Eagles

Even after winning Super Bowl, Doug Pederson is still himself

Even after winning Super Bowl, Doug Pederson is still himself

On Feb. 24, Moorestown, New Jersey, held “Doug Pederson Day” to honor the Super Bowl-winning head coach, one of the town’s most famous residents. 

It’s estimated that a couple thousand people showed up on the lawn of the Moorestown Community House to celebrate Pederson’s big win in Super Bowl LII. For a guy who was once loathed as a player and doubted as a coaching hire, to become this revered is pretty incredible. 

It’s also the type of attention that would change a lot of men. It’s the type of attention that would swell the heads of most. 

Not Pederson. 

"Hopefully, one of the things you guys have seen and noticed from me is that I'm going to be the same,” Pederson said to a group of reporters earlier this offseason. “I don't want [success] to ever change me. I don't want it to define me.”

This, more than anything, is Doug Pederson. He’s genuine, he’s real, he’s dependable, he’s the same guy today that he’ll be tomorrow. Sure, he’s aggressive as a play-caller and he’s shown himself to be a brilliant offensive mind, but that’s not why his players love him. 

This is why his players love him. 

And, boy, do they love him. 

Pederson might aim to stay the same, but the world around him has certainly changed. There’s no arguing that. He went from an afterthought in the NFL to becoming one of the most revered coaches in the league. He went from being ignored to being copied and it happened in a pretty short timespan. 

I remember running into Pederson at the owners meetings in late March the night before an hour-long sit-down breakfast with reporters. Pederson was gracious enough to chat with me for a while, even while knowing he’d be stuck with me for 60 minutes the next day. The one thing that struck me that night was that Pederson was the big man on campus. While me and Pederson and another reporter chatted for about 10-15 minutes, I couldn’t help but notice how many other coaches and front office men came to congratulate him. I could tell Pederson was proud, but he wasn’t boastful. That’s not his way. 

Recently, Pederson said he feels respect from the NFL coaching fraternity and he appreciates it. 

But ask him about being considered one of the best coaches in the NFL and Pederson gets a little uncomfortable. 

“I don’t think about it. I try not to,” Pederson said just before these past spring practices wrapped up. “I don’t want to get there. That is probably not my personality. I try to just stay in this moment, today. I think that is for sports writers to talk about and put me in that spotlight. And that is fine. That is great. But again, when it is all said and done, I think for me it is about focusing on today and the team, and these next three practices and training camp. 

“Now if I’m sitting at home and there is nothing else to do? You kind of sit back, my wife and I might have a conversation like, ‘Man, this is kind of cool.’ It is cool to be mentioned that way. For a guy that, you know, didn’t have probably a lot of support coming into this job initially. To be on the other end of that spectrum is cool. But I know what it took for me to get here. And I have to continue that for myself.”

I always come back to that emotional intelligence Jeff Lurie mentioned after he fired Chip Kelly. We laughed at Lurie then, but it turns out he was right. That’s an incredibly important part of who Pederson is as a person. 

And it’s extremely good news for the Eagles that it doesn’t seem like Pederson is going to change. 

Pederson said he doesn’t want his success to define him. That’s a tough ask, because his win-loss record and that Super Bowl ring are what most fans will always remember him by. But if Pederson had his way, how would he be remembered? 

What does he think defines him? 

“I think the things that can define me is that I’m going to be honest, I’m going to be transparent, I’m going to be as open as I can,” Pederson said. “I’m sort of a father figure to a lot of these players. Kind of what you see is what you get. There’s no fluff anywhere. I don’t try to come across that way, and I basically just want to do my job. That’s what I was hired to do and that’s what I want to do is coach football. I’m obviously a spiritual man and hopefully that comes out sometimes. 

“It comes out with the players, too, and I think the team can reflect the coach’s personality and my personality and hopefully that’s been evident the last couple years. And I think those are some things that define who I am and what I’ve done.”

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Eagles reportedly losing top executive Andrew Berry

Eagles reportedly losing top executive Andrew Berry

Less than a year after the Eagles created a high-level front office position for Andrew Berry, they are losing their Vice President of Football operations to the Cleveland Browns, according to multiple reports.

Berry is the Browns’ new general manager and executive vice president.

The Eagles brought Berry aboard last Feb. 25 after he spent the previous three years with the Browns as their VP of player personnel. At the time, the Eagles just really liked Berry and wanted to find a way to add a young, fast-rising football mind to the building. But with Howie Roseman firmly entrenched as the general manager in Philadelphia, Berry will head back to Cleveland.

According to NFL.com, Berry got a five-year deal and will have 53-man roster control in Cleveland. 

At 32 years old, Berry will become the youngest general manager in NFL history, taking away that title from Roseman, who was 34 when he was promoted back in 2010.

This is the second straight year the Eagles have lost a top executive to a GM job elsewhere. Last offseason, the Jets hired VP of player personnel Joe Douglas to be their general manager.

It isn’t a surprise that Berry is getting a GM job, but perhaps it’s slightly surprising it’s happening so quickly. But he’s a Harvard-educated former football player with a degree in economics and computer science. He began his NFL career with the Colts in 2009 and worked his way up from a scouting assistant to pro scouting coordinator before he left in 2015 to join the Browns.

Just a few days ago, Vikings assistant GM George Paton took himself out of the running for the GM job in Cleveland, which left Berry as the clear-cut top candidate and the Browns moved quickly. While Paton had a long history with new Browns head coach Kevin Stefanski, Berry got to know Stefanski during the coaching search just after the 2018 season when the Browns hired Freddie Kitchens.

