Doug Pederson belongs to an exclusive Super Bowl club — head coaches who’ve beaten Bill Belichick in the Super Bowl.
There are only two members of the club – Pederson and Tom Coughlin, who did it twice.
Belichick has been a head coach in eight Super Bowls and faced seven different coaches. He won five and lost to Pederson last February (when the Philadelphia Eagles beat his New England Patriots) and to Coughlin twice in a five-year span.
Pederson, though, is showing there is not one formula for being a successful head coach. He has a lot more personality than either Coughlin or Belichick, and he is very candid in his new book, “Fearless, How an Underdog Becomes a Champion” written with veteran writer Dan Pompei.
Pederson raised a few eyebrows by saying in his book he wouldn’t have taken a knee in the final minute of the first half the way Jacksonville’s Doug Marrone did in the AFC title game. It was a bad move by Marrone, but most coaches wouldn’t go public with comments like that.
But there is much more in the book.
Pederson admits that when he met Belichick on the field before the Super Bowl, he thought, “I’m going to kick your tail. Definitely going to kick your tail.’’
Most coaches wouldn’t admit they were thinking that.
He also told the players not to get caught up in the Patriots’ mystique.
“It’s not about mystique, it’s not about Tom Brady. The teams that they played just quit, they shut down,’’ Pederson said.
“Quit” might not be the right word, but the five coaches who lost to Belichick in the Super Bowl were all guilty of bad mistakes — although Pederson didn’t go into the details in his book.
For example, Seattle’s decision to pass from the one and Atlanta blowing a 28-3 lead with poor play-calling.
But the first three coaches to lose to Belichick in the Super Bowl all made mistakes, including his mentor, Andy Reid, who didn’t go into the hurry-up mode trailing by 10 in the fourth quarter and used up too much time scoring a touchdown to lose by three.
Pederson didn’t make any big mistakes and handled a lot of adversity.
He also talks about how the team was down when Carson Wentz was injured.
“The truth is, I was crushed, too,’’ he said.
But he couldn’t show that to the team.
His mantra became, “One man can make a difference, but a team can make a miracle.’’
His son-in-law saw the quote on a photo taken backstage at a Tim McGraw concert in Green Bay. Pederson had no idea where the quote came from, but it was perfect for the situation.
The team rallied behind backup Nick Foles and ran the table as an underdog in all three postseason games.
He also spreads credit around, saying everyone in the organization is part of the success story, including the people who work in the pro shop.
And he gives credit to his wife for being a rock for him and helping him deal with a five-game losing streak in 2016.
“Where is your confidence?’’ she told him. “It was fun watching you in high school. Your play calls were fantastic. I know you can call plays.’’
And he listens to the players. He planned to call “Philly Special” from the two- or three- yard line. But when Foles suggested it on fourth down from the one, Pederson gave him the green light.
The name of the book came from his fearless attitude in calling plays.
He went for it on fourth down 26 times, second-most in the league. He went for a two-point conversion nine times, most in the league, and made six.
Despite all his success, Pederson admits he had to deal with doubts that he was up for the job when he was first hired. He showed he was.
The book also covers his unlikely life story. He wasn’t drafted, and only one team, Miami, showed any interest in him when he was coming out of Northeast Louisiana. The Dolphins cut him four of the six times he was waived.
But Pederson lasted 14 years as a backup, despite starting just 17 games and going 3-14 in those starts.
He then coached a high school team, going 41-10 in four years, before Reid hired him as an assistant.
Eight years later, Pederson was a head coach. But his attitude is that the job doesn’t define him.
The most surprising thing is that Pederson nsaid he will be “content” coaching eight to 10 more years “if I’m blessed enough to last that long.’’
“I’d love to do it all in Philadelphia, to be able to stay with one team and do it right, win multiple championships,’’ he said. “Then I could retire and have time to spend with Jeannie, my kids and maybe my grandkids. I could enjoy the twilight years and ride off into the sunset. That’s the dream.’’
If he has that much success – he is already just one of four coaches to win a Super Bowl as a player and a head coach — could he walk away on top?
We will see, but very few can walk away from coaching when they are still winning.
But then Pederson shows he always does things his way.