Blame for loss goes higher than Doug’s re­fusal to run

The Review - - Sports - Bob Grotz To con­tact Bob Grotz, email bgrotz@21st-cen­tu­ry­media. com. Fol­low him on Twit­ter @BobGrotz.

Ea­gles head coachDoug Ped­er­son said he watched the loss to the Chiefs on his iPad dur­ing Sun­day’s flight home from Kansas City.

That couldn’t have been as fun as trolling In­sta­gram or Face­book, be­cause the game was a lot like the opener, only with the Ea­gles on thewrong end of the score.

Ped­er­son sees the same stuffwe do. He just can’t openly ad­mit it. This isn’t his team; it’s the one he got from Howie Rose­man.

Whatwe see is an Ea­gles team with an in­ef­fec­tive run game for a va­ri­ety of rea­sons, the most ob­vi­ous be­ing the mar­ginal skills of his run­ning backs.

We see a teamwith an ag­ing of­fen­sive line that gets over­whelmed at times, par­tic­u­larly sec­ond-year left guard Isaac Seu­malo.

We see an of­fense with a promis­ing quar­ter­back in Car­son Wentz and le­git­i­mate re­ceivers in Al­shon Jef­fery, Zach Ertz and Tor­rey Smith.

It’s a team that win­swith de­fense, and it’s about time, con­sid­er­ing the il­lus­tri­ous his­tory of the fran­chise.

Un­less we’re to­tally wrong, we’ll see that same out­fit Sun­day when the Ea­gles op­pose the New York Giants at Lin­coln Fi­nan­cial Field. The Ea­gles are what they are.

Don’t ex­pect the Ea­gles’ of­fen­sive line to turn into the gold stan­dard overnight. Keep an eye on the lineup be­cause Ped­er­son has con­trol over it. Would he have the nerve to bench Seu­malo, the third-round pick in 2016, for ChanceWar­mack or Ste­fenWis­niewski?

Ac­com­plished play caller Bruce Ari­ans would strug­gle try­ing to bal­ance the run and the pass with this col­lec­tion of play­ers. Give Ped­er­son credit for play­ing to the team’s strength, sin­gu­lar, on of­fense.

“I feel like I’m still learn- ing, a lit­tle bit,” Ped­er­son said Mon­day. “But at the same time I had that great feel­ing. The way Al­shon was play­ing yes­ter­day. We had some great throws down the field to Ertz, and Tor­rey made a great play in the sec­ond half. I just felt like put­ting the ball in their hands at that time was the right thing to do.”

If this col­umn seems short on so­lu­tions, that’s be­cause there aren’t any de­cent quick fixes at this point of the sea­son un­less say, you trade for dis­grun­tled run­ning back Adrian Pe­ter­son and prom­ise him­more than nine snaps a week. We’re just guess­ing the Saints would let him go for a con­di­tional draft pick and piz­zas for the me­dia cen­ter.

Let’s not even get into the vote of con­fi­dence Ped­er­son gave his run­ning backs Mon­day when asked if he had the right guys to op­er­ate his of­fense prop­erly. Coach Doug had to say ‘yes.’ It would have been gutsy for him to say ‘we’ll see,’ ‘I don’t know’ or ‘Are you se­ri­ous? Do you know Dar­ren Spro­les is 34, Le­Gar­rette Blount 32?’

Ped­er­son is in a tough spot be­cause, like all of the head coaches in the NFC East, he doesn’t have con­trol over the 53-man ros­ter. These coaches play the guys the front of­fice gives them. The­o­ret­i­cally the coaches pro­vide in­put into the type of guys that fit their schemes. In real time it’s to­tally sub­jec­tive.

With Ped­er­son, that makes it dif­fi­cult to get a re­al­is­tic an­swer for some of the sim­plest ques­tions at news con­fer­ences, in­clud­ing player per­for­mances. As a play­ers’ coach, he risks alien­at­ing the locker room he’s spent the off­sea­son get­ting to­gether.

It’s also tough ask­ing ba­sic ques­tions such as, how se­ri­ous are the in­juries to Rod­ney McLeod and Jaylen Watkins, who ex­ited the game against the Chiefs with ham­string is­sues? The in­juries could in­volve ros­ter moves that aren’t Ped­er­son’s call.

Ped­er­son’s job is to coach. And right now, it’s to take the brunt of the crit­i­cism for that frac­tional col­lec­tion of play­ers who aren’t that good.

Ped­er­son can pos­ture all he wants but he didn’t ex­pect to run the ball ef­fi­ciently against the Chiefs, who have what he called over and over “a good front.”

Ped­er­son haters blamed hi­many­way, cit­ing the outof-whack pass-run ra­tio as the rea­son the Ea­gles failed towin a game they had a chance towin, for­get­ting of course, that Ped­er­son’s play­call­ing to that point put themin po­si­tion to pre­vail.

The Ea­gles threwthe ball 46 times Sun­day. Sub­tract Wentz’s scram­bles and they ran 13 times. The Ea­gles tied the con­test at 13 with 11:57 left on Jake El­liott’s 40-yard field goal. A Wentz in­ter­cep­tion set the Chiefs up for the go-ahead touch­down.

When the Ea­gles got the ball back with 6:25 re­main­ing, it re­ally wasn’t the time to es­tab­lish the run game. Con­se­quently the Ea­gles’ last 19 plays were passes be­cause that’s what you do when you’re be­hind. The pass-run ra­tio prior to that was 30to-13. The Chiefs’ ra­tio for the game was 27-to-16, sub­tract­ing Smith’s scram­bles and giv­ing him one run on the op­tion. It’s not that big of a dif­fer­ence.

The next time you crit­i­cize Ped­er­son, re­mem­ber the con­di­tions he’s work­ing un­der. And re­mem­ber that the Ea­gles fin­ished last in the di­vi­sion last year. From the front of­fice down, they’re play­ing catch-up.

The bot­tom line nowis the Philly de­fense should be enough to get the job done against Eli Man­ning who, we all know, will find a way to lose if the Ea­gles just get out of his way.

That’s be­cause the de­fense has much more tal­ent, over­all, than the of­fense.

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