Eagles Coach Doug Pederson Believes His Offense is Pressing
PHILADELPHIA - Lost in the morass of Cre'Von LeBlanc, Chandon Sullivan, De'Vante Bausby and a near 50-burger from the New Orleans Saints was just how bad Carson Wentz and the offense performed during the Eagles' ineptitude in the Big Easy.
While observers can haggle back and forth on whether Philadelphia's offensive woes can be traced to the plays or the players executing them, rest assured both were culpable in what was the worst loss in history by a reigning Super Bowl champion, a 48-7 drubbing in which no one would have blamed referee Carl Cheffers for invoking the mercy rule.
About the only thing, Drew Brees and Carson Wentz had in common on Sunday was the loosely thrown around superstar tag. The former played as advertised, completing 22-of-30 for 363 yards and four touchdowns with a 153.2 passer rating, perilously close to the perfection of 158.3. The latter had his worst game as a pro, growing more frustrated as the scoreboard got more lopsided, finishing 19-of-33 for 156 yards with three interceptions and a passer rating of 31.9, far beneath the Saint's change-of-pace, zone-read option QB Taysom Hill never mind Brees.
The red flags started when Wentz didn't recognize Marcus Lattimore peeling off Alshon Jeffery in coverage when trying to hit a deep shot to Nelson Agholor late in the first quarter with the Eagles down 10-0.
"I was just mad at myself. Because I just didn't see the coverage right," Wentz admitted when discussing the interception. "I knew the type of ballgame we were in. We put an emphasis on starting fast, and we didn't do that. I obviously didn't do that either."
Typically cool, calm and collected Wentz was pictured firing his helmet at one point in arguably his most accurate throw of the afternoon as the season-long narrative of starting slowly with the scripted offense continued for the Eagles.
"We just didn't show up early today. We didn't show up, and we got beat," Wentz surmised. "Give them credit, but we know we're better than what we put out there today. I know, myself, I got to be better. I got to lead these guys better, I got to come out swinging better and move the ball, move the chains, and I didn't do that, and this team didn't do it."
Pederson tried to explain some of the early-game struggles on Monday.
"Well, let me just clarify the scripting of plays," Pederson began. "Those are not the first 15 plays of the game. Those are first and second down thoughts and ideas. Once you get off script a little bit, you go into your third-down menu, maybe your red-zone menu. So these are just first and second down thoughts going into the game and things we practice during the week, so we prepare the guys for these opportunities."
Fair enough, the so-called scripting of the first 15 plays, a concept popularized by Bill Walsh, is always fluid but rarely has Pederson or offensive coordinator Mike Groh had the need to go to the red-zone portion of the play card and third downs have been just as ineffective as those "first and second down thoughts and ideas."
"... Sometimes I think because there's been so much made about, and rightfully so, so much made about the way we've started games differently than a year ago that sometimes you want to make the play," Pederson said. "And again, I think I mentioned this after the game, players just need to make the plays that come to them and don't go looking for plays. There's enough out there that when the play comes, you make it, and it starts with the first play of the game."