Pederson played for Andy Reid in Green Bay. He followed Reid to Philadelphia, where he got his first chance to start as an NFL quarterback. Pederson retired from the league as a player and it was Reid who gave him his first NFL coaching gig, being the quality control coach for the offense in 2009. Reid then made Pederson the quarterbacks coach in 2011. When Reid left for Kansas City in 2013, he hired Pederson to be his offensive coordinator.
If anyone can claim to be an Andy Reid protégé, Pederson can.
This isn't to say the Eagles expect Pederson to be Reid 2.0. Pederson is his own man. The thing I like most about him is his dedication to the game. Pederson went to Northeast Louisiana to play college football. He had a good career, but wasn't a hot commodity when draft time came around. Pederson wasn't picked and then signed with the Dolphins in the spring of 1991. He was on and off their roster for the next five seasons. Pederson also played in the World League of American Football (honestly, how many people even remember that league existed?). He was the 44th choice in the 1995 expansion draft, but even the brand new Carolina Panthers didn't keep him long. At one point, Pederson had to spend a month driving a FedEx truck to help keep the bills paid. Clearly, this was not a guy who gave up easily.
Eventually, Pederson got signed by the Packers and that is when his life changed. He got to work with gifted offensive coaches like Mike Holmgren, Marty Mornhinweg, Gil Haskell, Sherm Lewis, Mike Sherman and, of course, Reid. Pederson learned the West Coast offense and became a valued backup. Brett Favre was such an ironman that Pederson never got on the field.
Some people wonder about Pederson's résumé. He doesn't have much experience calling plays. He's never developed a great young quarterback. He's never been part of a record-setting type of offense. The Eagles didn't make this hire based on a résumé. Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie knew Pederson, both as a player and as an assistant coach. A piece of paper can give you a person's professional background and timeline, but knowing a person and seeing them work over the course of several years is far more important.
The Eagles made this hire because of what they already knew about Pederson. They did interview him and I'm sure they asked some tough questions. You don't turn over control of an NFL team to a coach casually. I'm sure the Eagles talked to Peterson at length about some tough issues. How will you handle the quarterback situation in 2016? Who do you want to hire for your staff? What will you do if a player gets into serious legal trouble? What is the best cheesesteak place in Philly?
Lurie did not hire Pederson just because he knew him. That certainly helps, but you must hire someone who is both qualified and capable. Lurie is very competitive and desperately wants the Eagles to get back to being an annual Super Bowl contender. He wanted the best man for the job. Lurie clearly feels that Pederson can fix the Eagles, on and off the field.
One of Reid's biggest strengths was the bond he had with his players. Reid did everything he could to protect his players and was always willing to take the blame when things went wrong. The players loved Reid and were extremely loyal to him. That vibe has been missing in recent years. Some players liked Kelly quite a bit, but it wasn't close to the relationship Reid had with his players. Pederson is here to improve player-coach relations. He can see things from both sides, having played and coached in the NFL.
Lurie was looking for someone who could be a good communicator and a strong leader for the Eagles. Pederson learned from three masters – Shula, Holmgren and Reid. All three men were leaders and ran a tight ship. They were firm, but fair, which is what players truly want. Pederson knows what it is like to get in the middle of an offensive huddle and have 10 sets of eyes on you, with guys hanging on your every word. It takes a certain presence to play quarterback in the NFL.
Pederson was in Miami for the end of Shula's career. He then went to Carolina and spent some time as part of an expansion team. Pederson was in Green Bay when they won the Super Bowl under Holmgren. He got to be part of a great team. When Pederson came to the Eagles, he got to see Reid building a team from the ground up. He later returned in McNabb's final season. Pederson got to see Michael Vick take the quarterback job from Kevin Kolb. He later saw Nick Foles take it from Vick. Pederson was there for the dreaded lockout, which eliminated much of the 2011 offseason. He got to experience Reid's final season with the Eagles and then his first season in Kansas City.
One of the reasons I'm comfortable with Pederson is that he got to see the Bill Walsh system. Walsh has a great coaching tree because he took a systematic approach to everything and then taught that to his players and assistants. Walsh taught Holmgren, who then taught Reid, who then taught Pederson. There is a way to do things that has worked for other coaches in the past. Take these ideas and use them as the foundation for your coaching career.
Pederson has an idea of what he needs to do to succeed. The one thing that Walsh's system and ideas don't eliminate is the need to find the right people to help you. Reid had McNabb as his star quarterback and Jim Johnson there to run his offense. Holmgren had Favre as his quarterback and Fritz Shurmur to run his defense.
I think Pederson understands the significance of a strong, veteran defensive coordinator and he will find someone he can trust to run that side of the ball. The Reid-Johnson model worked really well for a decade.
As to the question of what to do at quarterback, that is something Pederson will have to sit down and figure out. Do the Eagles pay
Pederson wasn't the dramatic, flashy hire that some fans were hoping for, but he could prove to be the kind of coach the Eagles need. For 21 of the past 25 seasons, Pederson was a player or coach in the NFL. You could build a pretty amazing team with the guys he played with. Reggie White, Marino, Favre, Brian Dawkins, Troy Vincent, Irving Fryar, Keith Jackson and LeRoy Butler were the biggest names to be a teammate of Pederson. He was part of a Super Bowl winner, an expansion team and everything in between.
A lifetime of amazing NFL experiences has made Pederson the man he is today, the coach he is today. Lurie happens to think Pederson is the coach the Eagles need to help change the culture in the organization and to get the team back to where it needs to be both on and off the field. Pederson has been given the opportunity of a lifetime and you can bet he will do everything in his power to make it work.