Eagles head coach Doug Pederson bucking NFL's conventional wisdom

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Eagles head coach Doug Pederson bucking NFL's conventional wisdom

There was a moment early in Thursday night's game against the Falcons that I just can't seem to shake. 

The Falcons were facing a 4th-and-1 from the Eagles' 1-yard line. After his third-down pass fell incomplete, Matt Ryan began walking toward the sideline. Eventually, Falcons head coach Dan Quinn told him to stay on the field for fourth down.  

No, the Falcons didn't get in the end zone, but it was absolutely the right call to go for it. And then I thought about Nick Foles and Carson Wentz. No way they start walking off the field. 

They would know Doug Pederson was going for it. 

In his third year as an NFL head coach, Pederson has established himself as one of the most aggressive coaches in the NFL. Whether he's going for it on fourth down instead of punting or kicking a field goal or dialing up plays like the Philly Special or Philly Philly, Pederson keeps the gas pedal to the floor. 

The realization I came to Thursday night is that Pederson seems so aggressive because a lot of the NFL is still living in 1985. So conservative. The rest of the league is stuck in the past and Pederson is living in the future. 

I just think conventional wisdom in the NFL — and in football in general — is outdated. 

So I asked Pederson about that: 

"I don't know about outdated, but I just know that — I know what works for our football team. I know what works for the personality of our guys. I know who I am as a coach and what I want to get done and accomplished. But I feel like those situations that are well thought out and calculated give us an advantage, give us — if we execute properly and make the fourth down or the Philly Philly play, it just gives us another set of downs and ultimately a chance to score.

"I try not to do things as conventional at times, but at the same time, I want to make sure that I'm doing the best for the football team and giving us a chance to succeed."

The brilliance of Pederson is that he's not afraid to fail. At times, he will. It's inevitable. There will be plays when his team doesn't execute on fourth down or he makes a questionable play call. There will be times a gadget play doesn't work. There will be times when we're going to look back and think Pederson probably should have been a little more conventional. But the Eagles are better off with him breaking conventions. 

A lot of Pederson's decisions are based on analytics. The Eagles, over the past few years, have made a concerted effort to at least collect any data that could be useful to them. Unlike some baseball teams, though, the Eagles don't seem beholden to the numbers but use them to make wise decisions, decisions that sometimes buck the trend. 

The beauty of Pederson is that he's found a perfect blend of using data and his gut. Because calling a play like Philly Philly is about more than calling a play he thought would work. It was about calling a play that would bring some life back into his team and into the building. Numbers don't account for that. Emotional intelligence (I know, I know) does. 

The one example that still stands out is what Jacksonville did against the Patriots in the AFC Championship Game. Doug Marrone sat on a 14-10 lead to go into halftime even though they had enough time to put together a drive and get some more points. In his book, Pederson said he was screaming at his TV and would never do that. 

He wouldn't. A lot of the outdated NFL would.

That's why Pederson's aggressive nature stands out so much.

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Howie Roseman's 5 worst trades as Eagles GM

Howie Roseman's 5 worst trades as Eagles GM

Last week, we took a look at Howie Roseman’s five best trades, so today we’re looking at the other side. 

To be fair, when I came up with these lists, the good one was much longer than the bad. In general, Roseman is pretty good when it comes to trades. But they can’t all be hits. 

As a reminder, we’re looking at the following years: 2010-14, 2016-now. Chip Kelly was in control during 2015. 

Here’s my ranking of Roseman’s five worst trades: 

5. Trading for Golden Tate 
During the 2018 season, the Eagles needed a boost so Roseman pulled off a trade to get Tate from the Detroit Lions in exchange for a 2019 third-round pick. While the Eagles eventually got back a fourth-round compensatory pick to soften the blow, the acquisition of Tate never really worked out. 

Sure, you can point at the touchdown catch in the Double Doink playoff game in Chicago as a reason why this trade was actually a success … but let’s be real. This trade didn’t work out the way the Eagles were hoping. In the final eight games of the 2018 regular season, Tate caught 30 passes for 278 yards and 1 touchdown. He signed with the rival Giants in 2019. 

The lasting memory of this trade will probably be the unfortunate words from then-offensive coordinator Mike Groh, who admitted it had been “challenging to integrate” Tate into the offense during the season. 

4. Dion Lewis for Emmanuel Acho 
In April of 2013, the Eagles dealt Lewis to Cleveland for Acho. While Lewis never played for the Browns because of injury, he eventually resurfaced with the Patriots in 2015 and showed off some of the talent the Eagles initially saw in him during the 2011 draft. 

