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.