Eagles

'You let those people down' — Josh McCown blames himself for Eagles' playoff loss to Seahawks

'You let those people down' — Josh McCown blames himself for Eagles' playoff loss to Seahawks

Josh McCown broke down in tears as he grasped the reality.

After 18 NFL seasons without a playoff appearance, after coming out of retirement to back up Carson Wentz, McCown was forced into action in the first quarter of the Eagles-Seahawks playoff game Sunday at the Linc.

“I’ve been chasing this a long time,” he said.

McCown played hard and he played fearlessly and he made some plays that gave you hope.

In the end, he just didn’t do enough.

And the Eagles’ season is over.

McCown didn’t try to hide his emotions when the Seahawks put the finishing touches on their second 17-9 win over the Eagles in a month and a half (see observations).

The tears flowed, and they picked right up again when he met with the media after the game.

There’s a lot that goes into this and everybody that sets foot in that building over there, the NovaCare, puts a lot into getting this thing done and when you come into that game and put everything you can into trying to win the game and it doesn’t get done, it’s just painful,” he said. “It just hurts. It sucks. And from my standpoint as a quarterback you want to do more and you feel like you can do more and you start replaying plays in your mind where you can be better, and I always have that perspective that you let a group down. You let those people down that come to that building and that’s a sick feeling. It’s a hurt feeling.

McCown, the sixth quarterback in his 40s in NFL history to play in the postseason, finished 18 for 24 for 174 yards with no TDs and no turnovers, and he drove the Eagles inside the Seahawks' 30-yard line five times.

But those five drives led to just three field goals.

He kept the Eagles in the game.

He just wasn’t good enough at the key moments.

You want to be there to help rally the team and get going, we just didn’t get it done,” McCown said. “And that hurts.

With Wentz, the Eagles were third best in the NFL in the red zone. Sunday, three trips generated just six points. 

Two crucial fourth downs doomed the Eagles.

• With 6:24 left trailing by eight, they had a 4th-and-4 on Seattle’s 24. Doug Pederson called a perfect play, a swing pass in the left flat to Miles Sanders. But McCown underthrew the ball, Sanders couldn’t quite get his hands on it, and the Seahawks took over.

“That’s just me,” McCown said. “You’ve got to make a better throw. Just got to give him a better ball and give him a chance to run.”

• After the defense forced a punt, the Eagles drove down to the 10-yard line and had a 4th-and-7 after the two-minute warning. But McCown couldn’t find an open receiver and wound up taking his sixth sack of the game, effectively ending the Eagles’ season.

“I tried to step up and buy a little time and hopefully get something open, and we just didn’t get that done,” he said. 

McCown said he hasn’t decided whether to retire for good. He said he’d talk to his family before making that decision.

But he got choked up talking about his family and how much they’ve sacrificed as he’s gone from the Cards to the Lions to the Raiders to the Dolphins to the Panthers to the Bears to the Buccaneers to the Browns to the Jets to the Eagles.

With a stop with the Hartford Colonials in the United Football League in there somewhere.

My wife and my family have moved around a lot and been there for me, my mom and dad, so to go out there and get to play in a playoff game was special and I can’t thank them enough for their support,” he said. “It was a heck of a ride. I left it all out there, I know that much.

McCown has had a terrific view of this 2019 Eagles team, and his feelings were about the same as everybody else’s as he described the mixture of pride everyone in that locker room has of becoming only the seventh team in NFL history to reach the playoffs after a 5-7 start combined with the crushing finality and disappointment of a playoff loss.

I’ve been in moments where we were five weeks ago, where you’re coming home on a plane ride from Miami and you feel like all is lost and, man, it’s a dark place," McCown said. "And then you’re talking and you’re, ‘Can we win all these games and get in?’ And I’ve been in those moments a few times in my career and we don’t get it done. You know? And it goes the other way. Man, what an honor it was to be in that group and watch Doug lead that team, watch the veterans lead this team, watch Carson play the way he did down the stretch. That’s special and more than anything solidifies what I thought in all those moments. If the belief of the group can rise to a certain level, we can run the table, and we did that and we got in. Unfortunately, that ended today.

McCown is a great story, easy to root for. He just wasn't quite good enough. 

And nothing could be a more fitting epitaph for this 2019 Eagles season.

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Doug Pederson explains why he no longer has an offensive coordinator

Doug Pederson explains why he no longer has an offensive coordinator

As Doug Pederson enters Year 5 as Eagles head coach, there’s a notable change to the structure of his coaching staff. 

He doesn’t have an offensive coordinator. And now we have a reason why. 

Earlier this offseason, Pederson fired offensive coordinator Mike Groh a day after he said Groh was safe and then shook up the structure of his coaching staff, electing to move forward sans an official OC. 

As the NFL world gets ready to take over Indianapolis this week for the annual NFL Scouting Combine, Pederson spoke the the Eagles Insider Podcast and finally explained his decision. 

It’s a great question because it’s a question I have really pondered about for quite some time, really for many years. You look around the league and there are teams who don’t have coordinators. There are teams that have coordinators. I’ve had a coordinator by title. I look at the structure of what we’re doing offensively and how collaborative we put our game plans together. It’s like players; it’s not about one guy. Same way on the coaching staff. It’s not about one coach who has to do everything. It’s a collaborative effort. 

