How the heck did Nate Gerry end up on Chase Claypool with the game on the line?
How the hell did Nate Gerry end up with the game on the line on Chase Claypool? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Minutes after the Eagles suffered a 38:29 loss to the Steelers on Sunday afternoon, Doug Pederson had a bad answer as to why linebacker Nathan Gerry started the game on Chase Claypool.
In a 3-8 win with 3 minutes left, Ben Roethlisberger saw Claypool line up on Gerry and threw him a 35-yard touchdown pass to make the game out of reach for the Eagles.
So, Doug, why was Gerry in Claypool?
"Yeah, until I look at the tape, it's really hard to comment again," said Pederson. "I can give you a better update tomorrow."
Of course, we don't have to wait until tomorrow to know that setting up a fighting linebacker against a receiver who has already had three touchdowns in the game wasn't ideal. As much as Gerry has struggled this season, what the hell is he supposed to be doing there?
Even Rodney McLeod admitted that ideally, Gerry wouldn't cover a recipient.
Even if Gerry hadn't been in trouble all season, and if Claypool hadn't had three touchdowns at this point in the game, it still wouldn't have been ideal.
"It was a great call compared to the coverage we had," said McLeod. “Ideally, do we want Nate to be at a recipient? No. We'd prefer a defensive back, but that was the call that was made defensively and they played a good game. "
Here was Roethlisberger's explanation of the check:
“So we expected them to come with an all-out flash in this particular game. So we had a game to get the ball out quickly and hopefully try to strike the lightning. They sat back in a cover 2 zone and it just wasn't what we expected. I saw that and changed the piece. I think the coolest thing about it is that we never played the piece I mentioned with this formation or group on the field. So Chase [Claypool] has never been to this place. Ray-Ray [McCloud] has never been to this place. The other three kind of know what to do, but yeah, we changed the game and I can't say enough about Chase being in the middle of the field doing this game for us. "
During his time as defensive coordinator in Philadelphia, Jim Schwartz never spoke to reporters after the Games. So we won't hear his explanation of what happened in that piece until Tuesday morning.
So on Sunday it was up to Pederson and McLeod to explain.
McLeod said the Eagles were in quarterly coverage (in cents) of this piece when the Steelers went empty with their package of four receivers. Roethlisberger recognized the weakness and checked the touchdown game. It's worth noting that the Eagles had two timeouts under their belt.
"The two games before we were in the man (reporting)," McLeod said. “We decided to go into the zone on this third downplay. That is the difference. "
Pederson said there was a double move in the game, but it didn't really look like it. McLeod could have offered a little more help, but he arrived late because his first responsibility was the end and Roethlisberger copied him. It was a bad game call from the Eagles, but obviously McLeod and Gerry could have done a better job too.
Claypool ended with four touchdowns on Sunday, becoming the first player to have four touchdowns against the Eagles since Joseph Addai in 2006. And that last one on Sunday was an absolute dagger.
Pederson will be watching the tape on her flight home on Sunday evening and we will get a new evaluation of the piece on Monday afternoon.
But guess what?
It was never ideal to tell Gerry about Claypool at this location. It was just a bad call. We don't need the benefit of hindsight to know that.
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