Doug Pederson doing his homework on Eagles' slow starts

Ed Kracz

In his quest to find those "magical plays" that will lead to first-quarter points, Doug Pederson did some homework.

On Tuesday night, the Eagles head coach went through the video library of his team’s games from 2017 and 2018. The difference in tapes couldn't have been more stark.

In 2017, on their way to their Super Bowl LII conquest, the Eagles scored 113 points in the first quarter, which is an average of slightly more than a touchdown per first quarter in all 16 regular-season games. There were just three games when they failed to score a point in the first quarter.

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In 2018, on their way to a 9-7 season that ended in the Divisional Round of the playoffs, the Eagles scored 47 points in the opening quarter, which is an average of slightly less than a field goal per first quarter in all 16 regular-season games. There were nine games when they failed to score a single first-quarter point.

In two games this season, the Eagles haven’t scored a single point in the first quarter.

So you see the reason for Pederson's homework assignment.

“I've looked at that,” said Pederson prior to Wednesday morning’s walkthrough practice. “Of the 19 games in 2017, I think we scored on eight of those opening drives, six touchdowns and two field goals. So eight of the 19. And then last year we were seven of the 18, and we had five and two. We're kind of right there.”

Pederson is factoring in the postseason in his mathematics.

“This year obviously we haven't yet,” said Pederson. “There's been a number of things. It's been our execution as an offense. We also strive on defense trying to get off the field a little faster, three-and-out or at least maybe two first downs where we're getting them off the field.

“And then we've had penalties that have backed us up, kept us in some third-and-long situations that we couldn't overcome, and the other thing is turnovers. We had I believe it was six turnovers in '17 and five or six last year on the first drive. So we can't do that. We have to eliminate that in order to score.”

Earlier this week, Pederson alluded to trying to “find the magical plays” to get his team off to quicker starts.

“It's always the plays,” the coach said on Monday. “That's on me. I have to do a better job.”

Even without scoring on their opening drives in games, there is usually enough time for another possession to try to put up points. Yet, it hasn't happened yet on either game this year.

“Well, if we score on the opening drive that's points in our favor, and it kind of feeds the rest of that quarter,” said Pederson. “And then when you think of the Washington game a couple weeks ago, we only had the ball for like four and a half, five minutes. We didn't have the ball a ton, even in that first quarter.”

The Eagles' next chance for first-quarter points comes up on Sunday when the Detroit Lions pay a visit to Lincoln Financial Field. Then, we will know if Pederson should get an 'A' on his homework assignment.

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