullied out of running the ball, masking insecurities on the offensive line and in the backfield itself by forcing their quarterback to carry the team. That’s a norm that has to change. If it doesn’t this Eagles Offense may never live up to its full potential under Doug Pederson.
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