A search that once started with 25 candidates was whittled down to 10 or 11, then down to six, and then down to Doug Pederson.
“At the end of the search, this was an easy call,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said.
Lurie and the Eagles held a lengthy and very-well-attended press conference on Tuesday afternoon in the auditorium of the NovaCare Complex to officially introduce Pederson as the team’s new head coach (quick takeaways from presser).
Pederson, 47, was once the Eagles’ quarterback in 1999 and coached in Philadelphia for four seasons in various roles before joining Andy Reid as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator.
Pederson is of the Reid Coaching Tree, but on Tuesday made sure to emphasize he’s not an Andy Reid clone.
“Andy Reid is a mentor,” Pederson said. “I’ll be the first one to tell you that he is. But I’m also going to tell you that this is not an Andy Reid Football team and it’s not a Doug Pederson football team. This is a Philadelphia Eagles football team. So I’m going to bring my spin on it. I’m gonna bring my personality to it. And we’re going to make it our team going forward.”
Lurie and Reid, whom Lurie fired after the 2012 season, still have a good relationship. Reid gave Pederson a glowing endorsement, which obviously meant something to Lurie, who made it a point to say the input from others was equally as important.
“It was one of many influences on the decision,” Lurie said. “The detail of Andy’s analysis of Doug over the years and especially in the last few weeks was important because it was so thorough. The experiences of Doug as a coach and how he deals with players was detailed. It was extremely valuable in terms of understanding the core of Doug Pederson. It’s something you can’t get from an interview but it’s someone who has literally had 800 interviews with Doug every day on the field and classrooms and all that — it’s important.”
Shortly after Chip Kelly was fired, Lurie said he wanted his new coach to be able to communicate with others, have “emotional intelligence” and understand Philadelphia.
Lurie, on Tuesday, said Pederson checked all those boxes.
"A key ingredient for me, and it defines differences between candidates, and that is, 'Who is the most comfortable in their own skin?' I mean an ability to be genuine at all times," Lurie said.
"I got to spend a lot of time with our players at the beginning of this coaching search, and the message loud and clear, which I agree with in terms of leadership in today's world no matter what, is you've got to be comfortable in your own skin in order to be able to reach out, be genuine with those you want to get high performance from, be accountable to them, and make them accountable to you. When you get down to it, that's something that we were not going to go away from. That was a very key variable, and Doug has that, unquestionably."
Which goes along with what Pederson identified as the best advice he received during the process.
"Be yourself," Pederson said.
The Eagles went on what Lurie called an “exhaustive” search — after firing Kelly on Dec. 29 — to find a new coach that eventually led them to Pederson. Lurie even said this: "At no point was anybody about to be offered a job except to be Doug Pederson.”
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But it certainly seemed like throughout the process, at least by what leaked out about the search through media reports, Pederson was not the Eagles’ first choice to be the head coach (see story).
Pederson was asked point-blank on Tuesday if that bothered him.
“Because I’m here today, no,” he answered.
“I just felt like they were going to select the best man for the job,” Pederson continued. “And they feel that they have confidence in me and I’m going to show that same confidence and that same respect back. I don’t want to disappoint.”
No matter how the Eagles arrived at the decision to hire Pederson, he’s their guy now. He’s taking over a team that had a 7-9 record, the best record of the seven teams who were searching for a head coach.
So how good does Pederson think the team is?
“I think the nucleus of this football team is very good,” Pederson said. “It’s structured very well. There’s some talent here and I do believe that you can put yourself in not only position to win the East but have a chance to get yourself into the postseason and then go deep in the postseason.”