Alright, so a couple of years ago, we here at FAM wrote an article grading the NFL head coaching hires that occurred after the 2015 season. Then, we revisited that article about a year ago, updating how those coaches were doing and gave a revised grade based on what they had done so far.
Now, we find ourselves on the precipice of Super Bowl LII (that’s 52, for those of you who are too doplic to understand Roman numerals) and one of those coaches who we roasted in our original article has now taken his team all the way to the brink of the Promised Land. Because FAM likes to fancy itself a reflective entity who can admit when it’s made a mistake, we’d like to revisit one last time to eat a hearty helping of crow.
Doug Pederson’s first year as Philadelphia Eagles head coach in 2016 was uneventful-ish. The Iggles drafted future franchise QB Carson Wentz with the 2nd overall pick prior to the season, but it was unclear as to how much, if at all, Wentz would play that season while recovering from injury and trying to make the harsh transition from D2 South Dakota State to the NFL. But Wentz, despite suffering a rib injury in the preseason, showed the Eagles enough to prompt them to trade oft-injured incumbent Sam Bradford, clearing the way for Wentz to take the controls.
As we discussed in our revisit piece last January, Wentz, Pederson and the Eagles finished their first campaign together at 7-9. Their division was tough, and Wentz turned the ball over a lot, but you could see the glimmer of hope. Still, Pederson and Wentz as a tandem were inexperienced and it seemed reasonable to believe that the 2017 season would be spent further fine tuning in preparation for perhaps making a real run at being competitive in 2018 and beyond. Little did we know…
Enter the 2017 season: Carson Wentz comes out under Pederson’s tutelage and just carves up the NFL. Through 13 starts, Wentz tossed for 3,296 yards and 33 TDs against just 7 interceptions while the Eagles amassed an NFC-leading 10-3 record. Then, during week 14, disaster struck and Wentz tore his ACL while diving for a touchdown against the Rams. Things looked lost for the Eagles at that point, despite a soft remaining schedule, as backup QB Nick Foles had seen very little success in recent seasons and was almost out of the game completely 18 months earlier.
Pederson, however, seemingly had a plan. He adjusted the Eagles offense and with Foles at the helm, has managed to go 5-0 without Wentz including two NFC playoff victories that concluded with a rout of the NFC North champion Vikings in the conference championship game. Now, that head coach who we initially gave an F grade, is heading to the Super Bowl with his back up QB, trying to bring Philadelphia their first Lombardi Trophy.
The odds may be stacked against them, going against Brady and crew, but regardless of the outcome of the Super Bowl, FAM was wrong about Doug Pederson and the future looks bright in the City of Brotherly Love.
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