First-year players aren’t the only ones that go through growing pains. First-time coaches also have a learning process.
The overwhelming theme of those choices: passivity.
“I think just, for me, staying aggressive, No. 1,” Pederson said of what he learned from the loss, via CSN Philly. “I think that’s been something I’ve prided myself on, but being smart with it at the same time.”
As the game waned, Pederson’s coaching decisions trended towards the passive.
With just over 7 minutes remaining, on third down, up seven points, with the ball at the Cowboys‘ 30, Pederson called a screen pass to Darren Sproles that lost six yards. Instead of trying the 54-yards field goal that could but the Eagles up two scores, the coach decided to punt. Making the decision to punt odder was that kicker Caleb Sturgis easily made a 55-yarder earlier in the game.
“(I) felt comfortable doing that, making that decision,” he said. “The thing is, field position at that time is critical. [Sturgis] did kick the one before half, which was an excellent kick with no time left on the clock. Had we executed on the third-down play, we would have been in a little better position to kick the field goal at that time and we just didn’t execute on the play before.”
Pederson’s other questionable calls included not taking a timeout before the end of regulation with Dallas pinned deep in their end zone, which could have at least given Sproles a shot at a punt return score.
“I just felt too at that time, because our defense was playing extremely well, I had made up my mind at that time to go ahead and get us into overtime,” Pederson said. “Hopefully win the coin toss, take the ball and be in a position to score. And/or put our defense out there who had just come off a great drive and they were fired up, to put them back on the field. So it was just my decision to do that.”
After years of watching Andy Reid bungle late-game situations, Pederson is off to a passive start in his first season making the calls.