Next Man Up! What happened?? – WC Weekend Playoff Notes 2020

Posted: January 9, 2020 in All Things Power Spread
Doug Pederson is a heckuva coach!

In case you missed it: below is a list of what Pederson has so skillfully navigated during the course of the 2019 Season.

Issue #1: Injuries – Next Man Up!

There are injuries, then there are INJURIES. In today’s game injuries have become the norm. Players with superior strength and speed hitting into each other with great force will create injuries. Still, there are extreme cases. This is one of them.

I cannot recall seeing so many injuries to one football team in all my years of watching this game. What I find interesting is the way in which Pederson is using the situation to build character and Team Synergy. “Next Man Up“.

I know that this isn’t a new phrase. The “motto” actually came from the military and has been used in the game before Pederson. But his Eagles seem to be turning this motto into a mantra.

Out of necessity? Probably. But isn’t necessity the mother of invention?

As injuries continue to mount, the name of the game may become ” Next Man Up”. More specifically – TEAM.

Pederson fosters TEAM both on and off the field. Every player has an important role. It’s not just talk. They “feel” it. They believe it. It shows during tough times.

Could this be a turning point in the history of the game? An era of TEAM over STAR? An ideal for all of Football by the end of the 2020s!

NFL teams may begin to re-structure everything. From schemes on the field and in the draft to Economic Organization. If this happens, I will look back to what Pederson is doing now as the beginning of this shift.

Issue #2: Morale – Faith!

Following on the heels of all these Injuries – which actually started right away in the pre-season with 2 backup QBS going down immediately – was a locker room “morale” issue.

With all the struggles the Eagles were having early in the year, there were rumblings of discontent off the field. There were surprising comments, then surprising releases. One of the players released said that the Eagles no longer had the desire or passion to win. They were resting on the laurels of their SB Win 2 years ago.

Personally, I find this hard to believe, but something was happening. Watching a mid-season game, I was taken aback by a lack of good energy. Highly surprising for a Pederson team.

Well, after they beat Dallas, Pederson was in the locker room saying that they won this game “every day that week on the practice field.” Then he said that he wouldn’t preach, but that “a little bit of faith goes a long way.”

Pederson is not only a great schemer, innovator and organizer, but he’s also a great players coach. He’s proven it time and again. It saw his Team through rough times before and it did the same again this year.

Issue #3: Carson Wentz can’t read NFL Defenses – No Read Passing Game!

Pederson has done an amazing job with Carson Wentz from day one.

Wentz’s experience at the FCS level has not provided him with the best tools to read tricky NFL Defenses. Short passes did the trick in 2016. Then scrambling improvisation and RPOs in 2017. Experience helped, but by 2018 and into this year, Wentz’s read progressions weren’t improving.

What Pederson did next is amazing to me. All year he said he was trying to simplify the Offense. It took a while, but I finally can see some results. He is taking away Wentz’s reads!! In other words – giving him a 1 or even a 0 read scheme, rather than a full Read Progression. Either the primary WR is open or dump it to an outlet. Or Run!

To see this type of concept in today’s NFL is surprising. But it’s working!! Simplicity at it’s best. While the Defenses are trying to confuse the offense, Wentz is simply looking 1, 2 then go! Either it’s open or not. Simple. Quick. Clear. No holding the ball too long. No indecision and prolonged mistakes. Or worse – that feared injury.

Issue #4: Evolving a scheme in the middle of the year!

So how can a coach get away with such simplistic schemes in the modern day NFL? Not easily. The schemes have to be spot on. One thing Pederson does is use Trips – 3 WRs to one side (or 2WR and TE or RB). The Route design stays on one side of the field – a quick read. If no one is open – run!

Now if you say – “Wentz shouldn’t be running so much!” – you would be wrong. I know it’s a chance he can get hurt, but if he keeps holding the ball in the pocket with great indecision, there’s even a better chance he will wind up injured!

Plus, his skill set is IMPROVISATION! He’s a big man’s Doug Flutie. He is way better on the move, where his athleticism can take over and he can use his big arm and imagination to make big plays.

Pederson is great at mis-direction, breaking tendency and using space. All of this is helping his QB and taking the pressure off his shoulders. Without the pressure of a heavy read/timing pass offense, Wentz can play free and “cut it loose” with his athleticism and daring. His best and only way to play!

So what happened Sunday?
All the above came crashing down.
  1. Injury Bug Strikes Again – Wentz went down .. again. After staying healthy all regular season.
  2. Morale – While the Philly Home Crowd kept the Pedal to the Metal, the Eagles themselves suffered a letdown after Wentz went out.
  3. Wentz Scheme – With all the specific work Pederson put into a new scheme for Wentz, it seemed to backfire some with a new guy in there.
  4. Pederson Pulls Back! – Not his tendency, but he seemed to back away from some of the great schematics he created throughout the year.
Did Pederson finally have moments of doubt and negativity?

