Philadelphia fans are known to be unabashed when they express their feelings towards visiting teams, but Jacksonville Jaguars Head Coach Doug Pederson hopes his welcome back will be a warm one.
"I remember back when I was with the Chiefs and Coach (Andy) Reid. We came back, and you know, he got a standing ovation," said Pederson on a virtual teleconference with Philadelphia reporters this week. "So, hopefully, it's in that realm. But look, it's Philly. Anything's possible, right?"
Applause upon his arrival isn't unlikely. Before taking on the role in Florida, he coached the Eagles for five seasons – including the legendary 2017 campaign that brought Philadelphia its very first Super Bowl win.
"I'm personally looking forward to coming back to Philly," Pederson said. "Obviously, I've got a lot of fond memories there. And what we did in 2017 is something that we'll always remember, right?"
He's right. Super Bowl LII will not soon be forgotten. Five seasons later, fans still arrive in South Philadelphia boasting the 41-33 championship final score or the "Philly Special" play on any canvas – from clothing to tailgating bus to skin.
Pederson led the team to something no other Philadelphia Eagles coach had done before him. But regardless of the warm memories, Sunday is not a friendly reunion. For the first time, the Eagles' goal is to ensure Pederson loses.
"I love Doug Pederson. He's coming here to win. We're trying to not let him come in and do that," said defensive end Brandon Graham, a member of that championship team. Graham is one of 30 Eagles, including practice squad and Injured Reserve, that had Pederson as a coach at some point.
Another one of those players is quarterback Jalen Hurts. His recent success is something that Pederson expected.
"Nothing surprises me with Jalen, just knowing the type of person he is," said Pederson.
"He's gonna defy all odds. I mean, that's just the way his career has been built. He's overcome adversity everywhere he's been, at Alabama and Oklahoma."
Hurts' rookie season as an Eagle was Pederson's final. Though their time together was short-lived, Pederson admits he saw something special in the budding quarterback.
"It just doesn't surprise me that this is how well he's playing. He's prepared himself for this. As I mentioned earlier, the stability around him and the success of that helps. I just hope that we can do that with our guy, Trevor Lawrence, down here in Jacksonville."
Pederson's focus now is pushing his own young quarterback to a similar triumph, but still, it's clear the respect between Pederson and Hurts is mutual.
"I'm very grateful for Coach Pederson and the time I spent with him. Obviously, him taking a chance on me and making me an Eagle is something very important to me," said Hurts.
"I'm glad he's got another opportunity and he's doing great so far coaching a really good Jaguars team. I have a lot of respect for him."
Regardless of Pederson's homecoming, the Eagles are focused on preparing to take down the 2-1 Jaguars team when they visit Philadelphia on Sunday.