Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson sounds as if he wouldn’t be too disappointed if quarterback Carson Wentz dropped back to pass this Sunday, felt pressure and threw the ball into the Lincoln Financial Field stands.
Wentz started fast but ultimately struggled in the Eagles’ season-opening 27-17 loss to the Washington Football Team on Sunday. Wentz was sacked a career-high eight times and threw two interceptions.
Philadelphia squandered a 17-0 lead. The Eagles (0-1) will host the Los Angeles Rams (1-0) 1 p.m. Sunday at Lincoln Financial Field.
On many of the sacks, Wentz appeared to hold the ball too long in the pocket instead of throwing it away. It’s something for which he has often been criticized during his career.
“We still have to continue to address those issues,” Pederson said in a video conference with reporters Monday afternoon. “We have to just keep talking that it’s OK to throw the ball away. It’s OK to dirt the ball on a screen pass or something of that nature. There’s a fine line between the aggressiveness, but at the same time we want to be smart.”
One sack Sunday was especially critical. The Eagles led 17-14 in the third quarter and had the ball third-and-seven from the Washington 22-yard line. Washington pressured Wentz, who backpedaled to buy more time instead of throwing the ball away. He was sacked for a 13-yard loss, and Eagles kicker Jake Elliott fell just short on a 53-yard field goal attempt.
Wentz is in his fifth season. Is it possible for him to make an adjustment at this point in his career?
“I do believe he can learn that, and I do believe we can continue to coach it better,” Pederson said. “We have to continue to discuss and talk with him about it. If he’s holding the ball, there’s a reason. Maybe we have to coach the (wide receiver) routes better. Maybe I have to call the play better. There’s all types of scenarios and possibilities on every play”
Pederson also found his own aggressiveness as a play caller being questioned Monday. The Eagles were 0 for 2 on fourth down Sunday. Wentz was sacked on the first attempt, and tight end Zach Ertz dropped a pass that would have given Philadelphia a first down on the second.
“I’m still going to maintain the aggressiveness,” Pederson said. “A 17-0 lead or a 27-10 lead in any football game in this league is not enough. You have to continue to maintain aggressiveness.”
The Eagles threw 42 times compared to just 17 rushes.
“I’m going to do what I feel is the best interest of the football team, and we cannot turn the ball over,” Pederson said. “We cannot have eight sacks. We cannot put our defense on the short side of the field as an offense. We have to execute better on fourth down. You have to make smart decisions and you’ve got to trust our players, trust our quarterback, trust our schemes.”
Pederson said defensive lineman Vinny Curry (hamstring) and cornerback Craig James (unspecified injury) have significant injuries and will miss weeks.
Defensive lineman Brandon Graham is in the concussion protocol, according to Pederson.
Defensive end Derek Barnett (hamstring), running back Miles Sanders (hamstring) and right tackle Lane Johnson (ankle) all missed the Washington game and are still day-to-day, Pederson said.