Updated: Aug 16, 2020
The subject of Head Coaches is generally one that ruffles the feathers of NFL fans and inevitably sparks widespread debates on social media. For the most part, these fans tend to blindly defend any negativity aimed towards their team’s coach from those rooting for the opposing teams. Having said that, there are of course always examples of fan bases having completely turned on their HC, as there is no amount of delusion that could possibly keep them from accepting facts as embarrassing as they may be (Jason Garret’s eventual ousting in Dallas comes to mind). The Philadelphia Eagles have been lucky enough to have at their helm for the past few years, undisputedly, one of the top Head Coaches in the National Football League.
Doug Pederson’s name, almost always conjures up images of the Philly Special and the historical moments leading to arguably the bravest call in Eagles history. Based on results, the most successful Head Coach the Eagles have ever had, Pederson’s name is synonymous with analytics, aggressive play calling, and getting his players to play hard for him when the team’s back is against the wall…which for some reason seems to be every year?
Surely one would think that a great Head Coach would not have his team find itself in a “Burn the Ships” situation year in, year out. Popular public perception amongst the casual non-Eagles NFL fans, points to injuries being the number one factor that the Eagles have to defy the odds to make the playoffs seemingly every season. If this was indeed the case, then other than his influence on roster depth with regards to skillset and position, surely Pederson should be absolved of any other blame?
A couple of more questions merit answering before that can happen.
Is Doug Pederson too soft?
A great deal of controversy was sparked following the conclusion of the Eagle’s 2019 campaign when during the end-of-season press conference, Pederson stated that both Offensive Coordinator Mike Groh and Wide Receivers Coach Carson Walch were going to return the following season, despite it being obvious even to the casual fan, that from an offensive stand point and in particular relating to the wide receiving corps, coaching changes needed to be made. This statement was made to look even stranger when both Groh and Walch were fired a day later. It stands to logic that Pederson had no intention of parting ways with his two assistants at the time that he made his original statement. That evident lack of accountability is at first glance disturbing however, the fact that the Eagles have had a different Wide Receivers Coaches each of Pederson’s 4 previous years of tenure shows that lack of results do inevitably lead to consequences for those answering to the Eagles HC.
Is Doug Pederson trying to be Andy Reid?
The Andy Reid Coaching Tree has produced many successful coaches including Doug Pederson, John Harbaugh, Ron Rivera and Sean McDermott to name the most obvious. Pederson’s experience of rising through the ranks and experiencing the ultimate success very possibly could have influenced how he sees the ideal blueprint for assembling and sustaining perennially a successful coaching team within an organization. But his record of hiring and promoting internally leaves a lot to be desired. Is it coincidence that the backbone of his coaching team is formed by staff he inherited from Chip Kelly? Duce Staley, Dave Fipp and Jeff Stoutland have outlasted all but a handful of the coaches he hired himself.
The pot at the end of the rainbow
But just because Reid has been able to successfully generate coaching talent on a consistent basis, does not mean that Pederson will be able to do so as well. It does not make him any less of a great coach. This is after all only the 5th year of him being in this position. Trying to emulate a mentor is ambitious and futile. One only needs to look at the success rate of people venturing out from under Bill Belichick’s shadow to understand that what makes a Head Coach “Great”, is his individuality which is not necessarily transferable in its entirety.
Doug Pederson ultimately just needs to do things, the Pederson way.