I think we all recall the story about Doug Pederson being the worst HC hire at the time. Now, almost four years into his tenure, Pederson is working against all odds to produce unique results.
At his introductory press conference, he talked about taking over a team that had not won in a while, and that it was his responsibility to turn that around
What he, of course, didn’t mention was that he also took over from one of the worst coaches the NFL has even seen in Chip Kelly, who fractured a locker room and rid the Eagles of some of this decade’s most infamous talent.
Results in legendary company
In four years, the results are historically good.
Doug took a year to get his team settled, which (along with Howie Roseman) started by trading all the way up to get their rookie QB of the future in Carson Wentz.
In the following three years, he has managed to win a Super Bowl (which famously had never been done before in Eagles history) and get in the playoffs 2 more times. Only 7 head coaches in NFL history have done that
Outside of Barry Switzer, that’s a list of damn good coaches. What makes it even more impressive is looking deeper into what Doug had to work with
2017, the “underdog” championship season
Wentz was looking like the league MVP, the running game was a three-headed monster, the defense was – well, decent I guess. The team had a few notable injuries including Jordan Hicks, Jason Peters, Darren Sproles, and Ronald Darby.
But in week 14 against the Rams, looking for a first-round bye, everything looked lost as Wentz tore his ACL. Doug had to restructure the offense, go back to the prime years of Nick Foles and take away concepts that really worked well.
Along with DeFilippo and Frank Reich, he designed an offense that worked perfectly, beating everyone in the playoffs and win finally win the trophy for the Eagles.
2018, an unlikely comeback
It’s week 11. Eagles just got their cheeks whooped 7-48 by the Saints. They are 4-6. Questions about the Super Bowl hangover were more pressing than ever.
Wentz managed to win 2 games, but after a loss to the Cowboys, the chances of making the playoffs at 6-7 – especially starring at games vs the high flying Rams and Texans – looked bad. Wentz was pulled and placed on IR.
In comes Nick Foles again. However, this time it’s by no means a healthy team. Eagles had – hold on – 20!!!!!!! players on IR last year. They had the absolute highest “adjusted games lost due to injury” of all teams.
Doug Pederson rallied the troops. They pulled upsets against the Rams and Texans with the season on the line, and finally shut up the Redskins 24-0 to finish the season 9-7.
Winning an away game in Chicago and being a few plays away from winning in New Orleans put a stamp on the resilience of this team in 2018.
2019, the practice squad takeover
Now that we are talking about injuries…
After the first game of the season against the Redskins, the Eagles lost Malik Jackson for the rest of the season
In game 2, Alshon Jeffery, Desean Jackson, and Dallas Goedert all were injured in warmups, Doug had to throw the gameplan away, and the offense was struggling. They were a dropped Agholor pass away from winning that game.
The struggles carried on to week 3, where Alshon and Goedert were missing for the most part. Desean was not playing. They were a JJ Arcega-Whiteside drop away from winning that game.
And so the season continued. Players kept going down, drops continued to shatter the hope of winning close games, and the team was 5-7 after a brutal loss to the then 2-9 Miami Dolphins.
Then came the practice squad. Greg Ward, Deontay Burnett, Robert Davis, Boston Scott, Josh Perkins, Marcus Epps, Bruce Hector, Albert Huggins, along with several other players from various practice squads, all stepped up when the Eagles needed them most. The team won 4 straight divisional games with renewed energy, and a coach they never gave in.
Was this the “new norm”?
When Eagles won the SB, Doug mentioned the “new norm”. This was the “new norm”. What was? I think it finally makes sense now:
The new norm is fighting. No matter what odds you are given, no matter how many guys go down, the Philadelphia Eagles under HC Doug Pederson will always put on a fight.
Doug Pederson has changed the Philadelphia Eagles, and he is on pace to becoming a historically good coach.
Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports