Eagles Wake-Up Call: Pederson And the Chain Of Command
There was a moment this spring when the coordinators strayed a bit off message.
Nothing earth-shattering, and it was twisted a turn or two to produce greater theatre, but the lack of uniformity was noteworthy nonetheless.
The line of questioning was related to Carson Wentz‘s status. Having dealt with a relatively similar situation with then-rookie Matthew Stafford back in his Detroit days, Jim Schwartz said the key to bringing along a young quarterback is to not “predetermine the results of the race” and let the quarterback competition play out on the field. Frank Reich, when asked if Sam Bradford was the clear No. 1, said that’s “probably not the right impression” while speaking to the importance of competition. Neither comment fell totally in line with Pederson, who has stated plainly since taking the job that Bradford is the designated No.1. Even so, he did not feel compelled to a speak to Schwartz or Reich about their remarks after the fact.
“I didn’t think it was necessary,” he told reporters prior to the summer break. “I just felt like it was something that I knew exactly where Jim was coming from, I knew exactly where Frank was coming from, it’s one of those things where I knew I was coming back last Friday to talk again and I knew I was going to get asked and I could set it straight again. And that’s OK, that’s OK. My message needs to be clear, not only to you guys but to the staff and that’s where we’re at.”
No harm done, but it’s probably a good idea that the assistants’ comments more strongly support Pederson’s moving forward. This is a green first-year head coach attempting to assume authority over a group of 53, after all, and there’s no need to create tiny cracks from which doubt could spring.
The dynamic between head coach and defensive coordinator in particular is perhaps one of the more underplayed story lines entering the 2016 season. Schwartz has been coaching in this league for 23 years. Pederson got started in 2009. Schwartz has NFL head coaching experience. Pederson does not. Schwartz has a big personality and a bit of an imposing presence. Pederson, while we’re still learning about him, comes off as more laid back.
With an alpha male directly under him, how does Pederson make sure that the hierarchy remains such that he continues to be the authority figure?
“I think one thing that goes back to the conversation Jim and I had before I hired him. There were certain questions I asked about that,” said Pederson. “He fully understands his role, his situation. He loves where he’s at as a coordinator. He did the head coaching thing, he understands it. It’s a great resource for myself to have a guy like Jim on this coaching staff. He understands, he knows. He respects that. He knows that my message to the team is also directed toward the staff and they’re going to say the same thing.”
Do you have to continue to coach your staff?
“Yeah, you just have to teach each week, each day,” said Pederson. “You have to continue to, `Hey, I’m going out and I’m going to say this. Let’s make sure we’re saying these things and we’re all on the same page.’ But yeah, he’s a great resource for me. I love having him. I love his alpha dog mentality on the field. I think it’s going to pay off.”
Right after officially getting hired, Schwartz pointed to the benefit of having different personality types on a coaching staff in the name of variety and balance. It certainly could be a blessing for Pederson to be armed with a bold defensive coordinator with some head coaching experience.
How successful the pairing will be will in part depend on whether Schwartz stays in his lane, and if Pederson is a strong enough leader to maintain the natural chain of command.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Pederson wants access to the defensive side of the ball in 2016.
Philadelphia District Attorney Seth Williams will not press sexual assault charges against wide receiver Nelson Agholor.
“Evaluating a young quarterback, you can see a lot during the course of the week. Do you want him to go play well on game day? Yeah, you want him to play well.” Pederson on developing Carson Wentz.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Zach Berman of the Inquirer writes about the quarterback situation, especially revolving around Wentz.
More than anything this spring, Pederson was emphatic about the order at quarterback. It remained a hot topic throughout the offseason program, and considering the investment the Eagles made in Wentz, it will likely continue as there’s more exposure to Wentz’s development and how [Sam] Bradford performs.
But Pederson has never swayed from his desire to have Bradford as the starter, Daniel as the backup, and Wentz developing as the third-string quarterback. And unless injury or performance changes opinions in August, Wentz will not likely be eligible to enter the game in Week 1.
“I wanted Sam on this roster way back even when I was hired,” Pederson said. “One of the first things I did was evaluate his game last year and really liked what I saw. All intentions were, and are, he comes in being the No. 1, being the starter. My feelings haven’t changed there whatsoever.”
Dick Vermeil, along with Ron Jaworski, remember the late Marion Campbell, writes Paul Domowitch of the Daily News.
“His head coaching experience (with the Eagles and twice with the Atlanta Falcons) never was what it could have been because he was always taking over for somebody who left or got fired,” Vermeil said Monday. “His teams were always run down.
“Guys like Charlie Johnson and Claude Humphrey were gone. Most of the linebackers were either gone or near the end of their careers. And we didn’t have the kids to replace them because of the draft picks we didn’t have when we first got there.”
Thanks to the previous regime’s fondness for trading away draft picks for veterans, the Eagles didn’t have a first- or second-round pick in Vermeil’s first three seasons in Philly. They also didn’t have a third-round pick his first year, or a third or fourth his second year.
Campbell, an All-Pro defensive lineman on the Eagles’ 1960 championship team, had done a masterful job as Vermeil’s defensive lieutenant, particularly without those draft choices. His unit finished in the top 10 in points allowed five straight years, including first in 1980 and 1981.
Due to the Olympics on NBC, the first two Eagles preseason games will be aired on Cozi TV.
You can tune into Cozi TV to watch the Eagles preseason opener at Lincoln Financial Field on Aug. 11 against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Eagles’ Aug. 18 game against the Steelers in Pittsburgh. Both games are at 7 p.m.
You can watch the games in their entirety on Cozi-TV:
- Comcast – channel 248
- Verizon – 460
- RCN Corp – 28
- Service Electric – 110, 114
- Cablevision 109, 688
- Armstrong -92
- Over the air – 10.2
More from Pederson’s sit-down with reporters.
Chris Jastrzembski contributed to this post.