The gift basket sat there ready to be greeted. Inside were Tastykakes, presumably a staple such as butterscotch krimpets, or chocolate cupcakes with filling, or peanut butter kandy kakes. There was sure to be some form of pretzel, and other assorted Philadelphia trinkets and snacks. There was one for Carson Wentz on April 28th 2016, draft day.
And before that, there was one for Ben McAdoo on January 13th.
A similar basket, almost certainly the same one, then awaited Doug Pederson on the 18th.
There’s an alternate reality where McAdoo is preparing to face his former team on Sunday. Would the game would have such a stark contrast in teams?
McAdoo oversaw the stalest offense in the league, 27th in points for and with a season high of 24 points scored. No other team this year has a high that is so low. His best output as a head coach is 28 points. (Both “highs” were against the Eagles.) On top of his lack of tactical acumen, McAdoo lost the locker room in spectacular fashion. He benched Eli Apple for disciplinary reasons, then suspended Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie and Janoris Jenkins under similar circumstances. With one foot already out the door, he stumbled to the ground ass backwards by benching Eli Manning. One wonders what “emotional intelligence” the Eagles saw in him.
Meanwhile, Pederson has produced of the league’s best offenses, 1st in points for, scoring 30+ points 8 times, and more than 24 points 11 times. Winning cures all ills, but Pederson’s locker room is as tight knit as any. It helps to have had an MVP candidate at quarterback.
If Ben McAdoo had accepted the Eagles offer, he wouldn’t have a top scoring offense. He might not have even had Carson Wentz.
Doug Pederson put together a staff that has seen it all when it comes to quarterbacks. He, offensive coordinator Frank Reich and quarterback coach John DeFilippo played with or coached the complete range of talent, from Peyton Manning, Brett Favre, Dan Marino, Jim Kelly, Boomer Esiason, Donovan McNabb, and Philip Rivers at the top, to Johnny Manziel and JaMarcus Russell at the bottom, and plenty in between. Intangibles are, by their definition, impossible to be seen, but if the experiences of that staff couldn’t detect them, then no one can. McAdoo, to his credit, worked with Drew Brees, Brett Favre, Aaron Rodgers, and Eli Manning, but only coached day in and day out the latter two. The staff he assembled in New York have resumes distinctly less impressive than Pederson’s assistants.
This mattered when the team was zeroing in on Wentz as the guy they had to draft. Pederson and Reich have talked at length about how impressed they were by Wentz as a player and a person. The coaches weren’t calling the shots in the front office, but it’s hard to imagine they didn’t play a role. You don’t hire two former NFL QBs and a well respected QB coach and discard their input.
Would Ben McAdoo and the Eagles have fallen in love with Wentz as well?
There’s no guarantee he would have. Jeff Fisher and the Rams and Hue Jackson and the Browns certainly didn’t, and McAdoo’s work this season puts him in the conversation of being on a level with those coaches. What if he had preferred Paxton Lynch? Pederson wanted nothing to do with Lynch, but the Cowboys and Broncos did. As many teams wanted Lynch as didn’t want Wentz, it’s not a long leap to imagine that a McAdoo-coached Eagles would prefer him. Or what if McAdoo, whose entire NFL career, save for one season as an OL coach, was with veteran QBs, wanted to ride with Sam Bradford?
McAdoo’s decision to bench Manning for Geno Smith doesn’t inspire any confidence he would have gotten the QB decision right in 2016, and the enormous steps backwards the Giants took this season give no faith that in a world where Ben McAdoo is coaching Carson Wentz that Wentz turns into one of the best QBs in 2017.
There’s an alternative reality where not only is Ben McAdoo the Eagles head coach, but that Carson Wentz isn’t the franchise, or isn’t even on it. Fortunately for the Eagles, the team and the gift basket ended up in different hands.