Doug Pederson told reporters Sunday evening that he would look at the film and then (we think) comment on the touchdown that sealed the game for Pittsburgh.
The Eagles were backed up in their half of the field and wound up with linebacker Nate Gerry on Chase Claypool, who at that point had scored three touchdowns and was the torching the Birds up and down the field. On the play, Ben Roethlisberger saw the coverage, pointed it out to his receiver, and then Claypool hesitated before running right by Gerry, with safety Rodney McLeod unable to help out.
Pederson had a second chance to address the play Monday morning on Angelo Cataldi’s show and offered a meandering non-response:
“Listen, you call the defense, you’re playing a team, if you really look at that play, and go back and look at look at what Ben Roethlisberger did; he recognized the defense and he did something and you see him communicating with Claypool. And, you know, I, listen, to sometimes you have to give credit where credit’s due they made a play in that situation. I mean, you know, it’s, it’s football. I don’t want to sit here and make excuses for, you know, our guys or coordinators, we have to own it right? I mean we have to own our jobs and our responsibilities but I also have to look at both sides of this thing and Ben, Ben made a play that, you know, that obviously is the game for them.”
Obviously he doesn’t want to throw his guys under the bus. He’s not going to trash his coordinator and his players, but it’s not too much to ask for an explanation on what was actually going on. I think you can do that without ragging anybody or revealing any secrets.
What we do know about the play is this:
- the Eagles, according to Rodney McLeod were in quarters coverage (basically two deep safeties but four guys each responsible for their ‘quarter’ of the field)
- Pittsburgh was in a five-wide offensive set, with one tight end and four receivers on the field
- the tight end was out wide and Claypool was lined up in the slot (typically the tight ends are located inside when you go five-wide)
- the Eagles were playing zone on that play with dime personnel on the field (one linebacker and six defensive backs)
They just got caught in a bad schematic matchup, and it played out like this:
— BlitzburghVideos (@BlitzVideos) October 12, 2020
Said Roethlisberger of the play:
“That’s a new formation we put in this week, with Ray-Ray [McCloud] in the game, taking the back out,
and we went to it a couple times today. So we expected them on that particular play to kind of go with
an all out blitz. So we had a play called to get the ball out quick and hopefully try and beat the blitz. They
sat back in a cover two zone, and it just wasn’t what we expected. I saw that, and I changed the play. I
think the coolest part about the whole thing is we’ve never run the play I called with that formation or
that group on the field. So Chase has never been in that spot. Ray-Ray has never been in that
spot. The other three kind of know what they were supposed to do, but, yeah, we changed the play, and
I can’t say enough about Chase getting down the middle of the field and kind of making that play for us.”
That was backed up by Claypool who said this, via the NFL’s Kevin Patra:
So Big Ben “told” the whole defense and they still got gashed.
The thing I’m most interested in this point is McLeod’s responsibility on the play. I don’t know if we’ll get the answer to that, but Pittsburgh had two guys going in his direction initially, one who ended up running a 10-yard out and the second being Claypool, who just went right up the gut between the hashmarks to split the two deep safeties.
Maybe Schwartz will give us something on the play when he speaks, which is onTuesday.