Monday, December 19, 2016

Going for Two Eagles Problems - and it's not the conversion try

All the talk this morning no doubt will be about Eagles head coach Doug Pederson's decision to go for two - and the win - as opposed to kicking the extra point and heading into overtime.

Carson Wentz crashed into the end zone for four ticks left on the clock, pulling the Birds within a point of the Ravens at 27-26.

I don't have a problem with Pederson's call. I do have a problem with a couple of other things I saw during the game. More on those later.

Bottom line is the Eagles were underdogs, on the road, in a season that really isn't going anywhere, why not go for the win right there instead of deal with the foibles of a coin toss and overtime.

Can you question the call, for a pass that got tipped at the line of scrimmage instead of running the ball on a day when the Eagles ground game was reeling off big chunks against what is a very good Ravens' defense. Especially, even more so that Ryan Mathews, who rushed for 128 yards in the game, was not even on the field.

So go ahead and argue the call if you so desire.

I will focus on two other things.

First, Nelson Agholor. Again.

On a crucial 4th-down play in the 4th quarter, Pederson decided to dial up his troubled wideout's number. On a slow-developing reverse, Agholor missed a gaping hole that would have required a sharp cut, instead opting to go wide. Agholor actually turned the corner and looked like he had a shot at the first down, but somehow managed to step out of bounds before he crashed into a couple of Ravens defenders at the marker, making the question moot. How can Agholor not have enough awareness to know it is 4th down and he can't step out before he gets to that marker. Maybe the same kind of thinking that so often sees Eagles receivers run 6-yard routes on third-and-eight.

Then there is Rodney McLeod. Again.

And again there will be questions about McLeod's desire after he took a somewhat circuitous route in going after an opposing running back who was steaming toward the Eagles end zone. I think McLeod could have gotten there sooner on SEPTA.

This follows a play a couple of weeks ago in Cincinnati when McLeod also failed to challenge a play at the goal line.

This one was different. There seems to me to be little question that McLeod could have met Kenneth Dixon well before the goal line. Instead he actually seems to be running beside the play before jumping on Dixon's back as he crashed into the end zone. That is the kind of play that will earn McLeod the ire of Philly fans.

It remains to be seen what kind of explanation it will spark from Doug Pederson and Jim Schwartz.

The Eagles season is over. And plays like these made by Agholor and McLeod are a big reason why, not Doug Pederson's decision to go for two.

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