Pederson’s faith in Vaitai shows accountability still a heavy focus for Eagles


When Doug Pederson was first appointed as Head Coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, owner Jeffery Lurie was adamant that things would be vastly different from the Chip Kelly era, with a heavy focus on accountability. We’re games into the regular season..and that theme has not been lost on Doug Pederson.

His decision to start fifth-round pick Halapoulivaati Vaitai against the Redskins was one that sparked a lot of backlash in the days leading up to the game. In the days after, the move was met with plenty of questions.

Vaitai’s baptism of fire was tough to watch. The former TCU lineman surrendered two sacks against the Redskins along with five quarterback hurries on just 29 passing plays. Pederson was reluctant to take him out of the game after letting up two sacks in just 16 minutes of play and instead went in the opposite direction, leaving him in and later naming Big V as the starting right tackle against the Vikings.

Pederson met with the media earlier today to further discuss his decision and the reaction of players such as Stefen Wisniewski, but one thing he was keen to mention..was that the move is on his shoulders.

After questionable play-calls in both of the previous games coinciding with the suspicious Nigel Bradham absence in the early stages of the loss to the Lions, both Pederson and Schwartz are making sure that whatever “coaching” moves are being made, are by the coaching staff..and not Howie Roseman, who pulled the majority of the strings during the offseason.

This may not seem like a huge factor, but after a year where accountability was substituted for passing the blame, it’s key to sustaining success and learning from mistakes..which given the youth of this team, its system and its experience is beyond important in terms of development.

Mistakes aren’t exactly going to be few and far between. Until the Chiefs win over the Steelers in 2015, Pederson hadn’t called an NFL play. A rookie quarterback, an extremely young receiving corps and a ruthless Defense are ingredients for a team loaded with potential, that’s still extremely raw. The moment trust or respect begins to falter as a result of  “passing the blame”, that ceiling dramatically drops.

Pederson also veered away from criticizing Vaitai in both press conferences so far this week, instead highlighting general areas of concern in the game.

“Was it perfect, was it pretty? No. Were there assignment errors? Yes. And I’m not going to stand here and point the finger at ‘Big V’ because that’s not what happened.”

If Pederson had agreed with the media angled comments, or perhaps decided to single out Vaitai before starting him against the Vikings, it’s not going to do anyone’s morale any good..and as someone who learned under Andy Reid, Pederson understands the effect that chemistry has on a locker room, as made clear by his coaching style.

The Eagles Head Coach placed trust in Vaitai, praising the things he did right and rallying behind him, just as he will expect his team to do on opposed to making yet more adjustments and rocking the boat.

It remains to be seen whether Pederson’s faith in Vaitai is what’s best for the team or not against a Vikings Defense that already has 19 sacks this season..but by placing all the chips on the table and holding himself accountable for how it pans maintains a high level of trust between player and Coach, something that the team lacked entirely in 2015.


Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports