Posts tagged Doug Pederson
From Nightmares to Dreams: Eagles are ringless no more

I'm putting my Eagles slander to bed.

For years I got such satisfaction from ringless jokes, my favorite of which the one of Donovan McNabb chilling next to a trophy case with a single can of Campbell's Chunky soup inside. They were the NFL's punching bag, and punching the Eagles when they were down felt fun for fans of fellow mediocre teams.

(Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)

(Gregory Shamus / Getty Images)

But the Eagles aren't mediocre anymore. In the wonkiest football season in recent memory, Philly overcame early-season injuries to their kicker (Caleb Sturgis), third-down running back (Darren Sproles), a leader in the defense (Jordan Hicks) and their All-Pro left tackle (Jason Peters) to surge towards the best record in the league & an NFC East crown. But when would've-been MVP Carson Wentz injured his ACL late in the season, everyone wrote the Eagles off.

Insert Nick Foles. 

Foles is only four years removed from a Pro Bowl season where he led the NFL in passer rating and set the best TD-to-INT ratio (27-2) in history. He'd since fallen out of favor in an ugly Chip Kelly-led mess in Philadelphia, gotten shipped off to St. Louis for Sam Bradford and benched by the Rams, only to back up Alex Smith the next year in Kansas City. He contemplated calling it quits, and then Doug Pederson's Eagles called him back.

Philadelphia Eagles

Philadelphia Eagles

Eagles fans couldn't have predicted they would be on this stage with this quarterback. None of us did two months ago when Foles was thrusted into the starting job. Even less when he struggled mightily against New York and Dallas towards the end of the season. The Eagles were 13-3 and the top seed in the NFC, but they were anything but favorites.

The Falcons were favored to roll through Philly on their revenge tour. The Eagles defense held them to 10 points.  The Vikings were practically given the NFC Championship after their stunning win over New Orleans the week before. Their fans even hit the Skol chant in front of the Rocky sign. The Eagles delivered the knockout blow.

And then with history, Tom Brady and the mighty New England Patriots staring them in the face, the underdogs rose to the occasion again. And it was the quarterback no one thought could pull it off leading the way.

Nick Foles played as outstanding a game as you could ask. He outplayed the greatest of all time in Tom Brady, throwing for 373 yards and 3 touchdowns; all on perfect strikes to Alshon Jeffery, Corey Clement and Zach Ertz to win the game. But it was the trick play to cap the first half that everyone will remember. Pederson and Foles fooled the Patriots defense all game, but none moreso than Trey Burton's touchdown PASS to Foles. It was a testament to the balls of Pederson and Foles to take risks in order to beat the best team of our generation.

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

Patrick Smith/Getty Images

It took a lot of risks to get the Eagles to this point, not counting the trick plays and fourth down gambles. The Eagles took a risk in bringing back an Andy Reid-coordinator, all of whom except one (John Harbaugh) have hoisted a Lombardi before. Alshon Jeffery took a risk on himself when he declared a Super Bowl victory without having a team last offseason; he signed a one-year deal, parlayed that into a new contract, and then made good on his promise. LeGarrette Blount and Chris Long bet on themselves as well, leaving the Patriots after capturing a ring to go play together in Philly.

And Nick Foles took a risk by not hanging them up when it felt all was lost. Now, the Super Bowl MVP is ready to cash in big time.

Eagles fans, your 365 days of uninterrupted shit talk begins now. Enjoy it. It was well earned.

#FreeMeek

Fairly Odd Football Family Super Bowl preview

It's the Saturday before the Super Bowl, and Pierce and Jordan talk about Jordan's nerves, what this game means as an Eagles fan, and who will be the MVP of the Big Game.

Patriots, Eagles battle for immortality in Super Bowl LII
C.J. Gunther / EPA / Shutterstock

C.J. Gunther / EPA / Shutterstock

The Patriots vs who? It's become a preseason expectation to see the Patriots in Super Bowl. On Sunday, Bill Belichick and Tom Brady will team up for their 8th Super Bowl appearance together, having won it an astonishing five times. This level of dominance is unlike anything we’ve seen before in pro football, but it nothing out of the norm for the Patriots.

