Eagles

Doug Pederson and the myth of the ineffective running game

Doug Pederson and the myth of the ineffective running game

Doug Pederson was asked several different ways why he abandoned the run in the second half Sunday, and his answer has been the same.

He didn’t run because it wasn’t working.

“You're talking about a big, physical, powerful Carolina defense,” Pederson said Monday. “Tough team to run the football against, anyway. But yet we came out with 300 plus yards passing, very efficient there, and took advantage of some things in the passing game.”

After taking a 17-0 lead on the Panthers Sunday at the Linc, the Eagles ran 14 plays more plays and just one was a run.

Those three drives netted just 22 yards of offense, two first downs and no points and took a total of only 6:51 off the clock.

Most importantly, the Eagles’ inability to move the chains in the fourth quarter gave the Panthers the opportunity to put together three straight long TD drives and shock the Eagles, 21-17.

The NFL of 2018 is a passing league. But with a big lead and the football on your home turf in the fourth quarter? Why not run the ball more?

“Let me ask you to block 700-pound men sometimes,” Pederson snapped at a reporter. “It's not because of lack of effort. It's not because of scheme. Listen, they get paid over there, they being the defense, get paid a lot, Carolina, to make plays on us. When it breaks down, it breaks down.”

Here’s the problem with Pederson’s comments.

The notion that the Eagles couldn't run the ball against the Panthers in the second half is wrong.

Flat-out wrong.

The Eagles' running game was actually working in the second half. And Pederson apparently didn’t even realize it.

Yes, the running game stalled in the first half. The backs ran 14 times for 24 yards before halftime, a paltry 1.7 yards per carry.

But in the second half? The backs averaged a healthy 4.4 yards per carry.

And Wendell Smallwood, who Pederson was so reluctant to use down the stretch, actually averaged 7.0 yards per carry after halftime, with runs of two, eight, eight and 10 yards.

Incomplete passes stop the clock. Runs keep it rolling. And the Eagles really needed just one more first down Sunday to put the Panthers away.

Yet the first 11 snaps after the Eagles went up 17-0 were pass plays, and the Eagles’ lone fourth-quarter running play was huge, an eight-yard Smallwood carry on 2nd-and-10 down to the 14-yard line with a minute left.

If Pederson knew the Eagles were having success running the ball in the fourth quarter, it’s a mystery why the Eagles didn’t run it more.

If he didn’t realize it, then there was some kind of breakdown between Pederson and the Eagles’ quality control staff, whose job is to track this info during a game and make sure Pederson has it.

Either way, it’s not good.

Nobody is saying Smallwood is a superstar, but the reality is he’s a functional back who was picking up positive yards in the second half and is averaging 4.7 yards per carry after halftime this year.

What if the Eagles ran just one more time on each of those fourth-quarter drives?

What if Smallwood got the ball on 3rd and 2 on the 14-yard line?

We’ll never know how things would have turned out, but they couldn’t have been any worse.

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What Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's latest order means for the Eagles

What Pennsylvania Gov. Tom Wolf's latest order means for the Eagles

Pennsylvania’s governor has issued an order that could possibly allow the Eagles to return to practice as early as next week. 

But that’s far from guaranteed to happen in that time span. 

Gov. Tom Wolf on Wednesday issued an order that will allow professional sports teams in Pennsylvania to return to practice or to play, without fans in attendance, if their county is in the yellow or green phases of reopening from COVID-19 precautions. Philadelphia is expected to move from red to yellow on June 5, so that’s the absolute earliest the Eagles could return to practice at the NovaCare Complex under state rule. 

It’s very important to note that this order doesn’t guarantee that the Eagles will return to practice as soon as the state allows. By NFL rule, the Eagles won’t be allowed to practice until all 32 teams are allowed. 

But at least this order from the governor clears one hurdle:

“(Professional sports teams) are allowed to practice or play in the yellow and green phases of reopening without on-site or venue spectators if the team (or league on behalf of the team) has developed a COVID-19 safety plan.

“Such a plan must be approved by the Pennsylvania Department of Health and include, among other requirements, testing or screening and monitoring of all on-venue players and personnel. Also, no fans or spectators may be permitted on interior or exterior venue property. Professional sports organizations are encouraged to contact the Wolf Administration to share their reopening plans and get them approved by the Department of Health.

This is the time of year the Eagles would typically be holding their voluntary Organized Team Activities leading up to a mandatory minicamp in mid-June. While it’s possible the Eagles will be allowed to hold a real minicamp in June, that’s still very much in question. The team has been holding a virtual offseason for several weeks, utilizing Microsoft Teams. 

The good news here is that is seems like there is a growing possibility the Eagles will be able to hold a training camp in late July/early August at the NovaCare Complex in South Philadelphia. There are still more hurdles to clear before that and the importance of training camp is not lost on the team. 

Last week, head coach Doug Pederson said he was preparing like training camp would be held on time. He also said it’ll be important for the Eagles to have an entire training camp (five to six weeks) to adequately and safety prepare for the 2020 season. 

“I do think that a full training camp moving forward would prepare you,” Pederson said. “I do think you can get in enough contact in, I do think you can get enough padded practices in. You’d have to maximize those. At the same time, you’d have to be smart to get your guys ready and prepared for that opening weekend.”

The Eagles are scheduled to open their 2020 preseason on Aug. 13 in Indianapolis. They will open the regular season on the road against the Redskins on Sept. 13. 

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The Redskins tweeted ... nothing ... and the responses were hilarious

The Redskins tweeted ... nothing ... and the responses were hilarious

What have the Redskins done for their fans lately?

The answer came from the team’s own Twitter account Wednesday afternoon.

A tweet with literally nothing in it. A nothing tweet. The Seinfeld of tweets, without the actual entertainment value. Suffice it to say, the responses were hilarious and plentiful.

This is bound to happen when you’re a team that has half as many playoff wins (2) in the last 27 seasons as Nick Foles had in the 2017 and 2018 seasons. Over that same span, they’ve finished in last place 11 times.

So far this offseason, their most memorable piece of social media content seems to be a butt-dial.

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