Reasonable Expectations For Doug Pederson
Dating back to the hiring of the late Buddy Ryan in 1986, the Eagles have had one head coach with prior head coaching experience in either the pro or college ranks. That was Chip Kelly in 2013, when he entered the league out of Oregon.
Out of the four previous rookie head coaches, Ryan and Andy Reid recorded five wins in their first season and missed the playoffs. On the other hand, Rich Kotite and Ray Rhodes both went 10-6 in their rookie years, while Rhodes made the playoffs.
With Kelly being fired before the end of the 2015 season, the Eagles were back on the coaching search. Unlike popular candidates such as Adam Gase and Ben McAdoo, Pederson does not have a ton of coaching experience in the NFL, as he started his coaching career in 2009 under Reid, before following him to Kansas City four years later.
Now, Pederson faces his biggest test in his football career as the head coach of a team hungry for a championship. But with a not-so-talented team and fans with varying patience levels, what are some realistic expectations for Pederson?
Out of all the current 32 head coaches in the NFL, 24 of them had no previous professional or collegiate head coaching experience. With three rookie coaches entering this year, the other 21 averaged about 7.95 wins in their first season. Outliers include Baltimore’s John Harbaugh, New Orleans’ Sean Payton, Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, New York Jets’ Todd Bowles — all of whom had 10 wins — and Indianapolis’ Chuck Pagano, who had 11 wins. Only Payton and Tomlin won division titles in their first year.
Let’s compare some other coaches in their first year in the league that never had any previous head coaching experience:
1. Dan Quinn – Atlanta Falcons
Rookie season: 2015
Record: 8-8 (2nd in NFC South) – Missed Playoffs
Since: Entering 2nd season
2. John Harbaugh – Baltimore
Rookie season: 2008
Record: 11-5 (2nd in AFC North) – Lost to Steelers in AFC Championship Game
Since: Qualified for playoffs in seven of nine seasons, won Super Bowl XLVII in 2012
3. Jason Garrett – Dallas
Rookie season: 2010
Record: 5-3 (Interim – 3rd in NFC East) – Missed Playoffs
1st full season: 2011
Record: 8-8 (3rd in NFC East) – Missed Playoffs
Since: 1 playoff appearance and NFC East title (2014 – lost to Green Bay in NFC Divisional Playoffs)
4. Gary Kubiak – Denver
Rookie season: 2006 (Houston)
Record: 6-10 (4th in AFC South) – Missed Playoffs
Since: 7 more seasons in Houston (2 AFC South titles), lost in Divisional Round twice, fired after 2013; Hired by Denver in 2015, won Super Bowl 50, entering 2nd season with Broncos
5. Mike McCarthy – Green Bay
Rookie season: 2006
Record: 8-8 (2nd in NFC North) – Missed Playoffs
Since: 9 more seasons in Green Bay (8 playoff appearances and 5 NFC North titles), won Super Bowl XLV in 2010
6. Andy Reid – Kansas City
Rookie season: 1999 (Philadelphia)
Record: 5-11 (5th in NFC East) – Missed Playoffs
Since: 13 more seasons in Philly (9 playoff appearances and 6 NFC East titles), NFC Championship in 2004, followed by three seasons in Kansas City (2 playoff appearances), entering 4th season with Chiefs
7. Sean Payton – New Orleans
Rookie season: 2006
Record: 10-6 (NFC South Champs) – Lost to Chicago in NFC Championship
Since: 8 more seasons in New Orleans (missed 2012 due to Bountygate; 4 playoff appearances, 2 more NFC South titles), won Super Bowl XLIV, entering 10th coaching season (11th overall)
8. Mike Tomlin – Pittsburgh
Rookie season: 2007
Record: 10-6 (AFC North Champs) – Lost to Jacksonville in Wild Card
Since: 8 more seasons in Pittsburgh (5 playoff appearances, 3 more AFC North titles), 2 AFC Championships, won Super Bowl XLIII in 2nd season, entering 10th season with Steelers
9. Mike McCoy – San Diego
Rookie season: 2013
Record: 9-7 (3rd in AFC West) – Lost to Denver in AFC Divisional Round
Since: 2 more seasons in San Diego (no playoff appearances), entering 4th season with Chargers
Reid and Kubiak’s rookie years look to be reasonable expectations for what to expect in Pederson’s rookie season. Both teams had double-digit losses and finished last in their respective divisions. The current Eagles roster resembles Houston’s a little more, as the Texans had some more youth and talent than the Eagles did.
Pederson does have a lack of experience compared to many current coaches. He was an offensive coordinator for just three seasons in Kansas City and a quarterbacks coach for two seasons. He does have some head coaching experience in high school at Calvary Baptist Academy in Louisiana.
Historically speaking, Pederson should win at least seven games in his rookie season in Philly.