Philadelphia coach Doug Pederson faces a big challenge on Sunday.
He will face his mentor and former Eagles coach Andy Reid when Philadelphia plays the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday.
Reid owns an 8-3 record against former assistant coaches.
“Eight and three, huh?” Pederson said last Wednesday. “Obviously, it’s a tough task. But I don’t want to put any added stress or pressure on myself to go perform. I can’t get caught up in that record. I can’t get caught up in who’s on the other sideline. I’ve just got to focus on my job and getting our team ready to play.”
For many years, they were on the same sideline.
Their relationship dates back 20 years, when Pederson was Brett Favre’s backup for Green Bay and Reid was the Packers’ quarterbacks coach.
Although he rarely played, Pederson evidently impressed Reid with his knowledge of the game and his even-tempered approach. When Reid was hired to be the Eagles’ head coach in 1999, one of his first moves was to sign Pederson to be his starting quarterback until rookie Donovan McNabb was ready to play.
Playing quarterback for the Eagles is a tough job. Sort of like being the head coach.
“That comes with the territory,” Reid said Wednesday in a phone interview. “The thing you love about Philadelphia is that you (fans and media) are all in when we’re winning and doing well and when we stink, you let us know. You just have to kind of take it.”
The two reunited in 2009, when Pederson joined Reid’s staff as an assistant coach. Reid was unemployed for about 10 minutes after the Eagles fired him in 2012, signing with Kansas City.
He brought Pederson with him to be his offensive coordinator.
Reid installed the offense for each game. Eventually Pederson assumed a bigger role and was calling the plays toward the end of the 2015 season.
“I learned a lot from him,” Pederson said. “(Reid) is a guy that spends the time. You have to spend time watching tape. You have to spend time with your players. There’s no shortcut around that. And those are the things he instilled in me. If you want things done right, then you have to spend the time.”
Reid also deserves some credit — or maybe blame, depending on how this season goes — for Pederson getting his current job.
When owner Jeffrey Lurie, Vice President of Football Operations Howie Roseman, former Eagles quarterback Ron Jaworski and others were searching for a replacement for Chip Kelly, they consulted Reid.
Naturally, Reid endorsed his protege.
“Obviously, I’m partial, but I think they made a very good decision,” he said. “I think he’s done a phenomenal job so far. What helps him is that he can bring the player perspective to the job. He knows when to crank on the guys and when to pull off. He wants his guys to make sure they enjoy the game and that goes a long way.”
Pederson is regarded as more of a players’ coach, but that’s not to say Reid wasn’t also close to his players.
Eight current Eagles — tight end Brent Celek, defensive tackle Fletcher Cox, defensive end Vinny Curry, quarterback Nick Foles, defensive end Brandon Graham, linebacker Mychal Kendricks and tackle Jason Peters — have played for both coaches.
“I’ll always be grateful to coach Reid because he drafted me,” Celek said Wednesday. “And I’ll always be grateful to Doug for giving me the opportunity to continue my career.”
Much of what Pederson learned from Reid had nothing to do with football.
Pederson recalled late-night film sessions and game-planning during their years in Kansas City in which the conversation would often be more about other topics.
“We talked about a lot of stuff,” Pederson said. “Just reminiscing about our days in Green Bay or our days in Philadelphia, just talking about family. Those late-night meetings when it’s 11:30 or midnight and we’re telling stories or he’s listening to Zac Brown Band. Those are the moments that I’ve cherished the most with him.”