“Bottom line, I’m the one calling plays on game day. So in some facets, you could consider me the offensive coordinator as well. The more I thought about it, I’m like, just again, I’m really excited about Press (Taylor). I think he’s got a bright future. Giving him the title of passing game coordinator, really again, gives him the opportunity to give more thought and input on our game plans. Having Rich (Scangarello) being as a senior offensive assistant, he can assist and help sort of bridge the gap with [Jeff Stoutland] and Press and putting all the pieces together, along with myself and Justin Peele and Duce Staley. Just bringing our game plans together. That’s what I want. That’s my vision for this season and really having a seamless transition that way. 

“When we win, we win as a team. Again, it’s not about one guy getting the credit. I feel like this is the best structure for us, for me as the play caller. Because there’s times when I get pulled in a lot of different directions and I gotta lean on Press. And I’m going to have to lean on Rich and Jeff Stoutland and the guys to really pull the game plans together and really give me the information that I need as we prepare for games.” 

While Pederson — and really everyone inside the NovaCare Complex — has always stressed a collaborative effort in all football manners, he didn’t really give any specifics about how the workload will be split and how Groh’s former responsibilities will be divided up in the new power structure. 

Hopefully, we’ll get some of those answers in Indianapolis this week. 

As a reminder, he’s an updated look at the new structure of the Eagles’ offensive coaching staff. 

Head coach/play caller: Doug Pederson

Quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator: Press Taylor 

Offensive line coach/run game coordinator: Jeff Stoutland 

Senior offensive assistant: Rich Scangarello 

Running backs coach/assistant head coach: Duce Staley 

Tight ends coach: Justin Peele 

Wide receivers coach: Aaron Moorehead 

Pass game analyst: Andrew Breiner 

It’s not unheard of for an NFL coach with a clear focus on one side of the ball — like Pederson on offense — to not have an official coordinator. But this is just the first time he has elected to have this setup. 

The optics weren’t great a month and a half ago when Pederson gave Groh a vote of confidence only to fire him a day later, but on the podcast claimed he was still going through his evaluation process at the time. 

At the time, one obvious theory was that Pederson wanted to keep Groh and the front office overruled him. But that’s a theory that has been shot down multiple times by the Eagles. And Pederson on this podcast said that he listened to input from his bosses but, ultimately, the coaching staff is up to him. 

“The coaching staff is my responsibility,” he said. “I’m the one that hires them and I’m obviously the one that has to do the dirty work and sometimes let coaches go. That’s my responsibility.”

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Doug Pederson: 'I know Duce is happy'

Doug Pederson: 'I know Duce is happy'

Doug Pederson said Duce Staley is happy in his current role with the Eagles and said he leans heavily on his former teammate throughout the year in a variety of ways.

I know Duce is happy to be here,” Pederson said. “He wants to be here. … Duce does a lot for me. He is the assistant head coach, let’s not forget that. He is my right-hand guy.

Pederson said he did consider Staley for the team’s offensive coordinator role, although he wound up not filling that position.

Pederson spoke on the Eagles Insider Podcast in an interview with team employee Dave Spadaro.

There was a lot of speculation about Staley when Pederson bypassed him during his offensive coordinator search, a search that eventually brought the Eagles several outside coaches with new titles but left Staley in the same position – running backs coach and assistant head coach.

Staley was bypassed when Pederson hired Mike Groh as offensive coordinator after the 2017 season. Staley was also an unsuccessful candidate for the head coaching vacancy when Chip Kelly was fired and Pederson was ultimately hired.

There was a published report last week in the Athletic that Staley had pursued the runnig backs coaching job at South Carolina, his alma mater, but a league source said that never happened.

Staley, a three-time 1,000-yard rusher for the Eagles, was Pederson’s teammate with the Eagles in 1999. He’s been on the team’s coaching staff since 2011, first with Andy Reid, then for three years with Kelly and now with Pederson.

He had the assistant head coach tag added to his official title after Groh was promoted from wide receivers coach to offensive coordinator after Frank Reich left for the Colts’ head coaching job after the Super Bowl.

Pederson explained in detail what makes Staley so important to him and so important to the team:

“Duce is very important to our offense, he’s very important to the running back room, obviously, and a lot of our success last year with some of the young players that played, the practice squad players that came up, is a direct result of what Duce Staley does (running) the developmental program, and that’s a lot on his plate throughout the course of the year, (and those are all) things that I evaluated as I went through this process. Duce is a valuable part to our offense and a valuable part to me and what he does for me and just at the time just decided to keep him in that role.”

Pederson brought in three new offensive coaches – Rich Scangarello is offensive assistant, Aaron Moorehead is wide receivers coach and Andrew Breiner is passing game analyst. Quarterbacks coach Press Taylor received the additional title of passing game coordinator.

It may seem on the outside that Staley is the odd man out, but Pederson made it clear he doesn’t feel that way.

“He does help run the football team if I have to step away," Pederson said. "He can take charge of the team. He runs that developmental program with the young players. He puts that all together. … Duce has his fingerprints all over that and that’s a big asset to me and obviously what he does with the running backs. You saw what Miles Sanders and Boston Scott did last year, what Jordan Howard did last year, being able to take young players and getting them to play at a high level is just a credit to what he does and also with game planning and things of that nature during the year.”

Despite not having the same leading rusher in back-to-back years since LeSean McCoy in 2013 and 2014, the Eagles have the 7th-most rushing yards in the NFL in Staley’s seven years as running backs coach. 

In a way, Staley is a prisoner of his own success. He’s so good in his current role that Pederson is always going to be reluctant to move him.

But he’s a heck of a coach, and it sure seems like Pederson understands that and recognizes it and appreciates it.

And that's important because this is a better football team with No. 22 on the sideline.

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