Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Eagles coach Doug Pederson says Jaguars' safe game plan against Patriots pushed him to do opposite

Alex Reimer
August 21, 2018 - 11:02 am

Most teams that face off against the Patriots in big games wilt. They play conservatively and don’t put the pressure on New England. But the Eagles, notably, took the opposite approach in Super Bowl LII. Backup quarterback Nick Foles threw the ball 43 times, and even caught a touchdown pass on a trick-play to send the Eagles into halftime with a 10-point lead.

It was a big change from the Jaguars, who opted to play it safe in the AFC championship. In a new book, Philadelphia head coach Doug Pederson says the Jaguars’ conservative game plan motivated him to do the opposite.

Prior to the Eagles’ NFC championship matchup against the Vikings, Pederson says he was watching the Jacksonville finish up its first half against the Patriots. With 55 seconds left on the clock and two timeouts, Jaguars quarterback Blake Bortles took a knee. It was the quintessential example of playing scared. 

Hours later, when the Eagles held the ball at their own 20-yard line with 29 seconds remaining in the second quarter, they called three consecutive pass plays that sent them into field goal range. 

“I was there thinking, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me right now,’” Pederson writes in “Fearless,” per ProFootballTalk. “It made me mad because Jacksonville had New England right where they wanted them. I was screaming at the TV in my office. When they knelt right before halftime, inside I was like, ‘I’ll never do that.’ It fueled me. They could have least tried for a field goal. They took it out of their quarterback’s hands, and they didn’t give to their big back Leonard Fournette. I thought, ‘If they lose this game, this is why.’ Sure enough they would go on to lose the game.”

Star Jaguars cornerback Jalen Ramsey was also critical of his team’s AFC championship game plan in a recent GQ interview, saying the organization should’ve trusted Bortles to throw the ball more in the second half. Jacksonville ran Fournette 13 times for 36 yards in the final two periods.

Give how closely the Jaguars played the Patriots, one could say head coach Doug Marrone’s mindset was the difference in the game. Pederson was determined to not make the same mistake.