After the Eagles fired Chip Kelly before the end of his third season as the team’s head coach, Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said that “emotional intelligence” was a trait he was looking for in the next man to fill the job.
It’s not the kind of thing that normally comes up during a discussion of what a football team is looking for in a head coach, but it came up again on Sunday night when Lurie spoke to the media after his team advanced to Super Bowl LII. He acknowledged that people laughed about that phrase, but said he felt even more certain that looking for the “real genuineness” that comes with that emotional intelligence paid off.
“There’s a lot of great coaches,” Lurie said. “They all have their different styles, but the one common ground amongst them all is absolute consistency and genuineness. And Doug Pederson is just himself. And at times, that’s very humble, and at times, it’s just very real. At times, that’s very bright. At times, it’s tough. But he does it in a true genuine way and I think players really respond to that in today’s world.”
Eagles players certainly responded to Pederson this season as they kept winning despite losing the likes of Carson Wentz, Jason Peters, Darren Sproles and Jordan Hicks to season-ending injuries. Pederson was asked about that connection to players during a press conference on Monday.
“I think that having the connection, having been in the locker room, having an understanding of the dynamic of what a team needs, what a team should feel, how we should practice, how we should play, when to take the pads off, when to put the pads back on, I think all of that is part of that emotional intelligence that we all — and I try to strive for and to have with the guys. I think that relationship has gone a long way this season,” Pederson said.
It’s gone almost all the way and the Eagles will have a chance to finish the trip on February 4 in Minneapolis.