The Doug Pederson era begins in Philadelphia
After over two weeks of searching for a new head coach, the Philadelphia Eagles finally landed on Doug Pederson as its new head football coach. Pederson spent the last three seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs, with two of those seasons resulting in playoff appearances.
So why was the 47-year old Pederson selected to replace Chip Kelly as the head coach of the Eagles? First and foremost, his connection to the city and the franchise stood out the most. Not only did Pederson serve as a backup to quarterback Donovan McNabb during the 1999 season, but Pederson also served as an offensive coach under head coach Andy Reid from 2009–2012. When Reid was let go and became the head coach of the Chiefs, Pederson followed his mentor to Kansas City.
Based upon the disappointment of the Chip Kelly era, Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie and the fan base clearly wanted to bring back that same pride in the Eagles that existed during the Andy Reid era. Not only pride, but also respect for the franchise. After the failure to meet high expectations under Kelly, I think that both fans and the Eagles’ front office became more appreciative of how wonderful it was during the Reid era. Hence why Pederson was a favorite from the start for the head coaching position. In addition, Lurie’s love for hiring offensive coaches definitely played into his decision to hire Pederson.
Now was Pederson the most popular option for head coach of the Eagles? Most certainly not. The hiring of Pederson may not be a sexy one, but it will surely be a great hire if Pederson can bring winning football back to the City of Brotherly Love.
At the onset of the Eagles’ search for a new head coach, names like Adam Gase and Sean McDermott were by far the most popular. Gase, who would eventually be hired by the Miami Dolphins, was the most popular head coaching candidate in the NFL this winter after spending the previous three seasons as the offensive coordinator for the Chicago Bears and Denver Broncos. McDermott, who has served as the Carolina Panthers’ defensive coordinator since 2011, was a defensive coach under Reid in Philadelphia for 12 seasons and a disciple of legendary Eagles’ defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. McDermott spent his final two seasons in Philadelphia as defensive coordinator.
Many fans and pundits believed it was time for the Eagles to hire a defensive-minded head coach. Like Pederson, McDermott knows what Eagles football means to the city of Philadelphia. However, McDermott was apparently never considered for the head coaching job.
After New Orleans Saints’ head coach Sean Payton announced that he would be staying put, the Eagles’ coaching search shifted to a division rival that was undergoing its own organizational changes. After 12 seasons as head coach of the New York Giants, Tom Coughlin stepped down following a fourth straight season missing the playoffs. In addition to Coughlin’s availability, the Eagles had become enamored with Giants’ offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo. However, in order to prevent two of their coaches from joining a division rival, the Giants quickly hired McAdoo as their new head coach to keep the current coaching staff together. Due to the fact that most of his assistants would be staying in New York, Coughlin withdrew his name from consideration for the Eagles’ job. While many were fascinated by the idea of Coughlin switching sides and joining the Eagles, not hiring Coughlin was better off for the Eagles in the long run.
So that brings us back to Pederson. Surely, it will take some time and winning football for Pederson to win over the hearts and minds of Eagles’ fans.
Many see Pederson as Andy Reid 2.0, but Pederson has emphasized that he is not and will not be the second coming of Big Red. Over are the days of running Chip Kelly’s up-tempo, fast-paced offensive attack, as Pederson is likely to implement a West Coast-style offense similar to that of Reid’s. All in all, it should be very familiar to Eagles’ fans.
With new offensive coordinator Frank Reich, who has spent the last two seasons working with quarterback Philip Rivers as the San Diego Chargers’ offensive coordinator, Pederson will have a big decision to make over the future of quarterback Sam Bradford in Philadelphia and whether Bradford fits into Pederson’s offensive system. Pederson has also said he will be calling the plays on offense.
On the other side of the ball, the task of improving Philadelphia’s defense now lies with new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz. Schwartz spent five seasons as the head coach of the Detroit Lions, along with eight seasons as defensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans and one season as the Buffalo Bills’ defensive coordinator. Schwartz has yet to say what defensive scheme the Eagles will play, but it is likely to be a base 4–3 defense. During Reid’s coaching tenure, the Eagles played a 4–3 defense. However, under Kelly and former defensive coordinator Billy Davis, the Eagles primarily played a 3–4 defense.
The Chip Kelly era in Philadelphia is officially over (while just beginning in San Francisco). Now, it is time for the Doug Pederson era to commence in the City of Brotherly Love.