When Nick Foles played a clunker of a game against the Raiders on Christmas Day, there were plenty of folks who doubted he would be able to lead the Eagles to a Super Bowl.
Doug Pederson wasn't one of them.
Maybe that's because Pederson knows him better than just about anybody else.
"Coach Pederson is the one who drafted me," Foles said after his ridiculous performance in the Eagles' 38-7 win in the NFC Championship Game. "He was the only coach who flew down to Texas and worked me out. I was only worked out by one team, and that was by Coach Pederson. Coach (Andy) Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles took a chance on me. To win this game for him and this organization is something very special."
After Pederson worked Foles out, the Eagles drafted him out of Arizona in the third round in 2012. He rose from third-stringer to backup to starter to Pro Bowler, got traded, got benched, got cut, thought about retiring, got re-signed, came back to Philly, became a backup, took over for Carson Wentz, and is now leading the Eagles into Super Bowl LII.
On Sunday night, after all that he's been through, Foles reminded Pederson where their relationship started. He reminded him that he was the only one to work him out privately leading up to the 2012 draft. He reminded Pederson he was the guy who took a chance on him.
"It goes a long way in his confidence and my confidence in him and understanding that dynamic," Pederson said.
It's hard to imagine the guy who completed 78 percent of his passes for 352 yards and three touchdowns was the same guy who had a passer rating of 48.2 over the last two weeks of the regular season. But Foles turned in an absolutely masterful performance against the Vikings (see story).
How did that happen?
Well, the Eagles had a bye week, which offered plenty of extra practice time. Thanks to a recommendation from the Eagles' players council, the Eagles put on the pads and had an intense practice during the bye week and again the next week. All those extra reps with the first-team offense, something he hadn't had before, helped Foles catch up.
"We needed time to work," Pederson said. "We needed time to get Nick kind of caught up. Again, going back to training camp, he missed a lot of training camp time. Reps with those guys during the regular season, Carson was taking all the snaps. It's just the way it is. So it's just a matter of him getting comfortable, playing the quarterback position, and being on the same page with our guys. So you've kind of slowly seen the progression of the success that he's had since that time. For us, internally, that's what it was about. Just getting time and being able to work together."
Foles said he knew his teammates never doubted him. He had played with several of his teammates before and even the ones who were new to him saw him look sharp in practice over the last couple of weeks.
When asked how he knew his teammates didn't have doubts, Foles said he just knew.
"When people doubt you, you can feel it," he said. "We're all human and I'm keeping it real. When someone doubts you, you know. These guys that I play with knew that I would eventually just keep working at it. They know me as a person and they know me as a player, and we just kept working."
No one knows him better than Pederson. No wonder he never had a doubt.