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.

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Carson Wentz has an incredible pair of custom cleats for his return

@cj_wentz on Twitter

Carson Wentz has an incredible pair of custom cleats for his return

Look good, feel good, play well, right?

That’s at least maybe how Carson Wentz is feeling right now. He’s set to make his return to the field tomorrow against the Colts and he’s got a sick pair of custom designed-shoes for pregame.

The shoes feature his foundation, AO1 and food truck charity, Thy Kingdom Crumb, Wentz’s classic No. 11 and several mantras Wentz lives by.

Check out the video Wentz shared on his social media today below.

The kicks look good and we can’t wait to see how good Wentz looks playing in the Linc Sunday. 

More on the Eagles

Roob's 10 observations: Something to watch with Wentz, recent domination at Linc, more

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Roob's 10 observations: Something to watch with Wentz, recent domination at Linc, more

Something to watch with Carson Wentz in Year 3, the Eagles' recent domination at the Linc, one bad play doesn't define Jalen Mills and much more in Roob's 10 random Eagles observations. 

1. The Eagles’ defense needs to bounce back from that loss Sunday with a vintage Jim Schwartz performance, and I think they will. At the Linc? The Eagles have allowed just 48 points in their last six games and only 11.7 per game since the start of last year, lowest in the league. Andrew Luck looks healthy and efficient again and should thrive in Frank Reich’s system. T.Y. Hilton hasn’t hit a big one yet but might be the most underrated receiver in the NFL over the last six years. The Colts can come in here and win if the Eagles aren’t careful. The defense needs to really take command and pressure Luck, stuff the run, force a couple turnovers and take some pressure off an offense that has a new quarterback, a shaky lineup of receivers and a banged-up running back corps. I’d really like to see something like a 13 on the scoreboard under “Colts” by 4:30 p.m. Sunday.

2. Nick Foles impresses me every time he speaks.

3. The biggest misconception about Clyde Simmons is that his production was simply the product of Reggie White getting doubled. Simmons was a flat-out beast in his own right. Simmons had some very good seasons after he left the Eagles, adding 45 sacks post-Eagles to the 76 he had here. When he retired after the 2000 season, he had the 10th-most sacks in NFL history. But he was also an absolute monster against the run. During his seven years as a starter here, the Eagles allowed the second-fewest rushing yards in the NFL, and Simmons was a big reason why. So few defensive ends are this skilled at rushing the passer but also so stout against the run. The Eagles happen to have two of them at once. It’ll be great to see Simmons and Seth Joyner go into the Eagles’ Hall of Fame Sunday. They came in together in 1986, and 32 years later, they’ll finally take their rightful place together among the best in franchise history.

4. Something to watch these next 14 weeks: Carson Wentz completed just 60.2 percent of his passes last year, which ranked 21st out of 25 QBs who threw 400 passes. After the season, Wentz identified accuracy as his biggest area he needed to improve. The NFL average is 62.1 percent, and Wentz was at 62.4 as a rookie. Obviously, he needs help from his receivers, but I’d be surprised if Wentz isn’t in the 63-64 percent range this year.

5. The disdain for Jordan Matthews that I’ve been reading and hearing the last few days is truly baffling. Matthew's biggest crime is that he isn’t a superstar. He’s a decent receiver when healthy, a good person and a natural leader. Maybe if he was one of those prima donna WRs who demands the ball, gets himself suspended for drug violations, quits on his team and screams at his coaches people would like him more. I don’t know if he’ll help the Eagles’ depleted wide receiver position right now, but I do know he made the most sense out of all the available wideouts.

6. Trivia question: Who’s the last Eagle with six or more interceptions in a season? The answer is below.

7. Not sure how it’s possible to watch how Jalen Mills played last year as a 23-year-old second-year pro starting for a Super Bowl team with the No. 4 defense in the NFL and then give up on him because of one play against one of the most dangerous deep threats in NFL history that wasn’t even totally his fault. Mills is a good cornerback. One play doesn’t define him, just like it doesn’t define Malcolm Jenkins, who abandoned his assignment in the middle of the field. Mills is fine.

8. In his first 46 games, Nelson Agholor caught eight or more passes once. In his last three games, he’s caught eight or more passes three times.

9. The Linc is exactly half as old as the Vet was when it was demolished.

10. The Eagles are 16-3 at home under Doug Pederson, and of those 19 games there’s only one that the Eagles weren’t in until the final minutes, and that was the 27-13 loss to the Packers in 2016. But even that was a four-point game in the fourth quarter. They’re in every game at the Linc and they win most of them. You can talk about the Packers or Chiefs, but I don’t think there’s a team with as strong a home-field advantage as the Eagles.

Trivia Answer: Brandon Boykin had six interceptions in 2013. He had only two more the rest of his career as he battled injuries.      

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