Doug Pederson is all ears. His players talk, the Eagles coach listens.
Nick Foles mentioned to Pederson that he thought the best play call on fourth-and-goal from the Chicago Bears’ 2-yard line would be a sprint out, because Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio was known for bringing everybody on a blitz in a big spot.
There was no bigger spot than fourth-and-goal from the 2 with the clock ticking toward one minute to play in the final quarter of a game the Eagles trailed 15-10 on Sunday.
Foles knew it and suggested a play to Pederson.
The coach agreed, and the play worked like a charm, with Foles hitting Golden Tate for a two-yard touchdown that provided the game-winning points in a 16-15 win.
It was also Foles who suggested the Philly Special in Super Bowl LII, as we all know now.
Pederson listens because he seemingly has on ego. He doesn’t have to be the one always in control.
It’s sort of new-wave thinking in the NFL, where a lot of today’s coaches remain control freaks. Not Pederson.
You could say he is the anti-Chip Kelly, but there are plenty of coaches like Kelly, who must do things their way or it's the proverbial highway.
“At the end of the day, they are playing the game, not me,” said Pederson on Monday. “I'm over on the sideline where it's a little more relaxed. They are the ones out there playing, and so it does come from learning and watching through my days of playing and being a backup and watching the starter, whoever it was, talking with the coordinator, talking with the position coach on the sideline, the offensive line coach with protections, whatever it is, and just having that conversation.”
Pederson’s all-ears approach has even trickled down to defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who listened to Malcolm Jenkins earlier this season when Jenkins thought the game plan was too complex during a game where many in the Eagles’ secondary were still learning the defense after being thrust into playing roles with the larger number of injuries that had occurred on the back end.
“I think things are changing for us, anyway,” said Pederson. “I'd say back in those days - too, it was more about the coaches making the decision and players just fall in line. But listen, I learned, too, that players make plays and they are the ones out there and if I don't show that I trust my guys, then they will turn in a hurry and so I have to make sure that I'm trusting them. As long as what they are saying is right and it's matching up to what we are seeing as coaches, then we can go forward.”