Eagles

Doug Pederson's rise to leader of Super Bowl champion Eagles still hard to believe

Doug Pederson's rise to leader of Super Bowl champion Eagles still hard to believe

It would have been easy to hire Tom Coughlin. Good guy. Familiar face. Won two Super Bowls with Eli Manning. Hall of Famer.

It would have been easy to hire Pat Shurmur. Loyal company man. Good offensive mind. Would give the franchise continuity after three years under Chip Kelly.

It would have been easy to snap up Adam Gase … at least before the Dolphins hired him. Gase was the hot name floating around after the 2015 season.

Also would have been easy to hire Ben McAdoo, and the Eagles were definitely interested at one point but not enough to finish the deal. The Giants did finish the deal, and he didn't make it through Year 2.

There were plenty of hot candidates available when Jeff Lurie, Howie Roseman and Don Smolenski sat down, rolled up their sleeves 29 months ago and set about to hire a head coach to replace Kelly and restore order to the franchise.

Doug Pederson was not a hot candidate. In fact, he was barely a candidate at all.

There were seven NFL head coaching openings going into the 2016 season, and none of the other teams even interviewed Pederson. 

And, sure, you can understand why.

He never called plays while coaching under Andy Reid, except in two-minute drills, where the Chiefs were generally atrocious.

His only head coaching experience came at Calvary Baptist Academy in Shreveport, Louisiana.

He hardly had a fiery personality, and there was a lot of speculation whether he’d be able to get through to his players.

One very popular national football website ranked Pederson as the fifth-best head coaching hire that 2016 offseason, behind Hue Jackson, Kelly, Dirk Koetter and Gase. Those four guys won a combined 11 games last year.

Pederson? His team won 16, including a few kind-of-important ones in January and February.

Pederson delivered a Super Bowl championship to a city that had never won one, that was starving for one. This unknown, unheralded, unspectacular gentleman who arrived with a fraction of the hype of Kelly turned out to be one of the greatest things that ever happened to this team, to this city.

Pederson's ability to lead the franchise with style and class and grace, to be fearless and innovative, to develop a culture in which ego and selfishness don’t exist truly speaks volumes about what went on in January 2016 on the second floor of the NovaCare Complex.

Lurie, Roseman and Smolenski, the brain trust that ran the Eagles’ coaching search, looked at a guy who won three games in 14 seasons as a backup quarterback, who was coaching high school football eight years earlier, who had no real NFL play-calling experience, and decided, “He’s our guy.”

This is such an inexact science. Kelly arrived here with this reputation as an offensive genius and innovator, but it turned out all he really had was the bluster and attitude without much substance behind it.

Three years later, Pederson comes here with no reputation at all and evolves into everything Kelly was supposed to be.   

Pederson was the eighth head coach to win a Super Bowl within his first two seasons.

Five of the first seven replaced Hall of Fame coaches whose teams were already championship contenders: Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy in Tampa, Don McCafferty and Don Shula in Baltimore, Barry Switzer and Jimmy Johnson in Dallas, George Seifert and Bill Walsh in San Francisco, Tom Flores and John Madden in Oakland.

Pederson took over a train wreck and two years later rode on a float up Broad Street. This was legitimately one of the greatest coaching jobs in NFL history.

And there's more to come. This team, this roster, this franchise is set up for sustained success. Honestly, I would be more surprised if the Eagles don't win another Super Bowl under Pederson than if they do.

And none of this happens without Lurie, Roseman and Smolenski making the call.

Without that decision, that remarkable decision that was greeted by most Eagles fans with a resounding … “Ummm, OK” … there is no "Philly Special." There are no underdog masks. There is no Nick Foles signing 15,000 books and donating all the proceeds to charity. There is no Jason Kelce in Mummer’s garb making the speech of the century. 

Without Doug Pederson, there is no 2017 season. And without Jeff Lurie, Howie Roseman and Don Smolenski seeing something that nobody else on Earth saw, there is no Doug Pederson.

Subscribe and rate Roob Knows: Apple Podcasts / Google Play / Stitcher / Art19

Eagles-Saints NFL Week 11 predictions

Eagles-Saints NFL Week 11 predictions

The Eagles (4-5) are coming off a tough loss to the rival Cowboys on Sunday Night Football and now they have to travel to New Orleans to face the Saints (8-1). 

The Eagles opened as nine-point underdogs. It was the first time they opened as underdogs all season. 

To the predictions: 

Reuben Frank (5-4) 
Maybe I’m crazy. This one looks so lopsided, looks unwinnable, looks like a completely lost cause. Heck, I can’t even figure out how the Eagles are going to keep things close Sunday against the Saints. But the NFL is weird. It seems like so often when everybody in the universe is convinced a game is going to go one way, it goes the other way. I’m banking on there being enough pride left in a team that just nine months ago won a Super Bowl to stand toe to toe with the 8-1 Saints and get out of the Superdome with a win. I don’t know how. 

The Saints don’t have a great defense. They don’t need a great defense, but maybe the Eagles’ offense suddenly solves its red-zone issues. Maybe Doug Pederson magically recalls his 2017 play-calling touch. Maybe the defense makes up for the last two months and forces a few turnovers. Maybe a few balls bounce funny and right into somebody’s hands. Maybe the Eagles simply outscore the Saints, who are allowing nearly 27 points per game. I know one thing. As long as No. 11 is out there, the Eagles have a chance. This team rarely gets blown out, and I don’t think it will Sunday. It’s just a matter of whether the offense can get untracked. I say yes. I say Eagles over Saints. No, really.

Eagles 43, Saints 37 

Dave Zangaro (2-7)
Drew Brees has been playing so well and the Saints seem pretty much unstoppable. They’re averaging over 36 points per game and I don’t know how the Eagles are going to stop them or keep up. The Eagles are without Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills and Rodney McLeod. Having Sidney Jones back will help, but it won’t solve the problem. 

If the Eagles were to somehow pull off a win, they would need to play an almost perfect game. Carson Wentz will need to guide them to the best offensive performance we’ve seen from the Eagles all year. I’m not saying there’s no chance the Eagles win; I just don’t see it happening. 

Saints 35, Eagles 27

Derrick Gunn (3-6) 
It's bad enough the Eagles gave one away to Dallas, but now they hit the road to face the hottest team in the league. Brees is playing out of his mind right now with a 77.3 completion percentage, 21 touchdowns, one interception, and has been sacked just nine times. Nobody sees the field better than he does.

The Eagles’ banged-up secondary has to find a way to control Saints WR Michael Thomas, and the front seven’s task is to keep the backfield duo of Alvin Kamara (4.4 ypc) and Mark Ingram (4.5 ypc) from running over it the way Ezekiel Elliott did. Also, the Eagles’ D could use a few turnovers to go its way; it has forced only seven this season, and the Saints don’t give the ball away often.

Pederson said his offense is not that far off numbers-wise from where it was a season ago. That may be true but having scored more than 24 points in a game only once this year is unsettling. Wentz must find a way to get this offense moving, and fast. The Birds’ offense is 17th in red-zone efficiency (55.9 percent) and converts on 41.2 percent of third-down situations. 

I’ve looked at this matchup from every possible angle trying to find a ray of hope for the Eagles, but because of their injuries, inconsistencies and the team they’re playing, it doesn’t look good. 

Saints 37, Eagles 21

Ray Didinger (4-5) 
Crazy things happen in the NFL. Let me take you back to December 2015. The Eagles were coming off a humiliating 45-14 loss in Detroit. Jeff Lurie was about to pull the plug on Chip Kelly. The franchise was in ruins. So what happens? The Eagles go to Foxboro and knock off the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots, 35-28. Who saw that coming?

So is it possible the Eagles could go to New Orleans on Sunday and cool off the 8-1 Saints? Look, if Sam Bradford can beat Tom Brady, it is certainly possible Wentz can beat Brees. The Saints lost at home to Tampa Bay and Ryan Fitzpatrick earlier this season, so it's not like it can't happen. Of course the Bucs had to score 48 points to do it, so good luck with that, Pederson.

The Eagles are underdogs — nine points this time — and they seem to like that role but the matchup of a red-hot Brees and the Eagles' patchwork secondary is downright scary. Yeah, any given Sunday and all that jazz, but I'm not feeling it this week.

Saints 35, Eagles 24  

Andrew Kulp (4-5) 
I don't think it's a question of whether the Eagles are going to lose, but by how much. With all the injuries, they appear to be completely outclassed by the Saints, who look like the best team — or at least the hottest team — in the NFL right now.

Brees should absolutely dissect this secondary, and while the Eagles could score some points, they haven't demonstrated the ability to do so with any consistency. This could get ugly.

Saints 34, Eagles 20

Corey Seidman (3-6) 
The NFL is a week-to-week league. Losing to a mediocre team one week does not mean you're going to get blown out by a good team the next.

I think the Eagles' offense wakes up in a big way in this game and it ultimately falls just short against a Saints offense that can do whatever it wants.

This is the best Saints offense we've seen Brees engineer. Kamara runs precise routes and catches everything. Thomas runs even more precise routes and catches everything. Taysom Hill makes the Saints borderline unstoppable on a 3rd-and-3 or shorter.

Saints 36, Eagles 33

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Eagles will wait 1 more week to get Tim Jernigan back

Eagles will wait 1 more week to get Tim Jernigan back

The Eagles won’t have Tim Jernigan for this weekend’s game in New Orleans. 

Even though Jernigan has been practicing for two weeks and has been rotating in with the starters, the Eagles are going to give him another week to get ready. If Jernigan was going to play this weekend, he needed to be activated by 4 p.m. Saturday. That deadline has passed. 

During the past week, head coach Doug Pederson said twice (most recently on Friday) that he was optimistic Jernigan would be able to play against the Saints. 

The lack of a move with Jernigan was signaled early on Saturday, when the Eagles put Ronald Darby on IR and brought up De’Vante Bausby. And on Friday, they activated Richard Rodgers to the 53-man roster. 

Because Jernigan is still on the non-football injury list after offseason back surgery, the Eagles weren’t required to put him on their injury report this week and didn’t need to give an official game status for him. 

Jernigan was cleared to return to practice on Nov. 5, which started a 21-day practice window. By the end of that window, the Eagles must decide to either activate Jernigan to the 53-man roster or shut him down for the year. That window will end next Saturday, so the Eagles will likely have him for next week's game. 

The fact that he was even close to returning this week makes it seem like he will return this year. That will be a boost for the Eagles, but it might also be too little too late. 

The Eagles have really missed Jernigan this season and they’ll probably miss him again this weekend. Haloti Ngata (knee) enters the weekend listed as questionable. If he can’t play, they’re down to either Treyvon Hester or T.Y. McGill next to Fletcher Cox. In fact, that spot next to Cox has probably been one of the weakest starting positions on the depth chart this year. 

For a long time, there were serious questions about whether or not Jernigan would be able to return at all this season. His injury still has plenty of mystery surrounding it. It seems like he’s getting close, though. Maybe next week.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles