After the rollercoaster that was the NFL Draft, you’d be hard-pressed to find people who weren’t excited about the Eagles – or at the very least, intrigued. Not only did they shock the world with the selection of a quarterback in the second round, but their haul was filled with speed, speed, and more speed. On the back of that, the team totally revamped their offensive coordinator position by bringing on a flurry of new names to replace Mike Groh. But as we head towards the end of year one, all of that excitement has turned into utter confusion.
Go go coaching rangers!
Doug Pederson was joined by a band of merry men this season. Press Taylor became a passing-game coordinator, while Marty Mornhinweg and Rich Scangarello were brought on to spice things up in consulting positions. From an outside view, this surely pointed to one thing – moving the launch point for Carson Wentz.
Wentz thrived in play-action looks during that memorable four-game stretch to close out 2019 and it made sense to implement more. Scangarello had previously helped run an array of play-action to help Drew Lock in his rookie year, while Mornhinweg’s most recent experience came in 2018 where he facilitated the growth of Lamar Jackson, 2QB sets, and of course, play-action. It all fell perfectly into place, especially with the drafting of Jalen Hurts…or so it seemed.
The Eagles offense needs a megazord
With one game remaining in the 2020 NFL season, the Eagles’ offense couldn’t be further from a juggernaut if it tried. Sure, having close to three thousand offensive line combinations helps nobody, but the play-calls had been stale until the benching of Carson Wentz forced a rejuvenation.
Had Carson Wentz let opportunities pass him by? Yes. Was he also the most sacked quarterback in the NFL? Yes. Could several of those sacks have been avoided if the Eagles weren’t scheming up plays that relied on long-developing routes? Probably.
Not only that, but the entire premise of play-action is that it is built on the foundation of a run-game – a run-game that the Eagles do not have and that’s totally by choice. Miles Sanders has less carries than he did as a rookie and he spent half of that year playing second-fiddle to Jordan Howard. Had it not been for numerous 70+ yard breakaway runs, his stat-line would read very differently and his receiving usage dropped off a cliff this season. The lack of rushing has been frightening and it took a dual-threat quarterback to even give the team a sign of life on the ground.
Doug Pederson remains the loudest voice in the room
Whatever has happened why it’s happened is not what matters here. What does is how the team plans to fix it this offseason. A lot of people are pointing to the newly-formed offensive structure with a ‘too many chefs in the kitchen mentality’ and it’s not like Doug Pederson did much to dispel that notion when talking with the media on Friday.
“There’s a lot of positive that comes out of those communications and those talks, those ideas. Really everybody has great ideas. That’s part of putting plans together.
But at the end of the day I want to make sure there’s one voice, and that’s my voice, that’s heard offensively and nobody else’s. That’s the part that I’ve got to get across to the staff, and I have done that. I want to make sure that there’s one voice talking to the quarterbacks, whoever is in this room. [Passing game coordinator/quarterbacks coach] Press [Taylor] has been in that room, [pass game analyst] Andrew Breiner has been in that room.
They’re speaking the same language, we’re all on the same page. I think that’s very important at every position. I want Stout [offensive line/run game coordinator Jeff Stoutland] to run the offensive line, even though [assistant run game coordinator/assistant running backs coach] T.J. Paganetti and [assistant head coach/running backs coach] Duce [Staley] and [tight ends coach] Justin Peelle all help in the run game, Roy Istvan, they all help in the run game, but Stout is the voice, right? Same way in the running back room. That’s something that comes from me.
As the season ends this weekend for us, it will be evaluated moving forward.”
Where does that leave the Eagles?
So what this translates to is ‘having strength in numbers is fine but my voice is the one that matters’. If that’s the case, then why was this staff assembled to begin with? While this is only an interpretation of these comments it can be backed up on film.
Why do the Eagles rank 24th in penalties? Why are there maybe 2-3 play-action looks per game along with such a lack of discipline? How is it that the Eagles rank 26th in run-play % but 2nd in yards per rush? All of this just screams there being a flurry of new ideas that Pederson is reluctantly half-implementing while wanting to stay committed to his own philosophies and ideals, resulting in an absolute mess.
The Eagles will absolutely need to re-evaluate this offensive structure during the offseason as well as Doug Pederson’s future. Whether there’s another rebuild or a total demolition job remains to be seen, but while the idea was brilliant on paper, it has been nothing but chaos in actuality.
Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire