For Doug Pederson, one of the most incredible coaching seasons ever

For Doug Pederson, one of the most incredible coaching seasons ever

BLOOMINGTON, Minn. — There was a funny little moment on Monday morning, borne out of exhaustion and delirium. 

A bleary-eyed Doug Pederson greeted NFL commissioner Roger Goodell as Pederson walked on stage for a quick photo op before a press conference, Pederson's last obligation of an obligation-filled week. 

The lectern on the stage was between Nick Foles' Pete Rozelle (MVP) trophy and the Lombardi Trophy. The photographer suggested Pederson pick up the Lombardi Trophy for the shot, but Pederson didn't move at first. 

"It's that one, Doug," a bunch of smart-asses said, pointing to the legendary prize. 

"You can pick it up if you want," Goodell said. "It's yours." 

Damn right it is. 

And Doug Pederson earned it. 

The same Pederson who wasn't the Eagles' first choice. The same Pederson who people said was one of the worst possible hires at the time. The same Pederson who was the least qualified coach ever, according to one blowhard. 

That guy just pulled off one of the most incredible coaching seasons in NFL history. 

This year, Pederson really seemed to come into his own as a play-caller. He pushed the right buttons all year, especially in the Super Bowl, and his aggressive attitude rubbed off on his entire team. 

And that's not even the most impressive thing he did. He won a Super Bowl with Nick Foles! And not just Foles. He won a Super Bowl with backups everywhere. He won a Super Bowl in the same season that the Eagles lost Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks, Darren Sproles, Chris Maragos and Caleb Sturgis. 

"It's tough," Pederson said on Monday morning, the shock of winning the Super Bowl still in full effect. "It's something that you spend a lot of time thinking about how you want to talk to the team, how you want to present your messaging to the team. 

"How's the team going to buy into losing as many starters as we did this season? Again, it was part of just entrusting the players a little bit. Great leadership with some of the veteran players. Just allowing them to sort of embrace it and [the] next-man-up mentality." 

Pederson, 50, was incredibly calculated in every trying situation that presented itself this season. He knew that any weakness he showed to his team could be disastrous. He put on a brave face, believed in his players and trusted they wouldn't give up on him or the season. They didn't. 

Of course, when Wentz went down, that was slightly different. The team lost the MVP of the league on Dec. 10 in Los Angeles and there were some understandably mopey faces slumping through the NovaCare Complex. Pederson finally admitted recently that there was a brief moment of self-pity in all of that (see story)

But he couldn't let it show. Not publicly and definitely not to his players. 

He had to get Nick Foles ready to play quarterback the same way he got Big V ready to play left tackle, the same way they transferred middle linebacker responsibilities to Nigel Bradham, the same way they figured out a way to get by on third downs without Sproles and rolled right along with a rookie kicker. 

With confidence that absolutely nothing was going to wreck their season. 

"As coaches, hats off to my coaching staff for preparing our guys, for getting our guys ready each week," Pederson said. "It didn't matter who was in there; we were going to coach them up and get them ready to play." 

Everyone laughed when Jeff Lurie said he wanted his next coach to have emotional intelligence. He brought it up again after the Eagles won the NFC Championship Game, when he finally had proof he was right. 

Do you really think Chip Kelly would have been able to coach the Eagles through losing that many key players? There's no way. 

But things are different with Doug. His players refused to give up on the season because they would never think of giving up on him. Sure, you can credit the players for that, but make sure to give credit to Pederson for creating that type of atmosphere. 

When most teams would have given up, the Eagles got tougher. When most teams will be spread across the country on family vacations and golfing on Thursday, the Eagles will be parading down Broad Street. 

When most coaches simply get fired and forgotten, Pederson is already a legend. Not quite Lombardi yet, but give him time. This was just Year 2. 

A look back at Jeremy Maclin's short but impressive career with Eagles

AP Images

A look back at Jeremy Maclin's short but impressive career with Eagles

Jeremy Maclin announced on Sunday that he’s officially retiring after eight seasons in the NFL, five of them spent with the Eagles. 

Maclin’s stay in Philly wasn’t extremely long, but he did put up some big-time numbers in his five seasons. 

(He would have played six with the Eagles, but a torn ACL took his 2013.) 

Overall, in his eight NFL seasons, Maclin caught 514 passes for 6,835 yards and 49 touchdowns. Really solid numbers. 

