What if the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t receive a tremendous defensive performance against the Redskins in Week 1 and a once in lifetime heroic kick from a 22-year-old rookie in Week 3 versus the Giants?
You may be thinking, “Uram, what gives? This is the fourth column in five weeks about Doug Pederson.”
Very true. But No. 4 is meant to be a strong reminder that the Eagles biggest problem isn’t in their young, competing secondary that is overachieving, their revolving door at left guard or unfortunate injuries to key players. It’s not even with the underwhelming performances by off-season free agents Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and LeGarrette Blount, issues you could blame Howie Roseman/Joe Douglas more than Pederson.
RELATED: Is Doug Pederson Qualified Enough to Coach in the NFL?
The fourth column in five weeks about the Birds head coach is a reminder their biggest problem is the guy calling plays. It’s the light resume, second year head coach who communicates with the analytics department in game, while making extremely questionable football decisions.
Let’s be honest, Pederson may be one of the most likable Philadelphia sports figures in decades. He is forthcoming, fairly honest, genuine and an obvious leader of men who resonates with his players. That is the type of person you want to see succeed.
Unlike his predecessors before him, the Birds’ head coach doesn’t disrespect the media (an ultimately the fans) with rude and curt press conference answers. However, that doesn’t mean you’re not left scratching your head thinking, “Did he really just say he’s still learning a bit?”
There were many play-calling and in-game decisions by Pederson over the past 19 weeks of football, dating back to the start of the 2016 season that were extremely questionable, and potentially costly, for the Birds. None were as mind boggling as the decision to go for 4th-and-8 on the Giants 43 yard line leading 7-0 with 2:36 to go in the first half, especially since New York was receiving the ball after halftime.
If the referees actually made the right call on Sterling Shepard’s end zone catch or Ben McAdoo decides to kick a field goal on that drive, the Eagles very likely don’t win Sunday and it’s a crushing loss that would be very hard to overcome.
The beautiful thing about this situation is Pederson can learn, as stated after the Kansas City loss, and reckless situations like the 4th-and-8 debacle can be avoided.
Peterson’s likability and ability to motivate players will be what keeps him around through any long term struggles that team may endure. He needs to start using common sense, though, or his luck will run out.
Before I forget…
• Other than Carson Wentz’s mic’d up segment and him and Jake Elliott deciding to give some of his game check to charity, my favorite sports moment of the week was when Joel Embiid called out Howard Eskin for his report that a contract issue is why the big man isn’t participating in 5-on-5 half a year after minor meniscus surgery. While it was funny, I believe Howard and it’s why the 76ers need to pay Embiid yesterday. While JoJo’s health will always be a concern, “The Process” is a fail if the 76ers’ future doesn’t involve Embiid. They’ve invested in him this much so far. They need to go a step further.
• Public enemy No. 1 at Citizens Bank Park is Jayson Werth. The former Phillie is always booed upon returning with the rival Nationals. While guys named Utley, Rollins and Ruiz get standing ovations, the always reliable right-handed bat that got away gets heckled to no end. It’s understandable considering Werth left for an inferior team at the time, and within the division. Not to mention, he’s always come off as a distant and cold fellow who’s hard to like (at least Chase Utley ran his tail off and cursed at the parade). But, what Werth said after possibly his last game at Citizens Bank Park is interesting. Werth tipped his helmet to the fans and later said to The Inquirer‘s Matt Gelb, “I was made as a Phillie.” If I had to make a prediction, years down the line at a 2008 Phillies reunion, Werth will be invited and finally be cheered again. While it’s totally justifiable, the fan base can’t boo the hairy fellow forever. He was too good in red pinstripes, and was never replaced.
• I’m happy to report that I won my fantasy baseball league over the weekend, this after not keeping track of it for at least half the season (and that’s generous). I won because in the New York City based league I was in, no one else knew about Rhys Hoskins before I did. And while the young slugger struggled over the final two weeks of the league, he and Nick Williams (yup, I picked him up too) without question propelled me into an epic comeback. Hoskins and Williams succeeded because they’re talented, young players. They’re talented, young players that Pete Mackanin did not get the privilege to manage for almost a full season. While in all likelihood Mackanin will return for the final year of his contract, it’s concerning to read that he’s still unsure if he’ll be back next season. If Matt Klentak does not retain Mackanin, it will be the exact opposite philosophy he’s held with his top prospects, patience. Mackanin deserves one full season with a lineup that doesn’t include a Michael Saunders-type, or a pitching staff that isn’t in shambles.
• I made a mistake in my column last week when I called the Flyers boring. I needed to specify. Most of the Flyers veterans, like Claude Giroux, Jake Voracek and Sean Couturier are boring. Their head coach is worse than paint drying on a wall. But as a franchise going forward, they’re quite interesting, especially if six rookies make the team. A lot of these young kids, whether it’s Sam Morin, Travis Sanheim or Nolan Patrick look really good. Add them onto a team with Ivan Provorov, Shayne Gostisbehere and Travis Konency, then buying hockey tickets to Wells Fargo Center is worth it again. It’s pretty obvious youth is interesting. Maybe that should be thought about when an over abundance of patience is often applied with Philadelphia’s sports teams.