PHILADELPHIA - What exactly does Doug Pederson want in his quarterback?
He may have given the best hint to date when talking with Beltway-area reporters ahead of Sunday's season finale (for the Eagles at least) against a Washington Football Team that needs a win to get into the postseason as the NFC East champions.
Like everyone else in the division, the WFT hasn't won very often in 2020, coming into Sunday night's game with a 6-9 record. That's a .400 winning percentage for those of you into math.
When Alex Smith starts this season Washington is 4-1, however, and when he doesn't the team s 2-8. That's an .800 winning percentage vs. a .200 one in case you're wondering.
Now before the analytics crowd loses its mind, wins and losses aren't quarterback stats, at least significant ones. There's too much that goes into winning a football game to put the success or failure on one man in the ultimate team game.
There are trends, however, and the now 36-year-old Smith manages a game better than just about anyone in the NFL. Therein lies the formula for consistent success: the fewer mistakes you make at the game's most important position, the better chance you have to win.
Since the light went off for Smith back to 2011 with his original team, the San Francisco 49ers, the one-time No. 1 overall pick, is a gaudy 79-36-1 as a starting QB in the NFL.
When Pederson had Smith in Kansas City as the offensive coordinator from 2013-2015, Smith was 30-16 as the starter, averaging 10 wins a year.
Many forget that before his devastating leg injury that required 17 surgeries and nearly ended his career, Smith had the then-Redskins at 6-4 in 2018 and in position to win the NFC East.
"He’s going to run the offense, he’s going to be efficient, he’s going to take shots when they’re there," Pederson said when discussing Smith. "He’s okay with throwing it into the flat or throwing it into a check-down because he knows he’s playing ahead of the chains and staying on the field because that’s what this league is about.
"That’s produced a lot of wins for him.”
One constant theme to the Eagles' disappointing 4-10-1 season has been the exact opposite of that, the offense shooting itself in the foot with pre-snap penalties and negative plays, putting the offense behind the sticks on too many occasions.
Another in the Carson Wentz era has been Pederson defaulting to the thought of "letting the offense work for you" when critiquing his now benched "franchise signal-caller."
With rookie, Jalen Hurts in the lineup over the past three games the Eagles have certainly moved the football better but have continued to bog down due to mistakes.
The real goal for Pederson and everyone else for that matter at the QB position is an Aaron Rodgers-type, ironically the second first-round QB taken behind Smith in the 2005 draft. Rodgers is a superlative game manager that couples that skill with Hall of Fame-level physical gifts.
Neither Wentz nor Hurts possess either part of the equation when compared to Rodgers but they are closer to the latter than the former believe it or not, a far bigger indictment of the QB in his fifth season than the one in his fourth start.
Pederson, though, would be ecstatic if he developed a Smith-level game manager with the talent of either of his QBs.
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Tuesday and Thursday on "The Middle" with Eytan Shander, Harry Mayes, and Barrett Brooks on SportsMap Radio and PhillyVoice.com. He’s also the host of Extending the Play on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
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