The Official Site of the Philadelphia Eagles

News

Print
RSS

Doug Pederson, One Year Later

Posted Jan 18, 2017

On January 18, 2016, Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie introduced Doug Pederson as the franchise's 23rd head coach, saying Pederson "is a strategic thinker, a compelling leader and communicator, and someone who truly knows how to get the best out of his players. All of these factors were what initially attracted us to Doug and we believe that he is the right man to help us achieve our ultimate goal.ā€ ...

On January 18, 2016, Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie introduced Doug Pederson as the franchise's 23rd head coach, saying Pederson "is a strategic thinker, a compelling leader and communicator, and someone who truly knows how to get the best out of his players. All of these factors were what initially attracted us to Doug and we believe that he is the right man to help us achieve our ultimate goal."

One year later, what do we know about Pederson? What kind of strides did he make in his first year as an NFL head coach? Where does he need to improve?

"You talk about facing adversity. (A new) head coach comes in and our right tackle (Lane Johnson) is suspended for 10 games; our starting quarterback (Sam Bradford) is traded eight days before the start of the regular season. And the way the players responded, certainly towards the end of the season, you could see how the players felt about him. Iā€™m just looking forward to him getting better and continuing to go grow like all of us in our jobs," Howie Roseman said.

It was, in retrospect, an extraordinary set of circumstances to begin the season. When the Eagles traded Bradford to the Minnesota Vikings, Pederson turned to rookie Carson Wentz to run the offense after the first-round draft pick had played in only one preseason game before suffering a rib injury that ultimately knocked him out of the rest of the preseason. 

After a 3-0 beginning to the season, the Eagles began to unravel, starting with a fourth-quarter collapse in Detroit. Nothing came easy after that, and it didn't help that Johnson, the standout right tackle, was lost for 10 games. Thanks in part to Johnson's absence, the Eagles used a total of seven different starting lineup combinations along the offensive line. Tight end Zach Ertz missed most of the first month of the season with a displaced rib and wide receiver Jordan Matthews played most of the final month of the year with a sprained ankle. The defense battled injuries at cornerback for much of the season and the Eagles made just enough mistakes to turn that 3-0 start to a 5-9 reality before beating NFC East rivals New York and Dallas to end the season at 7-9.

"Doug has been a steady hand throughout the season," center Jason Kelce said in late December. "He's really positive with us and he's been extremely encouraging. We've made a lot of progress. The mistakes we've made have been self-inflicted, and you can't have them in our league and expect to beat good football teams. That's on us as players. Doug and his staff have done an outstanding job working with us and getting us prepared each and every week."

Spadaro Podcast Text Club Email

The Eagles didn't win enough games to make the playoffs for the first time since 2013, ultimately because they went 2-4 in the NFC East, because they won only one game away from Lincoln Financial Field, because the offense ranked 24th in the league in red-zone touchdown efficiency and because the team committed an NFL-most 49 pre-snap penalties.

An offensive playbook that was so creative and successful in the opening three wins seemed to become more and more restricted with all of the changes along the offensive line. The lack of explosiveness - the Eagles recorded just 18 passing plays of 25-plus yards, second fewest in the NFL (Houston had 16) - made the offense churn and grind and grunt for every point scored.

"The guys have continued to battle and play hard and keep their focus and work hard every day to improve and that's what you what to see as a head coach," said Pederson late in the season. He has not met the media since his post-game press conference after the Eagles defeated Dallas on January 1. "It hasn't been easy. We went through a stretch there where we lost seven of nine games and that could have sent our season going the wrong way. But this locker room continued to give everything it had and that means a lot."

It means that Pederson's message was heard and respected. It means that the Eagles built a locker room of players who are committed to the team, and to each other and to Pederson. It means that the Eagles, collectively, believe there are bright, bright days ahead.

A franchise that was in turmoil in the aftermath of 2015's struggles has found its footing and gained some much-needed stability.

"I'm my hardest critic each and every day," Pederson said. "We didn't do enough to reach the postseason and that is ultimately what this is all about. There are a lot of things I can improve on. I think every day in this business you need to be moving forward. Staying the same is moving in the wrong direction in the NFL."

Pederson showed that he will be aggressive in his play calling and in his decision-making; the Eagles went for it on fourth down a league-most 27 times, converting 13 to rank just below the league average in success rate. He established a fast and trusting rapport with Wentz, the franchise quarterback. Not once in the team's midseason skid did the team show as much as a hint of internal bickering or finger-pointing.

Stability. Trust. Positive reinforcement with a high demand of accountability and production. Pederson walked away from his first year on the job improving as a head coach with a team that is in far better position now - with a star quarterback on the rise, with roster continuity, with some salary-cap room and with draft picks to use - than 12 months ago.

"We laid the foundation this season," safety Malcolm Jenkins said, "and now we have more work to do. We took some strides. Not enough to make the playoffs and see what could happen there, but we know we were right there in most of our games. Now we have to figure out a way that each and every one of us can improve and how we can push this team over the hump next season. I'm excited about what's ahead. We have a lot of work, but we're heading in the right direction. Everyone, I think, feels that."

One year ago, the Eagles ushered in a new era as they introduced Doug Pederson as the franchise's head coach. As they turn their attention to 2017 and Year Two under Pederson, the Eagles are in a far better place, but with a lot of work ahead to reach their goals.

Philadelphia Eagles Insider bringing you breaking news, plus all the latest buzz and speculation surrounding the team.
Subscribe to Eagles Live Podcast


 

Recent Articles