By Martin Gallagher
If you believe Eagles coach Doug Pederson, the Birds are moving in the right direction, Carson Wentz’s mechanics are just fine and his bosses — trust fund owner Jeff Lurie and his glove puppet GM Howie Boy Roseman — are down with his performance.
That’s getting harder and harder to hear and not laugh.
One day after his 5-7 team spotted the now 4-7-1 Bengals a 29-0 lead, Pederson dismissed any notion that he is feeling any pressure whatsoever from the likes of owner Lurie and Roseman.
“From both of them, it has been 100 percent support,” Pederson said yesterday of the feedback he’s received from Lurie and Roseman. “On everything. I meet with Jeffrey and Howie every week. We discuss a lot of things and go over a lot of things.
“Every week it’s very positive. I just don’t think personally you can base a season one one season, you can base a guy on one season. I think you have to give it time to develop.”
Shortly before calling out the lack of effort from his players in Sunday’s loss, Pederson made the case for why he deserves to be on the sidelines in 2017 and continue to be entrusted with the development of Wentz.
“We have a rookie quarterback,” Pederson said. “We have to have time to develop this quarterback. This doesn’t happen overnight. By no means have they expressed anything to me. It’s been positive and very supportive.”
Pederson said that he “for sure” believes that his job is safe and that the front office has expressed as much.
Following a Week 12 Monday Night Football loss to the Green Bay Packers, Pederson effectively turned the page on the 2016 season by challenging the players in the locker room and stating that the final five games would be used to evaluate who will be on the roster next season. Further, Pederson said that he felt the Eagles were headed in the right direction.
It did not appear that way on Sunday.
“I didn’t see any quit in the guys,” Pederson said. “We battled back. We scored on a couple more drives. The defense was creating turnovers in the second half. We had a kickoff return. Everybody was doing everything we could to get ourselves back in the football game.
“I didn’t see any quit in the guys. The dejection and ill feeling in the eyes of the players in the locker room afterwards shows me that they care for one another. They’re disappointed, obviously, that they didn’t play well. We’ve got another opportunity.”
However, stemming the tide of a three-game losing skid will just be one of the challenges facing Pederson as he manages this team over the final four games of the season with the reality that the Eagles are now little more than a potential spoiler for the playoff chances of division rivals.
“It starts with a consistency of message,” Pederson explained. “I have a player committee and I meet with them every week. We talk about these issues. We talk about certain things. The feedback has been extremely positive from the team, from those guys.
“That right there leads me to believe that we’re still on track. Now, do we expect to play like we’ve played the last couple weeks? No, we don’t. Do we expect to be down 19-0 at halftime? No, we don’t. Therefore it goes back to, I know where we are as a football team.
“We are playing with some younger guys on offense. There are some young guys on defense. We have a left guard playing right tackle. There are some things and pieces that are just not cohesive right now … We’ve had our share of adversity this season. By no means do we go in any game, even the night before, the guys are energetic and ready. I just reminded them Saturday night how good they can be. I just felt that everything about this team right now is still right there for the taking. I don’t see any quit in the guys.”
Despite saying that he did not believe the players quit on Sunday, Pederson admitted that he did not believe everyone gave maximum effort.
“Not everybody,” Pederson said. “Not everybody. That’s the accountability that I talk about. I hold coaches accountable for that. I hold myself accountable for that, because it all starts with me.
“I pride myself each and every week on making sure that the guys are ready to go, but at the same time, it comes down to a mentality by each individual player.”