By Vince Quinn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — The biggest question mark when it comes to Doug Pederson surrounds his in-game strategy. Specifically, can he call plays?
With Sam Bradford in the fold it would have been easier to guess that ability. Bradford is a veteran who has navigated the scheming and deceiving of NFL defenses for five years. Pederson would have been able to make riskier calls and rely on Bradford’s experience to follow through or audible at the line. No matter how you feel about Bradford, it’s an undeniable edge that he has over Wentz. Now that edge is in Minnesota.
As a result, Pederson will be relaying calls to a rookie QB in Wentz. It can’t be understated that Wentz has only played one half of preseason football in his entire NFL career….against third and fourth stringers. Before that, he played against sub-optimal competition at North Dakota State.
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But wait, there’s more! Pederson hasn’t called a complete game on the NFL level in his life. It’s a whole different experience and, unfortunately, he’ll have to do it less than two weeks after his father’s passing. So with the laundry list of problems, what’s a fair expectation when judging Pederson’s prowess?
What I need to see starts, conveniently, at the start! Pederson should run on the first play. And the second too. Going into his first career start Wentz’ll have more juice than the Kool Aid man. Pederson needs to keep it simple and let the backs do the work in order to relieve some tension. Nice and easy, Doug.
Simplicity is the key.
The next key would make Beyonce proud: formations.
I’m hoping to see Doug use a lot of the three tight end set. Frankly, it’s the teams most versatile and talented formation with Zach Ertz, Brent Celek, and Trey Burton. They can block, receive, and provide mismatches along the way. If Pederson, who has shown this grouping during the preseason, doesn’t go to it early and often it’s a mistake.
And the final key: two minute drills
As an Andy Reid disciple, all of these following questions are fair game. Can Pederson call plays in a timely manner? Does he call for spikes? Will he pass to the sidelines? Will he know how many timeouts the team has? If you believe that he called the Chiefs’ final drive of the 2015 season everything indicates, no, he did not understand these basic principles.
All the negative factors tell me that the Eagles will lose on Sunday, but if he hits on these three keys Doug Pederson’s debut will be quite alright.
Vince Quinn is a producer and weekend host for SportsRadio 94WIP.