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 2019 training camp battles: Replacing Jordan Hicks at linebacker

Eagles 2019 training camp battles: Replacing Jordan Hicks at linebacker

As we near the start of the Eagles’ 2019 training camp, we’re taking a closer look at some key position battles to watch this summer. We already looked at cornerback and running back.            

Up today: Linebacker 

Names to know 

Nigel Bradham, Kamu Grugier-Hill, Zach Brown, Nate Gerry, L.J. Fort, Paul Worrilow, T.J. Edwards, Alex Singleton, Joey Alfieri 

What to watch 

While he struggled to stay healthy over his four years in Philadelphia, Jordan Hicks was an effective player when he was on the field. After Hicks bolted in free agency, taking a big deal from the Arizona Cardinals, the Eagles will need to replace him. 

That starts with Bradham, who will be the linebacker who never leaves the field in 2019. He’ll be out there in the Eagles’ base defense, nickel defense and dime defense. It’s a role he took over in Hicks’ absence anyway. Bradham is recovering from injury, but he expects to be ready for training camp. 

The front-runners to be the other two starting linebackers should be Grugier-Hill and free-agent pickup Brown. Grugier-Hill started the first 10 games of his career last season and did a nice job. I think there’s probably even more untapped potential. Brown, meanwhile, is a former Pro Bowler and spent the last two years in Washington. He’s a seven-year vet with 74 starts under his belt. He fell out of favor in Washington some and was released this offseason, a move that saved Washington a bunch of cap money. Brown has been a good player, but KGH is probably better in coverage. 

We’ll see which of those two stays on the field more. One of them will be a part-time player in the team’s base package. While there are technically three starting linebackers in their base package, the Eagles spend around 75 percent of their time in nickel. 

After those three, it’s a competition to make the roster. Gerry seems to be an often-forgotten player, but he knows the defense (he’s been here since 2017) and is the type of hybrid player the Eagles like in this NFL. Fort was brought in as a special teamer with upside; he’ll be on the roster for teams and likely as a backup. 

Worrilow came back from an ACL tear, but missed some time this spring. Edwards and Alfieri are two talented UDFAs and Singleton was a star in the CFL. One of those rookies could be a practice squad fit. 

One of the players from the paragraph above could make the team, but it depends on how many linebackers the Eagles keep. They kept five on their initial 53-man last year, but Bradham didn’t count because he was suspended. They kept six to start 2017 and kept just four after 2016’s training camp. 

Prediction 

Bradham doesn’t leave the field this year; that’s not much of a shocker. But I think Grugier-Hill ends up playing more than Brown. I think he’s better suited for playing nickel downs. The Eagles will keep five or six linebackers: Bradham, KGH, Brown, Fort, Gerry and maybe either Worrilow or Edwards. 

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Popular former Eagles special teams player Chris Maragos announces his retirement

Popular former Eagles special teams player Chris Maragos announces his retirement

After missing all of last season and recently undergoing a third surgery for a significant knee injury suffered in 2017, former Eagles special teams captain Chris Maragos officially announced his retirement on Tuesday afternoon.

Maragos, 32, suffered a torn PCL on Oct. 12, 2017, and hasn’t played since. The Eagles officially released him in February.

Here is the announcement from Maragos:

Unfortunately, his time in the NFL was cut short by the injury against the Panthers in Week 6 of 2017. But he had a pretty good and improbable career.

After a couple years at Western Michigan, Maragos transferred to Wisconsin to continue his college career as a wide receiver. But in 2008, Badgers then-head coach Bret Bielema watched a play in which Maragos tracked down a defensive back after an interception and moved him to defense immediately and it stuck. Maragos played defensive back for his final two college seasons.

After going undrafted in 2010, Maragos played three games with the 49ers before carving out a role with the Seahawks for three seasons, from 2011-13. He joined the Eagles in 2014 and almost immediately became a difference maker on special teams and eventually became a special teams captain. For part of his time in Philly, he even had a significant role on defense, but he’ll be remembered for his contributions on special teams.

During his NFL career, Maragos played in 99 games (53 with the Eagles) with three starts. He was a part of two Super Bowl winners. Even though he was on the shelf with his knee injury by the time the Eagles played in Super Bowl LII, he was an important part of that team. He was one of the leaders of the injured group that included Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Jordan Hicks and Darren Sproles.

Even last season, Maragos was still around the team, offering a veteran voice for some younger players.

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