Upon further review …
Doug Pederson now admits he shouldn’t have punted in the closing seconds of the Eagles’ bizarre 23-23 tie with the Bengals Sunday.
Pederson was already beginning to second guess himself immediately after the game, but Monday morning, during his weekly appearance on the 94 WIP Morning Show, Pederson said that with 19 seconds left — on a 4th-and-12 from the Bengals’ 49-yard-line after Matt Pryor’s penalty — he should have given Carson Wentz and the offense a shot to pick up 12 yards and a first down instead of guaranteeing a tie by punting.
“You go from 4th-and-7 to 4th-and-12, it’s a tough thing,” Pederson said. “Looking back, you probably put it in your quarterback’s hands to win the game. Zach (Ertz) was having a decent second half and some of the guys, and you look back at it and you go, ‘Let’s trust those guys and put it in their hands.’ But 4th and 12, to overcome that, it’s got to take 11 guys doing the right thing.”
Since 2016, when Pederson became the Eagles’ head coach, the Eagles have gone for it an NFL-high 102 times on 4th down, converting 52 times for 51 percent. This year, they’re 0-for-3.
Under Doug, the Eagles are 2-for-4 on 4th-and-12 or longer, with both conversions coming last year — a 17-yard Wentz completion to Ertz against the Vikings on a 4th-and-15 and a 43-yard completion to Nelson Agholor on a 4th-and-14 against the Falcons.
The non-conversions were a pass to Darren Sproles against the Packers in 2016 on a 4th-and-29 and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside’s goal-line drop against the Lions last year on a 4th-and-15.
“I hate the fact that the game came down to that one play,” Pederson said. “We should have won the game. Probably in regulation, looking back on it.”
Pederson alluded to the Eagles’ offensive issues this year and poor record on fourth down so far as reasons to punt.
The Eagles’ three failed 4th-down tries this year were a sack on a 4th-and-4 vs. Washington, an incompletion to Ertz on a 4th-and-3 against Washington and an incompletion to Dallas Goedert against the Rams.
The Eagles late in Sunday’s game were playing without injured Goedert and DeSean Jackson and without inactive Jalen Reagor and Alshon Jeffery.
What went into the decision?
“Things that go into the decision: I believe we haven’t converted a 4th down all season other than a quarterback sneak, so our execution there has been lacking just a little bit,” Pederson said. “But looking back at it, I would have probably gone the other way and taken a chance, maybe a shot down the field and put the ball up in the air. Looking back on it obviously with clear eyes this morning. A lot of things could have happened. DPI, illegal contact, could have been an offensive holding, could have been a sack. There’s a lot of things that go into those plays. But, yeah, looking back on it, it’s probably what I would do.”
It came off as Pederson showing Sunday that he doesn’t trust his offense to execute a crucial play at the end of the game and felt there was a better chance of something going wrong and giving the Bengals a chance to get into field goal range without a timeout than getting a first down and a field goal.
“Not at all,” Pederson said. “I still trust in the guys, I still believe in the guys, and these are things that we will learn from. I will learn from it. I’ve never been in this situation as a coach obviously to make this decision at the end of the game like this, and these are things that we continue to coach, we continue to teach. This is why we get in this business. I made 92 other decisions offensively in this game plus a few more, and that’s just what it comes down to. It comes down to making those one or two right decisions and that’s on me.”