When Doug Pederson was hired to replace Chip Kelly as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles on Jan. 18, 2016, there were a lot of naysayers due to his lack of experience.
But Pederson led the Eagles to the big dance against the New England Patriots by crushing the Minnesota Vikings at the NFC championships despite the multiple injuries to the quarterback, left tackle and linebacker.
His reward? Facing Bill Belichick, Tom Brady and a team that won two of the last three Super Bowls.
Pederson said that he’s aware of the challenge ahead.
“These guys have been there. They’ve done it,” he said “They’ve proven it time and time again. My biggest focus with the team is let’s just focus on today. Let’s just win today.”
He said that if they take it one game at a time, then they will not be caught up in the moment.
But Pederson seems to be practicing what he preaches as Chris Long, the Eagles defensive end, described as “so even-keeled.”
Long said that the former offensive coordinator for the Kansas Chiefs and a quarterback for the Eagles back in 1999 is “kind of unflappable.”
“There are a lot of panic guys in this league, but he’s not a panic guy. That really helps, because it sets the tone for players to be the same way,” Long said.
Long’s observation is proven when the Eagles lost its starting quarterback, Carson Wentz, in Week 14. That means Pederson had to work with understudy Nick Foles who led the team in the blowout against the Vikings. Foles finished the game with three touchdowns, and 26-33 passes for 352 yards.
Pederson said that the trick is not to get too caught up in the mystique of the Patriots despite the dominance of their opponents in the last 15 years.
“You know what? If I make this all about them, we’re in trouble,” he said. “It’s about what we do and how well we execute, and I can’t worry about that.”