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Eagles News: Here comes Doug Pederson’s first challenge

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Time for the rookie coach to show his mettle.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Detroit Lions Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports

Eagles news and notes for 10/20

Ford: The Eagles need Pederson to show he can lead them - Inquirer

It's easy to say that this wasn't supposed to be much of a season, anyway, but it is still a trial run for the head coach. How he handles success and how he handles failure, how he keeps the locker room together and how he instructs his staff to adjust, all of those things are being measured by the players, the front office and the fan base. Maybe this isn't a season in which the Eagles are expected to look like championship contenders, but it is a season in which Pederson is expected to look like a head coach.

His first major in-season challenge was replacing Lane Johnson, and that wasn't a roaring success on Sunday. There is a school of thought that Pederson was instructed to go with Halapoulivaati Vaitai because the front office wants to get a firm sense of whether the fifth-round draft pick can develop into the starting right tackle of some gauzy future in which Johnson moves to the left side, assuming he doesn't eat horse tranquilizers back in Oklahoma in the interim.

Perhaps, but taking Pederson at his word, the decision was made because Vaitai was considered the best option; better than moving Alan Barbre to right tackle and inserting Stefen Wisneiwski at left guard, better than simply subbing Matt Tobin at right tackle and leaving Barbre where he is.

It's fine they gave that a try, but seeing Vaitai's struggles, and the extent to which Pederson had to steal from his offense to help the rookie, staying with the plan is perilous. Devising a strategy that doesn't work happens. Repeating it isn't advised. Giving Vaitai one more week is acceptable, but if there is no improvement the locker room will expect Pederson to take charge.

Sam Bradford reflects on his time with the Eagles - Birds 24/7

Sam Bradford had just woken up around 8 a.m. on September 3 when Doug Pederson called to say the Eagles were trading him to the Vikings. Bradford was in Oklahoma with his wife, Emma, as the two planned to hang out at home and watch the Sooners open their season against Houston.

But by that afternoon, Bradford was on a plane to Minnesota to join the Vikings and learn his sixth offense in seven years.

“It was completely off my radar. It just wasn’t something I was even thinking about. When I got that phone call on Saturday morning, I did a little double take and I was like, ‘What?'” Bradford said on a conference call with Eagles reporters Wednesday afternoon. “It happened so fast that I didn’t really have time to process it. I honestly still haven’t sat down and thought it all the way through.

“I was really excited to be in Philly this year. I thought we had a really good preseason. I was excited to build on what we had did in the second half of last year. When you’re around the same people for a year and a half and you put the time in to develop those relationships on and off the field and then it just comes to an end without really having a chance to say goodbye or to go out on the field one last time to play with those guys, I think there’s always a little part of you that’s down about that. But I’ve seen a lot in seven years and I’ve learned to expect the unexpected.”

Bradford is off to a fast start in Minnesota as he’s helped the Vikings to a 5-0 record. In four starts, he’s thrown six touchdown passes and zero interceptions while leading the league in completion percentage (70.4) and ranking second in passer rating (109.8).

Eagles prep for old friend Sam Bradford, but who really has the advantage? - PhillyVoice

I doubt Sun Tzu had Sunday's matchup between the Eagles and Vikings in mind when he wrote The Art of War – and specifically one the book's major tenets, the one that states "if you know your enemy and know yourself, then you need not fear the outcome of a thousand battles."

After spending all of last season and, more importantly, the entire 2016 offseason in Philadelphia, Sam Bradford knows his opponent. On Monday, head coach Doug Pederson shrugged off the notion that Bradford's familiarity with his system would be a problem when the undefeated Vikings come to town this weekend.

To some extent, he's correct. Bradford knows the offense, but only as it was constructed back when he was slated to be the starting quarterback.

As Carson Wentz said on Wednesday, they're going to be mixing up some pre-snap looks. In fact, the offense began to change the minute Howie Roseman decided to pull the trigger on the trade that sent Bradford to the Vikings in exchange for a first-round pick.

Donnellon: Revised look at how Eagles’ season will play out - Daily News

Revamp those dire preseason predictions, based on an unproven rookie quarterback, the impending suspension of your starting right tackle, and a suspect secondary.

Revamp the pie-in-the sky expectations emanating from a 3-0 start, including a one-sided affair against a Pittsburgh team poised for a Super Bowl run.

I believe two things after the Eagles' two-game thud back to earth. I believe they will not be the mistake-prone team going forward that they have been since their ill-timed bye. And I believe they will, as Doug Pederson assures us, figure out a way to more effectively offset Lane Johnson's suspension in the weeks to come.

What does it mean? A 9-7 season is doable I think. A wild-card spot, if they're a little luckier, a just-miss building block of a season if they're not.

Anyway, on a day in which we all just take a deep breath, here's how I see the rest of the schedule playing out.

* Minnesota (loss, 3-3). Three of the Vikings' five wins were at home, including close ones over Green Bay and Houston. The Vikings have the league's best defense, limiting opponents to 12.6 points per game. The Birds' offense has been more effective at Lincoln Financial Field, where their rookie quarterback can more easily check in and out of plays, using words, not motions.Revamp those dire preseason predictions, based on an unproven rookie quarterback, the impending suspension of your starting right tackle, and a suspect secondary.