McMullen: Pederson’s ‘Cranky’ Act Feels Calculated
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - After watching Doug Pederson's Sunday press conference you might be surprised to learn that behind the scenes the Eagles coach is typically a very nice man and there really isn't much acrimony between him and what is regarded as one of the toughest press corps in the NFL.
And that leads me to believe that what Pederson is doing these days is a calculated attempt to create an Us vs. Them environment at the NovaCare Complex.
The coach is of course coming off the first Super Bowl win in franchise history and despite lip service to the contrary, he, like any good motivator, is concerned with the human-nature aspect of a letdown.
Remember the Eagles are coming off a very lackluster preseason in which many of the offensive troubles can be traced to the absence of key contributors, whether it was the rehabbing Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery or the resting Jason Peters and Darren Sproles.
Last season Pederson sold his locker room on the underdog narrative after Wentz's ACL and LCL tear even if that was directly tied to just one player -- Nick Foles.
As champions, however, the Eagles are now the hunted and the coach has talked about the target on the team's back, something that will make things even more difficult because Philadelphia isn't going to be the letdown week for anyone.
So Pederson is going with the time-tested route of pointing at the most unpopular kids in class and arguing that they are trying to create disharmony.
"First of all, I appreciate y'all putting words in my mouth this week," Pederson told the assembled reporters, none of them being Ian Rapoport, the league employee who actually set off the fire in Pederson's belly by claiming the decision was made and Foles would start at QB against Atlanta on Thursday. "Therefore, I'm not going to discuss it."
When pressed, Pederson first went into a Drew Rosenhaus "next question" routine before labeling the media as a monolith.
"That makes no sense. You're not going to lump us all together, are you? Philly.com's Jeff McLane asked.
"Appreciate it. Yeah, thanks a lot," the angry coach responded. "I'm going to lump you all together."
Pederson may not have a journalism degree but he surely understands the difference between an independent press and a report generated by the league’s own media arm so it's pretty clear this was at least somewhat staged to go "Us vs. Them."
After all, if Rapoport's report was wrong, Pederson would have just torpedoed it like he did with erroneous PUP stories concerning Wentz and Jeffery.
Instead, he's spinning conspiracy tales of competitive-advantage in failing to disclose the Week 1 starting QB of the Super Bowl champs.
"[We are] trying to win a football game," Pederson claimed. "I don't want to put my game plan out there for everybody to see it and read it and teams can scheme. It just doesn't make a lot of sense."
His counterpart in Atlanta, though, is making jokes about the whole thing.
"I understand you have quarterback questions, so ... Matt Ryan will be our quarterback,” Dan Quinn quipped during his conference call with the Philly-area media before pivoting. "... We're just preparing for the offense. [It] would be different if it was [the style difference of] Randall [Cunningham] and Jaws [Ron Jaworski]."
More so Quinn is famed for his cover-3 matchup zone which he brought to the ATL from Seattle and something Pederson and his All-Pro right tackle Lane Johnson acknowledged isn't changing whether the QB is Wentz, Foles, Nate Sudfeld, Christian Hackenberg or Joe Callahan.
"It's a really good defense. Because they don't do a lot defensively, they kind of just line up and make you march down the field," Pederson acknowledged.
If that's the case, what's the point of all this nonsense?
"Exactly. What is the point of this?" Pederson asked rhetorically. "It's my decision."
From the micro perspective, Pederson was taking about Foles starting as Wentz continues to rehab. From a macro standpoint, however, his bigger decision is choosing the new narrative.
And that's your new normal.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen