Before Doug Pederson reports for work Sunday, he can swing by a Lincoln Financial Field parking lot to check out the statue of … himself.
Pederson, the coach of the Eagles’ only Super Bowl champion, is the subject of the 9-foot high bronze statue along with quarterback Nick Foles. The statue represents the play-call of the “Philly Special” trick play that resulted in a Super Bowl touchdown.
Pederson, now the Jaguars coach, said Wednesday he has not seen the statue in person and doesn’t expect to see it anytime soon.
“It’s probably a weird feeling seeing a statue of yourself outside an opposing team’s stadium,” Eagles offensive tackle Lane Johnson said.
On what was the most memorable night in Philly sports history, Pederson was in the middle of it all with his 2017 team of destiny, defeating Tom Brady and the Patriots, 41-33.
Philly hasn’t been the same since.
Pederson brings his upstart, 2-1 team to the Linc on Sunday. In his first season with Jacksonville, Pederson has made great strides after Urban Meyer’s 3-14 disaster of a season in 2021.
Pederson has a history of turning around teams. In 2016, he took over a 7-9 team that had been coached by Chip Kelly. In 2017, he went 13-3, becoming one of 11 coaches to win the Super Bowl in his first two seasons.
Awaiting Pederson will be the 3-0 Eagles, riding high as one of two undefeated NFL teams.
- “I’m really looking forward to getting back there,” Pederson said to Jaguars media this week.
- “I understand that city, I understand the passion for football, but now I’m on the other side.
- “I’m looking forward to it, getting back up there. It’s been a great place. We did a lot of good things there. Looking forward to, hopefully, the welcome.”
We suspect Pederson will receive a warm and sincere welcome, which he deserves. Imagine the emotions for Pederson as he returns to the city where so many amazing things happened for him and his team.
- “I don’t know. It could be mixed,” Pederson said about the possible crowd reaction. “Listen, I have to get this team here ready to go and I’m not going to be concerned with [crowd reaction].
- “You hope it’s a good one, obviously, for the things you did there, but I also know that crowd and they can be a little hostile and [I’m] looking forward to that, too.
- “Listen, understanding that and having been there and worked there, you just understand that is [how it is]. Even when I was there and we were winning games or losing games, you were still getting booed, so it doesn’t really matter.
- “My job is to prepare the team to go play in a great environment against a really good football team that’s playing extremely well right now.”
Johnson expects a positive reaction from the crowd.
“I’m going to say hi to him after the game,” Johnson said. “I owe a lot to Doug. It felt like he helped resurrect my career.
“I expect him to probably get a standing ovation just for what he did here, how he was and how he treated players. People don’t forget that.”
Pederson coached the Eagles for five seasons. He was 42-37-1, won two NFC East titles and went to the playoffs three consecutive years, from 2017-19. He was fired in 2020 after a 4-11-1 season.
“I brought that city a championship and that is something to be proud of, obviously,” Pederson said.
SIRIANNI: ‘TON OF RESPECT FOR HIM’
Nick Sirianni replaced Pederson in 2021, a first-time head coach replacing another first-time head coach.
- “As far as Doug, I got a ton of respect for him,” Sirianni said. “I don’t know him personally. I’ve talked to him a couple times. I only know him through obviously the people in this building and through Frank [Reich, the Indy coach, with whom they both worked].
- “I’ve heard nothing but phenomenal things. I think he’s a great football coach. Obviously, he brought this city a world championship. So much respect for him.”
Pederson’s Jags are off to a surprising start. Jacksonville lost its opener at Washington, 28-22, but bounced back and shut out Indianapolis, 24-0, and stunned the Chargers in Los Angeles, 38-10.
Pederson’s Jags currently reside in first place in the AFC South.
JAGS ON REBOUND
Pederson is undertaking a massive rebuild after the mess that was left behind. Having Trevor Lawrence, one of the best young quarterbacks in the league, is a good place to start.
“This is a good offense,” Eagles defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon said. “I have a very high opinion of Doug.
“He’s a very good play-caller. He doesn’t have a lot of tendencies. You can’t bank on certain things coming.
“He’s doing a good job with the quarterback playing extremely fast. He has weapons. They protect him. You have to be aware of their skill guys because their skill guys have very significant skill-sets.
“We have a big-time test ahead of us.”