Earlier this offseason, the Eagles reportedly denied a request from the Panthers to interview Berry for a vice president job. The reasoning from the Eagles was that it wasn’t a general manager position and he wouldn’t have had final say on personnel matters.

In Cleveland, Berry will be a full-fledged GM with roster control. His time in Philadelphia didn’t last very long.

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NFL mock draft 2020 roundup 3.0: Some heavy hitters weigh in

NFL mock draft 2020 roundup 3.0: Some heavy hitters weigh in

The Senior Bowl is over and the next big event in the pre-draft process will be the combine in Indianapolis that begins in less than a month.

That’s when the pre-draft season will kick into high gear.

But we’ve already seen dozens of first-round mock drafts with different possibilities for the Eagles with that 21st pick. Here are a few more, starting with a couple mock drafts from heavy hitters in the industry:

ESPN, Mel Kiper Jr.

Tee Higgins, WR, Clemson

What they said: Philadelphia has to upgrade at wide receiver — its two top pass-catchers in 2019 were tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert — and the depth and talent in this class could set up perfectly for the Eagles to have several options here. At 6-foot-4, Higgins is the biggest wideout of the first-round talents, a jump-ball specialist and touchdown machine (25 the past two seasons). He's not super explosive like Lamb, Jeudy or Ruggs, but he'll box out cornerbacks in the red zone and pick up first downs, not unlike Alshon Jeffery, who struggled to stay on the field this season. The Eagles would have liked more from second-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in Year 1, and I still like his upside, but Higgins has No. 1 receiver talent. As is always the case for Philadelphia, this is another spot to watch for an edge rusher.

My take on Higgins: Higgins has been the most popular pick in these early mock drafts for the Eagles and it’s easy to understand why. He’s a solid, do-it-all receiver who had a very good college career. It’s worth noting that Kiper has Higgins as the fourth receiver off the board, after CeeDee Lamb (12), Jerry Jeudy (13) and Henry Ruggs III (15). In other years, I’d imagine a player like Higgins would go earlier but this is a really good receiver class. He has an impressive size/speed combination and getting him at 21 would probably make most fans pretty happy.

NFL.com, Daniel Jeremiah 

Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

What they said: Speed! The Eagles are focused on getting faster this offseason, and Ruggs is the most explosive player in the draft.

SI.com, Kevin Hanson

Henry Ruggs III, WR, Alabama

What they said: Given the depth at receiver in this year’s draft class, one of the best in recent memory, it’s possible some of them get pushed down a bit. A top-12 prospect on my big board, Ruggs would provide the Eagles with the vertical element their passing attack has lacked. A legitimate threat to the NFL combine’s 40-yard dash record, Ruggs scored on one of four touches over his collegiate career.

My take on Ruggs III: I’m not very convinced Ruggs will be on the board when the Eagles pick at 21 but if he is, this would be an exciting selection. It’s worth noting that Jeremiah used to work in the Eagles’ front office and his expectation is that the Eagles will focus on getting faster this offseason; that should be an obvious goal. And Ruggs would certainly help with that.

In recent years when Joe Douglas was around, the Eagles really prioritized college productivity. But at his year-end press conference, Howie Roseman noted that some of the receivers who had good rookie seasons in 2019 didn’t have incredible college production. So when we look at Ruggs’ stats, they’re not as impressive as some of the other receivers in this class:

2018: 46 catches, 741 yards (16.1), 11 touchdowns

2019: 40 catches, 746 yards (18.7) 7 touchdowns

That is something that might have mattered more to the Eagles in years past. Not sure they’ll care as much this time around.

CBS Sports, Ryan Wilson

Terrell Lewis, Edge, Alabama

What they said: Brandon Graham and Vinny Curry were the Eagles' two most efficient pass rushers, according to PFF, but Graham is 31 and Curry appears headed for free agency. Lewis was able to stay healthy in 2019 after suffering injuries in the two previous seasons and he looked pretty good. He looked even better at the Senior Bowl last week, and that will only help his draft stock.

My take on Lewis: It’s probably never a crazy idea to mock a lineman to the Eagles in the first round. Since 2010, the Eagles have had nine first-round picks and seven of them have been used on the OL or DL (four of those seven on DL). The Eagles will return Graham and Barnett as their starters in 2020 but Graham is on the wrong side of 30 and Barnett hasn’t developed into a star. Perhaps they will look for some edge help in Round 1. The part of Wilson’s mock draft I’m having a hard time with is that Ruggs comes off the board with the next pick at 22. If that happened, Eagles fans wouldn’t be very happy.

Baltimore Sun, C.J. Doon 

Grant Delpit, S, LSU

What they said: With DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery returning from injury, the need for a wide receiver isn’t as strong as the need for help in the secondary. Delpit was hit-and-miss in 2019, but his coverage skills would be a welcome addition to a beleaguered group of defenders.

My take on Delpit: I really like Delpit and in my first mock draft last week, I had him going to the Eagles too. Safety might not be as pressing a need as receiver or cornerback but it’s an important position in the Eagles’ defense and one in question right now. In my mock, I had the top four receivers off the board, which left the Eagles in a position to take BPA and Delpit was that for me. But in this mock draft, Higgins is still available and he goes to the Bills at 22. Again, another situation that probably wouldn’t make Eagles fans very happy.

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