What Doug Pederson has done this year is almost as impressive as what he did last year.
Which is pretty crazy considering the Eagles won a Super Bowl last year in Pederson's second year as an NFL head coach.
Last year was magical. The Eagles seemed charmed. Everything went their way. Calls went their way. Balls bounced their way. They crushed teams on the way to a 11-2 record under Carson Wentz, then roared through the playoffs with Nick Foles.
There was certainly adversity. Losing your MVP-caliber QB? That's a pretty significant chunk. But the Eagles powered through all of it with only a couple brief blips in Kansas City and Seattle along the way.
The challenge has been so different.
For much of this fall, the Eagles just weren't a very good football team.
Blowing big leads. Unable to score early. Struggling to find an identity. Desperately trying to find cornerbacks.
There's no bigger challenge for a head coach than trying to get a struggling team back on the rails. Especially after a loss like the Eagles experienced in New Orleans.
And here we are now, getting ready for a conference semifinal game back in New Orleans.
Whatever happens, the job Pederson has done this year turning a team that eight weeks ago was the laughing stock of the NFL into a team playing for a berth in the NFC Championship Game has been remarkable.
He just refused to let them stop believing. No matter how bad things got.
Just to put in perspective how rare this season is:
In NFL history, 266 teams have opened a season 4-6.
The Eagles are the 16th to find their way into the playoffs and only the ninth to reach the conference semifinal round.
Here's a look at those teams:
1948 Colts - lost in conference semis
1970 Bengals -lost in conference semis
1985 Browns - lost in conference semis
1989 Steelers - lost in conference semis
1996 Jaguars - lost in AFC Championship Game
2008 Chargers - lost in conference semifinals
2013 Chargers - lost in conference semifinals
2016 Packers - lost in NFC Championship Game
2018 Eagles - ???
So reaching the conference semifinals after opening a season 4-6 is about a 3 percent proposition.
This speaks volumes about Pederson and his ability to keep his team motivated, keep them engaged, keep them hungry and keep them competitive when a lot of teams would just be playing out the string.
Especially with that Super Bowl LII ring in their back pocket.
Things aren't always going to go your way, and the best coaches, the best teams, don't let that define them. They roll up their sleeves and get back to work.
It was clear last year there was something special going on here, and what the Eagles are doing this year is just as special. In a very different way.
From Week 4 through Week 11, the Eagles went 2-5.
They won two games from Oct. 1 through Nov. 24.
And that two-month stretch was capped by a 41-point loss.
To survive that? To experience it and endure it and understand it and figure out how to climb out of it? To hold it together to the extent where a late-season run like this is even possible?
This is rare stuff.
The Eagles found one road to success in 2017 and a completely different road in 2018.
And that's Doug.
He's got such a command of the locker room and knows exactly what buttons to push. When to go hard, when to go easy. When to yell and scream, when to just get out of the way. When to listen.
He's shown he can lead a team that's frontrunning and a team that's struggling.
The Eagles took the Super Bowl Hangover's best shot. And look at them now. They're still standing. They're still fighting.
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