3 years

Three years after his hire, Doug Pederson still doesn’t get enough credit

On this day Three years ago, the Eagles announced Doug Pederson as the next Head Coach

In the 2015 season, it was obvious that the Eagles needed a change. Jeffrey Lurie wasted no time in firing Chip Kelly. The fit on the field and in the locker room didn’t work. The players weren’t too fond of the Chipper, and it was obvious. Players were consistently voicing their displeasure, and the team was going nowhere. So, Lurie pulled the plug. There were several different opinions of who the Eagles should target as their next head coach. However, one consistent opinion was that Pederson was NOT the right choice. Three years later, here we are as the reigning Super Bowl champions, and Pederson STILL doesn’t get all of the credit that he deserves.

The end of the Kelly era

Eagles fans were angry. Kelly was supposed to be our saving grace. His fast-moving offense was supposed to take the league by storm. In his first year, it did. But after that, the rest of the league figured out the system and it was impossible for the offense to get anything going. Then he started kicking franchise players out the door. He got rid of Jeremy Maclin, LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, and of course, Nick Foles. The fanbase wanted a change and so did management.

ADVERTISEMENT

When the Eagles fired Kelly, a few names swirled around the city as ideal coaching hires. Those guys included Tom Coughlin, Ben McAdoo, and Adam Gase. The Dolphins beat us to Gase, and the Giants beat us to McAdoo. I obviously don’t have to tell you how that went…

The official hiring decision

Three years ago, on January 18, 2016, I was studying abroad in Scotland. Immediately, I dropped everything and started finding out everything I could about Pederson and what he might bring to the table.

ADVERTISEMENT

I didn’t really have an opinion at the time. And I didn’t really have an opinion of who I wanted the Eagles to hire in the first place. I just remember saying to my dad, “let’s just see how it goes. It can’t possibly be worse than Chip Kelly.”

I was alone in my optimism, however. By now, we all know how the story went. The consensus of the city appeared to be that this was a horrible decision. No one wanted to give Pederson a chance. But whether they liked it or not, he was the coach for at least the upcoming season.

Pederson’s words to Philly in his introductory press conference

When introducing Pederson as the next head coach, Lurie mentioned that he “understands how dedicated, obsessed, we all are to bring a Super Bowl to Philadelphia.” Pederson started with the Eagles as a quarterback in 1999, then returned later as a position coach under Andy Reid. After three years as the offensive coordinator in Kansas City, he took the head coaching job for the Eagles.

When speaking to the Philadelphia media for the first time, Pederson mentioned that “what intrigued [him] about coming back to Philadelphia was the opportunity to lead young men.” He assured the crowd that they were going to work hard everyday, and was going to make the players “better as men, and better as Philadelphia Eagles.” He reiterated that he understood the culture, and what it felt like to win in Philly. Coach Pederson said from the beginning that having people around him that were “Doug Pederson people” was extremely important to the culture that he was trying to build here.

ADVERTISEMENT

This press conference took place three years ago.

Season 1 for Pederson

2016 was the start of something beautiful in Philadelphia. The Birds started 3-0. Obviously, we FINALLY found ourselves a quarterback after dealing with Sammy Sleeves and The Sanchize.

However, after an early bye week, and an upheld Lane Johnson 10 game suspension, the hopeful season began to fall apart a little bit. The Eagles weren’t terrible. There were some issues for sure, but they were always in the games. They weren’t getting blown out by teams. They were losing one score games. It was unfortunate, but there were flashes of greatness from the duo of Pederson and Wentz.

Moving on to Season 2

There is a fantastic clip of Pederson talking to his team during training camp in 2017. He says “7-9 sucks”. Which is true, but there’s just something about the way he says it to a team of guys who he is trying to make into champions.

The season started off on a high note with a 30-17 route of the Washington Redskins. After a narrow loss to the Kansas City Chiefs, the Eagles went on a near three month win streak. They were rolling on the back of Carson Wentz’s MVP caliber play, and Doug Pederson’s coach of the year caliber game planning and play calling.

I don’t have to remind everyone that we all lost Super Bowl hope when Wentz tore his ACL. However, we all know how this story goes and yes, everyone wants to talk about Foles and the magic act he performed playing two of the best games of his career on the biggest stages, but there is someone who does not get the credit he deserves for that magic.

Why Pederson should get more credit for the Super Bowl

Obviously everyone DOES give Pederson some credit to an extent. But when you think about the Eagles Super Bowl victory, the first thought is about Foles.

Jason Peters, Wentz, and Darren Sproles were all on IR. Those three players are huge integral parts of the Eagles offense. The majority of the offensive game plans relied heavily on the fact that Wentz could extend plays and make magic happen.

Pederson sat with his offensive staff and studied film of Foles in the 2013 season when he had the majority of his success. They took the time to change around their entire offense, in the MIDDLE OF PLAYOFFS, and piece it together so it looked seamless in the NFC Championship game.

You might look at this and think “big deal, that’s Pederson’s job”. And you’re right, that IS his job, but it’s easier said than done. This was in preparation for the NFC Championship game. A trip to the Super Bowl is on the line. The offense changed from what every player had been doing for the last 20 weeks. That isn’t an easy task. It was implemented and executed to perfection against the Vikings.

In his third year, people questioned his talents

The Eagles went through their struggles this year. They sustained more injuries than last year and chemistry issues within the offense. Yet, they still made an unbelievable run and made it into the playoffs. Once again, everyone attributes that to Foles. While Foles absolutely deserves some of the credit, I don’t think Pederson gets enough.

After the early struggles and the 48-7 loss to the Saints this team could have folded. They very easily could have quit especially after the follow-up loss to the Cowboys. But, they didn’t. Why? Because Pederson built a better culture. No one spoke out to the media about discontent or unhappiness with the team.The players showed irritation with themselves and their play. But no negative words about fellow teammates or coaches came out.

In three years, Pederson has earned the respect of the NFL

Another point Coach Pederson made in his introductory press conference was that he, his staff, and his players would come to work everyday, and they would work hard everyday. That has clearly been instilled in every person within the organization.

There really is something to be said that in the face of adversity every single time, Pederson manages to pull his team together, keep them locked in, focused, and has them prepared to execute.

Three years ago, the Philadelphia Eagles hired Pederson. Mike Lombardi branded Pederson “less qualified to coach a team than anyone he’d ever seen”. ESPN ranked him the worst coaching hire of 2016. Of the coaches hired in 2016, Pederson is the only one who hasn’t been fired. There is a lot to be said about what Pederson has created in Philly. Players WANT to come to the city and play for this guy.

We have a good one Philadelphia. And he deserves all of the credit in the world for the last three years. Especially because he gave us a Super Bowl.

Featured Image: Jose Diaz via Flickr
all stats via ESPN.com