Inexperience becoming root of Eagles problems
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Carson Wentz is playing like a rookie and Doug Pederson is making decisions like a first-year coach.
The combination of inexperience and inconsistency cost the Philadelphia Eagles another game, and they’re reeling at the midpoint of the season. They’ve lost four of the last five games, including a 28-23 loss to the Giants on Sunday.
That 3-0 start is a distant memory now.
“We’re obviously building something here, but, when you look at these games, that we’ve been in at the end, the encouraging thing is that we really should have won those games,” Pederson said Monday. “As we build this thing, we’re going to win these games down the stretch as we go.”
Wentz threw a pair of interceptions on Philadelphia’s first two drives against New York, putting the Eagles in a 14-0 hole. They also trailed 14-0 in the first quarter in losses to Detroit and Washington.
But Wentz rebounded nicely against the Giants the same way he did in the other losses only to fall short at the end.
The offense had the ball with an opportunity to drive for the winning score in each of the four losses, but Wentz couldn’t get it done.
He threw four straight incomplete passes from the Giants 17 in the final minute. Jordan Matthews was open in the end zone on fourth-and-10, but Wentz’s pass sailed over his outside shoulder.
“It was a good ball,” Matthews said afterward. “Carson put it outside, good placement. I’ve just got to locate it, find it and bring it in.”
Wentz also took the blame.
“You’ve got to be precise down there,” he said.
Their inability to finish games should be a learning experience. They also have to play better at the start.
“That same sense of urgency that you have to have at the end of the game, we have to come out with that,” Matthews said.
“We have to come out with that same drive, that same attention to detail and that gotta-have-it mentality, we’ve got to go make a play right now. It comes, and lots of times it comes when we’re down or late in games, and then it’s too late.”
Pederson’s playcalling has been questionable lately. He was conservative in an overtime loss at Dallas last week and too aggressive against New York. Pederson is calling plays for the first time in his career after serving as offensive coordinator under Andy Reid in Kansas City.
He passed up field goals twice to go for fourth-and-2 at the Giants 23 and fourth-and-1 at the Giants 6 in the first half. The offense failed to convert both times, and the six points were the difference in the outcome.
“I still feel strong about those,” Pederson said. “I think the decision is to go for it. It shows confidence and belief in the guys. We were moving the ball.
“To me, it didn’t come down to those two plays. There were enough things that cost us this football game, but I still stick by what I did — how I chose to go for it in both of those situations.”
Overall, the Eagles had a first down at the Giants 22 or better on six different possessions and ended up with three field goals on those drives.
The Eagles host the NFC South-leading Atlanta Falcons (6-3) this week. They’re 3-0 at home, including lopsided wins over the Steelers and Vikings.