Weekend Reading: Is Pederson Playoff-Bound?

Photo courtesy: USA Today Sports Images

Doug Pederson. (USA Today Sports)

As the offseason rolls on, here’s some reading about the past, and future, of the Eagles.

Which new head coach is likely to lead his team to the playoffs in 2016? Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks says Chip Kelly ranks first. What about Doug Pederson?

3. Doug Pederson, Philadelphia

Pederson seems like such an unknown quantity, but the reality is that the Eagles are only a year removed from back-to-back 10-win seasons, so a total rebuild after last year’s slippage to 7–9 is hardly in store. Owner Jeffrey Lurie opted for harkening back to his club’s largely successful Andy Reid era with this hire, and maybe some of Reid’s solid and steady demeanor is exactly what the Eagles need right now. And if Pederson has the “emotional intelligence’’ that Lurie found lacking in Chip Kelly, all the better.

I’m a firm believer that Philly tapping ex-Lions head coach Jim Schwartz to coordinate the defense was one of the best moves in the NFL this hiring season, and he’ll have the Eagles playing an aggressive and disruptive brand of ball. Pederson might need some on the job training, but if he gets his quarterback situation figured out reasonably well, a playoff berth in the less-than-scintillating NFC East is always within reach.

An excellent, in-depth analysis from Over The Cap of the Eagles’ salary cap situation going into the offseason.

The Eagles big runs in free agency generally have not been a big success so I think the fact that they are spending so much to keep their current players in place gives us an idea as to what they are planning this year- a focus on the mid tier talent to fill the roster and finding the impact player in the draft. They already have, by my estimates, the highest salary spent on a roster and it will be hard to catch them if they extend both [Fletcher] Cox and [Sam] Bradford. That’s a pretty solid justification for not doing the Byron Maxwell type contracts this year.

If Bradford leaves that probably puts the Eagles into the market for Chase Daniel or a similar low cost player with a bit of upside. There is the rumor that the Eagles are considered bringing back Nick Foles who they traded to the Rams last year. Foles would cost the team $7.75 million if they acquired him which would be an affordable option. I could see the logic in that even though Foles was so bad for the Rams last year. He is familiar with the organization and one year at $8 million is probably a better value that Bradford at $16. There is also no long term commitment with Foles.

The one position I think they will target in free agency is guard. Given who the coach is it sees logical that they will be linked to Jeff Allen in free agency. Alex Boone and Ramon Foster would be two other names that might provide value at a reasonable price. With all the money they have invested in DeMarco Murray they have to improve their interior line play so this to me is their number 1 priority. Would they bring back Evan Mathis and blame all of that situation on Chip? Stranger things have happened.

Fran Duffy parses out Schwartz’s attacking defense over at PhiladelphiaEagles.com, a must-read for those interested in understanding what’s to come this fall.

Every team in the league utilizes some fronts that deploy an edge player in a Wide 9 technique, meaning that he is lined up a full gap away from where the tight end would line up before the snap. The Eagles, under Bill Davis, utilized the Wide 9 technique. The Denver Broncos have done the same under Wade Phillips, the New England Patriots with Bill Belichick and the Steelers with Mike Tomlin, yes, all use defensive ends or linebackers as 9-technique players at different points throughout a game.

So if Schwartz’s scheme isn’t called a Wide 9, then what is it? He explained it best upon his arrival, calling it an “attack” defense. Regardless of what front they line up in (and after watching his defenses in 2013 and 2014 I saw pretty much every defensive front in the book), they’re going to come at you as an offense. What is the calling card of the scheme? After watching the tape, there were two main themes I came away with. First, Schwartz wants to unleash the four-man defensive line. Second, he wants to eliminate what you do best as an offense. I’m going to split this piece up under that umbrella, showing you plays that explain both central themes of this scheme.

The inherent problem with Kelly’s three years in Philadelphia, writes the Daily News’ Marcus Hayes, is that he didn’t understand the team’s family environment.

For a franchise that blossomed under a father figure such as Andy Reid, Kelly’s abruptness and dismissiveness hindered him. When Kelly unseated homegrown favorite Howie Roseman as general manager, he betrayed the sense of togetherness owner Jeffrey Lurie spent 20 years fostering.

That did not make the atmosphere at the NovaCare Center insufferable, just uncomfortable. Every NFL team reflects the essence of its head coach, who presents himself to the public at least four times a week. As such, every head coach is expected to nurture the brand.

Kelly simply refused.


Tommy Lawlor is still searching for a definitive attitude and agenda from Pederson as we head into the first offseason of his regime.

When Andy Reid took over the Eagles in 1999, he wanted to build a program. He wanted a young core of players that could be good for a long time. He wasn’t on a youth movement to some extreme level. He mixed in some vets with young players. He wanted to win, but had a 5-year plan and always kept the big picture in focus.

When Chip Kelly took over the Eagles in 2013, he never really announced his intentions. He wanted to win right away, but had 4 rookies starting or playing key roles. He never really talked about long term plans, which makes some sense with him coming from college. There, every year and every team is different.

Doug Pederson has mentioned wanting to compete right away, but he’s also talked about adding a young QB to develop. Beyond that, he hasn’t really given us a good feel for his vision.