NFL

How Coaching High School Football Helped Doug Pederson

Eagles' coach Doug Pederson celebrating after an NFC Championship win

Doug Pederson has had success early on in his career as the Eagles’ head coach. He led them to a Super Bowl championship in his second season and is 10 games over .500, at 31-21, in his first three-and-a-quarter seasons leading the team. The experience he gained coaching high school football may have helped him in his career as a head coach at the NFL level.

Doug Pederson’s playing career

After serving as the quarterback at Northeast Louisiana University, now the University of Louisiana at Monroe, from 1987-1990, Pederson had a 10-year NFL career.

He mainly served as a backup, including behind Hall of Famer Brett Favre. He appeared in 100 games in his career, including 17 starts. Pederson was 286-for-522 passing, throwing for 2,762 yards, 12 touchdowns, and 19 interceptions. He retired following the 2004 season.

Doug Pederson’s early coaching career

After his playing career ended Pederson sought a coaching job in Louisiana, and Calvary Baptist Academy, a small K-12 school in Shreveport, La., was seeking a head coach for its football team that was entering its second season as a program.

Calvary was looking for someone who could help establish the program right away. The school’s search committee set its sights on hiring Pederson because what better way to solidify a new football program that by hiring a just-retired NFL player to coach the team? Pederson took the job at Calvary and amassed a 41-10 record in his four years at the school, which included a trip to the state semifinals and the team’s first district title.

This is an incredibly short amount of time to build a program from the ground up. He remembers those years fondly, calling them “special memories,” but the NFL came calling.

Coaching in the NFL

When he took the job at Calvary, Pederson said he would only leave the school if Andy Reid offered him a job on his staff, which was what happened prior to the 2009 NFL season, when Pederson made the leap to the professional ranks as the Eagles’ offensive quality control coach.

He stayed on the Eagles’ coaching staff until 2012, when he followed Reid to Kansas City when Reid took over as the Chiefs’ head coach. Pederson was the offensive coordinator under Reid from 2013 to 2015. Then, he left to go back to Philly, this time becoming the Eagles’ head coach.

Eagles’ head coach

The Eagles went 7-9 in Pederson’s first season as head coach in 2016, which matched their record from the previous season. They had a six-game improvement the following year, going 13-3 in 2017.

This jumped them from last place in the NFC East the year before to winning the division in Pederson’s second season. Such a big improvement is even more impressive because backup quarterback Nick Foles started the last three games of the regular season after starter Carson Wentz went down with a season-ending injury.

Under Pederson’s leadership, Foles then led the Eagles through the postseason, ultimately beating Tom Brady and the Patriots to win Super Bowl LII, giving Pederson a championship ring in just his second season as an NFL head coach. Just like high school, Doug Pederson quickly built his team into a success.

That means in less than a decade, Pederson went from coaching a startup team at a small school in Louisiana to being a Super Bowl-winning head coach with the Eagles, defeating a pair of future Hall of Famers in Brady and Bill Belichick.

Pederson then led the Eagles to a 9-7 record in 2018, when Foles started five games because of injuries to Wentz. However, they couldn’t repeat as the champs as they lost to the Saints in the divisional round of the playoffs. Through the first quarter of this season, Pederson has the Eagles at .500 with a 2-2 record.