Jeff Lurie Praises Doug Pederson for Bringing Locker Room Together

PHOENIX -- Jeff Lurie wanted a head coach with emotional intelligence.

After one year with Doug Pederson at the helm, Lurie seems pretty confident he has one.

Lurie first made those now-infamous comments about emotional intelligence on Dec. 30, 2015, at a press conference the day after the team fired Chip Kelly with one game left to go in the regular season. Kelly's nearly three-year run as the Eagles' head coach was filled with terse interactions with players and employees that left a bad vibe in the NovaCare Complex and had Lurie clamoring for a head coach that had some of the same qualities that made players want to play for Andy Reid.

Speaking for the first time in over a year, and for the first time since Pederson's first year as head coach ended, Lurie praised his coach for reuniting the Eagles' locker room.

"You inherit a team that was not in its best locker room atmosphere with its previous head coach," Lurie said on Tuesday in Phoenix at the annual league meetings. "That's normal in a franchise, probably, but he had the challenge of being a first-time head coach in a locker room that had gone through obstacles with the previous head coach at that point in time and he got them together and they really loved playing for Doug.

"He's genuine, he's open to the players' suggestions, he formed a leadership council, he has constant communication."

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Aside from that emotional intelligence, Lurie also laid out some other reasons he's optimistic about Pederson's future as the team's head coach and why he was pleased with how Year One went.

The first reason was the staff Pederson put together. Lurie praised him for being humble enough to keep top assistants -- like Dave Fipp and Jeff Stoutland -- in the organization before going out and bringing in veteran defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz.

Perhaps the most important part of Pederson's first year as head coach was the role he played in the development of Carson Wentz. Along with offensive coordinator Frank Reich and quarterbacks coach John DeFillippo, the Eagles offered Wentz a unique support system.

Then, there's Pederson's aggressive nature. Riverboat Doug gambled plenty of times during the 2016 season. While Pederson might not have taken some of those risks had the Eagles been a little better, the Eagles' owner was happy to see the aggressiveness.

"As we learned early in the season, just in terms of game-planning, he's not risk averse -- we've never wanted to be risk averse," Lurie said. "We'd much rather err on the side of being aggressive."

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