Doug Pederson Hire Should Return NFL Normalcy to Eagles After Nightmare 2015

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Doug Pederson Hire Should Return NFL Normalcy to Eagles After Nightmare 2015
Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

To say that the 2015 season was a disappointment for the Philadelphia Eagles would be a massive understatement. After a pair of 10-win seasons, head coach Chip Kelly was given the keys to the car—complete personnel control.

Kelly then proceeded to take a buzzsaw to the roster before wrapping said car around the NFC East tree at 70 mph en route to being fired.

Orlin Wagner/Associated Press

The Eagles decided on a successor for Kelly on Thursday, and while Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Doug Pederson may not be the most inspiring choice (or the Eagles' first one), the 47-year-old is two things: a face familiar to the organization, and a coach who should be able to restore some badly needed normalcy in the City of Brotherly Let's Boo Santa Claus.

Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News was among the first to break the news that the Eagles will hire Pederson as soon as his chores with the Chiefs are completed:

Per Bowen, the team confirmed the newssort of:

While Pederson was one of the first candidates the Eagles interviewed, he wasn't necessarily their first choice as head coach. According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Eagles were set to hire New York Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo before the G-Men beat them to the punch:

The team then turned its sights to former Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, only to see him withdraw his name from consideration:

That led the team to Pederson, who has spent the last three seasons as Andy Reid's offensive coordinator in Kansas City.

Of course, Pederson's connections to Reid and the Eagles go back much farther. They go all the way back to 1999, when Pederson made nine starts as a quarterback for the team. Pederson also spent two seasons as an offensive quality control coordinator and another two as the Eagles' quarterbacks coach under Reid in Philadelphia.

Reid told Terez Paylor of the Kansas City Star that he felt Pederson was more than ready to take the reins of his own team:

I think it’s great, man. He has an opportunity, and it’s a compliment to the hard work that he’s put in, and he’s done a nice job. He’s ready to do that, and if he has the opportunity, more power to him.

In fact, an unnamed source told Mark Eckel of NJ.com that Reid actively stumped for Pederson to get the job:

I think Andy (Reid) is getting to the owner (Jeffrey Lurie). Those two still get along pretty well, which is kind of peculiar on its own. But (Lurie) listens to Andy. They may wait and interview Pederson, and then who knows?

At first glance, it might appear a puzzling hire. Pederson's offenses in Kansas City actually backslid in each of his three seasons, from 21st in 2013 to 25th in 2014 and finally 27th this season.

But there are at least a couple of reasons for optimism in Philadelphia.

The Chiefs may have gone in reverse statistically as a whole offensively during Pederson's tenure, but the same certainly can't be said for quarterback Alex Smith. Over Smith and Pederson's three years together, Smith tossed 61 touchdown passes against only 20 interceptions. Smith's 95.4 passer rating in 2015 was a career best for a 16-game season.

Reed Hoffmann/Associated Press

Subpar play under center was a big part of the Eagles' problems in 2015, and whether it's Sam Bradford or a signal-caller to be named later, having a head coach with experience tutoring quarterbacks no doubt appealed to Lurie.

Then there's tailback DeMarco Murray, who suffered through a disastrous 2015 season in Philadelphia after leading the NFL in rushing with the Dallas Cowboys in 2014.

Murray was the proverbial square peg in a round hole in Kelly's offense. Far too many sweeps. Too much lateral movement. Not the one-cut and go that Murray thrived in in Big D.

Whether it was Jamaal Charles or Knile Davis, or Charcandrick West or Spencer Ware, Pederson was able to move the ball on the ground with just about any back the Chiefs plugged in, in large part because Pederson tailored his schemes to suit his personnel.

And that's the thing. The biggest reason for hope with Pederson in Philadelphia may lie in what he doesn't do. What he isn't.

Pederson's offense isn't particularly innovative. No wheels will be re-invented. It won't be run at Kelly's breakneck pace either.

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What it is, however, is flexible. Over his tenure with the Chiefs, Pederson's offense constantly evolved to best utilize his personnel, rather than hammering his players into holes into which they just don't fit because Pederson believed himself the smartest man in the room.

Is Doug Pederson the right hire for the Eagles? As with the other first-time head coaches hired in recent days such as McAdoo and Adam Gase, it's nearly impossible to say. He doesn't inspire the rah-rah-ing and chest thumping that Kelly's hire brought a few years ago.

Pederson's rather bland. He's vanilla. He's, for lack of a better word, normal.

After the turmoil and tumult that marked the reign of King Chipster the First, that may be just what the Eagles need. They don't need gimmick offenses. They don't need bluster or ego.

Maybe in Philadelphia the best thing to do is just get back to the business of playing good, old-fashioned NFL football.

It seemed to work OK in Kansas City this season.

 

Gary Davenport is an NFL analyst at Bleacher Report and a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Gary on Twitter @IDPSharks.

 

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