McMullen: Pederson Takes Ownership of Eagles’ Problems
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - You may not like it but it's what leaders do.
And Doug Pederson learned under one of the best, Andy Reid, the author of the fan-despised "I have to do a better job" mantra.
The Eagles problems have been multiple during a disappointing 3-4 start, a cocktail of the obvious (injuries) to the more subtle (schemes, personnel evaluation). After a second straight blowout loss to perceived NFC playoff contenders, Philadelphia looks like anything but a postseason hopeful itself even with a back-end schedule that breaks favorably for a late run.
Pederson provided shade for his locker room and general manager on Monday after an ugly 37-10 loss at Dallas where even Carson Wentz took a giant step backward after a week where an anonymous teammate took yet another shot at the face of the franchise.
“It starts with me, and I hold myself accountable,” the coach said Monday. “I have to do a better job, quite frankly, and I have to communicate that better to the team and make sure that we’re doing the right things every single day, not just some of the time.”
Pederson's theme this season is "everything matters," and Lane Johnson was front and center after the setback to the Cowboys, intimating that not everyone at the NovaCare Complex has bought into that messaging.
"Everybody will be held accountable," Johnson told NBC10 during his postgame interview. "Little stuff that slides during the week — late to practice, late to meetings, late to this and that. Stuff will be held accountable for. I think that will maybe creep into the games.”
Pederson put a positive spin on Johnson's take on the situation, one that Malcolm Jenkins essentially denied on a Philadelphia-area radio station and Brandon Graham admitted should have stayed in the Eagles' locker room.
"Obviously, that message starts with me," Pederson said. "And I love the fact that they're talking that way and showing that it means something to them and it's important to them. And those are the little things that — you carry it over into the workplace. If an employee shows up late or is not on time for certain things, there are consequences for that."
Pederson, though, balked when pressed to confirm the Johnson accusations.
"I didn't say they were [showing up late]," the coach explained. "I'm just using that as an example. It could be missing an assignment in practice where we can repeat that play in practice but you don't get that second chance in a game. So, same way. It's where we all in this building, with this football team — and it's not a panic move — we just need to make sure that sense of urgency and accountability is there."
The Eagles (3-4) started this season with Super Bowl-or-bust expectations locally and have now lost four of six games and have been outscored 75-30 by the Vikings and Cowboys in consecutive weeks.
Early turnovers were the major issue in North Texas with fumbles on consecutive possessions putting a shorthanded defense is an untenable position, quickly resulting in a 14-0 deficit the Eagles never really came all that close to pulling out of.
“We have nine games left, and it’s a one-game season,” Pederson said when looking ahead to Sunday's upcoming game in Buffalo against another playoff contender, this one on the AFC side. “By no means are we pushing any panic buttons. We’re one game out of first place in our division. ... the things that are showing up on tape are fixable. They are correctible. The sky is not falling for us."
If it isn't, it's because one man is holding it up and provided the shade for others from Howie Roseman on down to get their acts together.
"We have the men in the locker room to get the job done," Pederson assessed. "I think where we are and kind of what we’ve been through this season already is going to really bring this team a lot closer.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen