Doug Pederson approached the podium on Saturday morning, about an hour before the start of one of the final practices leading up to hosting the Washington Redskins on Monday Night Football, holding what looked like his game-plan script, with multiple markings in various colors on a folded-over thick sheet of paper.
Asked about it, the Eagles coach said, “You won’t be able to decipher it. It’s all runs by the way, no passes on here.”
He was joking, of course, but it shows you he is in touch with what is being vocalized by the team’s fan base about how he doesn’t run the ball enough and having to answer questions from the media about his run-pass ratio that sometimes seems to go out of whack.
That’s the thing about the Eagles head coach. He’s always the same guy.
Last year at this time his team was on its way to the Super Bowl, posting a 16-3 record along the way. It was easy to laugh and joke then.
This year, his team hasn’t had the season everyone expected and, at 5-6, are a longshot to win the NFC East and make the playoffs.
Yet, Pederson still is able to laugh and have fun. Are there moments he outwardly shows an irritable side? Sure, he grew weary of the questions about when quarterback Carson Wentz was returning back in training camp at the start of the season.
But he never appears tight or tense about much during a game week.
A recent example were the days after the Eagles lost on Sunday night to the Dallas Cowboys and were headed to New Orleans to play a Saints team that, at the time, had won eight games in a row. It could have easily taken on a feeling of being led to the guillotine, but Pederson never showed that.
As he and some of his coaches made their way from the inside practice bubble to the locker room area, Pederson walked on the sidewalk lined with media waiting to get into the facility, he gave high-fives to some of them then said low-five as he approached others. He was smiling the whole time. You never would have guessed his team was listing badly.
Pederson talked about how he is able to remain as even-keeled as he does through the ups and downs of an NFL season. He credit his faith, and spending time alone each morning reading Scripture. He credited his parents, too. They would seem obvious.
Pederson, though, credited his decades spent in the NFL as another big reason.
“I think the other thing is being around this game for so long, there are so many ups and down it can drive you nuts if you let it,” he said. “You try to maintain that evenness mentality. I think that was probably back early in my career as a quarterback, you just never want your opponent to see you sweat.
“You want to stay calm, don’t show your emotions, and I think that’s been a big part of kind of who I am, kind of shaped me a little bit. And I try not to let too many things affect me on the outside even though they might internally, so I don’t let you guys get to me very often.”