Posted: January 13th, 2018 | Author: Tommy Lawlor | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »
The Eagles just won a playoff game. That’s a big deal no matter what. Then you think about the fact that the Eagles were missing:
QB Carson Wentz
RB Darren Sproles
LT Jason Peters
LB Jordan Hicks
ST Chris Maragos
PK Caleb Sturgis
That’s pretty incredible.
There is a lot of credit to go around, but Doug Pederson has to be at the top of the list. He has done an amazing job this year, getting this team to play at a high level no matter who is hurt. Pederson’s “Next Man Up” message is easy to dismiss by those on the outside, the players believe it.
I think one of the reasons the players buy into Pederson’s message is that he puts actions behind his words. I have used this example a few times this year, but the decision to make Halapoulivaati Vaitai the RT last year spoke volumes to me. Pederson trusted his rookie O-lineman and gave him a chance to play. Big V struggled initially, but Pederson stuck with him. Big V did a solid job. This year he had to play LT when Jason Peters went down. Vaitai has been up and down, but he’s played well enough for this team to keep winning.
Dallas LT Tyron Smith missed some games this season and you would think the Cowboys were missing the greatest player in the history of sports. The offense struggled to move the ball and the team struggled to win.
This year Pederson embraced UDFA Corey Clement. It was one thing for the rookie RB to make the team, but Pederson actually played him, and sometimes in some key situations. Clement got Red Zone touches. He got 3rd down touches. He got 4th quarter touches.
Some coaches embrace their star players more than others. Pederson has made it clear from Day One that this is a team. Everyone is part of that and is expected to contribute. This isn’t Carson Wentz and the 52 Pickups. This is the Philadelphia Eagles. If you are on the roster, you’ve got a job to do.
Pederson also helps matters with how he runs his team. With Foles taking over, Pederson could have started to be conservative and played not to lose. Instead, Pederson stayed aggressive. He let Foles know that it was his responsibility to play well and help this team out. Rather than lowering the team to the level of the backup, Pederson is forcing the backup to raise his game to the level of the team. That’s great coaching.
Think about the opening play of today’s game. Pederson had Foles throw deep. The pass was into the wind and it turned out to be a duck. The Eagles got lucky to get a PI call out of it. Still, I love the fact that Pederson was in attack mode.
Pederson isn’t careless. He’s aggressive. He pushes his players by challenging them. For the most part, that has brought out the best in the Eagles.
I’ll write about the specific game management later on.
For now, I’m just appreciating what a great job Pederson has done this year. Tonight was no different. He pushed the right buttons and got this team to win a tough playoff game.
The Eagles weren’t perfect. They turned the ball over twice. They missed an extra point. There were some costly penalties and missed opportunities. But the Eagles still found a way to win.
This is a damn good team. And they have a damn good coach.
There was one magical moment in the game for Doug the play-caller.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) January 13, 2018
I don’t know that I’ve ever seen an NFL team run that. The Eagles have had it in all year, but saved the play for the right moment. It worked perfectly and set up the team’s only TD. Great call, great execution.