In an Eagles uniform, Maclin caught 343 passes for 4,771 yards and 36 touchdowns. He played just 75 career games with the Eagles, but the former first-round pick in 2009 put himself in the record book. 

• Maclin’s 343 receptions rank 10th all-time in Eagles history. The only other player in the top 20 with fewer games played is Jordan Matthews, who is all the way at No. 20. 

• His 4,771 receiving yards also rank 10th. 

• His 36 touchdown catches rank seventh all-time in Eagles history. He actually has four more than DeSean Jackson. 

• During his time with the Eagles (2009-14), he was one of just 15 players in the NFL to put up his stats or better. And that includes the season he missed. 

• Maclin’s 2014 season is one of the best seasons an Eagles receiver has ever had. In that season, coming back from a torn ACL, he caught 85 passes for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns. That’s the only 85/1,300/10 season in Eagles history. 

• The two best games of Maclin’s career came with the Eagles. On Oct. 26, 2014, he caught 12 passes for 187 yards and two touchdowns. On Sept. 18, 2011, he caught 13 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns. Those are two of the three 12/170/2 games in Eagles history. The other belongs to Harold Carmichael in 1973. 

Aside from the numbers, Maclin made some huge plays while with the Eagles. And even though he played for the Chiefs and Ravens after he left Philly, he’ll be remembered as an Eagle. 

Maclin signed a five-year, $55 million deal to join the Chiefs before the 2015 season, but played just two of those years. His first season, he went over 1,000 yards, but he was hampered by injuries in 2016 and had just 536 yards the next year. Maclin’s only season in Baltimore was 2017, when he caught 40 passes for 440 yards and three touchdowns. The Ravens cut him a little over a year ago and Maclin wasn’t in the league during the 2018 season. 

Now, he’s retired. But even though he didn’t play for the Eagles very long, he definitely made his mark. 

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Eagles storylines at 2019 NFL owners meetings

Eagles storylines at 2019 NFL owners meetings

PHOENIX — Free agency has finally cooled down but it’s still gonna be hot in Arizona this week … like high-80s hot. 

It’s time for the NFL’s annual league meetings at the luxurious Arizona Biltmore. It’ll be our first chance to talk to the Eagles’ decision-makers since the new league year and it’ll be one of our last chances to talk to them before April’s draft. 

Here are some of the biggest Eagles storylines for the week ahead: 

Dust settles on moves 
The Eagles didn’t make a ton of huge splashes in free agency, but they were active. They brought in Malik Jackson, DeSean Jackson, Vinny Curry, Andrew Sendejo and L.J. Fort. They brought back Ronald Darby and Jason Peters. They traded Michael Bennett. They re-signed Brandon Graham and extended Isaac Seumalo and Jason Kelce. Plenty to talk about and this is our first chance to find out why the Eagles made these moves. 

Hints at draft  
Do any of those moves change the Eagles’ philosophy in the draft? They shouldn’t. But with the draft about a month away, there might be some hints about where the Eagles are looking. 

Time with Lurie  
We don’t get to talk to owner Jeff Lurie very often, but this is the one time per year he always speaks with reporters. He watched as the Eagles talked about the new norm, got off to a slow start and then went on a run in 2018. Are you wondering what he thought of all that? Or what does he think about all the moves made by Howie Roseman? 

Hey, Howie!
Speaking of Roseman, I have some questions about philosophy this offseason. As you might have noticed, the Eagles have signed a good number of older players and haven’t really signed many young ones. I don’t think it’s as big a deal as some have made it out to be, but it’s still worth figuring out. 

And, is he ever going to add a running back? 

Time with Doug 
We also get our hour-long breakfast with Doug Pederson. The top question on my mind for the head coach surrounds his offense. After adding Jackson, the Eagles have a talented trio of receivers and a pair of really good tight ends. As far as problems go, this is a good one to have. But it’s up to the play-caller to get everyone involved. 

New rules
As always, the annual league meetings are a chance for the NFL to vote on new rules for the following season. Many of the rule proposals this season deal with replay, including the two submitted by the Eagles. 

One would add review of player safety-related fouls as subject to coaches’ challenge rules. The other would add scoring plays and turnovers negated by a foul to the replay system. 

The Eagles did submit a proposal that would force the Cowboys and Lions to play every other Thanksgiving game on the road. But the Eagles withdrew that proposal. 

Kraft services 
Even after his apology (?), Robert Kraft is going to be the big story at this year’s event. He will be in Phoenix and is expected to remain on all his committees. 

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