For the first time since Sunday’s postseason elimination, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson took the stand with a golden opportunity to come to the defense of his star quarterback, Carson Wentz.
The franchise passer lasted just 12 minutes in his postseason debut on Sunday in a 17-9 loss to the Seattle Seahawks when he was hit from behind while falling by defensive end Jadeveon Clowney.
Clowney’s hit drove Wentz’s head into the turf, forcing him out of the game and the Eagles to turn to 40-year-old backup Josh McCown, who also made his first appearance in a playoff game.
Instead of condemning Clowney’s actions, though, Pederson opted to take the middle ground.
“When I saw it again on Monday, it’s unfortunate,” Pederson said (h/t 94WIP). “Listen, it’s part of our game. It happens. It gets missed. I’m disappointed for Carson. I’m not going to focus on the past. I’m not going to dwell on one hit, one game.”
It was a surprising narrative from Pederson considering the national debate that commenced on the legality of the hit in the following days.
Wentz was falling to the ground after scrambling in what was clearly going to be the end of the play. Clowney’s hit was deemed by many as unnecessary even though he was not penalized.
“All mobile QBs become runners. He was making a play,” Pederson said. “Again, it was unfortunate. I do think once they become runners, it becomes different. That’s just the way the league is.”
Had Wentz stayed in the game, the Eagles’ chances of advancing to the Divisional Round would have increased exponentially. Especially because Philadelphia’s defense hung tough against Russell Wilson and Co. for the majority of the night.
The leader of the Eagles’ defense, coordinator Jim Schwartz, has done a commendable enough job to start getting looks from other organizations for possible head-coaching vacancies.
The Cleveland Browns scheduled an interview with Schwartz on Wednesday after a disappointing season under Freddie Kitchens.
“I love the fact that guys around the league and teams around the league are looking to my staff for possible head coaching candidates,” Pederson said. “I think he would make a tremendous head coach again.”
Schwartz was the head coach of the Detroit Lions from 2009-2013 where he compiled a 29-51 record. He is not considered the front-runner for the job, which prompts speculation that they could be speaking to him about taking over their defense.