AFC Coaches Roundup: Harbaugh Talks Pederson

Doug Pederson. (USA Today Sports)

Doug Pederson. (USA Today Sports)

BOCA RATON, FL — A wide-eyed  John Harbaugh grew more and more animated as he recounted a tale about one special teams play from way back in 1999 to sum up his thoughts on the make-up of Doug Pederson. 

“OK, so Andy’s first year, my first game with Coach Reid against Arizona in the opener. [I was] the special teams coach…So we had a kicker, Norm Johnson. Norm, I apologize for telling this story. Norm’s one of greatest guys ever. But we had a hurry-up field goal at the end of the game with the clock running down.

“So Norm wandered off somehow and you couldn’t find him so we go, ‘Field goal! Field goal’ And the whole field goal team runs out there. Doug was the holder. They line it up just perfect, bam, we’re locked in there. Everyone looks around…Where is the kicker? The kicker is not out there. So here comes Norm, circles everybody, comes running out, running, running, the clock is running down, ‘Three, two, one,’ and on the run he kicks the field goal…wide left. Just barely missed it.

“Doug Pederson to me, poise under pressure. He had poise under pressure in that situation. Great guy, and I think it’s a great hire.”

No surprise that a fellow coach in the Andy Reid fraternity would speak well of another, and it was certainly expected when Reid himself offered further endorsement of Pederson during a conference call with reporters on Tuesday. (Reid is not in attendance. He is dealing with an infection in the leg that he is scheduled to have knee replacement surgery on, so he’s sitting these offseason functions out.)

“[The Eagles] asked me about Doug and I thought that Doug was ready to be a head coach. He had kind of done everything he could do here. I hated losing him because of our relationship but I am happy and proud of him for the opportunity he has to lead the Birds there,” said Reid.

As he moved away from Chip Kelly and started anew, Jeffrey Lurie made it a point to stress how important it is for a coach to have “emotional intelligence”. Reid was asked for his interpretation, and whether Pederson is the type to “open his heart” to the players.

“You have relationships with these guys. You’re dealing with a lot of different issues. These are human beings and so there are real life things that come up that you have to deal with. And part of that emotional intelligence comes back to that — you’ve gotta be able to handle that a certain way, be real with it but still be the man in charge there. So there’s a fine line on how you do that. I think Doug possesses that ability to be able to do that.”

Reid also called himself a Chase Daniel fan, and said he thinks he can be a starter in the NFL.

— There is interest league-wide in what Cleveland will do with the No. 2 overall pick this April. Do they take one of the quarterbacks in hopes of stabilizing that position long-term? Or do they go with a veteran like Colin Kaepernick or RGIII and address another position of need in the first round?

“I feel comfortable whichever way all of this goes that we’ll be OK offensively,” said Hue Jackson. “But I think we all know and recognize that we are trying to find a quarterback.”

Jackson will check out Carson Wentz at his pro day later this week. “He looks the part. He has all the attributes that you look for,” but added that he needs to spend time with him before he can get a true feel for him.

He’s already had exposure to Jared Goff — saying that he’s spent “quite a bit of private time with him” — and seemed to light up when he talked about him.

“I thought the guy threw the ball tremendously [at his workout]. For a big guy he is more athletic than people think. He has quick feet, he obviously has a quick release. What I’ve seen on videotape to go along with the workout is that he has tremendous poise in the pocket; he is a young man that can keep his eyes downfield when people are bearing down on him. And to me that’s an unbelievable asset — a lot of people can’t do that.”

Jackson added that Goff has had to go through a “reboot” in college as he likely would with the Browns, and seemed to find that potentially beneficial. And it doesn’t hurt that Jackson has a soft spot for Cal, where he spent time as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

“Go Bears,” he said.