THERE is nothing seriously wrong with the Eagles Offense. Stop laughing. Schematically, its concepts work just fine. While I wish we worked out of the Shotgun less, it doesn’t appear to be impeding the run game, regardless of whether the starting O-line is on the field or the back-ups are. The biggest problem this Offense faces is a lack of discipline.
Penalties, dropped passes, routes run wrong, failing to recognize stunts…these are all lapses in focus that come down to player discipline. When a man’s head isn’t into what he’s doing, he is much more likely to be sloppy in how he does whatever task he is performing. He is more likely to miss details. He is more likely to be unaware of what is going on around him.
This team needs discipline, but at this point, discipline is going to be a hard sell coming from Head Coach Doug Pederson, because of the start his regime has gotten off to:
1) QB Sam Bradford was allowed to come back to his starting role after throwing a tantrum and walking out on his team.
2) WR Nelson Agholor spent no time in the doghouse after drawing negative attention to the Eagles, when he was accused of rape by a stripper who felt she hadn’t been paid enough for sex.
3) We just traded for WR Dorial Green-Beckham, who at worst is a malcontent, or at best is simply misunderstood and lazy.
It would seem the ship has sailed on Pederson’s ability to rule with an iron fist. So then how does a coach instill discipline when he is perceived by his players to be a softie? Simple. He does it by being a softie.
Let me give you an example of how this can work. WR Josh Huff has fumbled and had a couple drops these last two games. However, he has also started these last couple games, so everyone on the team knows he has some value. This is PERFECT. Couldn’t be a better set-up for an example.
Rookie WR Paul Turner has been making the most of his opportunity. Granted, he’s been playing against second and third stringers, but he himself is a third stringer. He doesn’t get to decide who he takes on, he only gets to decide how to beat them.
Pederson could spend a week lauding Turner’s focus and individual discipline, to the media. Then he could reward Turner in this next game, by playing him in Huff’s place. Meanwhile Huff can watch (in full uniform) from the sideline. Let Huff see how fleeting it can all be.
If Turner looks overwhelmed, then it’s still a wake-up call to Huff, who’d have to spend a week answering the same embarrassing questions. If Turner responds well, then we can move Huff (for a 6th or 7th round pick to say…Denver, where every pro knows he’d be buried on the depth chart) as away to open up a roster spot, save some cap space and add another Draft pick. Either way, it would send a loud and clear message to every Eagle on the roster, about what happens when Pederson does and does not, get what he wants.
And all the while, Pederson would never have to raise his voice, or utter one word in anger. He could smile the smile of a man who knows that he will win, no matter how it turns out.
When each player here gets his own head back into what he is doing, the focus will return and with that the discipline. THEN you will see this Offense in its full bloom.