McMullen: Eagles Survived Wentz to Foles with Open Mind
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The joke in the NFL coaching fraternity is that there are two kinds of coaches.
The late, great Bum Phillips put that thought into his own folksy wisdom back in the day: "them that's fired and them that's gonna be fired."
Doug Pederson admitted essentially the same thing in a wide-ranging interview with reporters before taking his team to Minneapolis for what turned out to be a Super Bowl LII victory over the New England Patriots.
Coaches are hired to be fired and that's why it's such a nomadic profession which often breeds things like alcoholism and familial issues.
By taking the Eagles somewhere they've never been, Pederson's job security might be the safest in the entire NFL right now, even greater than the legend he beat on the game's biggest stage. Everyone has a shelf life, however, whether it's a Ben McAdoo-like milk-expiration date or Belichick's Twinkie-inspired stint in Foxborough.
That's the obvious part so the real difference between coaches resides in how they do their job.
There are those who are slaves to their scheme like former Eagles coach Chip Kelly and then there are the good ones: coaches who have their own DNA obviously but are always trying to maximize what they have on hand.
In other words, while you should always be striving toward the goal, it's impossible to have a full 53 where all the players perfectly fit what you want to do as a coach so the job description starts with masking as many deficiencies as possible by working with what any player does best.
Former Eagles' quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, who just got the offensive coordinator job with the Minnesota Vikings, explained that during in his introductory conference call with the media in the Bold North when he was asked how a team could lose an MVP candidate at the most important position but persevere and actually excel with a backup.
"Two things," DeFilippo answered when discussing the move from Carson Wentz to Nick Foles. "Number one, I sat [Foles] down and made him list me, with our coaching staff, what are your best concepts, what do you see yourself do well?"
There was going to be no pounding the square peg in the round hole in Philadelphia.
"I’m not, myself, Frank Reich, Doug Pederson are not throwing the ball," DeFilippo explained. "He is. And so, we really sat down and spent some time with Nick and formulated game plans based on what he felt comfortable doing. And to me, that’s coaching. Why would you ask your player to do something that he’s not comfortable with?"
Every coach in the NFL from the first-year quality control guy all the way to the most-tenured veteran in the big chair should be consistently asking themselves that same simple question every day.
Too many do not.
"Nick was open and honest about things that we wasn’t comfortable with and things that he was comfortable with and we’re very fortunate as a team, it wasn’t all just Nick," DeFilippo said. "Nick played a very big part in it, but as a team obviously we went on to win the Super Bowl."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen