Rotoworld’s Patrick Daugherty recently posted his annual NFL head coaching rankings. The entire list is always a worthwhile read, so go check it out.
For the second year in a row, Doug Pederson made the top five. His ranking actually improved one spot. Here’s the write-up on the Philadelphia Eagles head coach:
4. Doug Pederson
Career Record: 29-19 (.604)
With The Eagles Since: 2016
Last Year’s Ranking: 5
Rightfully feted after slaying Bill Belichick in Super Bowl LII, Doug Pederson spent much of 2018 on tilt after the Eagles got off to 4-6 start. “You guys aren’t in there watching the tape like we are for 18 hours a day,” Pederson told the media after it had the audacity to question him following a devastating Week 7 loss. “Come down and stand on the sideline with me and make decisions … Then, I guess you can ask all you want.” It was an old school tirade from the most new school of coaches. The Eagles’ rough start combined with Pederson’s former top lieutenant, Frank Reich, having a brilliant season in Indianapolis made for talk that perhaps 2017 was Pederson’s grand outlier. Then he rallied the Eagles to a 5-1 finish, squeaked into the playoffs and won a hard-fought Wild Card game against the Bears before narrowly succumbing to the Saints in the Superdome. 2017 will almost certainly go down as Pederson’s best season, but it is 2018 that cemented him as an elite coach. Whether it’s a No. 1 seed-type of year or No. 6-seed type of year, Pederson and his analytical approach have proven they can win any type of football game.
Very good assessment here.
The thing I’ll always remember about the 2018 season is how the 4-6 Eagles were down 19 to 3 at home against the Giants in Week 12. The reigning Super Bowl champions could’ve packed it in at that point. But they didn’t. They fought hard and they came a dropped Alshon Jeffery pass away from potentially advancing to the NFC Championship Game for the second year in a row.
That kind of turnaround doesn’t happen if guys aren’t fully buying in to what the head coach is selling. Pederson knows how to handle adversity and that’s evidenced by his players playing hard for him.
In addition to winning over the players, Dougie P has won the hearts of Eagles fans.
Pederson can continue to stay on everyone’s good side by getting the offense back on track in 2019. There were too many issues with slow starts in 2018. Having a healthy Carson Wentz should hopefully help out.
When you really think about it, it’s crazy to think Pederson is considered as one of the best coaches in the league just three years into the job. It just wasn’t easy to envision this all playing out like it has to this point. The Eagles are very fortunate to have Pederson. I mean, what if Ben McAdoo never turned down their offer? Scary to think about.
Rotoworld ranked Doug Pederson as the NFL’s fourth best head coach. Too high, too low, or just right?
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Let’s take a look at some other rankings of note, starting with the guy directly ahead of Pederson ...
3. Sean McVay
Career Record: 24-8 (.750)
With The Rams Since: 2017
Last Year’s Ranking: 9
Sean McVay had one of the greatest debuts ever. He then improved upon it in every way for his second season. McVay spiked his wins from 11 to 13 and points from 478 to 527. His team went 7-1 on the road, which does not include an NFC Championship Game victory in New Orleans. Amongst the men he bested were Pete Carroll, Andy Reid and Sean Payton. One who got the better of him? Bill Belichick. The best new coach went up against the best ever coach in the Super Bowl and had his lunch handed to him. Belichick forced the Rams’ big-play, play-action offense to go station to station, and McVay had no answer. Belichick also made one of the most important adjustments you can make against McVay, resetting his defense after the 15-second mark on the play clock. That’s the time at which McVay can no longer bark in audibles to Jared Goff. Belichick, along with his disciple Matt Patricia in Week 13, showed the league how to slow boy wonder down. It means McVay will have even more adjusting to do from Year 2 to 3 than Year 1 to 2. Through two seasons, there is every reason to believe he will be up to the challenge.
Lol. My feelings on McVay are well documented. I wrote this after this year’s Super Bowl:
Sean McVay is a fraud. Offensive genius my ass. No other team in Super Bowl history has only managed to score three points. I’ve been saying forever now that it was such a joke that he won Coach of the Year over Doug Pederson in 2017. The voters continue to look really, really foolish on that one. Pederson is 2-0 against McVay. Pederson also scored 41 points in a Super Bowl WIN over the Patriots. A big reason why the Eagles were able to beat the Pats is because Pederson was truly fearless. McVay, on the other hand, was a coward in this game. He opted to punt on 4th-and-3 in Patriots territory. He ran a coward’s draw on a 3rd-and-long before punting the ball to the Patriots, who then scored their only touchdown of the game. The truth is McVay didn’t even deserve to be in the Super Bowl. His incredibly weak decision to kick a red zone field goal against the Saints in the 2019 NFC Championship Game was bailed out by one of the worst missed calls in the history of the NFL playoffs. Thankfully, the Football Gods decided it was time to stop rewarding McVay’s cowardice on the biggest stage of the season.
“Fraud” is admittedly harsh but I wholeheartedly believe McVay is overrated. Give me Doug over him any day.
Which head coach would you rather have: Doug Pederson or Sean McVay?
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Moving on, let’s check in on a certain former Eagles offensive coordinator.
