Pederson is a true underdog.
By Dave Spadaro
Here is Doug Pederson, on a television set talking about himself and the success he’s suddenly had and what it all means to him after an undistinguished 14-year NFL playing career followed by a coaching career lacking any real pizazz.
Until now, of course.
“Philadelphia, I get it. I get the fans and I understand that things haven’t been quite where everyone wanted until this past season,” Pederson said. “It’s kind of been that way for me. I’ve always been an underdog. I’ve never had a thing handed to me, and everything has come through hard work. That’s what Philadelphia is all about. Hard work and hoping for the best. We’ve got the best now. The goal is to stay the best.”
Only eight teams in NFL history have repeated as Super Bowl champions, and that story will be told through the course of the next many months of the 2018 Eagles season. This is about Pederson and the rise from unknown assistant coach to very-much-questioned head coach hire to Super Bowl hero. So what does Pederson do for an encore?
“I’ve just got to do what I’ve been doing, continue to be me and make sure we are ready to play our best football each week,” Pederson said.
Sounds simple, but it’s clearly not easy to do. The Eagles are the defending Super Bowl champs, and Pederson — mocked when the Eagles hired him shortly after the 2015 season ended in a Chip Kelly flameout — is in demand. He’s the hot ticket and he’s the one other coaches and teams and players talk about modeling their approaches after. If the NFL is a copycat league, we’re about to see a bunch of teams going for it on fourth down, calling trick plays and playing entirely unpredictable football.
Could it be that Pederson is perfect for Philadelphia?
“He relates so well to people, and I think the fans identify with who Doug is and what he’s been through,” center Jason Kelce said of Pederson. “Doug came in here and didn’t care what people thought of it. He didn’t listen to what the media wrote and said about him. He just went out and did it his way. That’s just the way he is.”
Pederson continues to do things his way, and it’s not all by the NFL playbook. He’s got his players, for instance, involved once again in something he calls “competition games,” a weeks-long series of “fun games” the players participate in and compete against each other for prizes such as — and these are hotly contested — parking spots in the front row at the NovaCare Complex, T-shirts and the most coveted one of all, the chance to DJ the weight room for a week.
“Those guys get after it, I’m telling you,” Pederson said.
Sometimes, Pederson isn’t pretty. And sometimes he’s got some ‘splainin to do with the moves he makes. He’s a likable everyman who plays well in a city that loves honesty, grit and a story that involves a hard day’s job.
Pederson checks all the boxes.
“I think I’m one of them in a lot of ways. I get what they’ve gone through,” Pederson said. “To be here and to win the Super Bowl for these fans, that’s what makes it all so special. These fans deserve the best.” ••