Opinion Al Morganti
AP_16325798619132.jpg Stephen Brashear/AP

Doug Pederson's team has lost six of its last eight.

November 29, 2016

No, Doug Pederson, the Eagles are not ‘heading in the right direction’

The Philadelphia Eagles got ripped apart by Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers at the Linc on Monday night, and the spin you are asked to accept when it was all over is that the future is still bright.

When it had mercifully ended, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson arrived at the podium and declared that “obviously,” the Eagles are “heading in the right direction.”

Really?

Maybe the Eagles really do have a future star of their own developing in rookie quarterback Carson Wentz, and the team will eventually get enough weapons on the offensive side of the ball. Maybe the Eagles will get some at least one wide receiver so Wentz can truly run with the big dogs.

And maybe the defense will bare its teeth, and maybe this truly is a season of preparation for better things to come.

Maybe.

You can argue that Monday night was only a snapshot of a team in its early stages of development. The problem arrives when you consider that development takes place in stages, and the stages don’t usually include a team regressing, and a team that can not find ways to win.

There is something to be said for getting a huge piece of the puzzle with Wentz. The NFL remains a league mostly controlled by quarterbacks, although the Denver Broncos have served as a reminder that you can also use a damaging defense to win a ring or two.

The real worry is that Pederson’s assertion that the Eagles are “headed in the right direction” flies in the face of what we are watching. We are watching a team that has deteriorated since it was the talk of the NFL at 3-0, and Wentz was the toast of everything between here and North Dakota.

There have been contributing factors, such as the suspension of Lane Johnson which damaged the offensive line, but all teams deal with injury and off-field issues. The bigger problem has been the Eagles inability to perform at crunch time, and a lack of intelligent football in terms of everything from gameplan to undisciplined penalties.

Against the Packers, Pederson’s game plan started well when he chose to run the ball during an early drive to tie the score, 7-7. After that, Pederson basically abandoned the run as Wentz threw the ball 40 times and was sacked four times.

All of that optimism for this season was wiped away with the loss, but the larger danger was the long-term optimism. After watching the Eagles over the past few weeks, there is just no evidence to indicate that Pederson is correct in his assessment that the team is headed in the right direction.

Mind you, this lack of offense was lined up against a Green Bay defense that came into the game in what appeared to be late stages of disintegration. The Packers defense was cursed by injury and coming off a couple of brutal performances.

The idea was that the offense would be able to stay on the field and that would limit the time that Rodgers had to stretch out the Eagles’ defense. Instead, it was the Packers offense that was on the field forever as Rodgers burned the Eagles’ defense time after time on key third down situations.

Overall, it was a horrible loss on many levels, starting with the damage it did to any playoff aspirations. Despite entering the game at a .500 level, the Eagles had a favorable schedule laden with home games through the rest of the season featuring head-to-head match up with divisional foes Dallas, Washington and the Giants.

All of that optimism for this season was wiped away with the loss, but the larger danger was the long-term optimism. After watching the Eagles over the past few weeks, there is just no evidence to indicate that Pederson is correct in his assessment that the team is headed in the right direction.

There is no time in the NFL to invest in a rebuild process in the same manner as the Philadelphia 76ers. The life span of an NFL player is absurdly short, and a player has to arrive on the scene and make an impact.

Coming into this season, part of the Eagles’ hopes lay in the belief that the NFC East was not going to be a large hill to climb. Instead, the NFC East appears to be locked and re-loaded, especially the Dallas Cowboys.

While the Eagles have pinned their hopes on Wentz, a looming monster has developed in Dallas where the Cowboys lucked into a draft where they landed what appears to be a franchise quarterback and running back in Dak Prescott and Ezekiel Elliott.

The Eagles no longer have the luxury of a slow climb. There is now a demand to get things done quickly or risk reeling in the worst wake in all of sports – the wake of the surging Dallas Cowboys.

The Eagles are not headed in the right direction, and the quicker Pederson and the entire organization recognize that the quicker they can get the message to a locker room that more is expected than what has been delivered.