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NFL Unfiltered Playoff Edition: Roseman won the front office; Can Pederson win games?

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After what can conservatively be described as a disjointed search, the Philadelphia Eagles settled for former journeyman quarterback Doug Pederson, and made him the 23rd head coach in team history.  

He now blows the most popular and most scrutinized whistle in the Delaware Valley.    

And what are his spoils beyond a significant bump in salary and the prestige of owning one of only 32 jobs? The chance to work with neophyte general manager Howie Roseman, this year’s recipient of the front office red rose.  An honor bestowed upon him by owner Jeffrey Lurie, who apparently realized the pain he caused his confidante by banishing him to the background in favor of Chip Kelly.Photo: coachingsearch.com

Is Pederson an inspired choice?  Of course not. His two most alluring credentials are the fact Andy Reid vouches for him and he is by many accounts, the anti-Chip. No feather-ruffling, disrespect or demands for more authority found here.  

Still, Pederson might win games.  

The single most important figure in any NFL organization isn’t the head coach, it’s the quarterback. His skill, charisma and leadership alone can prop up even the most middling coaches and inept team brass.  

Next in line is the general manager, then comes the head coach. And the chasm between general manager and head coach on my list, widens each year.  

You disagree?  Consider Seattle’s Pete Carroll, Green Bay’s Mike McCarthy and Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin.  

In Carroll’s first six years as a NFL head coach, he managed only two winning seasons and a 33-31 record between stints with the New York Jets, New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks. At that point, Carroll hadn’t distinguished himself as anything more than an enthusiastic, defensive mad-scientist. And a collegiate champion.  

In fact, so desperate was Carroll to find a quarterback, he used the power given to him by Seahawks’ owner Paul Allen to sign free-agent quarterback Matt Flynn. You might remember him as the guy who lost his job to a rookie named Russell Wilson before ever taking a meaningful snap.  

Carroll likely hasn’t changed much strategically since he had defenses terrorizing the AFC East. The difference is, he took a chance on Wilson, who has been terrific. Now, many believe he is one of league’s elite head coaches, and he has a résumé to prove it. But without Wilson, Carroll is essentially a less likable version of Rex Ryan.  

In Green Bay, McCarthy managed to parlay six seasons as an offensive coordinator—five of which were mediocre—into a 10-year stint as the winningest coach in Packers history.  Did he design a scheme so groundbreaking it brought out the best in Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers?  Is his version of the so-called West Coast Offense so beguiling to NFL defenses, they simply cannot keep up? Or, is he simply the beneficiary of two Hall of Fame quarterbacks?  

The answer is fairly obvious.

With Tomlin, it isn’t a matter of what he might have become without a special defense—which, in fairness, got old on his watch—and a Hall of Fame quarterback?  The more salient question is, would Tomlin even be a head coach at all without Ben Roethlisberger?  

Beyond the fact it is still difficult for minorities to get NFL head coaching jobs, anyone who has seen more than a handful of Steelers games since 2007, knows Tomlin struggles in many areas.  That includes in-game strategy, where he is as bad as any coach in the league.

Yet, there’s Tomlin, coattails tied to his quarterback and the Steelers mystique, like a hype man in a rap group.    

Truthfully, Carroll, McCarthy and Tomlin are fine coaches by today’s standards. But the notion their teams’ success comes from unique preparation, tremendous strategy and in-game adjustments, is a false one.  Photo: nj.com

Could the Pederson-led Eagles produce similar results?  

Of course, as long as Roseman, or Tom Donahoe, or whomever, acquires a difference-making quarterback. If he does, Pederson is going to win many more games than he loses, despite his less than stellar coaching history.  

At this stage, Pederson seems about as exciting as a trip to the cleaners, but that doesn’t mean failure is inevitable. And as head coaches go, he fits right in with the overwhelming majority of men leading franchises. He likely isn’t dumb, but is by no means a coaching savant, either. Like most, he’s just a hard-working student of the game.

All this means is the Eagles front office, led by Lurie and Roseman, must support him the way Seattle, Green Bay and Pittsburgh have supported their head men. And it starts with a franchise quarterback.  

Though, if Roseman is who I think he is, Pederson’s fate is already sealed.  

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THINGS THE PUNDITS CAN’T OR WON’T SAY: Divisional Playoff Edition

-Since players cannot practice harder or longer than the league allows, there is almost no way for a new head coach to distinguish himself from the man he replaced.  Even if he’s the polar opposite of his predecessor in terms of demeanor, the good vibes of change fade quickly.   

-Reid didn’t do Doug Pederson any favors by ordering Kansas City’s offense to huddle-up at a time when running more plays would have helped. It looked very similar to Philadelphia’s effort against the Patriots in Super Bowl XXXIX.  

-I have never understood why NFL teams refuse to do more to find good quarterbacks. If a team doesn’t have a franchise guy in his prime, they should draft one, maybe two quarterbacks every year until they do.  

-Marshawn Lynch has been a terrific running back, but his refusal to go down on the first play of Seattle’s last drive of the 1st half, was selfish and showed a total disregard for the situation.  

-The Seattle/Carolina game is another example of why basing an opinion solely on numbers is fool’s gold. Physical teams have always had success running the football against Seattle. But you might never know it based on their stellar statistics.  

-Preparation is great, but it is just as important for a head coach to recognize what is happening during a game. Carolina’s Ron Rivera asked for a timeout in the middle of Seattle’s first scoring drive, despite leading 31-0.  He sensed the Seahawks were finding a little rhythm and he tried to put a stop to it. That’s a really good job by Rivera.

-Winning always changes the narrative. By that, I mean Arizona head coach Bruce Arians made three or four strange calls against the Packers, particularly late in the game. Good thing his future Hall of Famer Larry Fitzgerald bailed him out.  

Speaking of Fitzgerald, he and Michael Floyd are far better equipped to defend a Hail Mary than any defensive back on Arizona’s roster.  That includes All-Pro cornerback Patrick Peterson.  Arians failed to use all his resources and it nearly cost him a win.      

-Too many NFL wide receivers and some running backs, avoid contact instead of getting up the field for more yards. It’s a business decision, which is totally understandable. But in the playoffs, a yard or two is often the difference between a first down and a punt, or a touchdown and a field goal.  

-Tomlin, never one to make the best decisions when it comes to clock management, chose to call timeout before the 2nd down play with about 2:20 seconds left in the 4th quarter.  It would have been far more useful to run a play there, then call timeout just before the two-minute warning. 

 

Earl Myers is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area.  He closely follows North America's four major sports leagues but just about any sporting event gets his attention.  His goal is to provoke a little thought in his readers.

  Contact Earl at emyersiii@hotmail.com

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Photo: coachingsearch.com

Howie Roseman photo: nj.com