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Doug Pederson is the last man standing from the 2016 coaching class, and for good reason

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From worst to first

NFL: Super Bowl LII-Philadelphia Eagles vs New England Patriots Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

The Miami Dolphins fired Adam Gase today, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers fired Dirk Koetter yesterday, ending the tenure of the last of Doug Pederson’s peers. In 2016 seven teams changed coaches, and all of them except for Doug Pederson have been fired. Pederson won the Super Bowl, and will coach this weekend defending it.

Adam Gase was the hot candidate, having been Peyton Manning’s play caller in his record breaking 2013 season and then in 2015 coaching Jay Cutler to his most efficient season during a year where all but two starters on offense were injured. The Eagles had expressed interest in interviewing him, but he signed with Miami before they could meet.

After seemingly resurrecting Eli Manning’s career, Ben McAdoo was another hot candidate, and had so impressed the Eagles that he was supposedly their top choice, but he stayed with the Giants, and he bombed. What could have happened.

Hue Jackson was favored by quite a few, but never even got an interview. In Cleveland he was nothing short of an embarassment.

Mike Mularkey was a questionable hire at the time, having been fired in Jacksonville after one season and then going 2-7 as the Titans interim head coach. The Titans kept him on and he was so bad he was fired after a playoff win.

Dirk Koetter was a bad hire at the time, having been a mediocre college head coach and NFL offensive coordinator. Rather than risk losing him, the Bucs elevated him after Jameis Winstons’ fine rookie season, this year Koetter benched Winston.

Chip Kelly lasted one season in San Francisco after going winless against everyone that wasn’t Jeff Fisher.

And then there’s Doug Pederson. Pederson was easily the least popular of the 2016 hires. NFL.com, ESPN, and Rotoworld all called Pederson the worst hire of the year. Michael Lombardi, the guy who made Rob Chudzinski a head coach, famously criticized the hire a year later.

In fairness, criticisms about Pederson being an uninspiring hire weren’t wrong. Few were fired up about hiring a coach who had been coaching in the NFL for only seven seasons, had no real playcalling experience, and was best known to fans as a terrible player. There wasn’t much to judge Pederson on besides being an Andy Reid assistant, which has had its hits and misses. But the level of inspiration of a hire doesn’t mean anything. When Bill Belichick was hired in New England, the reaction was largely “why?”. Andy Reid’s hire in Philadelphia was not well received either. Every year a coach who was a hot candidate is fired for being a bad head coach. There’s really no way to know who is a good head coach until they’re a head coach.

While his peers were getting canned, Doug Pederson won a Super Bowl and single-handedly change the league’s attitude towards fourth down attempts. Not bad for the worst hire of 2016.