The year was 1997, and Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Doug Pederson was the third-string quarterback for the Green Bay Packers behind Steve Bono and Brett Favre. Pederson’s stat line in 1997 reads like a line of goose eggs — with the exception of his rushing stats, they are actually worse. In 1997, Doug Pederson rushed the ball three times for a total of negative-4 yards.
Pederson may not have known it then, but that was the year that his career would change forever — as 1997 was when Andy Reid was promoted to quarterbacks coach for the Green Bay Packers.
When Reid was hired as the head coach of the Philidelphia Eagles in 1999, Pederson followed him to the city of brotherly love for a season. Once Pederson’s playing career was over, he joined Reid’s coaching staff. At first, Pderson was an offensive quality control specialist. Later, he was a quarterbacks coach.
When Reid was named head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, Pederson joined Reid in Kansas City, this time as offensive coordinator.
When a student takes on the teacher
Pederson knows that a lot of his success is thanks to Reid’s guidance and teaching.
“I owe a lot to coach Reid and the things he taught me, not only as a player but (also) as an assistant coach,” said Pederson this week. “Everything about him is about pouring himself into other people, and he did that with me and helped me, you know, prepare, for my first job in Philadelphia.”
Sunday will mark the second time Reid’s former disciple has returned to GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium to face off against him. Reid won the first matchup 27-20 back in 2017.
Reid beating his former assistants is nothing new.
Heading into Sunday’s matchup, Reid has a record of 17-9 against his former assistant coaches. When Pederson was asked why he thought Reid has such a good record against coaches who used to work for him, he laughed.
“He’s a better coach, flat out,” before adding at the end, “I’m joking, of course.”
Clearing his throat, Pederson continued, explaining that part of what makes it so much fun to compete against a coach like Reid is that you know that his team is always going to show up and give you their best.
“His teams are always well coached, well disciplined, great talent. It’s a tough task, plus coming into [Kansas City] — as loud as it is, and the fan base — it’s just a great atmosphere.”
The master still has an ace or two up his sleeve
Reid has developed a reputation across the league as being one of the most creative playcallers in the NFL. Having been on the inside of the operation before, Pederson said that he knows Reid has something up his sleeve for the Jaguars this weekend that they probably haven’t seen before.
“One thing that I’ve always appreciated about coach Reid is that each week he’s going to have a handful of plays that are new, that are a little bit different. It is fun for the guys. It just continues to challenge and let your team grow. Some of these [plays] might come to him in a dream, or he’ll see it on a college football game on a Saturday afternoon, or maybe something he ran back at BYU.
That’s what it makes it hard to go against Andy Reid coached teams, because of their creativity.”
For Reid’s part, he speaks just as highly of his former coach.
“They’re a very well-coached football team, and they’re coming off a nice win against the Raiders. The players have bought into what [Pederson’s] teaching... scheme-wise, and they’re playing fast. There’s nobody hanging their heads, no poor body language. They’re excited.”
While quarterback Patrick Mahomes wasn’t yet with the Chiefs when Pederson coached in Kansas City, he said on Wednesday that Pederson’s reputation proceeds him around Arrowhead.
“I knew a lot of people that knew him and talked very highly of him. How great of a coach he was.”
Ever the competitor, Mahomes said that his main concern is making sure he doesn’t need to adjust any of the verbiage used in his playcalling.
“I have to kind of go back and ask sometimes, ‘Like on this check, does he know like what this check means and stuff like that so that we can change the code words?’ So we can change stuff up so that he doesn’t have any intel on the stuff we’re trying to get done.”
Regardless, it should be a fun matchup at Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. It’s a battle of wills between the student who is in the process of molding his own young star quarterback in Trevor Lawrence against the master who has done just that once again.
Here’s to hoping Andy-Won-Kenobi striking another blow against the “dark side.”