After the Philadelphia Eagles fired Chip Kelly following a rocky 2015 campaign, they went on the hunt for a head coach who would be the complete opposite of what Kelly was; one that would change the culture of the organization. In a coaching search that involved many candidates such as Adam Gase, Hue Jackson, Pat Shurmur, and even Deuce Staley, Doug Pederson was the one that stood out for Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. Pederson was the recent understudy of former Eagles head coach, Andy Reid; who vouched for his offensive coordinator and assured the Eagles brass that Pederson would be the right man for the job.
Unfortunately not many agreed with the Eagles decision, they questioned what the Eagles actually saw in Pederson. After the hire, USA Today published an article in which the writer claimed that Pederson was the worse hire of that 2016 Head Coaching group. Now, lets also not forget that the writer also declared Chip Kelly to the 49ers was the BEST hire of that offseason. Interesting. I can already see all Eagles fans chuckle at the thought of that. OK, let’s refocus now.
Pederson was equipped with all the tools that he needed to succeed, one main tool was the new version of Howie Roseman. Roseman, who was once outcasted by Chip Kelly, took advantage of his time in solitary. He learned from other top executives and also changed his whole approach when it came to rebuilding this team. A humbling experience led to the birth of “Howie SZN”. Howie equipped Pederson with the young gunslinger in Carson Wentz and continued to find ways to build for Pederson.
In just his second season as head coach, Pederson led the once last-place Eagles to the city’s first ever Super Bowl title. All on the back of a former outcast, back up Quarterback Nick Foles. Coach Pederson took a season-ending situation in Carson Wentz’ injury and ignited the fuel for his team to go on a historical run. Doug took uncommon chances that season, He was consistently aggressive and fearless.
Of that Head Coach class, Pederson was the only one to have found success. Adam Gase and Hue Jackson were recently fired, although Gase found a new home with the Jets. Chip Kelly, well, let’s just say Chip got a taste of his own medicine. As for the rest, well none of them are head coaches as of right now. So why are we having this conversation right now? What made me come to Doug Pederson’s defense?
Recently, there’s been many Head Coach rankings all across multiple media outlets and many of them have been very odd to me. Majority of them have Patriots head coach, Bill Belichick as number one, which he should be. As for number two, well that’s where my debate begins. In several articles, the writers have Rams head coach Sean McVay as number two. That’s a bit mind-blowing to me because Pederson seems to be consistently low on the list. See, I would think that measure of success for an NFL head coach would be dependent on what your team accomplishes.
In 2017, the Philadelphia Eagles were the best team in the NFC, no debate about it. Even when Wentz went down, the team still found ways to win leading into the playoffs. Pederson was firing on all cylinders that season, the offense was one of the best in the league and their red zone efficiency was off the charts. For some odd reason, even with being the number one seed and winning a Super Bowl. Coach Sean McVay was named coach of the year. Now, this isn’t a knock on McVay but let’s look at the facts of that season.
The Rams finished that year with a record of 11-5, first in the NFC West. They were then eliminated by the Atlanta Falcons in the opening round of the playoffs. As for the Eagles, they finished at 13-3 and clinched the number one seed in the NFC. As for what happened next, well the Eagles became Super Bowl champions. Currently, in the playoffs, Sean McVay is 2-2 with a Super Bowl loss while Doug Pederson is 4-1 with a Super Bowl title.
One thing that can’t be taken lightly is the fact that Pederson is also 2-0 against Sean McVay. The ironic part is that both losses against the Eagles occurred in their home turf, Los Angeles.
People seem to overlook Pederson because he isn’t the head coach that wants to be the face of his team. Perderson has embraced a united identity with his players and has created a culture that’s been tough to ignore. Players love playing for him, they know what he’ll do for them with only expecting one thing in return and that’s to give it their all.
He changed the NFL after his Super Bowl run. Coaches started to embrace the aggressive nature of Pederson’s play calling and make it their own. Teams have now started to take more gambles on fourth down, two-point conversions and so much more. In 2017, the Eagles led the league in fourth-down conversions. As for 2018, the NFL saw a spike in fourth-down attempts with an average of 2.0 fourth-down attempts per game. Offenses have even been successful on 62.5% of their attempts. The year prior, teams picked up a first down on only 46.4% of fourth-down attempts. Talk about a copy cat league, not to mention, how about an innovator for a head coach?
The great part of Doug Pederson is that he’s only entering his fourth year as a head coach. This season may be one for the ages for the Eagles head coach. The offense has now been fully reloaded from top to bottom. They’ve added the NFL’s best deep threat in DeSean Jackson. Roseman has also beefed up the running back group by adding Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders. Dallas Goedert has shown significant progress during the Spring which adds another weapon for Pederson to use. Most importantly, Pederson is getting a very healthy Carson Wentz back this season. At this point, you have to wonder, is there another level of brilliance in Doug Pederson that has yet to be seen?
Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports