Doug Pederson, the first Eagles head coach in franchise history to bring a Super Bowl win to Philadelphia, held his final press conference of the season on Wednesday morning. One thing he said really stuck out to me.
Q. What’s your message to these guys moving forward? We’ve all seen teams win Super Bowls and then they hit the banquet circuit and they celebrate and that kind of goes into March and then you have mini-camps coming up. What is the message as far as how long to celebrate and when to start kind of thinking about next year?
COACH PEDERSON: These guys are well-deserving of everything now that they are going to be exposed to in the coming weeks and coming months. There’s a side of success that’s not the glamorous side and it’s the side that [includes questions like] who is going to hold out in OTAs? Who is going to want the next big contract? Who is going to miss ‘this’ or ‘that’ for an endorsement deal or an autograph signing? It’s the not-so-glamorous side of success. That was a little bit of the messaging this morning to the guys.
I told them, I said, “You know, if you want -- get used to this. This is the new norm in Philadelphia, playing and hopefully playing into February every year. It’s the new norm, so get used to it. Short off-seasons and let’s do that.”
The guys that want to be a part of that just will do that. They will want to be here. I think everybody does want to be here. But as you know, the nature of the business is you can’t keep everybody. It’s just the way it goes. But the ones that are here, you know, my mindset is to be back again, to do it again and to keep doing it and to keep doing it.
I hold myself accountable. I’m just like the players. I can’t accept every deal that’s out there. I can’t agree to every speaking engagement out there because my goal is to win another one. If my time is spent doing other things, then that’s not the focus, and that’s where we’re at right now as a team.
You just have to love this kind of attitude from Dougie P.
The Eagles won their first Super Bowl title in franchise history, and that’s awesome. We can all die happy now. Everyone deserves to take the time to enjoy it.
At the same time, the NFL grind truly never stops. The NFL Combine starts up in 20 days. The new league year, which marks the beginning of NFL free agency, officially begins in a little over one month from now. Soon we’ll be looking ahead to the 2018 season.
The 2017 Eagles will always be legends. But it doesn’t have to always be about just one special year. This team has the building blocks in place to be contenders over a long period of time.
Think about it. The Eagles won the Super Bowl WITHOUT an MVP caliber quarterback, a Hall of Fame left tackle, a Hall of Fame running back, a stud middle linebacker, and a special teams captain. Imagine when the team gets those guys back. Imagine giving Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas, who built a championship roster in 2017, more time to add even more pieces to this team through the draft and free agency.
Obviously, nothing is guaranteed. Success is not easy to maintain. But it’s not impossible. Just look at the team that the Eagles defeated in the Super Bowl. The Patriots have built a dynasty. Why can’t Carson Wentz and Doug Pederson be the new Tom Brady and Bill Belichick?
Winning a single title is great. But being happy with just one doesn’t fit Wentz’s unquenchable work ethic. Based on his time in North Dakota, he’s used to winning multiple titles. Plus you just know he wants to be the one playing under center in a Super Bowl win. Pederson, meanwhile, might come off as happy-go-lucky and relaxed at times, but we all know he’s a different guy on game day. He’s aggressive and locked in. He has balls of stone.
One of the best qualities about the 2017 Eagles is that they were fearless. Here’s hoping they maintain that winning attitude moving forward on their quest to build a new legendary football era in Philly.
Check out Pederson’s entire press conference transcript below.
Q. Did you treat everyone to ice cream?
COACH PEDERSON: No. It’s too expensive. (Laughter)
Q. What have the past couple days been like since Sunday?
COACH PEDERSON: It’s been a little crazy. Things are starting to settle down now, but it’s exciting. It’s a great honor. Today is a great day visiting with players and sort of wrapping up the season with them. Yeah, it’s exciting times right now.
Q. You see the smiles around the entire city. People can’t wipe the smiles off their faces—
COACH PEDERSON: Even on all of your faces.
Q. Even on our faces. How does it feel to be the guys that did that?
COACH PEDERSON: Again it’s a little surreal. I don’t think it’s fully sunk in yet. It will probably hit everybody tomorrow, seeing the excitement. My wife and I were at dinner last night and just the people keep coming up and just saying, ‘Congratulations.’ Just listening to the stories of people and their families and how they have wanted and waited for this for so many years, for us to be responsible for that joy in their lives, I mean, that’s part of what we do this for and that’s exciting.
