Eagles coach Doug Pederson conceded Friday that he has begun doling out some of his play-calling responsibilities on game days.
During his morning news conference, Pederson said the transition to dividing the play-calling responsibilities was going “smooth,” but wouldn’t go into details on when and why the change was made. Pederson has handed over the reins to passing game coordinator Press Taylor several times in the last few games, The Inquirer reported. Senior offensive assistant Rich Scangarello has also called the offense specifically in two-minute situations, in which the Eagles have been particularly effective.
The fifth-year coach also emphasized his control over how much of the play-calling responsibilities he surrenders each week and downplayed the frequency in previous weeks.
“I really don’t want to take you into why I’m doing that,” Pederson said. “I don’t want to give a lot out to our opponents and really kind of spill any kind of beans there. I’ve told you guys before that everything is on the table and it’ll be my decision moving forward if we continue down this path. ... It’s been smooth, I mean the transition’s fine, and it hasn’t been a lot, but it’s something I’ll consider each week.”
Pederson has been resolute in the past about his reluctance to cede play-calling duties because of how much he values the ability to make calls in the past. He didn’t consistently call plays as Andy Reid’s offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs from 2013-15 and clearly takes pride in doing so now, but he changed his tone during his Wednesday news conference.
“I’ve got to take everything into consideration,” he said then. “If I feel like I get stuck or in a rut, I definitely would consider giving [play-calling] up. So, it’s definitely on the table. I wouldn’t say that’s off the table. But that’s also part of sparking the offense and maybe seeing the offense through somebody else’s eyes.”
The Eagles’ offense has been one of the worst in the league so far, ranking 25th in points scored, 28th in yards, and 30th in Football Outsiders’ efficiency metric.
Pederson reiterated during his news conference that he’s still in charge of the offense, pointing out he hasn’t given up complete control over making calls.
“I’m still the play-caller,” he said. “I have to, if I’m going to be a part of the solution, then I’m going to be a part of the solution, whatever that takes, whatever that looks like. Whatever the elements of the game plan, calling plays, whatever it might be in-game, ultimately these are my decisions as we move forward.
“It is something that I have to dig deep and kind of soul-search a little bit because I love doing it,” Pederson added. “It’s a lot of fun. It gives you a lot of joy and excitement when you do it and you do it well, but again, I’m going to keep it internal and focus on the team.”
When Scangarello makes the calls in two-minute situations, Pederson relays those plays to Wentz. It’s worth noting Frank Reich and Mike Groh, former offensive coordinators under Pederson, have been tasked with play-calling duties in the past.
The Eagles have performed noticeably better in two-minute and hurry-up offensive situations than in more conventional circumstances. In 29 possessions that can be qualified as two-minute – at the end of the first half, fourth quarter, or overtime – they had 10 touchdowns and two missed field goals. In the Eagles’ other 101 possessions, they had 19 touchdowns and 11 field goals with two missed kicks.
Pederson’s offensive staff was overturned in the offseason with the input of owner Jeffrey Lurie and general manager Howie Roseman to bring in Scangarello and to promote Taylor to passing-game coordinator after Groh was fired. The team also brought in Marty Mornhinweg as a senior offensive consultant.
The results for the offensive coaching staff haven’t improved with Groh’s departure and the arrivals. Carson Wentz is in the midst of a sharp regression and has been one of the worst quarterbacks in the league statistically.
“Our process on offense is a very collaborative one as far as game-planning goes,” Pederson said. “All the coaches, all the position coaches, have a lot of input into the scheme each week, and then it’s ultimately my decision as to calling the plays or if I give that up.”