Does anyone still doubt that Doug Pederson is the real deal?
When some boob at USA Today rated the incoming head coaches for the 2016 season, Pederson finished seventh – out of seven. History tells us you can’t be sure what you have in a head coach until he gets a season or two under his belt, but this was an enormous miss.
In addition to the above snub, when Pederson’s Eagles went 13-3 in the 2017 regular season, he still drew little attention. His team was still the underdog in all three of its postseason games.
Then the day before the Super Bowl, Sean McVay was named Coach of the Year. McVay, in his first year as a head coach, led the Los Angeles Rams to an 11-5 record. For Pederson, 19 years older than McVay, this was his second season as a head coach.
Here’s how the voting went: McVay, 35; Mike Zimmer (MIN), 11; Doug Marrone (JAC), 2; Bill Belichick (NE), 1; and Doug Pederson, 1. The honor is voted on by the Associated Press.
A Humble Leader
At the awards ceremony shortly after the Eagles’ win, three members of the team consecutively were briefly interviewed by the press – and all three gave all the “glory to God.” I don’t care what your feelings are about religious declarations, that is a heaping helping of humility in a sport dominated by egotists, showoffs, braggarts, and self-promoters.
I’ve got to believe that a good amount of the team’s sudden success has been due to team leaders embracing the team concept, and downplaying individual glory.
The three I’m speaking of are coach Pederson, QB Nick Foles, and tight end Zach Ertz. Several team members since the victory have commented, and pretty convincingly, that they believe they have the best coach in the league.
Pederson was almost the complete opposite of the prior coach, Chip Kelly, who came to the Eagles directly from the Oregon Ducks and without prior NFL coaching experience.
Pederson wasn’t the first candidate the Eagles interviewed, and he wasn’t interviewed by any of the other NFL teams with coaching openings. Nor was it a popular hiring at the time among Eagles fans.
What did Pederson tell owner Jeffrey Lurie and former GM Howie Roseman in his interview in January 2016? He told them that his team would work hard. That training camp would be physical, and that they were going to hit.
Pederson later said this about his sales pitch: “You sell them on that being an offensive guy, we are going to focus on the offense and the type of offense we were going to run… Just come in here and work hard.”
Pederson also grilled the team on their quarterback plans. He asked:
“What are we going to do at quarterback? What are we going to do down the road?… What is the long term goal to have a quarterback? Are we going to strive to find one and get one? That was big for me.”
The answers proved to be: draft Carson Wentz and trade Sam Bradford.
The Super Bowl winners did it with a former backup QB as head coach, a former backup QB at quarterback, and a former backup QB as offensive coordinator. OC Frank Reich was a backup to Jim Kelly for eight seasons in Buffalo. Pederson was Brett Favre’s backup for eight years.
Nick Foles, in six years with three teams, has only started more than eight games in a regular season twice. The most regular season starts he’s had in a season was 11 in 2015 with the Rams. He had two with the Eagles in the season just concluded.
How the Rest Are Doing
Getting back to that USA Today poll, the boob who made those coaching predictions was a guy named Chris Chase – he’s now with Fox Sports. At the top of his list as the best new head coach of 2016 was the 49ers Chip Kelly – he’s now back coaching in college (UCLA). Number two was the Giants Ben McAdoo – he was fired on December 4.
In the three spot was the Browns’ Hue Jackson – his record is now 1-31 with the Browns. Number 4: the Bucs Dirk Koetter – who is 14-18 after two years in Florida. Number 5: the Dolphins’ Adam Gase – he followed up a 10-6 first year with a 6-10 second year. Number 6: the Titans Mike Mularkey – went 9-7 each of the last two years, and just made the playoffs, losing 35-14 to the Patriots. Number 7: Doug Pederson.
These seven coaches performed in almost the exact reverse order of Case’ predictions. If this guy’s humiliation isn’t sweeping enough, here’s how his piece was titled: “Ranking the NFL’s seven new coaching hires (sorry, Eagles fans).”
If I were he, I’d stay as far away from Philly as I could.