PHILADELPHIA — For better or worse, Doug Pederson is aggressive.
The second-year coach goes for it on fourth down more than anyone else in the NFL since he joined the Philadelphia Eagles last year.
It doesn’t always make sense and fails half the time. But Pederson isn’t changing his philosophy.
His decision to go on fourth-and-8 from the Giants 43 late in the second quarter with Philadelphia leading 7-0 last Sunday backfired. Carson Wentz was sacked and New York drove to the 1 before a goal-line stand stopped them.
The gutsy call didn’t cost the Eagles any points and they won 27-24 on rookie Jake Elliott’s 61-yard field goal , but Pederson has been criticized all week for the move. He went for it two more times on fourth down against the Giants with only 1 yard to go. Wentz got both on sneaks.
“Sixty-seven percent on fourth down in a game is pretty good,” Pederson said. “I stand by my decision.”
Pederson relies on an assistant coach in charge of analytics to tell him the percentages. He communicates with the guy during the week and throughout the game.
When it comes down to it, Pederson makes the tough decision on the spot.
“I trust those guys to the standpoint of they’re going to give me every piece of information that I want because I have to make the decision, and it’s ultimately my decision,” Pederson said.
“It’s like going for two (points). I want to know what it says, what the analytics say. I still have to trust my gut instinct. I still have to look at a lot of factors to make sure that it’s right to make that decision, and it’s still ultimately up to me. We continue to study these things every week. Our guys are right on point with it.”
Even though it didn’t work, the play call was fine. The execution was the problem.
It wasn’t Pederson’s fault Wentz got sacked because two receivers were open. Nelson Agholor was open beyond the first down marker, but Wentz would’ve had to make a perfect throw. LeGarrette Blount also was open a couple of yards short of the sticks so he would’ve needed to break tackles to get it.
“Just trying to make a play there,” Wentz said about holding the ball too long and taking a sack. “Yeah, LeGarrette was short of the sticks. In my mind, I’m just ‘Take it over.’ Wanted to make a play.”
Pederson was 13 for 27 on fourth downs in 2016 and 2 for 3 this year so he’s 50 percent.
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