On second thought, Doug Pederson acknowledged, his curious decision to use his final replay challenge on a 2-yard, third-quarter completion by Green Bay on Monday night probably wasn’t such a great idea.
“I probably would have kept" the challenge if he had it to do over again, the Eagles coach said Wednesday. “It was a 2-yard gain. Keep it at second and 8.
The reason he challenged it, he said, "was where they were on the field. At that point, I was thinking, (let’s get it reversed) and go second and 10 over second and 8. Try to keep them back two more yards.
“But that would be a challenge (that I wouldn’t do again). I’d probably hang onto it and keep it for a situation that didn’t show up in the game.’’
With his team trailing by just four points late in the third quarter, Pederson used his second and final challenge on the 2-yard pass from Aaron Rodgers to tight end Jared Cook that would have given the Packers a second and 8 at the Philadelphia 37-yard line.
The completion ultimately was reversed because the ball had touched the ground before Cook had control. But it was a matter of risk-reward. Was reversing a 2-yard gain there worth using up your final replay challenge with 17 minutes left in what still was a close game?
If it had been another quarterback other than Rodgers, who completed 30 of 39 passes against the Eagles, including 9 of 10 on third down, Pederson probably never would have considered challenging the catch. But the way Rodgers was ripping Jim Schwartz’s defense to shreds, every yard gained had become magnified.
Asked Wednesday whether he has done any self-evaluation on his first season as an NFL head coach and what conclusions he has reached with five games left, Pederson gave a surprisingly candid answer.
“I assess myself after every game from a play-calling standpoint and managing the game,’’ he said. “That way, as the year has gone on, the different situations, whether it be fourth down, third and shorts, all of those situational things, kind of knowing when to throw a screen pass over a drop back or a run.
“Studying my trend over the course of the season has made me a better play-caller and (helped) me understand those situations a little bit better as the season has gone on. Kind of knowing when to make those decisions. Knowing when to run and when to throw, all of that.
“When I look back at this season after the season is over and assess everything, I’ll be very critical and hard on myself going forward.’’