Whenever an NFL team comes into a season with high expectations and the record doesn’t match, the first place everyone looks is at the head coach.
Sure, there are a lot of other factors in the Eagles’ 4-8-1 record this season, but there has been a lot of talk about Doug Pederson’s being firmly on the hot seat as the Eagles’ finish out this mostly miserable 2020 season.
But on Wednesday, one of the all-time greats in the organization, Jason Kelce, gave Pederson his strongest endorsement to date.
“Doug, obviously, you saw it last week, I mean, we're 3-8-1 and guys are still going out there and giving him everything they got,” Kelce said. “I think a great head coach is a guy that is a great motivator. I mean, is it important to be a genius? It helps, I guess. Is it important to be a big rah-rah guy? It helps.
“But the most important thing is, does this guy relate to people and does he motivate people? And does he get the most out of people, players, the coaches under him, everybody. I know that Doug built an environment that empowers individuals, empowers players, empowers his coaches underneath him to be the best that they can be. In my opinion, that's the best quality/trait we can have in a leader, and it's a lot harder to find than I think is often credited.”
When teams are finishing out disappointing seasons, one thing to watch is effort. No one expects this Eagles team to give up and that’s truly a credit to Pederson.
Kelce also talked on Wednesday about why the Eagles will never tank: Because a strong NFL team culture always values winning and makes trying to win every game its No. 1 priority.
That’s the culture Pederson has built here.
While the Eagles might not be able to make a run over these last three games, we know they’re going to play hard. And it’s the reason they were able to overcome 4-6 and 5-7 starts in the last two seasons to make the playoffs. Now, the fact that the Eagles always seem to be in this position isn’t great. And the fact that Pederson is the de facto offensive coordinator of a unit that has grossly underperformed this season isn’t great either.
There are other factors too; roster building and injuries come to mind.
But Kelce is right. There’s no denying that Pederson is a great motivator of his players. And the Eagles don’t overlook the importance of culture. Heck, that’s one of the biggest reasons for the last coaching shift, from Chip Kelly to Pederson.
The real question is this: Is that enough?
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