Doug Pederson has faced Bill Belichick and the Patriots once before – as the offensive coordinator of the Chiefs. Now, the Eagles head coach has a second chance in the Super Bowl. And he’s saying all the right things to indicate that he knows what it takes to have a chance against the Pats – even if words and actions are two entirely different things.
Speaking to reporters as part of his media availability on Wednesday at the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn., Pederson was asked about the last time he faced the Patriots. That would be the 2015 AFC Divisional Playoff with the Chiefs, a game that wasn’t as close as the 27-20 final score indicated.
To recap: the Chiefs had the ball down 27-13 with 6:29 left in the fourth quarter. Patriots fans know that they should’ve had plenty of time to try and forge a comeback. But Pederson’s offense took an incomprehensible 5:11 off the clock before the Chiefs finally scored a touchdown to make it 27-20.
But Rob Gronkowski recovered the onside kick on the next play, so that was that.
“You’ve Got To Play 60 Minutes”
After thanking the reporter for “bringing that back up” about that playoff game, Pederson acknowledged his team’s failures in that game. He pointed out their turnover problems; the Chiefs only had the one lost fumble, but the Patriots took advantage of it with a touchdown on the ensuing possession.
So since Pederson has some first-hand experience of how badly the Patriots can make you pay for mistakes, perhaps he really does understand how well the Eagles need to play in Super Bowl LII (basically perfectly), and that they need to do it for a full 60 minutes.
He also understands the importance of the facets of the game that the Patriots emphasize, such as situational awareness and attacking the opponent’s weaknesses.
“Preparation is to the Nth degree,” said Pederson. “You have to study every situation and understand how they’re gonna attack you and how we can attack them. The biggest takeaway from [the 2015 AFC Divisional Round] was the turnovers. We obviously had turnovers in that game, and against good opponents and quality teams and a quarterback like Tom, you can’t give them that many opportunities.
“We got behind in that game early and just never recovered. And it’s something I’ll remember moving forward. But you’ve got to play 60 minutes. You’ve got to play a full ballgame against these guys.”
It’s good that Pederson at least understands what the Eagles need to do and prepare for as they get ready for the Super Bowl. But let’s actually get them into the situations that Pederson speaks of and see if Sunday will produce a better result for the Eagles. Saying the words “situation” and “60 minutes” and “preparation” and “attack” are a good start, but executing all those things and doing them all flawlessly is an entirely different challenge.
But Eagles fans can at least feel good that Pederson is saying these things. Because when it comes to facing Belichick and Brady, not every head coach seems to get it.
— By Matt Dolloff, 985TheSportsHub.com
Matt Dolloff is a digital producer for 985TheSportsHub.com. Any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect those of 98.5 The Sports Hub, Beasley Media Group, or any subsidiaries. Have a news tip, question, or comment for Matt? Follow him on Twitter @mattdolloff or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.