13. Frank Reich
Career Record: 10-6 (.625)
With The Colts Since: 2018
Last Year’s Ranking: — —
The consolation prize after Josh McDaniels’ dishonorable about-face, Frank Reich arrived in Indianapolis to limited expectations following a 2017 where Andrew Luck’s shoulder injury doomed the Colts to a 4-12 finish. With GM Chris Ballard’s roster still paper thin after years of Ryan Grigson’s mismanagement, Reich appeared to be in the early stages of a multi-year rebuild after his squad got off to a 1-5 start. Then Luck finally rediscovered his arm strength and Reich’s team started a fire that could only be extinguished by Patrick Mahomes in the Divisional Round. Reich’s 2018 may have been the tale of two seasons, but the overarching takeaways were clear. Reich is a player’s coach who nevertheless strives for an atmosphere of accountability. Despite being a product of ‘80s and ‘90s football, he is devoted to analytics and in-game probabilities like his old boss Doug Pederson. 57, Reich may have never gotten the opportunity to lead his own team were it not for McDaniels’ duplicity. Now he is looking like the right man in the right place at the right time.
Reich was really impressive in his first season on the job. It’s nice to see him doing well for himself in Indy.
And now let’s check in on the NFC East, starting with the second highest rated coach in the division: The Clapper.
18. Jason Garrett
Career Record: 77-59 (.566)
With The Cowboys Since: 2010
Last Year’s Ranking: 16
Jason Garrett has overseen a 32-16 (.666) record over the past three seasons. His team is coming off its first playoff victory in four years, just the third of the new millennium for owner Jerry Jones’ franchise. So why are the Cowboys refusing to extend Garrett’s contract? Look no further than the Divisional Round. Chaperoning the most predictable offense in football, Garrett stood helpless as Ezekiel Elliott was held to 2.35 yards per carry versus a Rams Defense that bled 5.06 during the regular season. Things were even worse on the other side of the ball. Rams RG Austin Blythe estimated they knew what DC Rod Marinelli was calling over 90 percent of the time. Marinelli’s unit was excellent in 2018, but that playoff failure is emblematic of Garrett’s staid coaching culture. The bleeding edge this ain’t. The fourth-longest tenured head coach in the NFL, Garrett literally does not have a coaching tree. Garrett — or more likely, Jones — has sensed the stakes for 2019. OC Scott Linehan walked the plank. Second-year assistant Kellen Moore has been promoted to take his place. It’s the kind of bold — desperate? — move Garrett has typically been allergic to. It won’t be the first time he has to go against type if he wants to keep his job for 2020.
Jerry Jones recently said that Garrett might end up being the Cowboys’ longest tenured coach of all time. One can only hope.
Next up, Washington.
20. Jay Gruden
Career Record: 35-44-1 (.444)
With The Redskins Since: 2014
Last Year’s Ranking: 19
Jay Gruden is the NFL’s most middle-of-the-road coach. Somewhere between 7-9 and 9-7 every season, he is neither good enough nor bad enough to generate much debate outside of local talk radio. When things go south — as they did in the second half of 2018 — Gruden always has a plausible explanation. Injuries gutted the squad, the roster isn’t good enough because the owner and general manager don’t know what they are doing, etc. etc. Neither of those annual excuses are false. Redskins coaches are set up to fail by Daniel Snyder’s meddling and Bruce Allen’s utter cluelessness. But at some point, Gruden will have to rise above his handicaps if he is to keep his job in one of the league’s toughest environments. Since that is unlikely — Marty Schottenheimer, Joe Gibbs and Mike Shanahan could manage all of one playoff victory under Snyder — Gruden and his reasonably effective system will probably soon be fired and find work as an offensive coordinator. He is, after all, a man who not only knows Sean McVay, but hired him.
I don’t think I’d mind Gruden as the Eagles’ offensive coordinator but I’d imagine he might just go work with his brother on the Raiders.
And now for the head coach who is unsurprisingly ranked dead last (excluding the unranked first-year head coaches):
24. Pat Shurmur
Career Record: 15-34 (.306)
With The Giants Since: 2018
Last Year’s Ranking: — —
Pat Shurmur’s five 2018 wins matched a career high. In three years as a head coach, he has notched victory totals of four, five and five. Plenty of that has been beyond his control. In Cleveland, his quarterbacks were Colt McCoy, Seneca Wallace, Brandon Weeden and Thad Lewis. In New York, it’s the soldered remains of Eli Manning. You could argue Shurmur did what he was paid to do in 2018, getting Manning’s completion percentage up to a career-high 66.0 while generating his most passing yards (4,299) since 2015. It still didn’t make a lick of difference, as the Giants won six or fewer games for the fourth time in five years. At no point were they anything other than one of the league’s worst teams. Manning is the elephant in the room. With him, Shurmur has no shot at making the most of his second chance. That is not to say Shurmur’s fortunes would be all that different were Manning to be cut tomorrow. 53-year-old retread coaches aren’t the sort who are given a long leash, and this is not a good roster. The offensive line is terrible. The defense has no pass rush. Shurmur has been set up to fail and likely will. That’s not fair, but it is life in the NFL.
There is nothing scary about Shurmur being the head coach of the team you’re going up against. The Eagles will continue their dominance of the Giants as long as he’s around.