Can Doug Pederson Help the Eagles Return to Their Winning Ways?
The anticipation. The whirlwind, fast-paced offense. The palpable excitement.
The exuberance ended just as abruptly as it started in Philadelphia for the Eagles with their Week 16 firing of offensive mastermind Chip Kelly.
Yet despite getting a head start on their coaching search, interviews with Tom Coughlin, Adam Gase, Ben McAdoo, Pat Shurmur, and Duce Staley went at a snail's pace. The front office -- with re-established general manager Howie Roseman -- continued their search.
After watching Gase fill Miami's head coaching vacancy and McAdoo promoted in New York, push started coming to shove faster than a Philadelphia three-and-out. The Eagles' hand was forced and look to have called upon Kansas City Chiefs' offensive coordinator Doug Pederson.
Pederson already has some unique ties to Philadelphia in a multitude of ways. Bouncing around the league as a backup quarterback, Pederson landed in Philadelphia in 1999 during Andy Reid's first year as a head coach. Reid and Pederson had earlier ties from their former days in Green Bay. Pederson started that first season for Reid until rookie Donovan McNabb was deemed ready to take over.
After a one-year stint with Philadelphia, Pederson bounced around the league from team to team as a backup quarterback before his retirement. He decided, then, that his passion for the game of football hadn't ended, and he'd like to continue his work in the NFL from a coaching capacity.
Pederson began his professional coaching career working with Andy Reid in Philadelphia as an Offensive Quality Control Coordinator in 2009. After two years at that position, Pederson was promoted to quarterbacks coach where he helped develop Nick Foles during his rookie year. Foles learned under Pederson's tutelage and went on to an incredible 2013 campaign, throwing for 27 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions.
When Andy Reid was let go by the Eagles in 2012, Pederson was one of the first ones he called to see if he'd join him in Kansas City as his offensive coordinator. Over the past three years, Kansas City's offenses under Pederson have improved, ranking in the top-half of the league across multiple categories.
|Pederson||Points per Game||Adjusted Passing NEP/P||Adjusted Rushing NEP/P||nERD|
Under Pederson's watch, the offense has ranked in the top-half of the league in points per game every single year. The Adjusted Passing NEP per play continued to rank towards the middle of the pack, which is rather impressive given what quarterback Alex Smith has had to work until this year.
Working with Jamaal Charles comes with its benefits, as they've ranked in the top-five in Adjusted Rushing NEP per play every season. Most impressive was Pederson's ability to adapt after losing Charles in Week 5 this year. The rag-tag combination of Charcandrick West and Spencer Ware stepped in and ended up providing big plays for Kansas City while keeping the offense moving in an efficient manner.
The Chiefs have now been to the playoffs in two of the three years since Reid has arrived, largely on the backbone of a stout defense with a relentless front-seven. However, the offense has made considerable steps on offense, largely a result of Pederson and Reid's ability to implement a strong, efficient rushing attack.
How Does Pederson Fit in Philadelphia?
Throughout his tenure as a player and a coach, Pederson has learned from some great coaches. As mentioned by Tommy Lawlor in a fantastic breakdown of Pederson, he saw help from the likes of Don Shula, Mike Holmgreen, Chris Palmer, Mike Sherman, Jim Johnson, and Romeo Crennel.
Pederson will abandon Chip Kelly's offense that he'll be taking to San Francisco and re-apply the West Coast offense that he learned from these mentors. Reid had some incredible success with the West Coast offense in Philadelphia, taking them to five NFC Championship games.
Pederson will look to build on facets of his coaching where he's already shown great success -- his top-five rushing attack -- and implement his own version of the West Coast scheme. With a strong stable of running backs already in place, he'll look to continue Philadelphia's heavy rushing attack.
Sam Bradford's contract situation and whether or not Pederson decides to move in another direction will be one of the more interesting offseason stories. Bradford had his struggles but turned things around at the end of the season, leaving some optimism.
Pederson inherits a roster that is not in complete shambles; there are some valuable, blue-chip pieces in place. Looking around at other coaching hires, he could've entered a worse situation. Pederson's worked with Roseman in the past and knows what kind of vision he has for the team. This cohesion between coach and general manager was likely a big part of bringing Pederson back to Philadelphia.
What's most important for Pederson will be how he assembles a new coaching staff. With only five years under his belt as a coach, he'll need to find a good mix of veteran coaches that he can rely on and trust. Assembling a well-mixed staff should be the top priority for him after Kansas City's playoff run.
Owner Jeffrey Lurie has put the fate of his franchise in Pederson's hands. For now, Eagles fans shouldn't look at the hiring of Pederson as "settling." When Reid was hired, he had very little fanfare yet turned out to be the best head coach in franchise history.
Only time will tell if it was the right call, but for now, take some of Aaron Rodgers' advice and R-E-L-A-X. Pederson's background leaves the potential for him to come in and make winning seasons a yearly habit in Philadelphia once again.