Conservative play calling can’t continue for Philadelphia Eagles

SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 03: Quarterback Carson Wentz
SEATTLE, WA - DECEMBER 03: Quarterback Carson Wentz /

A tough loss against the Seattle Seahawks has the Philadelphia Eagles going back to the drawing board. With a 10-2 record, this season has been a success, but to make noise in the playoffs, the conservative play calling needs to stop.

Philadelphia Eagles fans, stop pressing the panic button. Take a deep breath and look at the NFC East standings, because the team isn’t in any trouble right now. Yes, the loss to the Seattle Seahawks was concerning, as the team didn’t show up for their biggest game of the season, but it should be looked at as a learning tool for a team that hasn’t had this much sustained success in a long time. Carson Wentz is still a MVP candidate, Alshon Jeffery will be around for another four years, and the defense is dominant. In other words, there’s absolutely no reason to panic at the moment.

There were several spots on Sunday Night Football that can be looked back at as possible turning points where the Eagles could’ve taken control in Seattle, but things just didn’t click. For all the great things Wentz has done this season, he seemed a step behind, and on the other side of the ball the defense couldn’t stop an already Hall of Fame level quarterback in Russell Wilson. The players didn’t come out to play, but the most concerning thing about this loss falls directly on coach Doug Pederson.

This season, Pederson has done a great job shying away from the conservative play calling that hurt the team last year, but Sunday night he fell back into his old ways. Playing from behind from the very beginning of the game, Pederson opted to focus on the run game. It worked early on, but the Seahawks’ defense eventually adjusted. Coming into the game, it seemed like a given that a strong Eagles’ pass game would attack the depleted Seattle secondary, but that never happened. The numbers show that Wentz threw the ball 45 times for 348 yards, but the actual game footage says much different. A lot of those numbers came after the Eagles were in a two-touchdown hole they needed to dig themselves out of, so Wentz had to let it fly.

The play calling of this game felt alarmingly close to the days of Chip Kelly and Sam Bradford, two modest runs followed by a dink and dunk pass game each drive isn’t enough to beat a strong NFC team on the road. There were some missed opportunities early on that could’ve set the tone, but after those misses Pederson seemed to abandon the pass game all together, something that can’t happen moving forward. There haven’t been many reasons not to trust Wentz this season, so it seems kind of odd that he wasn’t given the opportunity to make plays until the game was almost out of reach.

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The running game is one of the Eagles biggest strengths, and while it’s not a major issue at the moment, the last thing they want to do is rely too much on the run game in a way that hurts the offense. Making this high-powered offense one dimensional is an easy way to send this team to an early playoff exit. The weapons are there, and against the Los Angeles Rams, Pederson needs to prove once again he can trust his quarterback and stop calling such a conservative offense.