McMullen: Pederson Proves to be Smart Enough
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Winning cures everything is the kind of cliche the brilliant research scientists at the University of Pennsylvania might wish was true.
For the more serious parts of life, we are lucky to have folks like that chipping away for us each and every day. In the world of sports, however, coming out on the right side of the scoreboard is the magical salve it's made out to be.
After a contentious week in which Doug Pederson snarled at reporters for doing their jobs and seeking information on an injured Carson Wentz, a kindler and gentler coach took to the podium Monday after a stunning 30-23 win over the Los Angeles Rams as a two-touchdown underdog with a playful and even contrite demeanor at times.
To this reporter, Pederson even joked that I needed a new hat even though my Super Bowl XLIX cap from Arizona still has plenty of life left in it.
More importantly, he decided "competitive advantage" wasn't as important this week, naming Nick Foles the starter against Houston on Sunday and quickly eliminating most of the questions on Wentz's immediate availability.
In short, he stopped shooting himself in the foot as 973espn.com explained last week should be the path moving forward.
"Sometimes I'm not the smartest guy, and probably not the best communicator all the time," Pederson admitted, "but there are moments where maybe something I've read or something I've seen or something like that, that sort of sparks a little fire inside of me that says, “That's something I need to share with the team.”
The underdog, us-vs.-them theme has been a staple of Pederson's and pointing toward criticism is often the best way to motivate. In the past, Pederson has highlighted commentary that has pointed out the flaws of his team.
For instance, last week Nelson Agholor stopped me in the locker room and asked why I believed Golden Tate should be garnering more playing time at the expense of the Southern Cal product.
From a personal standpoint, there was no malice from my point of view and was one of the first who advocated Nelson get more playing time in the slot over Jordan Matthews after a strong spring with the hate mail to prove it. My thought process was calmly disseminated to Agholor, we agreed to disagree, and moved on.
But, you can see the fermentation of Pederson's style, no doubt cultivated by over a decade as a lightly-regarded quarterback who not too many believed in.
Last year Philadelphia rode the underdog masks to a championship, this year it's De'Vante Bausby's stealing with ski masks in an effort to stun the world with a late run and playoff berth.
And both times Pederson was behind the scenes pulling the strings.
The coach might not be the smartest guy in the room but he's smart enough.
"I think part of my job is to make sure that the team still understands the goals at hand and what's right there in front of us," Pederson said. "I think it's important that we maintain that vision and have that vision. We're still playing for something. And then of course, the players have to embrace that and go play."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen