Doug Pederson Defends No-Timeout Decision on Trick Play

Ed Kracz

From Super Bowl contenders in August to laughingstocks in December, it’s been that quick of a fall for the Eagles.

The Super Bowl part of the Eagles’ equation probably went out the door in back-to-back losses to New England and Seattle coming out of their early-November bye week, if not sooner.

The laughingstock piece to the puzzle clicked into place with a 37-31 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday.

The Eagles gave up 37 points to a team that was averaging 15 per game. They surrendered five touchdown drives to a team that had 18 of them all year. 

Their offense turtled in the second half after taking a 28-14 lead with 11:50 to go in the third quarter. All they did from that point was kick a field goal with 1:51 to play in the game.

“If you've ever played competitive sports in your life you would know,” said head coach Doug Pederson on Monday afternoon, “there are times when you get beat and times when you win. We got beat. We physically got beat and we have to accept that.”

If you don’t think other teams, other players, aren’t laughing at the Eagles, check out Dolphins rookie defensive tackle Christian Wilkins after the Eagles’ defense was flummoxed by a touchdown pass thrown by a punter and caught by a kicker on a fake field goal gadget play.

It was the first touchdown scored by an NFL kicker in 32 years, when Denver’s Jim Turner did it.

Just embarrassing, and Pederson was questioned about the play that gave Miami a 14-13 lead in the second quarter and, ultimately, proved to be the difference as the Dolphins won by six.

“I watched the film again this morning and we had everybody covered up,” said Pederson. “We broke the formation. We lined up where we were supposed to align, and we just came off the guy that caught the touchdown. That’s the bottom line.”

Basically, Pederson’s defense for not taking a timeout on the trick play was that the Dolphins could have returned to the field and lined up in a different formation and tried another trick play.

“They can still come out with another formation, another opportunity,” said Pederson. “They're called trick plays for a reason, because they're unscouted and gadget-type plays. So are there those plays that every team has? Yes there are, and they work on them throughout the course of the year. You burn a timeout there, sure, that might negate that one, but it doesn't still say they don't line up and try something again in that situation.”

The argument to that would be that at least give your players a chance to refresh and make sure they were on the same page of the Dolphins at least potentially trying for some type of gadget play in that situation.

Also, who is to say that the Dolphins would not have settled for a field goal after the Eagles had called a timeout?

Pederson stuck to his decision and, while he didn’t say it, the sense is he would have not called timeout in the same situation even with the benefit of hindsight.

“They could easily run another play; maybe not that specific play, or, even if you call a timeout right there, they can still break the formation and line up exactly the same way,” said Pederson. “We don't know what they were going to run, because the play didn't show. So it kind of goes either way that way.”