He has never become a star, but from 2015-2019, Lewis has played in 62 games for the Patriots and Titans and has averaged 4.3 yards per carry. He has 2,139 rushing yards, 1,260 receiving yards and 17 total touchdowns during those seasons. 

Acho played two seasons for the Eagles and a total of 20 games with two starts. He became a special teams contributor for those Chip Kelly teams but played a total of 288 defensive snaps. 

3. Joe Mays for J.J. Arrington  
The Eagles drafted Mays in the sixth round of the 2008 draft but the linebacker played in just 13 games in 2008 and 2009 before the Eagles shipped him to Denver in July of 2010 for Arrington or a conditional draft pick. 

Arrington missed the entire 2009 season after microfracture knee surgery. He didn’t make the Eagles that year (he never played in the NFL again), so the Birds got back a 2012 sixth-round pick they ended up using on Marvin McNutt. 

While Arrington never played an NFL game again, Mays from that point on in his career played 65 games with 37 starts for the Broncos, Texans, Chiefs and Chargers. 

2. Stealing DGB from the Titans 
At the time, it seemed liked the Eagles fleeced the Titans by getting Dorial Green-Beckham for reserve offensive lineman Dennis Kelly. Turns out, it was the other way around. Sometimes if it seems too good to be true … 

The Eagles pulled off this trade in August of 2016 and upon first glance it was a major steal. Just a year earlier, the Titans took DGB in the second round and he had a really good rookie year statistically. In 2015, he caught 32 passes for 549 yards (17.2) and 4 touchdowns. 

At 6-5, 225 pounds, he was the ultimate size/speed guy with the potential to be a great player. But it became clear pretty soon after that trade that DGB wasn’t destined for greatness. He was a friendly guy but immature and didn’t seem to want it. He played that 2016 season with the Eagles, catching 36 passes for 392 yards and 2 touchdowns on talent alone, but the Eagles cut him the following June. 

Since then, Green-Beckham has been out of the league and has been dealing with some legal issues. He’s become a cautionary tale of wasted talent. 

Meanwhile, Kelly has played in 58 games (16 starts) for the Titans and got a three-year extension before last season. 

1. Dealing Chris Clemons for Darryl Tapp 
One of Roseman’s first trades ended up being his worst. In March of 2010, the Eagles traded Chris Clemons and a fourth-round pick to get Darryl Tapp from the Seahawks. Tapp was about three years younger than Clemons, who was longer and lankier. Before the trade, here were their career stats: 

Tapp: 4 seasons, 32 starts, 18 sacks 
Clemons: 5 seasons, 3 starts, 20 sacks 

So you can see why the Eagles made this trade. They thought they were getting a potential starting defensive end who was already better and had more upside in their defense. But they ended up losing pretty big. 

Here’s what they did with their new teams: 

Tapp: 3 seasons in Philly, 3 starts, 6 sacks 
Clemons: 4 seasons in Seattle, 59 starts, 38 sacks 

In his first three years in Seattle, Clemons ended up having 11, 11 and 11.5 sacks and started every game for the Seahawks; during that span, he was sixth in the NFL in sacks. Tapp was a role player in Philly. 

Honorable mentions: Trading away Sheldon Brown and Chris Gocong, trading away Asante Samuel for a seventh-rounder, trading away Eric Rowe for a fourth-rounder.

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Roger Goodell makes statement as NFL admits fault, says it supports players' right to protest

Roger Goodell makes statement as NFL admits fault, says it supports players' right to protest

A day after some of the NFL’s biggest black stars called on their league to condemn racism and support their fight, the NFL has responded. 

In a 1:21 video, commissioner Roger Goodell did just that. 

Goodell gave his condolences to the families of those who have lost their lives to police brutality and then offered up the following statement: 

While Goodell didn’t specifically mention Colin Kaepernick, it seems like the NFL will not fight players who wish to demonstrate during the national anthem. In fact, Goodell said the NFL will “encourage all to speak out and peacefully protest.” 

Kaepernick began his peaceful protest nearly four years ago, back in 2016. 

This video from Goodell and the strong statement from the league comes just a day after Patrick Mahomes, Michael Thomas, Odell Beckham Jr. and more created a video asking for this type of response from the league. To the league’s credit, it came pretty promptly. 

In time, we’ll see what this means. It’s been an emotional week in the United States and this feels like a good start. But it also feels like a beginning for the NFL, a jumping off point. As far as players are concerned, this can’t be an empty statement. We’ll find out soon enough if there will be actions to back these words. 

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