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January 31, 2018

What they're saying: Belichick vs. Pederson not a huge mismatch – and neither is the Super Bowl

On Tuesday, Boston Globe columnist Dan Shaughnessy took shot after shot at Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, making sure to point out all of his shortcomings, both real (his inexperience) and imagined (his timid play-calling). 

His main point was that the Eagles don't stand a chance because of how overmatched they are at head coach – and quarterback, as he plans to publish another one comparing Nick Foles and Tom Brady. Real revolutionary stuff here, Dan. Thankfully Jimmy Kempski already took a flamethrower to it, so I don't have to waste any more time talking about it. 

But not everyone is down on Pederson, Foles and the Eagles. With the second-year head coach turning 50 on Wednesday, we'll start with him in our latest edition of What They're Saying.

Don't count Doug out just yet

Tim McManus |

Ah, now this is a much better comparison of the two Super Bowl head coaches... 

Of all the surprises during the 2017 season, one of the biggest has been the tour de force performance of Eagles coach Doug Pederson. He comes into Sunday's Super Bowl matchup with the New England Patriots on a serious roll. He has managed his team past injuries to Wentz, left tackle Jason Peters, linebacker Jordan Hicks and running back Darren Sproles, tailored a system to fit backup QB Nick Foles' strengths, and been lights-out as a playcaller... 

Now Pederson faces an all-time great in Bill Belichick, who has coached more playoff games (38) than Pederson has coached overall (34). When it comes to experience and accomplishment, it's a total mismatch. But with the year Pederson has had, this feels less lopsided than anyone could have predicted a few short months ago.  []

Oh, and happy birthday, Doug. Hope you get to enjoy some ice cream.

An easy win for the Birds?

Will Brinson |

We'll get to our Super Bowl predictions round up in the coming days, but over at, one writer sees a double-digit win for the Birds. 

Betting against the Pats isn't a profitable endeavor, and Lord knows I've been wrong about some Super Bowl outcomes before (although last year's Falcons 28, Patriots 27 call was pretty close...). The Eagles could come out and be overmatched. Brady could play another Game of His Life™ en route to giving the Patriots another Super Bowl. He tends to show up on the biggest stage and picking him to lose typically backfires. Philly has weaknesses the Patriots can expose. This just feels like the strengths are going to be a problem for New England and we could see Philly manage to run away with Super Bowl LII.  []

The Book of on Brady

Dan Hanzus |

Much like Brinson – and the Eagles themselves – writer Dan Hanzus believes the key to a Birds win starts and ends with putting pressure on Tom Brady. 

And there it is. That's how you beat Tom Brady. To beat Tom Brady, you need to beat Tom Brady. The Giants did it twice in the Super Bowl. The Broncos pounded the quarterback hellaciously in the 2015 AFC title game. Rex Ryan's Jets made Brady's life hell in the 2010 AFC Divisional Playoffs -- still New England's most recent home playoff loss.

Brady's unreal work ethic has kept him healthy and limber in his 18th season, but he's still a slow-footed 40-year-old quarterback who looks like most any other passer when the pocket collapses around him. Remember how Brady saw those ghosts before Dante Fowler dropped him in the first half of the AFC title game?

If guys like Brandon Graham, Chris Long, Fletcher Cox and Vinny Curry play their game, the Eagles can summon the spirits around TB12 once more.  []

Breaking point

Alex Kirshner | SBNation

As for the Patriots defense, they might be good at keeping opponents off the scoreboard, but they do give up a ton of yards. And Kirshner believes that will play into the Eagles hands... 

In total defensive yards allowed, New England was fourth from last. It wasn’t difficult for offenses all around the league to take big chunks against this Pats’ defense.

But by the measures that matter at the end of the day, the Patriots were stingy. They were No. 5 in the league in points allowed per game, at 18.5. And while they gave up the third-most yards per defensive series, (33.5), they allowed 1.6 points per series — the sixth-best mark in the league.

By pretty much any measure, New England is one of the five worst defenses in the league at preventing yards and one of the five best at preventing points. “Bend but don’t break” is a cliche as old as defense itself, but the Patriots are its dictionary definition.  []

Recipe for success?

Don Banks |

Sure, it was in a lost season that proved to be Chip Kelly's last in Philly, but the Eagles were bigger underdogs the last time the played the Pats, and they won. On the road. 

The Eagles finished just 7-9 that season, with Kelly losing five of his last seven games following back-to-back 10-win years in 2013-14. The win at Gillette Stadium was easily the pinnacle of that lost season in Philadelphia, and being able to beat Tom Brady and Bill Belichick on their own field still resonates with those who were a part of that upset. And perhaps it’ll come in handy on Sunday, if New England again shows enough vulnerability to give the Eagles an opening to do the unexpected...

The Patriots have been taking full advantage of the cautionary tale that their 2015 meeting with the Eagles provides, reminding themselves what they are up against in a Philadelphia team that has been on top the whole way in 2017, and yet still fiercely clings to an underdog’s mentality.

“They have a lot of high character guys over there, and high character guys, regardless of what the odds are and what the records are, they’re going to compete," Slater said. “I know a lot of guys over there, and I know the type of men they are and they’re going to come out and fight. Just look at what the season has presented them with, as far as injuries and numerous challenges, and they’ve just responded week after week after week. They’re here for a reason."

The Eagles are here, and facing the favored Patriots once again, and there should be no real surprises this time. Point spreads aside, recent history tells us these teams aren’t producing a mismatch.  []

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