Part Feel, Part Philosophy: Pederson’s Decision to Scale Back has Worked for Eagles
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Conventional wisdom says you ramp things up during a playoff run. For Doug Pederson the opposite has worked.
As the Eagles get set to make their last stand this Sunday in the shadow of the nation's capital, Pederson again has scaled back on-field preparation in an effort to get as many of his banged-up and veteran players to the finish like as fresh as possible for what is a must-win game against the Redskins.
It's the third straight week the coach has done it and the second consecutive one he's turned Wednesday, typically the busiest day in a normal NFL prep week, into a walkthrough day instead of a full practice session.
“We can get twice as many plays in a walk-through setting as we can in a normal practice,” Pederson explained on Friday before his team’s final full practice in advance of Sunday. “So I feel that’s more beneficial at this time of year than the actual live reps."
It's not a hard-and-fast rule for Pederson, however. Call it part feel and part philosophy from a former player who understands the rigors of a season.
"I think too I have to realize we have some young players on defense, and sometimes getting a live rep is better," the coach said. "But this time of year, just guys have played a ton of snaps and we're in a position to continue our season. I just want to make sure they're as fresh and as healthy as possible. It’s a little bit of philosophy for me, and just having a pulse of your team."
Last season, however, Pederson listened to his team when they wanted to ramp things up in advance of the playoffs after finishing the regular season in a bit of a lull.
"You remember last year going into the post-season, the only thing they did was they came to me and wanted the pads back on at the end of the season last year going into the bye," Pederson said. "I haven't had it necessarily the other way. I just try to gauge that just based on talking to them and just seeing how they react coming off a big game."
To date, Pederson's plan has resulted in wins over two playoff-bound teams -- the Los Angeles Rams and Houston Texans. To reach the postseason themselves this time around the Eagles need to finish things by beating Washington in Week 17 and hoping Chicago can top Minnesota on the road.
Whatever the outcome, though, Pederson's plan to get his players to this point has worked wonderfully.
"I still think you just have to get a feel for your team. You can see them. You can see them when they walk in the building where they are mental, physically. And then you get the injury report. If it's longer one week than the next, then maybe you need to back down just a little bit," he said. "You want guys to be able to practice, even if it's a walk-through setting. Say they have something that's a little nagging. If we went a full practice, a live practice, let's say, they probably couldn't go. At least in a walk-through setting they can still get that rep mentally and not so much physically."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen