PHILADELPHIA - It's become a tradition unlike any other in Philadelphia football.
Since the 2017 Super Bowl season, Doug Pederson has always responded to offensive adversity in a similar fashion.
The Eagles coach tends to scale things back and simplify his offense. At times, it's been about a change at quarterback due to injury (think 2017 and 2018) or in response to significant attrition with the skill players (December of 2019).
This time around it's about everything, according to the head coach.
The embattled and much-maligned quarterback, the inability of the young skill-position talent on offense to catch on as quickly as hoped, and an offensive line that is likely the first winded by a game of musical chairs due to the constant shuffling.
"The short answer to that is yes," Pederson said when asked about scaling back again. "And then here's the but, we also simplify because of some of the mistakes that we're making at the skill positions with some of the young guys, too.
"So, it kind of goes hand in hand with, yeah we want to simplify overall, maybe for the quarterback position, but we're also simplifying for the rest of the offense so that guys can - especially this time of year when fatigue and bodies are sore and the minds kind of get tired that we keep it simple for them also."
The swirl around Carson Wentz could also be part of it especially if the baton is to be handed to Jalen Hurts, a member of the first rookie class with no offseason or preseason.
For what it's worth Wentz was throwing first in the short period of practice open to the media on Wednesday, but there was a little sense of urgency accompanying rookie Jalen Hurts' movements as well.
As for the scaling back of the offense, Wentz admitted it's going on but will not be all that noticeable to the casual fan.
"I think, to the everyday fan, it’ll look similar," he said. "I think some of it is just internally with schemes and maybe not bringing as much new stuff to the table, formations, shifts, motions. I don’t think it’s been drastic one way or the other."
The goal is to get all the struggling pieces playing faster.
"I think that just sometimes allows us to play fast and when you got moving pieces and a lot of young guys, sometimes that can help kind of spark us turning this thing around," said Wentz. "I don’t think it’s going to be anything drastic that people will really notice but internally within the schemes and stuff there will be some subtleties that will help us play faster."
Veteran center Jason Kelce, who expects to play Monday despite injuring his elbow in Cleveland, also explained how dumbing things down a bit might help.
"It’s a good way to play fast and play confident," said Kelce. "It’s something that you’ve done, and you know the ins and outs and the adjustments, and how to operate those plays, and make quick and fast decisions.
"As a result, you play more confident and more aggressive."
There is a negative aspect as well, however.
"The downside of simplifying things is the defense is certainly going to be able to get tips and understand what’s going on as well," Kelce said. "That’s always a fine line that we’re battling.
"As coaches, as players, you’re always trying to battle that line and get into a really good play that’s wide open on tape, but at the same time, not try to do too much of that to where you’re losing your identity or your ability to play fast and aggressive."
Pederson, meanwhile, is uncovering every rock to turn a dismal first-place effort through 10 games into a more palatable one by Week 17.
"We got to change, and you got to make improvements and you got to get better," the coach surmised. "We’re helping the offense. We’re helping the offensive line. We’re helping the receivers. We’re helping everybody get better and we’re using everything we can to make these adjustments.”
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 email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
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