Pederson defends Chiefs' last, lengthy drive

Doug Pederson said he would call plays on offense as the Eagles' new head coach.

That might not necessarily be good news considering that he confirmed that he directed the Chiefs' sluggish final drive in the divisional playoff loss to the Patriots on Saturday.

Many assumed that it was Andy Reid (who has had game management woes over his entire coaching career) calling the plays. But Pederson, the former Chiefs offensive coordinator, said that he started calling plays in the second half of games dating back to Week 7.

"Coach Reid and I had a great understanding and a great feel for the game," Pederson said Tuesday. "He allowed me to call the second half of every football game from that Steeler game on."


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And that, of course, included Kansas City's 27-20 loss to New England.

Trailing, 27-13, the Chiefs got the ball back with 6 minutes, 29 seconds left in the game. They drove 80 yards for a touchdown, but it took 16 plays and drained 5:16 off the clock. Since 1998, only one team out of 2,111 drives that faced a 9- to 17-point deficit with less than seven minutes left needed more time to score.

"It took us time because No. 1, we did not want to give Tom Brady the ball back," Pederson said. "We knew we were going to score. We knew we had timeouts and time. We were also limited with the number of receivers. We had Jeremy Maclin out of the game at the time. We were down numbers."

What did any of that have to do with keeping as much time on the clock as possible when you needed two scores to at least tie? Some responsibility falls on quarterback Alex Smith's shoulders. He threw several check-down passes. Some receivers also did a poor job of getting out of bounds.

But the Chiefs burned more than a minute off the clock after they advanced to the Patriots' 1-yard line. Pederson even had the offense huddling at that point. They finally scored with 1:13 left and still had all three of their timeouts.

An ensuing onsides kicked failed and the Patriots ran on first down, which forced the Chiefs to burn their first timeout. The Patriots threw on second down and Brady was nearly intercepted, but the ball deflected to Julian Edelman for a first down.

There was nothing the Chiefs could do from that point onward as New England ran out the clock.

Pederson's role as a play caller was previously nebulous. The former quarterback had never run an NFL offense as a coach until this season. The Chiefs opened the season 1-5, which forced Reid to make some changes, and one was giving Pederson more responsibility.

Kansas City won its final 10 games under the new play-calling structure. The Chiefs scored more in the first half vs. the second, 173-163, although there were possible variables that influenced the amount of points scored after the break.

Pederson, whose only previous play-calling experience came as a high school coach, was asked how he planned to handle game management.

"One thing we did in Kansas City is we actually streamlined our offense," he said. "We cut out a bunch of terminology. We gave the quarterback the flexibility - the keys to the car, so to speak."

The Chiefs also gave Smith more freedom at the line of scrimmage to audible. Most teams have a clock manager in the coaches' box. But handling timeouts, challenges and managing the clock ultimately falls on the head coach.

As for Pederson calling the offense, it could take some potential offensive coordinators out of the mix. Frank Reich, who was fired by the Chargers earlier this month after two seasons, may not want to hold a clipboard. The same goes for Pat Shurmur, the former Eagles offensive coordinator who also interviewed for the Eagles head coaching job.