When comparing the experience of the team's leadership, the Eagles seem to be overmatched. Bill Belichick is coaching in his record-11th Super Bowl as a coach (twice as an assistant with the Giants, once as a Patriot assistant); Doug Peterson is in his first as a head coach. Nick Foles is in also starting in his first Super Bowl.

On paper, the Eagles match-up stat for stat with the Patriots and have just as much talent if not more, but the experience factor is what gives the Patriots an edge. Tom Brady, at 40 years old, has maintained his excellence and will look to hold up his sixth Super Bowl trophy which would undoubtedly establish him as the greatest quarterback ever, as if that hasn't already been done.

JIM DAVIS/GLOBE STAFF

JIM DAVIS/GLOBE STAFF

The Patriots excellence can be credited to Bill Belichick and his program that he has built for success. Belichick put this roster together from top to bottom and led this team back to the promised land with 18 undrafted players on the roster. The Eagles have nine. Every single player was handpicked by Belichick to run his system to perfection, and it has paid off tremendously. Belichick is the only coach in the league with full roster control, a trust that he has built with owner Robert Kraft.

It's easy to count the Eagles out of the game before it even starts, but the Eagles are playing their best football. Nick Foles proved that he is not just a backup in the conference championship game and silenced all doubters who believed the Eagles wouldn't make it this far. The Eagles managed to overcome adversity after losing their MVP candidate in Carson Wentz, and still have been clicking on all cylinders.

This Eagles team is solid, and would probably be favored in this game if Carson Wentz was starting. Tom Brady will once again have his hands full against a tough defense that has only surrendered two touchdowns this playoff season. The Eagles have a solid attack, efficient in the run game with Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount, a passing attack that showed it could flourish against the number defense in the league by carving the Vikings secondary, and a defense that is playing at its best.

Despite being overlooked in this matchup, the Eagles players are incredibly confident going into the game. “Right now, at this time of the season, I don’t think anybody can call us underdogs,” starting cornerback Jalen Mills said. “Two teams left, about to play in the Super Bowl… No way we’re underdogs right now.”

The Eagles know exactly what challenges they are facing going up against the highly favored Patriots, but don't expect them to back down. “It’s pretty funny, but it’s definitely motivation," said Eagles defensive end Vinny Curry. "If people want to call us underdogs, so be it. You can call us anything you want to call us, but you still have to line up against us Sunday and play. Since we’ve been called underdogs, we’ve been winning. So, keep calling us that.”

Tom Brady knows not to take his opponent in this game lightly. "They're well-coached. They're good in all three phases. They play complementary games. They do a great job. There's no underdogs in the Super Bowl," Brady said. "They're the first seed in the NFC. Man, they're 13-3. They had an incredible season. I don't buy into any of that. I think they're as dangerous as any team in the league. It's going to come down to whoever plays the best, and hopefully it's us.”

Ultimately, this game will come down to which defense plays the best. Both offenses have proven capable to put up points in bunches, and Foles will look to go tit for tat with Brady. The Eagles managed to jump out to a comfortable lead against the Vikings, but if they do establish a lead, don't count the Patriots out; Brady has already earned his stripes in second half comebacks (refer back to last year’s 28-3 halftime deficit where Brady led them back to victory.) Even with all of the experience that the Patriots have, the Eagles are fully capable to pull off the upset.

Prediction: 21-17 Patriots win.

Getting to know new Chicago Bears HC Matt Nagy
David Eulitt/Kansas City Star

David Eulitt/Kansas City Star

The Chicago Bears aggressively got their man Monday, hiring Chiefs offensive coordinator Matt Nagy to be the 16th head coach in franchise history. So far we don't know the years or the terms, but coaches aren't on a cap and GM Ryan Pace was extended through 2021, so expect it to be around a four-year deal.

