Doug Pederson thinks the Eagles will rebound from adversity because he has seen one of his teams do it before.
After back-to-back blowout losses, the Eagles are now 3-4 with nine games left to play, but Pederson has seen an even worse situation get turned around.
Back in 2015, when he was the offensive coordinator in Kansas City, the Chiefs began the season with a 1-5 record, but then won 10 straight games to make the playoffs. Pederson brought up the comparison on his own Monday.
I see a lot of the same similarities kind of where we are. We're only 3-4, and we're still a game out of first place in our division here with a lot of football left.
“Obviously, a sense of urgency has to pick up from the standpoint of each week becomes a little more important. But we have the guys in the locker room, I have the coaches on this staff to get it done, and that's what we're going to do.
Basically, Pederson’s message on Monday is that the season isn’t over and he’s right; the Eagles are still just one game behind the Cowboys in the NFC East. It’s just not going to be easy. With the current playoff system (since 1990), there have been 192 teams to start the season with a 3-4 record; 34 of them (17.7 percent) have made the playoffs.
If the Eagles lose to Buffalo, their odds to make the playoffs obviously drop. Just 8.8 percent of teams starting with a 3-5 record have made it to the postseason since 1990.
Pederson referenced that 2015 Chiefs team, but are there really similarities?
“I think, No. 1, it starts with me,” he said. “My messaging to the team. And then the leaders of the football team. I think about back then, the guys that we had in that locker room and keeping it together, and that's the type of men we have here in this locker room; they are not going to let one game define the season or a couple games define our season.
“They are going to get better, learn from it. And that's what we did back then and so we are going to carry that over to this year.”
Take a look at the the starts for the 2015 Chiefs and the 2019 Eagles:
After the Chiefs lost to Minnesota in Week 6 of 2015, they won their next two games before their bye week. The Eagles have two more games until their bye week in 2019, so maybe this is an appropriate time for the comparison.
I found an interesting column from Terez A. Paylor, then of the the Kansas City Star, from Jan. 8, 2016, listing the 10 things that led to the Chiefs’ 10-game winning streak and a playoff berth. One of them was that the Chiefs had a much easier schedule down the stretch: Their opponents had a winning percentage of .604 in the first six, compared to .419 in the last 10. The Eagles aren’t getting that type of drop-off. In fact, they’re about to face a tougher schedule: .436 to .483.
So not all of the reasons apply to the Eagles — these are different teams — but a few of them from the column definitely caught my attention:
1. The offensive line’s improvement
The Eagles could definitely benefit from their offensive line play improving. The Chiefs were in a much worse position with their O-line in 2015, being forced to play seven different combinations. The Eagles, meanwhile, were expected to have one of the best offensive lines in the league and they haven’t. Sure, Andre Dillard is playing left tackle now, but that unit should be better and could turn things around.
2. Quarterback Alex Smith’s running ability
Basically, Smith started making plays with his legs and bought himself more time. We’ve seen Wentz do that in 2019, but he has the ability to take over games and he needs to do it now.
4. Finding an offensive identity
The Chiefs lost their identity when Jamaal Charles went down in Week 5 but the Chiefs stuck with the run, using Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware. The Eagles don’t really have an identity on offense right now either, but for different reasons. Finding it could go a long way. This is on Pederson.
7. The rebirth of Pro Bowlers
In 2015, several key defensive players for the Chiefs started playing like it during their run. Guys like Derrick Johnson, Tamba Hali and Eric Berry all played much better down the stretch. The Eagles need Fletcher Cox, Malcolm Jenkins and their other top defensive players to pick up the slack.
8. Andy Reid’s steady hand
Read this excerpt from Paylor:
“When the Chiefs were 1-5, Reid was asked a variety of questions about his process. Would he consider handing over the offensive play calling? Would he consider making staff changes? Would he make any other drastic changes?
“The answer each time? Nope. Reid took responsibility for all his team’s failures, but expressed confidence in his staff and players’ ability to turn it around. Multiple players have said that Reid’s steadiness during this time of unease — even with chairman Clark Hunt’s vote of confidence in November — instilled a sense of belief in their abilities.”
That sounds exactly like what Pederson is trying to do now.
9. A good locker room
In 2015, Reid leaned on his locker room and the family culture he created in Kansas City.
Pederson on Monday mentioned he needs his leaders to step up and help keep the football team together. He has mentioned several times how much he leans on his players committee. There’s a reason the Eagles worry about culture so much.
Maybe these lessons from the Chiefs will help the Eagles or maybe they won’t. We’ll find out soon enough if the Eagles are able to turn things around like the Chiefs did in 2015 or if the season will end up being a complete disaster.
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