Q. Where did you go eat?
COACH PEDERSON: Barone’s by our house there.
Q. The Philly Special, there’s been speculation that QB Nick Foles ran it in high school, the Patriots ran it years ago, and you guys made it up. Can you tell us finally where that play came from?
COACH PEDERSON: It came from the Chicago Bears 2016, [Wide Receivers Coach] Mike Groh had it -- not Mike Groh but Alshon [Jeffery] and the Bears ran it inside the five-yard line. And that’s where we got it from.
Q. Who named it the Philly Special?
COACH PEDERSON: We kind of just all collaborated on that one offensively because if not, it was going to get real wordy. So we just said, ‘You know what, let’s call it apples. No, you know what, let’s call it orange -- no, Philly Special.’ So that’s what we tagged it.
Q. Foles says that the Philly Special really shows off the relationship with the two of you with the decision to go for it. What do you feel it shows about the relationship that you have with Nick?
COACH PEDERSON: I just think it shows the trust that we have as quarterbacks and the trust that they have in me to call that play and the guys to execute it. It was the right time at the right moment, and it will be a pretty famous play I think now talked about for a long time.
Q. As far as the offseason, what sense do you have of QB Carson Wentz’s timetable and training camp realistically?
COACH PEDERSON: Talking about specific injury, I don’t want to get into a ton of that. These guys are rehabbing right now. It’s still a long way off. Still got to get through a lot of things this spring. But they are all doing well, and we’ll continue to just monitor their progress.
Q. Are there any similarities or differences between winning the Super Bowl as a player for you and as a coach?
COACH PEDERSON: I think it’s probably a little more special for me now as a coach. I just think because you’re responsible for a lot of different people: the players, the coaches, and the organization, there is a lot of responsibility there. And just honored to represent not only the Philadelphia Eagles, the organization, and [Chairman and Chief Executive Officer] Mr. [Jeffrey] Lurie, but the City of Philadelphia. It’s pretty special to do it as a coach.
Q. To clarify, were you thinking about that play before Foles came over and said it, or was it Foles who said it and that made you think of it?
COACH PEDERSON: That was a play that was in our plus-five, red-zone area. It was a play that we had discussed even the night before. You just never know when that play is going to be called. There was a lot of conversation. I had just called the time out on the play before, so we had some time to think about it and talk about it and suggest different things. There was a lot of suggestion. Nick had some suggestions, as well, when he came over to the sideline area. Then he and I ultimately agreed on the Philly Special.
Q. For a team that has no 1,000-yard rushing receiver or a ten-sack guy, and then the guys talk about how close-knit and unified they are, do you have an appreciation for how hard that is to do in the NFL in the salary cap era and put a team like this together?
COACH PEDERSON: I do. I do appreciate that. That’s exactly what I told the football team this morning. Just a lot of unselfish players. Guys could complain about not having enough targets as a receiver. I’ve told you guys this before, I’ve got two starting running backs that are sharing time and neither one of them have complained on offense. It just shows the character of the guys, the unselfishness, and the willingness to just get the job done and to win. Now they sit here today sort of reaping those rewards, and that’s what it’s all about.
Q. Is that a formula that you can try to recreate going forward or is that just going to make this team a little bit more unique?
COACH PEDERSON: It’s going to be unique to this football team. I can’t tell you what the 2018 team is going to look like because as you know, free agency is a big part of that and the draft. People come and go. So 2018 will be a lot different, but I think the messaging can be very consistent and stay along those same lines.
Q. Your relationship with Foles goes back to college. Did it sort of intensify or get kicked up a notch once he was put in to take over for Wentz?
COACH PEDERSON: Yeah it did, because he now became the starter, obviously. Having that familiarity with him helps and sort of understanding how he thinks and what he likes and things of that nature. But yeah, our relationship is -- it’s strong, obviously. We probably didn’t have that same communication that Carson and I had. Carson was constantly talking with me about the game plan and stuff, and Nick is more just call the play and let-me-execute-the-play-type-of a guy. But as we got more comfortable and as he got more comfortable with the guys, you could see his confidence just coming out each and every week and those are the things that I knew he had in him, and we saw as a staff these last couple months.
Q. Back in 2008 you were coaching high school football. When did you think you could be an NFL head coach, but not only an NFL coach, but a successful one?
