Eagles

How Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz have grown into one of NFL's top tandems

How Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz have grown into one of NFL's top tandems

Doug Pederson has always compared his relationship with Carson Wentz to a marriage.

Instead of tying the knot, they were tied to each other’s success.

Going into Year 4, that hasn’t changed.

But since they joined the Eagles in 2016 as rookie head coach and rookie quarterback, that relationship has grown. They’ve gone through ups and downs, they’ve learned more about each other, and after Wentz was signed to a big extension, they expect that relationship will continue for many more years.

“It’s huge,” Wentz said last week. “Really, every single season since I’ve been here, my relationship with Doug has just continually grown. It’s more than just a coach-player relationship. It’s really a friendship. We talk about really anything and everything. Obviously X’s and O’s and scheme plenty, but just the way we’re kind of like-minded within schemes and systems like that but also off the field. It’s awesome having a guy like that I can grow with really from Day 1.”

Generally speaking, Pederson and Wentz have a similar outlook when it comes to football matters. But they don’t always agree.

That’s where the relationship comes into play.

Backup quarterback Nate Sudfeld explained that while Pederson and Wentz don’t always see everything exactly the same, it’s their open and honest relationship that allows them to get on the same page. They listen to one other and — more importantly — they each value the other’s input.

It’s not like this was a totally arranged marriage. Head coach and quarterback got to know each other during the 2016 pre-draft process. But they really didn’t get to date very long either. There was the Senior Bowl, the combine and a couple visits, but it was enough to tell the Eagles all they needed to know. It was a good start to their relationship, but it keeps growing and evolving. Each week during the season, normally on Thursday night, the two have a sit-down meeting and it’s not always about football. They have other shared interests like hunting and faith.

When you ask about off-the-field issues sometimes players can really respond, and I think for Carson and I that’s what we’ve kind of started in this last three-year journey, and just being open and honest with each other,” Pederson said last month. “Especially head coach-quarterback, and you’ve seen the great ones in the NFL that have been together for a long time.

It’s not always easy. There’s going to be discussions, there’s going to be heated discussions, but you know what? It’s like anything. Any family structure. You’re going to have an argument but you’re going to walk out and you’re going to be united when you go out on the football field. That’s the thing. Just being able to have those conversations, and just continue to cultivate that just goes a long way with the head coach-quarterback combination, and again the ones that have been successful have done that, have built that lifelong relationship that we have begun here.

As amazing as it might seem, there are just six NFL head coach-quarterback tandems that have been together longer than Pederson and Wentz. (The pairs that arrived to their teams the same year are noted with an asterisk.)

2000: Tom Brady-Bill Belichick*

2006: Drew Brees-Sean Payton*

2007: Ben Roethlisberger-Mike Tomlin

2011: Cam Newton-Ron Rivera*

2012: Russell Wilson-Pete Carroll

2015: Matt Ryan-Dan Quinn

2016: Pederson-Wentz*

2016: Dak Prescott-Jason Garrett

This means that of every QB-head coach duo in the NFL that has been together since 2016, all but one (Dallas) has been to a Super Bowl.

Five of the seven longest-tenured QB-head coach pairs in the league have won a Super Bowl together, including Wentz and Pederson, but you know the situation there. Wentz played a huge role in that 2017 season and earned his ring, but he of course wasn’t on the field for the Super Bowl.

In 11 seasons together, Andy Reid and Donovan McNabb won 92 regular-season games together, putting them in the top 10 tandems of all time. Wentz and Pederson have 23 wins together, so they have a long way to go. But they’ve already come a long way too. Back in 2016, the New York Daily News ranked them as the NFL’s 29th-best QB-coach tandem in the NFL.

Now, they’re arguably one of the best as their unique relationship continues to grow.

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Fletcher Cox spills details from Eagles D-line getaway at his ranch

Fletcher Cox spills details from Eagles D-line getaway at his ranch

Eagles defensive tackle Bruce Hector grew up in Tampa, Florida, and went to college at South Florida. Bruce Hector is 6-foot-2, 296 pounds. 

