Doug Pederson went on 94 WIP this morning for his weekly postgame conversation with Angelo Cataldi.
It was a good discussion. I’ve said a million times before that Angelo is a great interviewer when he turns off the radio shtick.
Three quotes I want to highlight, two that explain Doug’s weird Sunday ramblings about “pressure.”
Here’s the verbatim:
Cataldi: Doug, you said after the game that the pressure was off your team now. Could you explain that to us?
Pederson: Yeah, kind of what I meant by that is, going into the season, obviously Super Bowl champs, there’s going to pressure every week. Games are big. Every week is big. And pressure to win is always there. I think now, more than anything, you look at where we are, and the pressure of being the #1 seed, the #2 seed is probably gone in the NFC. But the fact is that we still control our own destiny. I don’t want the guys to feel any more added pressure to try to make plays. Just make the ones that come to them, don’t go looking for them. From that standpoint, that’s sort of what I meant by that comment, is that let’s focus on our division. Let’s focus on winning our division. You do that and you’re in the postseason and that’s what we need to do.
Angelo asked a follow-up:
Cataldi: But that kind of suggests, does is not, that pressure has been an issue with the team so far? Having to live up to that Super Bowl model from last season?
Pederson: Well, I think maybe perception sometimes can be reality, but I also believe that, listen, we’re gonna be in big games every week and there’s going to be pressure to win. And when you’re the defending world champions there’s going to be pressure. Teams are going to give you their best shot each and every week and that’s something we have to embrace. That’s something I’ve talked about with our team, making sure that we’re doing everything to be prepared and execute our three phases and come away with wins. Right now, there’s just enough breakdowns all around that’s keeping us from doing that.
I still don’t know exactly what Doug is suggesting. I mean, you coach the Philadelphia Eagles. There’s always some level of pressure on the team to perform. Even if people aren’t as “Negadelphia” coming off the Super Bowl win, there’s pressure to continue that high level of play into a new season and show that 2017 wasn’t a fluke, that it wasn’t just some perfect storm of “we’re the underdogs and no one likes us and we’re going to prove them wrong.”
Right now they’re coming up incredibly small in that regard.
Angelo also asked Doug a question about RPO and the running game, and the context here is that the Eagles only ran the ball I believe once in the fourth quarter yesterday. Pederson explained that they actually dialed up a few run/pass options on those late drives, which would suggest that the play calling was a little more balanced that most people initially thought.
That led to this:
Angelo: Hey Doug, when Carson has a run/pass option, I’m kind of hearing that he tends more to go to the pass. Is that true? And will you sometimes tell him, “sometime’s the run is there better?” I mean it seems like he’s leaning more towards throwing the ball.
Pederson: No, not necessarily. He has his reads and he has his keys. It’s our job as coaches to make sure he’s seeing the right things and we’re doing the right things and executing that play. You know, I do think that a couple of those throws he did make, whether you run the ball and get two (yards) or throw the ball and get two (yards), it’s the same result. But we’ll continue to work. Defenses know we do it, and I know this, that they’ve really studied us in the offseason and understand what we’re about. We just have to continue to work and improve ourselves.
This bugs me because I still don’t think anybody in this city fully understands what “RPO” means.
RPO does not mean that the quarterback says, “I can either hand the ball off or throw it based on how I feel.” RPO is predicated upon scanning the defense and making the correct READ based on what you are presented with.
In the earliest days of the college read option, the quarterback simply eyed the defensive end and pulled the ball out on a collapse, or handed the ball off if the end held his ground. It wasn’t the QB saying, “on this play I feel like throwing and this play I feel like handing it off.” So when Carson Wentz executes an RPO, the run/pass signal is not his PREFERENCE, it’s based on keys and the split-second identification of what the defense is giving you. Furthermore, it’s usually very difficult to identify what is and isn’t an RPO without diving into the game film, because NFL linemen have to execute very specific and disguised blocking schemes to avoid pushing downfield and getting flagged. It’s easier to run in the college game because the blocking rules are different.
I wrote about this in a story titled, “Is the Run/Pass Option the Purest Form of Communism?”
But the point is this: it’s not about Wentz throwing the ball too frequently out of RPO looks, it’s whether or not he’s correctly diagnosing the defensive schemes he’s being presented with. Does that make sense? The design evolved from the most basic forms of the single-read quarterback + running back two-man option, a play that had no passing element. It’s basically the pick and roll of football.
Anyway, here’s the Angelo/Doug audio: