Pederson Has Already Earned One Title
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Things were a little different on Wednesday in Philadelphia.
The Eagles backdrop was replaced by one with the NFC Championship Game logo on it and off to Doug Pederson's left as he addressed a large horde of reporters was the George Halas Trophy, a prize that will either be awarded to Pederson's Birds or the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday night at Lincoln Financial Field.
Whatever the outcome, however, Pederson is already a winner, piloting his team to a 13-3 regular season as one of the most inventive play-callers in the game.
That's a long way from where he was when the Eagles hired him, often labeled as a consolation prize after hotter candidates like Adam Gase and Ben McAdoo turned the Eagles down.
Fast forward two seasons and Pederson is by far the best of the seven coaches hired before the 2016 season.
Considering the way he was portrayed by some Pederson has every right to gloat but the classy coach took the high road when asked about potentially employing an "I told you so" narrative to his detractors.
"Listen, I don't pay any attention to that, quite honestly," Pederson said when asked about his critics. "I drive home at night, knowing I put in a full day's work. I get up in the morning and come in here, however, I can serve this organization, serve these players. That's all I know. That's all I know. I love football. I love teaching it, I love being around these guys."
That love has out the Eagles on the precipice of something special even though they've lost an MVP candidate in Carson Wentz, a potential Hall of Fame left tackle Jason Peters, the quarterback of the defense in Jordan Hicks, one of the best returners of all-time in Darren Sproles, and the heart and soul of Dave Fipp's special teams, Chris Maragos.
As Pederson prepares for the Vikings as one of the NFL's final four, three of the seven mentors from his hiring class have already been fired -- McAdoo, Chip Kelly and Mike Mularkey, while the other three -- Gase, Dirk Koetter and Hue Jackson, are all under .500 and perhaps one season away from joining their peers on the unemployment line.
To some of the more stubborn critics, somehow the worst hire magically turned into the best but to those who are around Pederson each day and have watched how he has deftly handled the leadership part of his job description, the success isn't all that surprising.
"I'm going to pour my life into these players," the coach said. "And if it's good enough, great because that's all I know I can do and I've given my best effort. I don't care about what's written. It's kind of like the underdog thing, our players don't pay attention to that. And I'm kind of the same way."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen