We don’t often get Doug Pederson quotes detailing specific plays in a game, but today is our lucky day.
At his Monday presser, the head ball coach was asked by ESPN’s Tim McManus if he had any examples of Carson Wentz doing a better job of going through his reads, which was a point of emphasis this offseason and something Pederson and offensive coordinator Mike Groh highlighted as an improvement from their quarterback.
Doug said this, in response:
Yeah, there were a couple of opportunities; the first half I called a play-action pass that was designed to get Alshon (Jeffery) the ball and we ran a jet motion. The safety, can’t remember his number, I think it was 23 (sic), he was going with (Nelson Agholor) on the motion then stopped. Carson was coming off the play fake and he saw him sitting there. Instead of trying to force it, or move, Jordan Howard was in the flat and he just dropped it down to him as he went through the progression.
Here is the play in question:
Right, so start with the pre-snap motion, and you see #32, Jimmy Moreland, initially follow Nelson Agholor before passing him off safety Landon Collins instead. With Moreland sitting on the right hash mark, Carson can’t make that thrown to the intended target, Alshon Jeffery, because Moreland is sitting underneath the route at the time that Wentz would have thrown the pass:
Too dangerous to make that throw, likely picked off and returned for a chunk of yardage.
So Wentz simply moved on to his next read, which was Jordan Howard coming out of the backfield, and even though the pass wasn’t great, the Eagles went to their second option and found a way to pick up five yards after a nice shoestring grab.
Doug gave us another example of a good progression from the quarterback:
Late in the game he did the same thing. Right before the field goal, another opportunity where I called a pass again. He has an opportunity to shoot the ball down the field, it wasn’t there, and he dropped the ball in the flat. Those are the things we talk about – going through the progression, understanding the defense, putting the ball in playmakers’ hands and continuing to work that way.
This is the play Pederson is talking about, a similar jet motion with initial max protection before Howard squirts out into the flat:
Looks like they wanted to try to spring DeSean Jackson on a skinny post there while dragging Agholor underneath. Wentz sees that it’s not open, so he just progresses to the Howard route instead. Nothing amazing here, but necessary since the Eagles were backed up twice on this drive due to the Big V and JJ Arcega-Whiteside holding penalties.
Dump downs aren’t exciting, but if the defense is gonna give you five and six yards on these plays when your other reads just aren’t there, then you can live with it. Carson threw deep yesterday, he hit some medium stuff, and then went through his progressions and threw short when he had to.