There is much blame to go around for the Eagles’ uninspired play in the secondary. Sure, Jalen Ramsey would have been nice. But it may have only band-aided the larger problem.
The Eagles seem to have a problem coaching up their young cornerbacks. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz took the onus for that issue Tuesday during his media availability. On Wednesday, head coach Doug Pederson said the responsibility starts with him while giving Schwartz a full and resounding vote of confidence.
“The whole football team is under my direction and I’m responsible, first and foremost,” Pederson told reporters. “By no means, do I feel the need to step in [on the defensive side] or do anything outside of that. I have full confidence in my coaches and what we’re doing.”
But who is really to blame for the sloppy play? It’s not that these kids — guys like Sidney Jones, Rasul Douglas, Avonte Maddox — aren’t talented or forgot how to cover receivers. The fact that there is severe miscommunication and mental lapses points to a lack of discipline, something that usually traces its roots back to coaching.
“Part of what you do in the National Football League is you try to manage where your matchups are,” Schwartz told reporters. “There are physical errors. There are technique errors or another guy makes a play or something like that. That’s life in the NFL, but communication issues will get you beat quick.”
Keeping Tabs on Eagles Defensive Backs Coach Cory Undlin
One name flying under the radar during this whole mess has been Cory Undlin. The Eagles defensive backs coach was a breakout star during training camp after the team mic’d him up for a few entertaining videos. His approach and banter with the cornerbacks was a huge selling point on what this defense could become. Undlin, who was hired by the Eagles in 2015, is well-respected around the league and worked under Bill Belichick in New England.
Undlin’s ability to run the younger guys through intense drills and teach them proper leverage and technique raised everyone’s expectations. In one specific video from camp, the coach is seen instructing Rasul Douglas after he gets beat in a nickel package on a 3rd-and-10 play.
He can be heard shouting, “Rasul, that might be you … I would say this you gotta be super, super smart with that. I’m cool with that when he’s under center but when he comes underneath, get back.”
Doug Pederson Taking Full Responsibility
With great power comes great responsibility. Those were the words channeled by Doug Pederson when describing his team’s recent struggles, both on and off the field.
The defense, specifically the secondary, has looked out of sorts with miscommunications and mistakes. There has also been mysterious reports floating around criticizing the organization from unnamed sources.
On Friday, the head coach manned up and proclaimed it was his job to fix everything.
“That’s why we wear the C on our hat for coach,” said Pederson. “We have to continue to teach and get our guys prepared every week.”
Pederson also cleared up any issues of a dysfunctional locker room. The Eagles are a united front, as always.
“I love that about our team,” said Pederson. “These guys really — things get thrown at them all the time. It’s kind of funny, because we play a game. We play a sport. We’re all judged and critiqued on this sport that we play and coach.”