There is an easy argument to be made that Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is hands down the NFL’s coach of the year. Here’s a look at 10 of the reasons why he deserves to be the first Philly coach since Andy Reid in 2002 to receive the hardware:
1. How far he’s come
Pederson’s only other head coaching gig — prior to the Eagles — was at Cavalry Baptist Academy in Louisiana, just nine years ago. After a few years as an assistant to Andy Reid, Pederson took over as the Eagles’ head coach with just seven years experience in the NFL level (in addition to his 13 seasons as a back up quarterback).
“Had a chance to play in some playoff games and almost make it to a state championship a couple times down there,” Pederson recalled. “Those are special moments, and moments that I’ll remember. Obviously we’re on a much bigger stage now playing for the Super Bowl, but the journey is the same. The ride is the same. It’s just as special doing it at this level. You still have the same types of relationships with these guys now today that you would with, say, a 16- or 17-year-old in high school.”
2. The naysayers
Prior to the 2017 season, The Ringer’s football insider Mike Lombardi called Doug Pederson not only a mistake as an Eagles hire, but one of the least qualified head coaches in NFL history.
— The Ringer (@ringer) September 3, 2017
Lombardi was forced to admit his mistake after the Eagles made it to Super Bowl LII.
“So all you Philly fans give me crap about give Doug Pederson his due … yeah, OK, I was wrong,” Lombardi said on a podcast. “He’s a better coach.”
3. The growth of Carson Wentz
Carson Wentz, as a rookie, threw 16 touchdown passes and 14 interceptions last year. He could be the NFL’s MVP this year — he had 33 touchdowns and just seven picks in 13 games. His speedy climb to the upper eschelon of NFL quarterbacks is in no small part a credit to Pederson’s work with him over the last two seasons.
4. The emergence of Nick Foles
What Pederson has accomplished with Foles could be more remarkable than what he’s done with Wentz. It’s one thing to spend two seasons untapping potential from a talented 23-year-old up and comer. It’s another entirely to take a player who threw more picks than touchdowns two years ago and who considered retirement and make him a Super Bowl caliber QB. Which is exactly what Pederson did, as Foles shrugged off dreadful showings in Weeks 16 and 17 of the regular season to manage the Birds to victory against the Falcons before exploding for the best game in Eagles postseason history against the Vikings.
5. His scheme
Pederson has taken the classic west coast offense and made it his own. He’s indoctrinated the run-pass option into the Eagles to-go play, and has done a great job of mixing short passes, deep shots while sticking with the run. He’s also ushered along Jim Schwartz’ shut down defense to make the Eagles one of the most well-rounded teams in football.
6. His play-calling
Pederson is a fearless play-caller. He will run it on third down. He will go for it on fourth down (the Eagles 26 fourth down attempts were the second most in the NFL). He will call a flea-flicker in the playoffs with his back up quarterback or call a reverse handoff to his slot wide receiver. Watching a Pederson-called game has become one of the most enjoyable sights in football these last two seasons.
“I think with each game, you learn from the good, you learn from the bad calls that you make, and the situational aspect of the game,” Pederson said. “Am I making the right play call at the right time? How well do I put our team in a position to be successful offensively? You learn from all of that, and I critique myself each Monday on how I did.”
7. The injuries he’s dealt with
In addition to Wentz’ torn ACL in December, the Eagles have had to replace their field goal kicker (Caleb Sturgis), their hall of fame left tackle (Jason Peters), their punt returner and third down running back (Darren Sproles), their starting middle linebacker (Jordan Hicks) and have lost stars Ronald Darby, Zach Ertz and Fletcher Cox for portions of the regular season. And somehow, the Eagles still earned the NFC’s top overall seed in the playoffs and a 13-3 record.
8. His style
Once questioned, the Pederson hiring seems to be perfect for the city of Philadelphia.
“There’s many styles of great coaches,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said. “Bill Belichick, you know, Bill Walsh, Sean Payton — the list goes on and on and on — Tom Coughlin. There’s a lot of great coaches. They all have their different styles, but the one common ground amongst them all is absolute consistency and genuineness. And Pederson is just himself. And at times, that’s very humble, and at times, it’s just very real. At times, that’s very bright. At times, it’s tough. But he does it in a true genuine way and I think players really respond to that in today’s world.”
9. He’s in the Super Bowl
For anyone who doubts Pederson’s credentials, he’ll always have Super Bowl LII on his resume. However that doesn’t mean he’s a shoe-in for the award. Over the last nine NFL seasons, just two of the coach of the year award winners played in the Super Bowl — Ron Rivera and Bill Belichick.
10. The other candidates
The only head coach with a better chance at the award, according to regular season Vegas odds is Los Angeles’ Sean McVay — who helped turn around the Rams into a legitimate contender and Jared Goff into a real starter in the NFL. Others who could get votes are Belichick, Mike Tomlin, Sean Payton and Doug Marrone, all tied behind Pederson for third place according to Bovada.