Pederson On the Importance Of Playing Experience

Doug Pederson and Sam Bradford. (Jeff Fusco)

Doug Pederson and Sam Bradford. (Jeff Fusco)

When Doug Pederson bounced around the NFL as a backup quarterback, his experiences subtly shaped his future coaching career he didn’t yet know he would have. He viewed players’ relationships with their position coaches as critically important, and now that he’s elevated all of the way up the ladder, he wants his players to have some type of a bond with their head coach as well.

“Back when I played, the head coach was kind of more like up here. I don’t want to be up here. I want to be right down here with the guys,” Pederson said. “I feel it’s important to have those relationships with the players. You’re not going to have them with all 90 guys on your roster, but you’re going to have them with the majority of the guys each and every day, and you walk around practice and you talk to them and it doesn’t have to be football-related. That’s the beauty of this thing. I get to talk to them one-on-one every single day, find out how they’re doing.”

Pederson’s approach to player relationships sits in sharp contrast with Chip Kelly‘s, which is no surprise after Jeffrey Lurie made it clear he wanted a new head coach with a different approach. Pederson’s assistants have a significant amount of professional playing experience as well, and while it wasn’t a prerequisite for them to be hired, Pederson views it as a plus.

“I don’t think it’s necessarily what I looked for, but at the same time, I think it helps if you have played a position at this level,” Pederson said. “I think it helps to have played at this level, being out there when the bullets are flying for real and putting the pads on and being in that locker room. They understand the dynamic of the dressing room [and] of the locker room. They understand what it means to be a teammate, a leader on the football team.”

Pederson explained how his playing days helped him as a coach in Kansas City with Alex Smith because he could “see certain things.” He also touched on how the importance of emotional intelligence has evolved in the NFL over the years, pointing to his early interactions with players during the spring.

“I get more and more either text messages or guys just coming and wanting to say, ‘Hey!’ and talk and hit me up at practice about certain things,” Pederson said. “So it gets me to think about what the players are really kind of into and what they’re thinking about. And I think, too, that you have to listen to the players. I mean, you have to listen to them. They’re the ones out there, they’re the ones playing, they’re the ones out there grinding every day, and if you’re not listening to the players, I think you’re just kind of stalemating yourself.”