Outside of the Raiders, who were enamored at the thought of throwing a bag at Jon Gruden, every team with a coaching vacancy were looking for this year's version of Sean McVay, the young offensive prodigy who turned the LA Rams offense into the best in the NFL in 2017. Pace identified that prodigy, just like he identified Mitchell Trubisky a year ago as his quarterback of the future.

Nagy (that's NAG-ee Bears fans) is now tasked with molding Trubisky into that guy. Nagy was an All-American at Delaware before ripping up Arena Football with the Georgia Force. He's a guy that has a chip on his shoulder; he feels like he was good enough to play D-I football and in the NFL. He's hungry to prove he belonged in the NFL from the beginning, and now he'll get the chance of a lifetime to do it in Chicago.

Nagy left a VERY kush real estate job and took a risk with his wife and family of four to work his way up from the bottom of Andy Reid's staff in Philadelphia. He started as an intern in 2008, and eventually worked his way to offensive quality control coach. He moved with Reid to Kansas City in 2013 to be the quarterbacks coach of the Chiefs, and was promoted to offensive coordinator before this season. He's the only coach Andy Reid has given playcalling duties to, and when the team sputtered after a hot start, Nagy was given more control of the offense, guiding them to a strong finish on the way to an AFC West title.

Nagy took an offense that struggled to do anything under Alex Smith despite four double-digit win seasons, and got a career year out of Smith, throwing for 4,000+ yards, 26 touchdowns and five interceptions in 2017. Chiefs ranked 5th in NFL in total offense with 375.4 yards per game, 6th in points per game (25.9), 7th in passing yards (256.5), 9th in rushing (118.9) and led NFL with the fewest turnovers (8).

When the Chiefs were forced to start rookie Kareem Hunt week one in New England, Nagy brought the league's leading rusher out of him, 1327 rushing yards for the season. Tyreek Hill and Travis Kelce also had 1,000 yard receiving seasons under Nagy this year.

“I think he thinks a little different from coach (Reid) and kind of adds to that, where now you’re kind of getting some of the spice that’s not your typical West Coast offense,” Smith said, according to the Kansas City Star.

Nagy is also a pretty cool guy and relatable in the locker room. “Awesome — killer,” Smith said. “When he got to be up in the room in front of everybody as a coordinator, you never know how guys are going to handle that. I think the thing all of us appreciate is that he didn’t even blink."

Nagy's secondary job this season was grooming rookie QB Pat Mahomes, who is expected to push out Smith for the starting job last season. But leading up to last year's NFL Draft, he coveted Mitch Trubisky. Now he'll take his aggressive run-pass option offense to Chicago, where Trubisky is waiting to develop in his second year in the league.

Nagy becomes the latest under Andy Reid's tree to become head coach. There's currently six of Nagy's former assistants coaching in the league, including Panthers' Ron Rivera, the Bills' new HC Sean McDermott, and Eagles HC Doug Pedersen, who turned second-year QB Carson Wentz into an MVP candidate for the 13-3 Eagles before his December ACL injury.

Awaiting him at Halas Hall is a team with talent bursting at the seams, but unable to fully let loose on the NFL. Jordan Howard is a beast of a running back, and Tarik Cohen was the sparkplug in a dead offense this season. Adam Shaheen didn't perform much, but projects to be an under-the-radar tight end if Nagy can bring the Travis Kelce out of him. Receiver Cameron Meredith returns from ACL injury as well, along with a defense that has top 10 potential when 100% healthy.

The Bears could have waited it out for Eagles QB coach John DeFilippo, but you can't hire a coach until their team is out of the playoffs, and the Bears want to jump the gun to convince defensive coordinator Vic Fangio to stay before Tuesday's deadline.

This is Ryan Pace going for broke. He knows he has one shot left at hiring a head coach in Chicago, and if he's going to keep a job in this league, he can't hire another retread like John Fox, and he can't wait around and miss on his choices while other teams get out in front of them. He moved quickly for his coach, he has his young quarterback in tow, and now they have a day to keep their defense intact. Even the most skeptical Bears fan has to be excited about the stones of this hire.

As for Nagy, I think his gamble paid off.