It wasn’t long ago when Doug Pederson was an afterthought in the league. People all over the country doubted him.
Now he’s changing the NFL.
After using his aggressive style and forward-thinking approach to take the Eagles to the Super Bowl and take down Tom Brady and the Patriots, the rest of the NFL isn’t doubting him anymore. Instead, they’re going to try to copy him.
“What I do here, and listen, it happens every day, whoever wins the big game, they’re going to look at what made you successful,” Pederson said earlier this week at the NFL owners meetings. “We do that. We do that with New England. We do that with Atlanta. We do that with Green Bay. We do that with teams that make it there, so I know teams are studying our offense to try to figure out what we were doing, whether it was RPO or play-action pass and try to figure that kind of stuff out.
“The only two guys that I know right now that want to maintain the aggressiveness are Frank Reich and John DeFilippo.”
That’s because he helped create them.
While Pederson and a ton of other notable coaches in the NFL are branches from the Andy Reid coaching tree, Pederson is already starting to create a coaching tree of his own. Call it a sapling for now.
Reich is now the head coach in Indianapolis. DeFilippo is the offensive coordinator in Minnesota and probably isn’t far from getting a team of his own. And back in Philly, Pederson is grooming coaches like Mike Groh and Press Taylor in the same way Reid once groomed him.
Coming off two years as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator under Pederson, Reich was asked this week what lessons he learned from his former boss.
“As a play-caller, really continuing to put it on the players,” Reich said. “That’s what this game is about. Everyone knows how aggressive we were on fourth down, in situational football, having no fear, taking your shots down the field. I think those are some of the key things.
“And then just being around Doug as a leader. These are things I always knew about him and things you always hope you see in your own game, so to speak. Just the consistency of his leadership. I just think Doug’s top notch in every way, as a leader, as a play-caller, offensively. I just think he’s the best."
Of course, not all of Pederson’s aggressiveness comes from intuition. A lot of it is based on analytics. The Eagles have been open to the use of analytics for many years and owner Jeff Lurie pushed hard to make sure the next coach was open to them too.
Pederson took things a step further, by having analytics voices in his ear during games. While the mathematics isn’t the final decision-maker, Pederson clearly listened to what the numbers tell him. He said he wants to have every bit of information he can before making a decision to go for it on fourth down or in a certain situation.
There are at least a couple coaches in the league we know will copy that aggressiveness.
“There’s no question there was a byproduct of working in Philly and seeing how sometimes conventional football wisdom can sometimes be challenged and it needs to be updated in ways,” Reich said. “And seeing how that played out in Philly in two years is certainly something I learned in the last two years."
Between the use of analytics and Pederson’s sometimes unconventional aggressiveness, he’s created his own style. And it’s going to be emulated.