My best guess is yes. When I saw some of the closeups of Doug on the sideline with backup QB Josh McCown in the game, I felt like I was watching a fan in the stands. In others words, Pederson was displaying a negativity that I am not used to seeing from him.

Ironically, the fans seemed more positive. It’s like the whole universe had turned upside down. Pederson got negative and Philly Fans were positive – or at least hopeful.

I had a friend at the game. Maybe he will comment below, but he agreed with my observation from afar. The fans were a little shell shocked as they have been all year, but were still very hopeful. They have seen this before – Next Man Up! – even if it was their Quarterback.

The problem this time – this one time – is that their Captain – the man who steered them to their only SB Win – suddenly succumbed to the dark side.

Energy fluctuations all Wildcard Weekend

We saw it all WC Weekend. Flat starts, flat letdowns, fluctuating energy. The Texans started slow. The Bills letdown. The Pats were flat all game. The Saints struggled with low energy until the end.

It may have not been obvious to some, but the Eagles Energy on the field wasn’t the same. There was some of that same “feel” that I saw earlier in the year. Negativity, doubt and disarray.

Not to say they weren’t fighting. They were. I feel that the crowd helped the team – especially near the end. I also think McCown was fantastic – in a way. He fought like an animal. They almost pulled it off.

Josh McCown in his first Playoff Game

I actually did not realize that this was his first ever Playoff Game, but I stick strong to what I said in my Preview – The Eagles can survive a Wentz Injury. They almost did.

I was well aware of McCown’s experience and his ability to come in and play strong off the bench. I’ve seen it before. Believe it or not, McCown can actually read NFL Defenses better than Wentz. Like Nick Foles, he doesn’t possess Wentz’s athletic ability, but he thrives in a Spread Pass game.

He’s also a strong leader. Like both Foles and Wentz. He proved it again on Sunday. The issue was more about age and his inexperience working with the first team in live game situations. I knew that would be tough, but I also knew McCown, Pederson and the Eagles were tough enough to overcome!

Next Man Up..!??

The issue Sunday – and I can’t believe I’m saying this – was Pederson. The Eagles needed to go back to their Mantra – NEXT MAN UP!. I think Pederson’s love for Wentz, plus all the injuries he has dealt with in his four years in Philly, finally got him. No Mas replaced Next Man Up and it effected his Team.

The Leader needs the most Faith. Not the Crowd, the Players, even the Organization – the LEADER FIRST – the rest will follow. As I detailed above and in other posts, I think Pederson could be the best Head Coach in Football. I don’t say that lightly. He dropped the ball this one time.

Can you blame him!??

Good question. He’s only human.

Pederson put so much work in the past 4 years to get Wentz to this point. Pederson is an ex-QB and QB Coach. This is where his pride lies. To go through such a rough year, only to end up losing your prized QB in his FIRST playoff game – well, that’s tough – to say the least.

Here’s the thing – as the Head Coach you set the example. All HCs know this. Pederson knows this. He’s done it for four years.

The Eagles entered Sunday’s game with a beat up – practically destroyed – Defensive Backfield, a banged up WR corp and a beat up Offensive Line. NEXT..MAN..UP. It worked all year. All 4 years.

This applies to the QB Position as well..IF..the Mantra is TEAM over STAR.

I may have very few readers agree with me. Who cares WHAT you say – you lose a QB – your leader – you’re through. Well, Philly Fans have seen it – THAT IS MOST DEFINITELY NOT TRUE. Ohio State fans have seen it as well – remember 2014 – third string QB Cardale Jones??

Victim Mentality – No place for a Leader

The Victim mentality is left for the masses – but can’t be for the Leader. Nothing can stop even a little bit of Faith.

While it’s easy to sit and write about it – the ‘proof’ shall set you free.

Pederson is a great Leader and will continue to be a great Head Coach. The circumstances of this year will make him even better. The Seahawks were tough, but the Eagles had a real chance to move on – with or without Wentz.

It didn’t happen, but the Next Man Up mantra is a great one. Keep it, Doug Pederson. Cultivate it. Win with it. And the rest will follow!


  1. Christian Woods says:

    I was at the Eagles game as Drew said. We (myself, my friend Dan and the crowd at large hung in there. From a Philly crowd especially I didn’t hear the negativity I might have expected.

  2. […] is a great coach, but what happened Sunday? TEAM = Next Man Up!… #NFL #NFLPlayoffs…… […]

  3. […] Next Man Up! What happened?? – WC Weekend Playoff Notes 2020 […]

  4. […] beat up and a letdown after their QB was injured once […]

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