COACH PEDERSON: Oh, I don’t know. I wasn’t thinking much back then about being an NFL head coach, but obviously given the opportunity to get back in the NFL and start where I did. You never know what’s going to happen. I always felt like I could be a good coordinator in this league and whether I was calling plays or not. But just, listen, my whole mentality, the reason I get into this business is to just win, just to win. I don’t care who gets the credit. I want to help a team succeed and be successful on and off the football field. It’s what I did in high school and that’s what I hope I’m doing here, and just stay humble, stay grounded, be me. Don’t change, work hard and I think good things will happen.
Q. The NFL came out and they had the mic’d up version, so we got another layer of depth in the game and you’re this mild-mannered guy, but you were out-Belichicking Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick in that game, just gutsy calls, going for it and demoralizing the defense at every turn. Where did that come from, this aggressiveness to step on their throats?
COACH PEDERSON: I think that’s been in -- that’s who I am. That’s my alter ego. That’s my evil twin, I guess, I don’t know. I mean, whatever it is. I learned that probably from my dad a little bit in his aggressiveness with us as kids growing up. I’ve always been sort of under the mindset, I want every play to score a touchdown, every play. I want every defense to lose five yards. That’s just how I approach the game. I might come off as this soft spoken guy to you guys, but inside, I want to win the game. And not at an all-costs type of expense but pretty close, pretty close.
Listen, when you’re playing the Patriots and you’re playing a Bill Belichick and a Tom Brady; if you’re not being aggressive in those games, you’re going to lose those games. It’s been proven time and time again. You’re just going to lose those games. I had my mind made up after the Minnesota game and I knew we were playing the Patriots; that I was going to have to maintain that aggressiveness in this football game. The pressure of the game was not going to change who I am and that’s how I communicated that to our team and that’s how they responded Sunday.
Q. We see you and Foles talking over the play, the Philly Special, he called it ‘Philly Philly’ and you hesitate a couple seconds before you say, ‘Yeah, go ahead. Do it.’ What was going through your mind in those three seconds you thought it over?
COACH PEDERSON: I just had to process the whole situation: It’s fourth and goal, we’re in the Super Bowl, we’re on the one-yard line right before half-time. Yeah, let’s go. I think I had previously called a certain personnel group for the play that I was calling initially and had to change all of that once all the information was gathered. We swapped gears and really nobody really knew the play at the time until I gave out the wristband number. For instance, the offensive staff, they can hear me call the plays. I just called out the wristband number. And then you hear, ‘it’s Philly Special’ and everybody got a little fired up about that.
Q. What number is it?
COACH PEDERSON: I’d have to look, I think it was like 50-something. It’s on the --
Q. The fact he didn’t call it Philly Special, he called it Philly Philly, not the Philly Special -- did that confuse you?
COACH PEDERSON: We knew exactly what we were talking about. Listen, Philly-Philly, Dilly-Dilly, Philly Special, it was all the same to us. (Laughter)
Q. Did it make you feel better that Patriots QB Tom Brady missed the ball that was thrown to him?
COACH PEDERSON: When that happened, that was obviously before our play and it just kind of went, ‘Wow that was kind of the same thought process, anyway.’ Just glad that we were able to execute ours.
Q. It sounds like T Jason Peters still wants to play and you say he still has years left ahead of him. Are you going into the off-season thinking he’s your left tackle?
COACH PEDERSON: Listen, this guy, he’s a Pro Bowl left tackle. Guys like that, in my opinion, in my humble opinion, they can go out when they want to go out. I respect him and what he’s done and how he’s working right now through injury. If you had to hold a gun to my head, I’d say, ‘Yeah, he’s my starting left tackle.’
Q. What’s been the most special moment for you personally from when the game ended until now?
COACH PEDERSON: I think just again, the stories that I hear in the community that I’ve heard the last couple of days and just to see the team again today. This is the first time we’ve been together, really, since the game. Just the joy and the excitement and just knowing that kind of what we’ve been through this year, is a pretty special thing.
Like I told them, this team is inked in NFL history and Philadelphia Eagles history, forever. That will never be the same again. It will change as of, probably after the parade tomorrow, everything, dynamics change. So just having that moment today with the guys and just kind of revisiting it is a pretty special thing.