NEW ORLEANS — Doug Pederson walked through the visitors’ locker room at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome after the Eagles’ embarrassing 48-7 loss to the Saints (see observations) and told player after player to not hang their heads.
They didn’t listen.
How could they?
In the wake of that butt-kicking on national television, player after player declined interviews. Player after player sat at their respective lockers with their heads down, shoulders slumped. Player after player wore dead-eyed stares.
I’ve been to wakes with more energy.
But that’s what happens when a team loses this bad. That’s what happens when a team with such high expectations has repeatedly failed to live up to them. The Eagles are lost right now. They gave up 48 points. They scored just seven. And it’s hard to figure out what’s the bigger problem.
“I told them not to hang their head,” said Pederson, whose eyes were watery and bloodshot. “I told them that we’re going to come to work this week. We’ve got a great opportunity in front of us. We’re going to stay committed. I’m going to lead this football team and follow me. To every man in there, they embrace that. They understand that we’re obviously held accountable to the way we played today. But we’re going to look at the tape and we’re going to fix the mistakes and get ready for New York.”
At least he didn’t say they need to look in the mirror.
Pederson said they’re going to try to correct their mistakes. What else can he say? The coaching staff has to try to get this ship righted, but it’s Week 11 and the Eagles are now 4-6.
Pederson said despite the lopsided loss, his players “continued to battle, continued to fight.”
Did they? They looked pretty dead to me.
When asked point-blank if he ever questioned his team’s effort, he said: “Never. Not once.”
Obviously, the thing everyone in the organization fears is that the team throws in the towel on the season. That would be incredibly and especially damning for the head coach. But at least if they gave up on Sunday, it would explain the drubbing. If they gave full effort and still lost by 41 points, might that actually be worse?
Thanks to a Washington loss on Sunday, the Eagles are still just two games out of the NFC East lead with four division games — two against Washington — left to go. But it’s hard to come away from watching the loss to New Orleans and realistically think about the playoffs.
Could a loss like this send the season into a tailspin?
“There’s always that fear,” Pederson admitted. “But I didn’t sense that with our group. Not at all. Not in that locker room on the offensive and defensive side. To each and every man, just told them don’t hang their head. We’re obviously in a rough spot right here, but I believe in those players and those coaches and we’ll get it fixed.”
Pederson still believes. But it’s fair to wonder how alone he is.
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