Pederson went from Overmatched to Entrenched in a Calendar Year
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Mike Lombardi takes the hits but the former NFL executive was hardly alone in his assumption that the Eagles' Doug Pederson was overmatched as a first-time head coach.
As the 2017 preseason began more were thinking about Pederson's potential replacement if things went off the rails for Philadelphia rather than a Super Bowl LII victory.
And now many revisionist historians sit quietly under the shade of Lombardi's hyperbole hoping @OldTakesExposed doesn't come searching for them.
Pederson is the most popular man in Philadelphia these days, the architect of the first Lombardi Trophy in perhaps the most football crazy town in America. And he did it in two years after coming in as a lightly-regarded Plan C after the "hot" coaching candidates like Adam Gase and Ben McAdoo chose other destinations.
McAdoo is now unemployed, Gase is probably on his way to the same fate after this season and Pederson just signed an extension with the Eagles that will presumably keep him around until at least 2022.
Even the highly-regarded Andy Reid, whose coaching tree dwarfs everyone since Bill Walsh, couldn't get the Eagles over the hump and the fans of Philadelphia what they wanted but Pederson managed to do it with a coaching style that embraces aggressiveness on the field and chemistry off of it.
No one saw it coming, at least this quickly, not even owner Jeffrey Lurie or Howie Roseman, the Eagles executive VP of football operations who also got extended through 2022 over the weekend, especially after a 7-9 rookie season in which Pederson underwent some painful on the job training at times.
On Tuesday Pederson finally addressed his new deal and again showed one of his strengths as a head coach, trying to deflect the story from him to the practice the Eagles had just completed.
“I really wish nobody would have brought it up," the coach said. "I'm definitely honored to be recognized that way. Listen, I feel truly, bottom of my heart, everything's year to year. I'm going to coach my tail off this season, and I'm just thankful to Mr. Lurie and the Eagle organization for believing in me and trusting in me and giving me the extension. Just excited to go to work every single day.”
Perhaps that's the backup QB in Pederson, a guy who spent over a decade in the NFL as an afterthought to superstars like Dan Marino, Brett Favre, and Donovan McNabb.
There is no ego with Pederson and he has been able to work seamlessly with Roseman and personnel chief Joe Douglas to build a winner.
In a city used to larger than life personalities who were always pushing for more power like Reid and Chip Kelly, that's unique and Pederson is the rare success story content to do his job, at least to this point.
In Philadelphia, it's now a traditional setup where the offseason is for Roseman and Douglas to hand the 90-man roster over to Pederson and his coaching staff.
Collaboration and all its forms was a word Lurie used seven different times during his press conference to announce the extensions for Pederson and Roseman.
“I think what you're seeing around the league is GM, head coach kind of have the same amount of years left," Pederson said. "It really helps in sort of solidifying your plan, not only current plan but future plan. When you have the same amount of time remaining, you can collaborate that way and prepare that way.”
Add in an on-field leader like Carson Wentz and the Eagles have the potential at least to turn a special season into the next NFL dynasty.
“I went up to [Pederson] right away when I heard the news and said I can’t wait to be a free agent,” Wentz joked. “I was kidding obviously. I’m stoked. I’m stoked for Doug. He deserves it. Him and Howie both. But coming in with Doug at the same time (2016) and seeing him as a leader, winning a Super Bowl and seeing him now, he hasn’t changed. That’s what I love about him. He’s still the same guy. I’m excited. God willing I’ll have a long future with him.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen