The Eagles are 1-0, but as we wrote Sunday, the entire city is mad at Doug Pederson. It’s not even just Twitter people either, as we’re all awful to each other on social media. The postgame show on CSN Philly spent much of their telecast ripping the play-calling and predictability of the offense. Sports talk radio, for what that’s worth, was a full-on gripefest with the same sentiment. So, as we look forward to Week 2’s game in Kansas City, our weekly seven questions we’re loosely calling “The Front 7” have a lot to do with the coach.
Who would you rather have right now: Doug Pederson or Chip Kelly? No, that’s not actually one of our questions. But this is:
Who would you rather: Andy Reid or Doug Pederson?
Pederson is one game away from getting his overall coaching record in the NFL back to .500. He’s a combined 8-9 over two seasons and, as we’ve said, people in town do not care for him or his playcalling.
Andy Reid wore out his welcome in Philly too, but not before 14 seasons with the Eagles. Reid had more playoff wins with the Birds than Pederson has overall wins, but his inability to win the Super Bowl (or get there more than once) had the city ready for a change. The 4-12 season in 2012 shipped him out for a soft landing in Kansas City, where, with the Chiefs, Reid is 44-21 in the regular season with three trips to the playoffs. Since he left, the Eagles are 35-30 with one playoff loss.
So would you rather have Reid or his former offensive coordinator?
Pederson was asked about his mentor on Monday, telling reporters, “It’ll be fun to see him over there, Big Red, on the other side. But at the same time I know he wants to kick my tail and I want to kick his.”
Pederson was asked what he learned from Reid, providing a robust list of positive character traits that made him better as both a coach, and a human.
“Consistency,” he said. “Being honest, being open, being fair with the players. Teaching, coaching. Probably the biggest things. The attention to detail that he has with his players and his coaches. Those are some of the biggest things I learned with him.”
How to change a flat tire, how to tie a fisherman’s knot, sign language, how to administer the Heimlich maneuver without breaking a rib, how to deep fry a catfish, Pig Latin…
Who is the Eagles’ inspirational leader?
Not Doug Pederson.
This 51-second video of Pederson’s speech in the locker room after the Washington win came with a quote: “We started with family, we’re going to finish on family.” That was the only thing Malcolm Jenkins said in the entire video. It’s the only thing anyone other than Pederson said in the entire video.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) September 11, 2017
It’s the only quotable thing in the entire video. At least Andy Reid would have given us a “time’s yours.”
What in heck happened to Ronald Darby, and who will replace him at cornerback?
You saw this:
While it looked terrible, it might only be a few weeks before Darby is able to return.
That said, finding his replacement will be an “all hands on deck” situation, per the head coach. Does that include extra hands?
It would make sense to bring Ron Brooks back. Remember, Brooks was a starter before he got hurt last season and missed most of the year. They brought him back this year to get healthy so they could cut him, but maybe he’s worth another look to fill a need. Pederson said the hope is to keep Patrick Robinson in the slot — he moved outside to finish the game Sunday — and maybe play rookie Rasul Douglas, C.J. Smith or converted safety Jaylen Watkins out wide for a few weeks, given it’s not likely to be a season-long injury for Darby.
Still, expect the Chiefs to exploit that side of the field, which went from a weakness to a strength now back to a weakness.
Who is the best running back on the Eagles?
The Eagles rushed 24 times for 58 yards and no touchdowns Sunday. LeGarrette Blount rushed 14 times for 46 yards, catching one pass for a one-yard touchdown, while Wendell Smallwood rushed four times for four yards, catching one five-yard pass. Darren Sproles had two rushes for two yards and five catches for 43 yards.
“At the end of the day, it’s not good enough. It’s not good enough,” Pederson said Monday. “We pride ourselves on running the ball.”
Last season the Eagles had 438 rushes for 1,813 yards. Their leading rusher had 661 yards on 155 attempts, scoring eight times, but oddly, their attempts were the 10th-most in the NFL. Still, with more than 600 pass attempts (and more than 30 sacks) the balance between pass and run wasn’t really close last season. And, numbers aside, the Eagles routinely just gave up on the run at times last year, and it was clear the same thing happened at least three or four times on Sunday.
Pederson noted that the problem in sustaining the run in Week 1 was a combination of backs not hitting the hole at the right time and blocks breaking down, “We’re close,” Pederson said. “We just have to finish blocks. Sustain blocks. It’s close. We’ve gotta keep detailing it.”
The question might be in the details, as in who gets the ball when. Blount caught a touchdown two plays after he should have been given a chance to hammer the ball in on the ground. Later in the game he was given a carry that either Smallwood or Sproles could have taken for chunk yards, but the bigger and slower Blount was only able to muster a moderate gain in open space.
Should Smallwood get more of a look in KC? And why can Andy Reid seem to plug anyone in and the guy turns into a star and that doesn’t happen under Pederson? That’s what we need to find out.
What we know is that the Eagles need to run the ball more than 24 times if they’re going to beat the Chiefs.
How did the draft picks do?
Will Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith please step up?
Jeffery is going to face the opponent’s top cornerback all season, which is why other receivers will have to take advantage. But three catches for 38 yards on seven targets isn’t great. Smith had just one catch for 30 yards on three targets. Pederson said the Eagles will continue to throw the ball deep, if for nothing else to keep defenses honest when they crowd the box to stop the normal dinks and dunks.
Nelson Agholor had six catches on eight targets, including the huge touchdown to open the game, so for now, it’s tough to complain about the receivers.
Kicker Caleb Sturgis got hurt during the Week 1 game and while Pederson wouldn’t say much Monday, he did mention the word hip. For a kicker, that’s not great. Per Ian Rapoport, it’s just a strain, which is good. Well, not for Sturgis.
Unlike other positions on the field, teams only need to carry one kicker, so if Sturgis is out for an extended period of time, he might be out of a job.
Remember, Sturgis only got the job with the Eagles after Cody Parkey got hurt in the 2015 season. Sturgis then beat Parkey out for the job last year. Kicking in the NFL is a thankless job, in that you’re mostly noticed only when you miss. But with 32 jobs, there’s a whole world of kickers out there. Just ask the Chargers.