Super Bowl: Hazleton Area Grad Eachus Played For Eagles’ Pederson
Ask the so-called experts what their perception of Doug Pederson was back when he was hired as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, and at the very least, a few of them laughed.
At the time, the Eagles were looking to replace the failed Chip Kelly experiment, and fans and media pundits were looking for owner Jeff Lurie to make a splash.
Pederson’s hiring didn’t exactly qualify as a splash move, but it was one the organization can look back on as the right move.
Ask a player who played for Pederson when he was the offensive coordinator for the Kansas City Chiefs, and former Hazleton Area star Nate Eachus feels Pederson was the best man for the job.
“He is a players’ coach in my opinion,” said Eachus, who played one season with the Chiefs.
“He is a very personable guy, a younger guy. He had a really positive attitude. All I knew him as was the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles. He was not like a lot of the new younger coaches, he was more personable.”
Eachus noted that because Pederson was a former Eagles quarterback and learned under the tutelage of former Eagles and current Chiefs head coach Andy Reid, Pederson’s hiring by the Eagles was a perfect match. And though at the time, he couldn’t predict Pederson would eventually become a head coach, he said Pederson carried himself as one.
“He was the offensive coordinator so he was always calling the plays,” Eachus said. “He kind of had that stature of a head coach. I wasn’t surprised when he got the job. He can relate to the players.”
Being a former player also helped Pederson when it came time to get the promotion. And it especially helped that he played for the Eagles and had his connection with Reid.
“He understands the day-in-day-out grind of practice, putting in the time and the 12-hour work days,” Eachus said. “At the same time, if you aren’t performing it will be the next man up. Obviously, the Eagles are in the Super Bowl in his second year. He is doing a great job. He could have been any coach, but the fact he has history with the Eagles means something to the fans and the players as well.”
Pederson was the quarterback for the Eagles in 1999, part of his 10-year career that began in Miami in 1993 and had stops along the way with Green Bay twice and Cleveland.
He began his professional coaching career as the offensive quality control coordinator with the Eagles from 2009-2010, before becoming the quarterbacks coach for two seasons and then moving on to the Chiefs.
After becoming the head coach of the Eagles on Jan. 18, 2016, the Eagles went 7-9 in his first season before winning the NFC title this year.
Despite losing starting quarterback Carson Wentz to a knee injury late in the season, Pederson plugged backup Nick Foles into the starting lineup, and though they were the underdogs in both prior postseason games, Pederson has guided the team to the last game of the year.
“I think it is important to have a former player as a head coach, especially a former player who was in the organization,” Eachus said. “He immediately gains the respect of his players. Coach Pederson was an NFL quarterback. If a former player is my head coach, I immediately have respect for him. He already knows the daily demands of being a pro athlete.
“When the Eagles hired him, it made sense to me. Maybe the Eagles fans didn’t understand it at the time. Now he has proven to everyone that he can do the job.”
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