By GORDON GLANTZ
GORDONVILLE — Give Doug Pederson credit for one thing. He has managed to unite the entire Eagles Nation before even donning a team visor.
Everyone seems to hate the idea of the one-time Bird and longtime NFL backup and assistant coach being named as the title-starved franchise’s 21st head coach.
Everyone, minus one.
That would be me.
In the face of the universal backlash that is almost to the same level they loved the firing of No. 20, Chip Kelly, I neither hate it nor love it.
All I am saying – and all you should be saying – is to give Doug a chance.
While prone to as much sky-is-falling hysteria as the next person who bleeds Type G-negative blood, I am not climbing to the top of City Hall and threatening to jump from the top of William Penn’s hat.
That would seem odd, since I came to despise Andy Reid, and Pederson fell into the Eagles’ basket – seemingly with Reid’s blessing – from his coaching tree.
I’m just trying to cut the crap and be real, though.
I’m not quite sure how a bunch of people who were not able to see into the future well enough to win the recently gargantuan Power Ball jackpot became so clairvoyant that they are certain we are doomed with Pederson, a Reid mentee, at the helm.
To get to the bottom of this, I need be harsh. We are going to have to use some four-letter words. We’ve already talked about “hate,” which is as overused as “love” (no one should have loved the hiring of any coach, including those with proven track records, either, because you are only setting yourself up for heartbreak).
Another is “plan,” because people are silly enough to buy into the theory that a billion-dollar operation like this franchise really didn’t have a cogent one in place for their search for a coach.
Rising above all is “fear,” because that is what this is all about.
Fear fuels all negativity, poisoning many trees at their root, including the tree of hate.
Pederson represents the fear of the unknown. Nobody – himself included – knows how it will play out. I will admit that my wish list was topped by a names who took away some of the unknown – Bill Cowher. Other found their bippies and dreamed sweetly of coaxing Brian Billick, Jon Gruden and Mike Shanahan out of cushy retirements.
The Eagles even interviewed relic Tom Coughlin.
But here is a fact – another four-letter word – to consider: no coach has ever won a Super Bowl with two different franchises.
Go to the chalkboard and write that 100 times.
OK, I’m dating myself here.
Go to your iPad and type it 100 times.
Go ahead, I’ll wait.
Why would that change, especially here in Philadelphia? I mean, Coughlin won two Super Bowls, but do you really think a ball would Velcro itself to the helmet of Seyi Ajitotutu (affectionately known by Kelly as “Tu”) the way it did to the dome of David Tyree in Super Bowl XLII?
We don’t win championships like that in Philly. We do it “fo-fo-fo” style or wait decades in vain trying and lament the close calls. On that magical day, in some magical place where it never gets cold, It’ll be a 44-10 victory. All doubt will be removed. No “Leon Stickel” schtick to ruin it.
Why, in a sport where the statistical probabilities are weighed before each and every decision is made, would it be worth it to buck the trend just to ease the temporary fear of the unknown by going out to the recycling bin and coming back with a known entity who we know would be bucking historical trends?
In the same spirit of telling you doubters and haters to go fact yourself, the one common thread between every Hall of Fame – or pending – NFL coach is one thing: they were all unknown entities, on some level, until someone gave them a chance.
But you won’t give Pederson a chance? I thought this town had bigger, and more open, hearts than that. Guess I was wrong.
The thought process that the Eagles hierarchy of owner Jeffery Lurie, Howie Roseman (back in charge after a year in exile) and Don Smolenski were not “football guys,” and, therefore, played a gloried game of Pin the Tail on the Random Offensive Coordinator, is almost too stupid for a response.
They most definitely had a plan. Perhaps too much of a plan, causing some paralysis by analysis, but the homework was done. Perhaps, just perhaps, the full plan has yet to be revealed. If Pederson is surrounded with venerable coordinators and position coaches, his relative inexperience won’t be so glaring.
And once he gains experience, he’s not inexperienced anymore. Funny how that works. Just like Whiz wid – or wid-out – makes it a Philly Cheesesteak.
The problem is that Pederson is being consumed – and spit back out – by a ravenous fan base that has been trained by the digital and talk-radio media that is supposed to serve as a conduit that any move involving Roseman is automatically going to give you a rare and incurable disease.
Hard to believe it is the town where a fictional boxer, Rocky Balboa, is worshipped for being given a chance as an underdog and becoming a champion (albeit in “Rocky II,” not “Rocky”).
But we better believe it because it is happening. Fear and hate are running the day.
No one hates seeing teams representing less passionate bases win Super Bowls – and fears that the Eagles won’t win a Super Bowl in their lifetime – more than I do.
But all of you – and I don’t use the term “all of you” loosely – need to douse the fire of your ire before it consumes you.
Roseman is guilty until proven innocent. He may not be Ron Wolf (whisper: also not a “football guy”), but he was a better GM than Kelly, was he not?
And Pederson has been pre-judged by virtue of guilt by association.
The news of his hire trickled out Thursday. That means that the weekend that followed saw many of his doubters enter houses of worship and exit ill-prepared to practice what had been preached.
The Chiefs lost Saturday in the playoffs, so the Pederson hire can now be official.
Hopefully, the anxieties – the frustration that it wasn’t a sexier name – are somewhat out of the systems of the common fan.
Of all the four-letter words we are throwing around here, “Doug” should not be considered a curse, too.
Certainly not if you consider “Chip” to be one, as Pederson – with his resume being Exhibit A – appears to be the anti-Chip.
Most Iggles fans only remember Pederson as the underwhelming quarterback who kept then-rookie Donovan McNabb’s place warm for half a season – which most felt was half a season too long.
He spent 13 seasons in the NFL, starting 17 games. That’s 13 more seasons, and 17 more starts, than Kelly – or a lot of other lauded coaches – ever played.
That was a lot of offensive meetings, under the likes of Don Shula and Mike Holmgren, and he likely developed a cerebral grasp of the game while serving as an understudy to the likes of Dan Marino and Brett Favre, both of whom were able to play more on instinct and natural ability.
His coaching journey began at the high school level. He came back to the Eagles in 2009 to coach under Reid for four seasons – two as offensive quality control coordinator and two as the quarterbacks coach – before following Reid to Kansas City, where he has been the offensive coordinator since 2013.
It’s not a slam dunk resume, but not one for the round file, either. A steady ascension, albeit all under Reid, is worth noting.
Also, aside from the high school stint, he was been playing alongside – and coaching – professional athletes his whole adult life. After Kelly, it will be a welcome change.
Does all this mean Pederson will be good or great coach, the Moses figure who leads us to the Promised Land?
Of course not.
But it’s doesn’t mean he won’t – or can’t – be that, either.
We really know nothing about the man and if he has the qualities needed in a head coach.
If you know the answer to those questions, go become a fortune teller.
If not, cut the crap and get real.
This column also appeared at http://www.phillyphanatics.com