Three Leftovers From Doug Pederson’s Introduction
So much information came out of Doug Pederson‘s introductory press conference, Jeffrey Lurie‘s comments, and Howie Roseman‘s first public address in over a year on Tuesday that there was bound to be a few loose ends left on the cutting floor.
Luckily, we have tape recorders and notebooks to make sure no stone goes unturned. Here are a few noteworthy leftovers from a busy day in South Philadelphia.
Pederson, on the importance of building relationships
From 2005 to 2008, Pederson was head coach at Calvary Baptist Academy, a high school of about 200 kids in Shreveport, Louisiana. He racked up 33 wins in 40 games with the school, and won its first District Title in 2007.
During his introductory press conference on Tuesday, Pederson — and Lurie — repeatedly stressed the importance of developing good relationships with players, and with fellow staff members.
After the press conference, Pederson was asked about how his time at Calvary Baptist prepared him to be a head coach in the NFL, considering the relatively short turnaround between his time as a high school football coach and his holding the same position in the NFL.
“I just think that, you’re standing in front of the team, you’re addressing the team, whether it be the high school, or the student body, or the teachers — I think it just prepares you for situations like this,” Pederson said. “This is obviously bigger-scale, but my time as a head football coach, coaching high school ball, was a great learning experience.
“It got me kind of back in to the coaching mindset, and how well you can be as a teacher. Not necessarily just in the classroom, but as a teacher of the football information that you’re trying to get across. All of that has helped me in this situation.”
In his three years with the team, Chip Kelly was notoriously poor at building relationships with his players, as well as other members of the organization. Pederson’s hiring was very clearly influenced by the potential to reverse the impersonal trend within the organization.
Pederson, who is now just one of eight active head coaches who played in the NFL, said the time he spent both as a player and as a coach alongside former Eagles coach Andy Reid taught him a lot about the kind of coach he wants to be now that he has the chance.
“I think the things I’ve learned from [Reid] is how he embraces his players, the way he talks to his players, the way he cares for his players,” Pederson said. “I think it’s important that you understand what a player is going through. He’s having a bad day on the practice field? Well, it’s not just because he didn’t get up on time.
“[Reid] is good at diving into the character of the man, and those are things … that’s how you get players to play. When you care about them at that level, they’ll do anything for you.”
Examining Pederson’s evaluation of Alex Smith and quarterbacks
When the 2011 NFL season drew to a close, Alex Smith was a free agent, Doug Pederson was the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach, and Michael Vick was 31.
Smith, who was 26 at the time, visited with the Dolphins because of rumors that the 49ers were trying to sign Peyton Manning, who would eventually sign with the Broncos instead.
Pederson was tasked with evaluating Smith as a potential free agent, and he liked what he saw.
“You call [Smith] a game manager? You know what, that’s great. He takes care of the football,” Pederson said. “He doesn’t give it to the defense. He’s a tough kid. He’s very, extremely smart. Athletic. He runs better than you think.”
So when Pederson ended up in Kansas City as Andy Reid’s offensive coordinator, and Reid brought up the idea of pursuing Smith, who had lost his job to Colin Kaepernick, Pederson was fully on board.
“There were some tangible things there where you go, you can win with this guy. And then, of course, his win-loss percentage is pretty good in the National Football League. So all of those factors really made him the guy we wanted in Kansas City.”
The Chiefs made the move to trade for Smith in February. In his three years with Kansas City, Smith has completed 63.6 percent of his passes, throwing 61 touchdowns to just 21 interceptions.
As Pederson feels out his new position with the Eagles, the quarterback position is theoretically in flux. Sam Bradford was the team’s starting quarterback this season, but his contract is up and he’s a free agent.
Pederson spoke about his feelings on Bradford during his press conference on Tuesday, and afterwards discussed how he treated Smith and the quarterback position during their time together, giving a possible window into what a Pederson-Bradford marriage could look like.
“We gave the quarterback the flexibility; the keys to the car, so to speak,” Pederson said. “And we as coaches put our players in the best situations possible on game day to allow them to play fast, to allow them to play free, to use their talents. And those situations are worked in OTAs, they are worked in training camp, they are worked during the regular season.”
Will training camp stay in the city?
Pederson was asked on Tuesday whether he plans on returning the team’s training camp to Lehigh, where it was run under Andy Reid, or leaving it in Philadelphia, where Chip Kelly moved it out of convenience.
“Those are things that we’ll discuss this offseason,” Pederson said. “I did briefly kind of, in the interview process, we kind of talked about that. It’s a great set up here.
“I don’t know all the ins and outs, yet, on that. That’s something that we’ll talk about as this offseason unfolds. But I kind of like the idea of doing it right here in our backyard and keeping it local where the people can come and it makes it more accessible to them.”
The team has run open training camps for fans at NovaCare Complex, Lincoln Financial Field, and Franklin Field in the past few years.
It will be interesting, if only for curiosity’s sake, to see what Pederson and the team decide is the best site for their summer slog.