In 1999, Andy Reid took over as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles and named Doug Pederson his starting quarterback, while the No. 2 overall draft pick, Donovan McNabb, was groomed to take over that role later in the season.
Seventeen years later, the Eagles named Pederson their new head coach in a press conference on Tuesday.
"We came to the conclusion that Pederson was the best man for the job," Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said of the hire, via Eliot Shorr-Parks of the NJ.com, adding that Pederson is a "real smart, strategic thinker."
Lurie continued to praise Pederson for having the qualities he was looking for in a coach, via John Clark of CSN Philly:
Lurie revealed that the search process began with 25 candidates before the team narrowed it down to the 10 or 11 whom the organization was truly interested in potentially hiring, according to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer. Of those, six were interviewed before Pederson was offered the job.
That process began very early, according to Lurie, something that shocked Reuben Frank of CSN Philly:
That is incredible - They apparently were looking for Chip's replacement before they fired Chip. I'm SURE word did't get around the building— Reuben Frank (@RoobCSN) January 19, 2016
Lurie clarified that the team was only researching candidates and not actively pursuing them before Kelly was fired, as he said at the press conference, via CSN Philly's broadcast. Nevertheless, the fact that the team was already investigating possible replacements for the former head coach suggests that the front office suspected a divorce was coming for quite some time.
Pederson's history in Philadelphia, meanwhile, goes beyond the two years he spent with the team as a quarterback. He also worked in the organization from 2009-12 as a quality control coach for two years and as a quarterbacks coach for the other two.
That gives him a unique perspective about the city he's returning to as a head coach.
"I understand the culture and passion of Philadelphia." Pederson said, via Frank. "I experienced it firsthand. I understand what it feels like to win in this city."
Following his time in Philly, Pederson followed Reid to Kansas City in 2013 and spent the last three seasons as the team's offensive coordinator. He didn't hesitate to acknowledge the role Reid has played in his career and life, via Frank:
Pederson now at the podium. "I'm a humbled human being." Thanking the Chiefs, Andy Reid, "one of my mentors in my life."— Reuben Frank (@RoobCSN) January 19, 2016
Pederson's coaching record—combined with the 10 years he spent as an NFL quarterback, most of them backing up Brett Favre in Green Bay—gives him an interesting resume that he'll bring to Philadelphia.
Given his inexperience as a head coach and his experience on the offensive side of the ball, two of Pederson's biggest decisions were always going to be his defensive coordinator and his quarterback. He addressed both on Tuesday, starting on the defensive side of the ball by naming Jim Schwartz as his defensive coordinator, according to Zach Berman of the Philadelphia Inquirer:
Pederson announces Jim Schwartz as his defensive coordinator in opening statement. Shows how critical the hire is for Pederson.— Zach Berman (@ZBerm) January 19, 2016
Pederson then addressed several other coaching spots on his staff, as noted by Bob Grotz of the Delaware County Daily Times:
Pederson confirms Dave Fipp, Special Teams coach will be retained along with OL coach Jeff Stoutland. From there he's in evaluation process.— Bob Grotz (@BobGrotz) January 19, 2016
However, Neil Hartman of CSN reported that Pedersen did say Duce Staley would remain as the team's running backs coach.
He also spoke about Sam Bradford, the team's starter from the past year, and how he envisioned him fitting into the team if re-signed.
"I'm still going through the evaluation process," he said, via Shorr-Parks. "I think Sam is a quality quarterback. A top-notch quarterback." He added, "Sam Bradford would fit perfectly into the system that I want to bring in," according to Andrew Brandt of ESPN.
That will be a major decision for Pederson and the front office. The Eagles have talent, led by DeMarco Murray on offense and several young talents in the passing game in Jordan Matthews, Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor.
On defense, the team seems well-equipped to transition to the 4-3 defense Schwartz has typically employed. Fletcher Cox can be dominant inside in that scheme, while Brandon Graham is a natural defensive end. Plus, the team is stacked at linebacker with Kiko Alonso, Mychal Kendricks and Jordan Hicks. Fixing a suspect secondary will be the top priority on the defensive side of the ball.
Schwartz addressed the scheme he might play on Tuesday, per Martin Frank of the the Delaware News Journal:
Jim Schwartz wouldn't commit to 4-3, but said not gonna "force feed a scheme." Will scheme base on player strengths. #Eagles— Martin Frank (@Mfranknfl) January 19, 2016
Given that the Eagles aren't completely devoid of talent, the expectation will be that Pederson and the staff he puts together will undergo a retooling process rather than a full rebuild. In Philadelphia, expectations are always sky-high.
But after spending time as a player and a coach in the city, Pederson is fully aware of that fact.