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Kudos To Coach Doug; More Notes From Win

Posted Jan 14, 2018

Good for Doug Pederson. Good for a head coach who was counted out before he was really in as the head coach for the Eagles, who has been questioned about his credentials and his decision-making since Day 1. Good for a head coach who went through a trying first year on the job emphasizing a message of optimism and inclusiveness and trust. Good for a head coach who is one win away from reaching the Super Bowl ...

Good for Doug Pederson. Good for a head coach who was counted out before he was really in as the head coach for the Eagles, who has been questioned about his credentials and his decision-making since Day 1. Good for a head coach who went through a trying first year on the job emphasizing a message of optimism and inclusiveness and trust. Good for a head coach who is one win away from reaching the Super Bowl.

Pederson’s Eagles, the Team Nobody Thought Could after quarterback Carson Wentz suffered a season-ending torn ACL in his left knee on December 10, surge into the NFC Championship Game on Sunday a team that is galvanized from one corner of the organization to the other. And after the game, a hyped Pederson, fresh off the postgame locker room celebration that included the debut dance moves by Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie, Pederson spoke out just a bit for the first time on behalf of the locker room that has come together so beautifully despite the adversity of an avalanche of injuries, including the blow of losing Wentz.

“Since that point, no one has given us a chance. Nobody has given us a chance. And I understand, Carson's a great player, but every week, our guys are hearing the same thing; that now we are all of a sudden not good enough,” Pederson said, heating up. “We're 13-3 and have the best record in football, we've got home-field advantage throughout. Listen, there's not a lot - I mean, the guys are going to motivate themselves just based on what they have done and heard for the last month of football.

“Listen, it really doesn't matter what you guys talk about because that locker room in there is united and I'll go to bat for every one of those guys and I'll go to war with every one of those guys in that dressing room.”

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On Saturday, Pederson dialed up a fantastic game plan. The Eagles ran the ball early and stuck with it, and an extremely creative scheme was even more unpredictable with the use, twice, of Nelson Agholor as a running back. His 21-yard gain on a second-quarter run on an inside handoff converted a third-and-3 situation on a drive that ended with LeGarrette Blount scoring from 1-yard out was a brilliant call and design.

Pederson has pushed all the right buttons with the Eagles. He understands the locker room and the needs of the players. He’s been creative and complete with his offensive design. Pederson’s gameday performance has been aggressive and very solid.

He has his team one win away from reaching a Super Bowl. This Eagles team has taken on Pederson’s one-game-at-a-time mindset and applied it during this 14-3 season.

Pederson, in short, has been a great leading man. Good for him. And good for the Eagles.

CLEANING OUT THE GAMEDAY NOTEBOOK

  • Jake Elliott described his Saturday performance and his season as a “roller coaster” and he’s right. He’s been so very good this year from long distance, including a franchise-record five field goals from 50-plus yards in the regular season – he added a 53-yarder on Saturday, an Eagles playoff record, but his short-range kicks have not been as good. Elliott’s five field goal misses this year: 30 yards, 52 yards, 45 yards, 34 yards, 33 yards. Elliott has also missed four extra points, including one on Saturday. “I don’t know why,” Elliott said. “Maybe I just overthought it there. You know, you’re going to miss some kicks, and then you have to make the correction and move on. That’s what I do. I just go out and kick and try to make good contact. I’m not going to make every kick. I don’t think too much about it.”

  • Good game from wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who had four catches for 61 yards and was targeted five times. Jeffery and quarterback Nick Foles were very much on the same page and the extra practice time during the bye week helped. “It’s a matter of repetition,” Jeffery said. “I know what kind of quarterback Nick is and he had to get to know me and what works for me. I know that if I do my job, Nick is going to get the ball to me.” Jeffery’s most important grab was a 15-yard gain at the end of the first half, a play on which Jeffery was able to get out of bounds with 1 second remaining on the clock, giving Elliott a chance to make his 53-yard field goal. “I just made a play,” Jeffery said. “The ball was right there and I got out of bounds. Nick made the throw and I made the catch.”

  • Some key numbers you might have missed …
  1. The offense was 6-of-13 on third down, a vast departure from the 3-of-16 skid the offense was on in the Oakland game and in the first quarter against Dallas when Foles played. Great job keeping Atlanta's offense on the sideline. The Eagles controlled the football for 32:06.

  2. Part of the offensive plan that was so brilliant was the use of the running backs in the passing game, particularly in the screen game. Corey Clement led the team with five receptions, gaining 31 yards and picking up two first downs. Jay Ajayi, who had a total of 98 yards of offense, had three receptions for 44 yards.

  3. Jim Schwartz had a masterful game plan, emphasizing a clamp down on the running game and hitting quarterback Matt Ryan. The defense sacked Ryan three times and nearly had him down a handful of other times. Julio Jones had nine catches for 101 yards, but other than his late-game catch on fourth down, did not have a lot of impact for the Falcons. Dannell Ellerbe and Nigel Bradham really controlled things at linebacker and cornerbacks Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, and Patrick Robinson competed on every play. Allowing only 4.8 yards per offensive play is outstanding.

  4. The Eagles were penalized only four times, which is a good number. They fumbled four times, losing two, however. That’s got to tighten up in a major way for the NFC Championship Game.

  5. Foles was sacked only once as the Eagles held up very nicely against a good Atlanta pass rush. Credit to the pass blocking and that includes tight ends and running backs.

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