Doug Pederson is Worth His Weight in Platinum

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By Paul Bowman, Sports Talk Philly Editor

The Los Angeles Rams and their head coach Sean McVay lost in absolutely embarrassing fashion to the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII last Sunday. The game was an absolute snooze fest. While looking at the score (13-3) itself may give the impression that it was a defensive game, it simply was not.

The Rams offensive line just won the Offensive Line of the Year Award at the NFL Honors show on Saturday night. The Rams also have arguably the best running back in the league. Yet the team lost to a less than stellar Tom Brady, who threw quite a few low passes that were otherwise easy completions and missed open targets more than usual. It should have been an easy night to beat that offense.

Instead, it was an awful game. Sure, the Patriots defensive line was able to manage some good pressure, but Jared Goff was awful. Todd Gurley was misused and underused all game. The team took almost no chances and instead went with the more conservative call, ensuring themselves this embarrassing defeat.

What is the issue at the heart of all of those problems? Head coach Sean McVay.

The same coach who somehow beat Doug Pederson out for the award last season. The same coach that national analysts have been pushing as the future of the league while Pederson outcoaches him at every turn.

The same coach that media outlets outside of the franchise’s home city recognize. Albert Breer, who covers sports in Boston, proclaimed McVay was “worth his weight in gold” a few weeks ago.

McVay took his team to the Super Bowl and embarrassed them in his second year. Pederson took his team to the big game and won, claiming the first Super Bowl title in franchise history.

McVay managed three points against the Patriots with arguably the best running back in the league, a quarterback who was in the MVP race much of the season and superstars Brandon Cooks and Robert Woods. Pederson’s team scored 41 with a castaway and an undrafted free agent at running back, a backup quarterback and three solid receivers.

McVay had to coach around the loss of their third and fifth-best wide receivers and their second-string running back. Pederson coached around the loss of their franchise quarterback, their second-string running back and their Hall of Fame left tackle to win the Super Bowl. He coached a team with more than half of the players sustaining serious injury to the divisional round this season.

Goff entered the Super Bowl as though he was on edge and allowed the slightest changes in pressure or pass rush to affect his vision and throws. Pederson coached a backup who nearly retired from the league to keep calm and confident in spite of the Patriots’ rushes.

On a related note, both teams had their offensive line win the Offensive Line of the Year Award and had two weeks to prepare for the Patriots. McVay’s line looked unprepared and weak. Pederson’s line looked ready and had a backup lineman at arguably the most important position in the group.

Pederson may have some issues with his play calling in relation to the run game, but he has yet to do something as extreme as McVay calling a run right up the middle on a third and 23 with a running back whose snaps he was “limiting”, a move that both shows highly conservative play calling and a lack of faith in his players, specifically his franchise quarterback. Pederson calls plays that show just the opposite, frequently taking risks on third and fourth down and instilling a belief in each player on his team.

Pederson has also developed a clubhouse culture that is well respected and loved by all those that experience it. Michael Bennett said as much midway through the season. Paul Worrilow said it was unlike any team he has ever been on, even as he was injured and unable to physically contribute all season long. Rodney McLeod took a $6 million pay cut just to stay in the locker room for at least one more year. Golden Tate felt at home mere weeks after arriving. The team has fun with each other and have developed a brotherhood that is both loyal to each other and welcoming. This transformation took place less than two seasons after Pederson inherited a locker room that was torn apart and divided by Chip Kelly.

Pederson has yet to win the Coach of the Year Award with McVay earning the award for his wild card loss in 2017 and Matt Nagy receiving the award this season. Nagy is the coach Pederson sent home in the wild card round this season – a feat he accomplished with over half of his roster suffering serious injuries. It makes sense that a team that succeeds more with far more setbacks is obviously dealing with a less skilled coach, right?

Why is it that McVay is the center of the league while Pederson is barely an afterthought? Why is it that McVay openly admitting that he was out-coached in the Super Bowl is somehow what you want to see in your second-year coach rather than actually winning the title by out-coaching one of the greatest coaches of all time?

The national media and the league itself may never give Doug Pederson the respect he deserves, but Eagles fans know it to be true: If McVay is worth his weight in gold, Pederson is worth his weight in platinum.