Teams can have all of the talent in the world, but it takes a good coach to take that team from average to good and from non-contenders to playoff teams. Unfortunately, the Philadelphia Eagles learned the hard way in a 28-23 loss to the New York Giants in which their late-game comeback fell just short.
Doug Pederson went for it on fourth down four times on Sunday and was only successful in converting once. Two of those attempts that failed came in the first and second quarters on short yardage situations, and in both cases, Pederson could have settled for field goals with Caleb Sturgis, who is 17/18 on the season and made all three of his attempts today, including a long of 38 yards. I for one don’t mind coaches taking a risk here and then, but when their risks end up costing their team a game as important as this one was for Philadelphia.
If Pederson had opted to take the three points in both of those early game fourth down conversion attempts, that would have given the Eagles six more points assuming Sturgis makes both kicks. Those six points would have been enough, with the comeback the Eagles had, to win the game by a point, 29-28, and keep them just a two games behind Dallas instead of three.
Coaching matters, and the possible arrogance or foolishness of a rookie head coach ended up costing the Eagles what would have been a big division win to keep them in the hunt for a division title or wild card berth.