By Jeff Warren:
He may not have been the Eagles first choice as head coach, but he’s been winning games in the preseason, which, in the end, really only matters. If you remember the reaction by fans and the national media when Doug Pederson was hired by the Philadelphia Eagles, you could have heard a pin drop. It was one of those situations where one might stare blankly into a wall without physically moving for a few minutes. Some, like myself, simply slumped their shoulders in a defeated manner. However, with offensive productivity being paramount and three wins, thus far, against the Bucs, Steelers and Colts in this preseason, eyebrows are being raised for sure.
Yes, it’s the preseason and we know the trouble it has gotten us into before. Last year with Chip Kelly, the Eagles dominated. Many football analysts and experts actually picked the Eagles to win the Super Bowl. It was the first time in years I had done so. But no one could have guessed a 7-9 regular season.
The NFL preseason is deceptive and misleading. We see it year after year. Some would say it’s even dishonest. Sometimes the talent performs well, sometimes it doesn’t. And at times the talent is held back by coaches who want to keep their teams healthy. Simplistic plays are run consistently not giving fans and press the full picture. What’s interesting about the Eagles this season is that Pederson hasn’t had the luxury of “holding back.” As a new head coach he’s put a lot on the table and shown much of his hand. It’s only natural given the fact that he’s a brand new head coach who’s instituted new offensive and defensive schemes.
Everyone on both sides of the ball have played and seen a fair share of time on the field. No one has been held back without being injured. We’ve even seen some “trick plays.”
According to NFL.com, the Eagles are 19 of 44 (43%) on 3rd down conversions. Sam Bradford has completed 80% of his passes. Ryan Matthews is averaging 6.4 yards per attempt. They’re first in the NFL in defensive rushing and No. 11 in the league in total defense. With eight interceptions, they lead the NFL and they’re tied for fourth in the league with 10 total sacks. The defensive stats, consequently, are a solid testament to Jim Schwartz and how he’s transformed the mentality of the talent.
But then again, the rushing attack is ranked 14th while their passing is ranked 25th. Total offense, they’re also ranked 25th in the league.
We’ve seen the good. We’ve seen the bad. There are still plenty of unknowns that’ll be coming down the pike soon enough.
The reality that Pederson’s on the job training hasn’t hindered his ability to seemingly reach his players is a very positive component to this entire Eagles rebrand. The apparent confidence in his players and coaches continues to provide more hope than doom as the Birds rebuild and look toward the future. For that reason, Pederson has begun to prove himself as a respectable and suitable head coach. Whether he’ll be good, great, bad, or terrible remains to be seen.