Bruce Hector had never ridden a horse. Of course he hadn’t. 

That changed in May when Fletcher Cox hosted most of his defensive line teammates at his ranch in Texas. 

Hector and Derek Barnett rode horses for the first time. The guy shot skeet — “everybody sucked at first until about 20 minutes into it,” Cox said — and Malik Jackson, whom Cox affectionately referred to as a “Cali Kid” got to spend some quality time with mosquitos and flies. 

It was one of those things, it was very important to me that I did that, to let those guys know ‘hey, I’m here for you, let’s all get together and get it done,’” Cox said. “Once the guys got there, we had everything laid out, food, places to stay. And guys enjoyed it.

In addition to all the activities Cox’s ranch has to offer, the Eagles’ defensive linemen also worked out together while trying to stay safe during COVID-19. 

Aside from the horses who had to support 300-pound linemen, the real MVPs of the getaway were Stephanie and Sue, two women who work on Cox’s ranch and were in charge of making sure everything was clean for the Eagles as they got together during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Eagles’ Pro Bowl defensive lineman said Stephanie and Sue “really stayed on top of it.” 

“I asked them, ‘hey when guys wake up go in their room, make sure you’re spraying everything down, make sure you’re washing the bedspread, making sure that everything is getting sprayed every day,’” Cox said. 

And they did. 

Aside from that, the only people working out on the fields were Cox and his teammates. In an offseason where the Eagles lost all of OTAs and minicamps, Cox felt like he had to step up and get the group together. Without those workouts, the Eagles’ defensive line wouldn’t have been together until training camp this month.  

“I knew I had the place to get all the guys down to my place in Texas,” Cox said. “I reached out to all the guys. I told the guys, ‘hey if you feel safe coming down, let’s all get together as a group, as a D-line unit and try to knock some things out.’ Let’s get a couple days where we can get some work in and just kind of hang out and be around each other.”

Cox, 29, has really grown into his role as a leader on the team, similarly to Carson Wentz, who got a group of receivers together this offseason in Houston. 

On Wednesday, Cox said the defensive line will need to lead the Eagles in 2020 and he’s probably right. That makes his role even more important. He’s the leader of the group that has to lead the team. 

Give him a lot of credit for getting his teammates together during a difficult and unusual offseason. Give that horse a ton of credit too. 

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John Hightower patterns his game after 1 particular NFL star receiver

John Hightower patterns his game after 1 particular NFL star receiver

If there’s one NFL receiver Eagles 5th-round pick John Hightower patterns his game after it’s Stefon Diggs. 

Throughout the last few months, I’ve heard Hightower say that several times, both before and after he got drafted. But on a Zoom call last week, I got a chance to ask Hightower a question. 

Why Diggs? 

“Stefon Diggs’ routes are phenomenal,” Hightower said. “He makes great cuts, he catches the ball very well. He’s an intelligent player.” 

Fair enough. 

While Diggs has never been a Pro Bowler, he has become one of the best and most consistent receivers in the NFL, known for his route-running and technique. 

Like Hightower, Diggs was a 5th-round pick. Diggs came out of Maryland in the 5th round in 2015, made an immediate impact as a rookie and put together five really impressive seasons in Minnesota before getting traded to the Bills this offseason. 

Take a look at the comparison between Diggs coming out in 2015 and Hightower this season: 

Aside from their physical similarities and getting drafted in the same round, Hightower and Diggs both grew up in the same area, in the DMV.

Diggs is from Gaithersburg, Maryland, and went to Our Lady of Good Counsel and Hightower is from Landover and went to Riverdale Baptist. 

“It’s really good to see that,” Hightower said of watching a guy from his area make it the way Diggs has. “Obviously someone from the area making it to the place the Stefon Diggs made it to. Pretty much growing up everybody knew Stefon Diggs was going to be who he is today. It was great to see him from high school to college and then now in the league to still do what he’s been doing.”

Hightower hopes to continue following Diggs’ path. 

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