As you bask in an epic Eagles victory at your job today, imagine if a prominent voice in your profession had said this about you:
“Everyone knows Pederson isn’t a head coach. He might be less qualified to coach a team than anyone in the NFL. Pederson was barely a coordinator before he became head coach. When will the Eagles admit their mistake?”
This effing guy.
The quote above is attributable to Mike Lombardi of The Ringer, who was spewing this garbage in that delightful preseason window where anyone who, say, got fired from the Cleveland Browns’ front office, can run his mouth about a grown man who is actually in the arena, coaching a team in games where the results count. Doug Pederson is now one game away from a Super Bowl win, and Lombardi is still a nobody.
We need not focus on the numerous gutsy decisions Pederson made when Carson Wentz was still at the controls. You don’t need to be a great gamer when you have a cheat code like #11 to deploy. It’s what you do when the cheat code is disabled, when your backup becomes your starter and defines your ability to lead, that’s what matters.
Photo Credit: Robert Hanashiro, USA TODAY
Wentz left the game against the Los Angeles Rams with a lead. Nick Foles entered and delivered the win by executing plays the coaching staff had to come up with in real-time. Did Foles just happen to carry the Eagles to a crucial win? Or was it Pederson’s preparation, his readiness to cope with a difficult circumstance, that got the Eagles home?
The following week, the Eagles had to beat the pathetic New York Giants in the Meadowlands to secure a first-round playoff bye. Foles was excellent. Do you really think he was just lucky? Pederson’s game plan made Foles look really good.
Foles was mediocre-to-bad in the two weeks that followed. But those poor results still yielded home field throughout the playoffs before the tournament started. What would you have had the head ball coach do, reveal the super-effective trickeration and schemes he had in mind in games that didn’t matter before he crippled the opposition with them in games that did?
And the foregoing says nothing about the brave calls that Pederson made the last two weeks.
It’s going to be lost in the Super Bowl noise, but Pederson’s decision to trust Foles and press the issue down 10-6 against the Atlanta Falcons at the end of the first half of the Eagles’ divisional round matchup will resonate if the Eagles ultimately win Super Bowl LII. The field goal by Jake Elliott that cut the deficit to one was the product of both good fortune and Pederson’s unflinching will to play to win instead of just playing it safe.
Then there was last night. Pederson did not panic after falling behind 7-0 at home in a game where the sharps (again) had decided that he and Foles couldn’t possibly win. Pederson just kept making the strong call. How many coaches would have the stones to try to get a field goal at the end of the first half with a 21-7 lead from their own 25-yard-line with less than 30 seconds remaining? Who does that? Pederson does that. Never mind airing it out against the Vikings.
Pederson called a flea flicker — a freaking flea flicker in an NFC title game — and it worked. Not bad for a guy who wasn’t qualified to coach any team in the NFL, much less a Super Bowl entrant.
Doug Pederson a pretty good coach huh? Definitely not the least qualified ever. #suchastupidthingtosay
— Louis Riddick (@LRiddickESPN) January 22, 2018
Here’s where we are, two weeks from Super Bowl LII: The Eagles’ head coach is only marginally an underdog to Bill Belichick. Look around the NFL and try to find a better coach to slay the dragon than Pederson. Who would you rather have? Mike Tomlin? Mike McCarthy? Pete Carroll? Get serious.
This is Doug Pederson, winning the NFC Championship with a backup quarterback as a home underdog, asking you to love him.
There’s nothing left to do but respect the job he has done and root for his coronation as a Super Bowl champion.