Opposite Sideline: Pederson ideal for Wentz
The lowdown on the Green Bay Packers' next opponent from a beat writer who covers the team.
The Green Bay Packers head into their Monday night showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles desperate for a win that will pull them out of the nosedive they’ve been locked in for the last month.
We caught up with Zach Berman, who covers the Eagles for the Philadelphia Inquirer and got his thoughts on Monday night’s matchup. You can find his answers to our questions in the video above and the text below.
1. How has Doug Pederson handled being handed a rookie quarterback in his first year as head coach?
"Handling the quarterback is probably where Pederson is best. As Packers fans well know, Pederson is a former quarterback and has coached the position. So it's his area of expertise, and he's more hands-on at the position than many other head coaches. Pederson handled what could have been a difficult situation during the summer with Sam Bradford and Carson Wentz both in the building, and after the Bradford trade, he was able to navigate the transition to Wentz. As the season has progressed, his tactical and strategic decisions have come under analysis. He's been inconsistent in that area — two failed fourth-down attempts in a loss earlier this month drew a lot of scrutiny — but there have been other decisions that were sound. As the sample size grows, there will be a better idea of whether Pederson can become a championship-level coach."
2. After a hot start, Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox talked about "hitting a wall" a few weeks ago. How has he been affected by all the additional attention from opposing offenses?
"There are often four hands on Cox, and that's to be expected with a player of his caliber. But the $103 million contract brought expectations, and after winning NFC defensive player of the month in September, he hasn't had the same statistical production since. The loss of Bennie Logan for three games hurt him, but the Eagles need Cox to be more disruptive. He's shown he can and he fits in this scheme — the key for him is to take advantage of opportunities when he's one-on-one against a guard."
3. There's been a lot of drama around wide receiver Nelson Agholor. Why is he struggling so much in his second year?
"It's not just his second year — he struggled his first year, too. At this point, it seems to be in his head. He admitted as much after the Seattle game, when he dropped a catchable pass and was the cause of an illegal formation penalty that negated a touchdown. The Eagles are considering their options with him this week — it could include reducing his role or not playing him on Monday. I still believe he's one of their four best receivers and should be on the field, but the mental part of it is a hurdle right now for the team. The other question is about talent. How good he can be? He hasn't shown a reason to believe that he can be a special receiver yet. He's only in his second season, but he was also the No. 20 pick in the draft. He's not elite in any category — size, speed, hands, route-running, etc. Time is running out to show that he can a starting-caliber player going forward."