The Philadelphia Eagles are rolling along this season, sitting at 6-1 heading into the Week 8 matchup with the San Francisco 49ers. It’s quite the turnaround from earlier this year, as shortly after the 2016 season had come to an end, there were questions about his future.
The Eagles were 5-4 heading into a Week 11 game in Seattle. They then proceeded to lose five straight, ending their playoff chances. Carson Wentz was a bit up and down, but there was plenty to like about the rookie quarterback. It felt like moving forward, Pederson’s future with Philadelphia was effectively tied at the hip to Wentz.
And this year, that has come to fruition. The Eagles are rolling, Wentz is an MVP candidate, and if the season ended today, Pederson might very well win coach of the year.
The 49ers come into this game with a rookie head coach on a winless team with plenty of questions. I don’t expect any big questions about Kyle Shanahan’s immediate future after this season, but if the 49ers go 1-15 or 0-16, it would certainly be something. In preparation for Sunday’s game, I decided to ask Bleeding Green Nation editor Brandon Lee Gowton about Pederson. He had this to say about Pederson’s success this year, and the good and bad that comes with the head coach.
The Eagles' process of hiring Pederson seemed flawed at the time. It felt like the Eagles missed out on a bunch of their top candidates and, with no better ideas in mind, ended up going back to the Andy Reid well by hiring the next closest thing: his offensive coordinator. Pederson entered Philly with low expectations. The feeling here is he did a decent job in Year 1, but there were some valid criticisms about his game management abilities. His players also seemed to quit in a late season game against the Bengals last year. The fact that he's awkward at the podium did him no favors.
Now we're at a point where Pederson is a legitimate Coach of the Year candidate.
His play-calling has been great. He's aggressive on fourth down, which is somewhat divisive, but personally I love it. His players play really hard for him. Effort hasn't been a problem at all this year.
Most importantly: he's overseen the successful development of Wentz. Pederson being a former NFL quarterback was part of the selling point in why the Eagles hired him. It was ultimately his responsibility to help Wentz succeed and he's done just that so far.
There's no denying the Eagles have had a good deal of offensive success under Pederson. Just look at the numbers. The Birds have scored 20+ points in 11 consecutive games, which is the longest active streak in the NFL. They're tied with the Patriots for the most 20+ point games (20) in the NFL since the start of the 2016 season. The Eagles are the only NFL team to score 20+ points in every game in 2017.
Prior to the season, former NFL general manager Mike Lombardi called Pederson "the least qualified head coach of the last 30 years." It's safe to say Lombardi is looking like a pretty big fool right now.