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Can Eagles Overcome First-Quarter Struggles?


A growing shift across the NFL has been the utilization of analytics in helping determine coaching decisions that result in the best possible outcomes. The Eagles' coaching staff is by no means slow to this trend and more of the decisions made on the field this season will be calculated based on time, score, field position, and offense/defense in-game success.

Head coach Doug Pederson made it clear, however, that he will rely on his gut instinct, not the numbers, in crunch-time situations.

"Probably the times when you go for it, gut instinct, gut feel, is just how well I feel like our offense is doing. We could be three, four, or five good run plays in a row from getting that fourth-and-1 or fourth-and-2 and if I feel like we're in a good situation, I'm going to probably try and pull the trigger and go for it," Pederson said.

"A lot of it to me is predicated on field position and the percentages of a punt into the end zone and not making it on fourth down, but keeping your opponent on their side of the field so to speak. Those are all things that kind of factor in but really based on how our offense is playing at the time."

After announcing that the entire team is healthy heading into Sunday's contest against Washington, here's what else Pederson said on Friday:

• On last season's first-quarter struggles:

"I think that's part of the reason with some of the additions offensively, to help us score more points early in football games and then some of the takeaways from last year. One of Carson's (Wentz) strengths obviously was him on the run, play-action pass, running the ball efficiently a little bit better, things like that. Starting games and just finishing drives, that we looked at and I looked at ways of focusing on that even in practice. You can simulate that in practice by the type of play calls and the effort and the execution offensively to help increase those points," he said.

"I think it comes down to the execution. Sometimes what you see on film during the week is not necessarily what the defense presents you or the offense presents you on gameday. Our personnel and I know in the past, you see Cover 3 all week and they come out and they play Cover 2. It sort of throws you a little bit off of what you would initially think going into a game and so you have to make those quick in-game adjustments and correct that. Some of it is that but it just comes down to execution and making sure too that when I put openers together that I'm also right with what I'm studying and what I'm seeing."

• On his conversations with Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie:

"I think it's been great. We did it all last season. We'll continue it again this year. I'm not going to dive in, those are obviously some private conversations but I think that our owner is so passionate about this team and this organization that a part of my job is just keeping him informed on what we're doing. He may not be around every day of the week but this is our chance to kind of recap the game from Sunday and going forward, the scouting report if you would on the upcoming opponent," Pederson said.

"They can be 15 minutes. They can be two hours. It just depends on the information that we're talking about. He's done it all the way back to Coach (Andy) Reid so it's something he's done in his past that was obviously new to me. I was new last year so I welcome that. I enjoy it. I love the conversation with him, the dialogue. He's so excited and passionate about this team that he just wants to be in the loop."

• On why the tempo offense is so effective:

"I learned this as a player, the tempo offense, players don't have time to think. They just react and that's probably the simplicity of it," the head coach said. "Things are up-tempo. They're basic and not a lot of motions and shifts and guys having to line up in certain spots if we broke the huddle with a call. Really it's the simplicity of it."

• On Carson Wentz's improved accuracy:

"I think it's better now than it was last year because it's something he worked on. It's something that we've even addressed in the offseason and during Training Camp. He is an extremely accurate passer though overall out of the pocket whether it's short, intermediate, long and then you throw in the scramble. Where he has the ability to throw the ball down the field but that accuracy has increased. It's something that as we go throughout this season now we've got to take advantage of that. He's a big tall guy that's athletic, that can see better out of the pocket," he said.

• On whether he watched the Kansas City game:

"It was a great football game. Obviously, the way the game started you felt like it might swing one way and then you saw the patience, the resiliency by Kansas City and it just kind of went back and forth and it was a great well-coached on both sides football game. I watched it more as a fan than anything. My focus is obviously on Washington this weekend," Pederson said.

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