Brian Dawkins was there in 1999 when Doug Pederson went through a very rough season as Eagles quarterback.
Dawkins was in his fourth year with the Eagles when Pederson began the season as the starting quarterback and struggled badly in nine starts.
Pederson completed just 52 percent of his passes with more interceptions (nine) than touchdowns (seven), and his 62.9 passer rating was fourth-worst in the NFL.
Not surprisingly, Pederson was consistently booed by Eagles fans who were desperate to see Donovan McNabb play.
But he handled the adversity, which got pretty ugly as the year went on, with a lot of class and a level head.
And Dawkins believes that experience will benefit Pederson now, 17 years later, as he embarks on his first season as an NFL head coach.
“That’s huge, because not every athlete can have success in Philadelphia,” said Dawkins, who joined the Eagles this week as a scout. “Not every athlete can play in Philadelphia. They can’t handle it. They can’t handle the toughness. They can’t handle the tough love.
“So I think Doug going through it and the fact that he’s more of an even-keel type of guy, that he can handle some of the bumps that he’s probably going to face, especially early on on the offensive side of the ball.”
Dawkins has always been honest, and his assessment of Pederson as a head coach was very honest.
“I think the decision making on game day, those are the things that are going to be a challenge for him,” Dawkins said.
“But at the same time, I think because he’s been through it a little bit in Kansas City, given the reins to call some plays, I think that he’ll be successful.
“I think the one thing that you also see is the quality of coaches that he’s brought in. Guys who have been in the league, who have done it before. So he’s not doing everything by himself the first time.
“What he is, to me, he’s a builder. He’s going to have this place going back in the direction it needs to go. For these guys to believe in one another and come back together and perform. I love them being in pads, I love the physical part, which is going to be huge for them.”
There are several former Eagles working for the team.
In addition to Pederson, the coaching staff also includes Tim Hauck, Greg Lewis and Duce Staley (plus Eugene Chung, who was with the team twice in training camp).
Additionally, Quintin Mikell is director of player engagement and now Dawk is in scouting.
“Any time we can bring alumni back and former players back to the organization to help us, whether it be on an intern basis or maybe potentially on a full-time basis like we've had with Greg Lewis and Duce Staley and guys like that, I think it's beneficial,” Pederson said.
“Players (admire) him, a former player, particularly on defense, and the type of player that he was and the leadership that he brought to this team and this organization. They can see that. They can see how he handled this city and how people really supported him and rallied around him.
“I'm excited to see where it takes us and to see what role he can have even with me hopefully down the road with the team, whether he's speaking to the team or doing some things like that I think could be very beneficial for everybody.”