Luck Matters

Posted: May 21st, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on Luck Matters

Robert Kraft knew Bill Belichick was the coach he wanted back in 2000. That hiring laid the foundation for an amazing dynasty.

The other key move was less by design. Tom Brady was the 199th pick in the 2000 draft. People love to talk about what a great pick that was, but Scott Pioli, who was the top personnel guy at the time, always points out they wouldn’t have waited that long if they really believed in him. Forget about the Super Bowls and the Hall of Fame, if they thought Brady could be a solid starter he would have been picked in the 2nd or 3rd round.

Give the Patriots credit for making the pick, but there was some luck involved. I don’t mean this as an insult. Luck plays a part in a lot of dynasties.

Think about the Eagles for a second. The whole organization was in on Carson Wentz. That was the QB they wanted and the team paid a premium price to get him. He has turned out to be the player they expected.

The flip side of that is Doug Pederson. He was not the Eagles first choice. They were interested in Ben McAdoo, who was an assistant with the Giants at the time. Luckily, the Giants hired McAdoo and the Eagles had to go back over their options. That led to the hiring of Pederson.

No one involved in the hiring process had any inkling that Pederson was going to become a great coach. Obviously we don’t know how his whole career will play out, but he sure appears to be a great coach. His team was dominant all season long and his offense looks special. Pederson’s offense put up 41 points in the Super Bowl with a backup LT, backup QB and a rookie RB playing a key role. That is pretty amazing.

It is crazy to think about Pederson as compared to the other coaches hired by the Eagles in the last 30 or so years. Go back to 1986. Buddy Ryan had just won the Super Bowl with his 46 Defense and one of the greatest defensive units in NFL history. Ryan was a hot coaching candidate.

Rich Kotite succeeded him and we can laugh at Kotite now, but the Eagles offense did some great things under him in 1990. They finished 3rd in the league in points and yards. Most of the credit for that should go to Randall Cunningham, who had one of the greatest years a QB has ever had. Still, Kotite was part of the success.

Ray Rhodes came on board in 1995. He had just run the Niners defense as they won the Super Bowl. Rhodes had worked for Bill Walsh and Mike Holmgren and had a terrific reputation.

Rhodes was fired after the 1998 season and the Eagles wanted Mike Holmgren. They missed out on him, but then interviewed his protege, Andy Reid. He had been the QBs coach for the Packers and did good things with Brett Favre. Reid had a phenomenal interview and blew away Jeffrey Lurie and Joe Banner. They hired Reid and he had a great run with the Eagles. While Reid wasn’t the team’s first choice, there was some buzz because of what he did with the Packers and the stories that got out about his interview.

There was no buzz on Pederson. None.

He hadn’t won a Super Bowl as a coach. He was the offensive coordinator in KC for three years, but wasn’t the primary play-caller. He had coached QBs for the Eagles prior to that, but hardly had any great success in 2011 or 2012. Just a few years before that, Pederson was coaching high school football.

Pederson did have a long playing career and I think that turned out to be more important than anyone realized. That isn’t to say that all former players make good coaches. Pederson was a career backup so he spent more than a decade on the sideline watching the action and taking it in just like a coach would.

The Eagles took a big chance in hiring Pederson. They needed the right guy after Chip Kelly and Pederson made a lot of sense because he was a bridge to the Andy Reid era and because he had good people skills. The Eagles had no idea Pederson would be such a gifted offensive mind and develop into such a good gameday coach.

Taking a chance on Pederson paid off in the biggest way, winning that elusive first Super Bowl. What seemed like a blah move at the time turned out to be a stroke of genius.

With a little luck mixed in.


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