The Super Bowl champ coach, Doug Pederson, did “Takeoff with John Clark”, a half-hour long podcast with the NBC Sports reporter and anchor.
Pederson has spent most of his adult life in the NFL, from backup QB to catching beers on parade routes. His last season with the Eagles produced a lot of down moments and bewildered looks for a man whose team scored the most points against a Bill Belichick-led defense since The Hooded One took over as Giants DC in 1985.
From the first minute, Pederson took the focus away from the disastrous 2020 campaign and wanted to look forward. His son Josh is currently under consideration for next month’s draft after finishing his career at the University of Lousiana-Monroe. Doug said he was in South Florida, helping him prepare and enjoying family time (something that’s not easy to do while working in the NFL – at any level).
“Seeing what God has in my future, as far as football goes,” Pederson said. He’s a renowned man of faith, as have been many other coaches who hoisted the Lombardi.
While his future likely does not include the Eagles, could Pederson be done with the NFL altogether?
Clark remarked that Pederson looked refreshed “like a President who leaves office after four years.” Pederson responded that coaching in the NFL is tough but acknowledged that’s understood when signing the contract. He did admit he enjoyed his time and thinks he has “a few good years in the tank.”
Take a Gap Year?
The Eagles waited a couple of weeks before dismissing Pederson in 2021. After some what-ifs bandied about, it appeared the head coach lost the power struggle with the front office and was dismissed by Jeff Lurie.
Pederson spoke about helping Josh with the pre-draft process. Doug caught on as a free agent after the 1991 draft following his college career and has stated his goal is to help his son get into a training camp with a chance to compete.
Clark asked how many Pederson’s will be in the NFL next year, Doug laughed there will likely be just one, although he wouldn’t suggest if it will be father or son.
What could happen if Doug Pederson stayed home for the season? He’s owed around $8 million from the Eagles for the two remaining seasons of the contract extensions he signed after winning the Super Bowl. That’s not a lot by NFL standards but that’s certainly good money to sit at home and enjoy time with your first grandchild.
So what should Doug do next year? He’s good with the media but doesn’t seem like he’ll give up Sundays for TV. Maybe do some book signings or speaking engagements as coronavirus restrictions ease. Maybe he’ll take the 2021 season to watch the game from the couch like the rest of us.
Can He Come Back?
Despite his enduring career and years working with former Eagles and current Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, Pederson’s hire in 2016 to replace Chip Kelly was met with raised eyebrows and low expectations.
If Doug Pederson comes back after the 2021 season (or later), he may not have many suitors. His successes might be overshadowed by his mishandling of franchise quarterback Carson Wentz.
Is it fair to completely blame the coach for the split that saw both leave Philadelphia? Probably not. However, given how much more teams pay for QBs than coaches, it can be tough to rebound from that perception.
We’re starting to see a power struggle emerge between quarterbacks and head coaches or front offices in this league. Long-tenured guys like Belichick, Reid, and Pete Carroll now have their sons on staff as position coaches, while other OCs bring a pro lineage from their famous fathers.
Can Pederson adapt? That’s the biggest problem facing coaches who return. Can they overcome the faults and flaws that led to prior dismissals?
Pederson has a fairly short resume in coaching and he’s comparatively young. He built a winning franchise in Philadelphia and handled well the avalanche of injuries that often beset teams (except for 2020). A couple of years might help things settle in his mind and allow him to find a new scheme or paradigm to lead in the future.
He’s been noted as a considerer of analytics and a risk-taker on conversion and fourth down. If the league skews towards the daring, he can certainly return and thrive.
Should He Return?
Doug Pederson spent some years away from the NFL, coaching at the prep level before rejoining Reid in Philly and KC. If he devotes time to high school ball, he may stay there.
Any high-stress job has its perks and perils. Finding enjoyment in another role in a similar field often takes successful people away from that original path.
Pederson’s immediate success and his experience around coaches like Reid may give him pause to return to the highest pressure job (arguably) in North American sports. Also, considering how much trouble he has seen Reid and his family involved with (recently and long-term), what does the self-professed family man take from that scrutiny?
Can Doug Pederson coach in the NFL? He has and should. He is a strong leader of men, good with the media, and certainly makes for interesting play-calling. He’s earned another chance if he wants to take it.
Should he? Well, that’s a question only he can answer. Likely, it won’t be on a podcast.