What we discovered, did not be taught in Week 9 of 2017 NFL season


Doug Pederson was the final head coach employed within the 2016 cycle, the Philadelphia Eagles’ third alternative after Ben McAdoo determined to stick with the New York Giants and Tom Coughlin determined he could not make it work there. Pederson watched as McAdoo and the Miami Dolphins’ Adam Gase reached the playoffs in 2016 and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ Dirk Koetter obtained shut. Pederson’s Eagles began Three-Zero however fizzled out and completed 7-9. And whereas rookie quarterback Carson Wentz confirmed flashes, it is honest to say Pederson’s was removed from the splashiest debut season.

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How’s that trying now?

Pederson has steered the Eagles into their bye week with a league-best Eight-1 report and a seven-game profitable streak, and at midseason, he is the front-runner for NFL Coach of the Year.

The coach of the yr award is usually misunderstood — even by its voters. Too many occasions, the award goes to the coach of the crew we did not see coming — the crew that outperformed consensus preseason expectations and made the playoffs unexpectedly. The drawback with that’s: What if the consensus was mistaken? Are we rewarding a man whose roster was extra gifted than our personal flawed evaluation realized, whereas another coach who’s dragging a awful, getting old or injury-ravaged roster to 9-7 or 10-6 may be doing a greater job? And on the flip aspect, is not going 14-2 or 15-1 a uncommon and enough sufficient accomplishment — even with a powerful roster — to reward? Shouldn’t Bill Belichick all the time be a candidate?

So once I say Pederson for coach of the yr, I am not simply saying that as a result of I did not badume the Eagles can be this good this quickly. I wish to search for coach of the yr candidates whose groups (and whose groups’ success) appear to obviously replicate the coach’s affect. The speedy improvement of Wentz, who leads the NFL with 23 landing pbades halfway by his second season, is a big plus in Pederson’s column there.

Former NFL quarterbacks themselves, Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich have masterfully overseen Wentz’s transition to the NFL. They eased him in final season, feeding him bits and items of their West Coast-style NFL offense whereas working to include sufficient faculty unfold ideas to maximise his strengths. They introduced him again on this yr with a beefed-up receiving corps and fed him extra, testing his understanding of the offense towards each attainable protection in coaching camp practices, stressing him in an effort to see how rapidly he was studying. Not even they thought it could come this rapidly, however it has. And whereas Wentz’s means and power of character are to be praised, kudos to Pederson for setting up an atmosphere through which they have been in a position to flourish.

After going 7-9 in his first season as a head coach, Doug Pederson has led the Eagles to an NFL-best Eight-1 report. Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

But that is not the one purpose Pederson is coach of the yr to this point, and since this can be a “What We Learned” column based mostly off Week 9, it is essential to say what Pederson the offensive playcaller simply did to the Denver Broncos. Playing their second straight recreation with out injured potential Hall of Fame left sort out Jason Peters, the Eagles hung 51 factors on a Broncos crew that was permitting 21 per recreation coming in. They ran for 197 yards towards a crew that was permitting 73 dashing yards per recreation. Pederson’s recreation plan featured difficult, read-option stuff that helped neutralize the Broncos’ go rush and Von Miller, and it featured sufficient inventive route ideas to scheme open Alshon Jeffery and a bunch of tight ends that was taking part in with out Zach Ertz.

Philly’s success, ought to it proceed, is of the kind that adjustments lives and careers. If they maintain rolling, seize a No. 1 seed and make a deep playoff run, Wentz may very well be MVP, Reich and defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz are going to interview for head-coaching jobs and the followers can be dreaming desires the dimensions of which they have not dreamt since Andy Reid was profitable the division there each season. The man on the entrance of this may not have been the most well liked title on the 2016 teaching carousel, however a yr and a half in, he is the one having probably the most enjoyable. And he is the chief within the coach of the yr race.

Here’s a have a look at the remainder of the candidates for that award at this level, and what we discovered about them and their groups in Week 9:

You’d need to name this a two-man race proper now between Pederson and the 31-year-old McVay, who’s 6-2 with the quarterback who went one decide forward of Wentz on the prime of the 2016 draft. At the time of that choice, McVay was the offensive coordinator in Washington, and he had no relationship with Jared Goff when he was employed to teach the QB in January. But what McVay and offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur have completed is create an atmosphere through which Goff can have sufficient success that the influence of his flaws and failures are minimized. Goff is not all the time probably the most correct thrower at this stage in his profession, however by working play-action on first down and incorporating route ideas that provide Goff a number of selections on a big proportion of their performs, the Rams are getting probably the most out of a man on whom some across the league had been prepared to surrender after his rookie season. The zone-blocking ideas McVay and LaFleur introduced with them have their roots within the Mike (and now Kyle) Shanahan playbook, and so they’re paying off due to the brilliance of Todd Gurley, who additionally spent final season in quicksand.

Sean McVay is 6-2 in his first season as coach of the Rams. Photo by Robert Deutsch/USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles has a lead within the NFC West on struggling Seattle and an opportunity for the Rams’ first profitable season since 2003. They confirmed Sunday they could be a top-of-the-league-style bully, wading into the swamps of Jersey and hanging 51 on a listless Giants crew. After Houston subsequent week, the Rams’ schedule appears to be like daunting — at Minnesota, dwelling versus the Saints, at Arizona, dwelling versus the Eagles, at Seattle and at Tennessee earlier than ending up with the 49ers at dwelling. But these Rams can rating, and with McVay having correctly given over the protection to veteran coordinator Wade Phillips, they’ll win video games a number of alternative ways.

Had we completed this column a month in the past, Reid doubtless would have been the simple name for the highest spot. But the Chiefs are 1-Three since their 5-Zero begin, and the offense did not click on Sunday towards Dallas. Reid coached Sunday’s recreation like a person who does not belief his protection, and to be honest, the absence of Eric Berry and the fragility of fellows reminiscent of Derrick Johnson, Justin Houston and Tamba Hali at this level of their careers may have that impact. But the unfastened, dynamic really feel that the Kansas City offense had for the primary a part of the season was not in proof on this one. The Chiefs ran simply 55 performs, and solely 19 of them had been working performs towards a crew making an attempt to play ball management. Not Reid’s best hour, however this season has had various of these. He has Alex Smith taking part in quarterback at a excessive stage, and speedy younger playmakers reminiscent of Kareem Hunt and Tyreek Hill appear (or appeared, till this week) to have rejuvenated Reid as a playcaller. He has constructed his offense round its explosive capabilities. And current chilly streak apart, he has a 6-Three report and a two-game lead within the AFC West.

His case was stronger every week in the past, earlier than the Bills dedicated 11 penalties and doubled their season turnover whole with three in a Thursday night time loss to the Jets. The power of McDermott’s case for coach of the yr lies in the truth that he has overseen a lot dramatic turnover since he obtained there and is having success anyway. Trade Sammy Watkins in camp? Trade Marcell Dareus on the Friday of Week Eight? McDermott has his gamers’ consideration, and the Bills are 5-Three and a recreation behind the New England Patriots as they attempt to finish a 17-year playoff drought. What this week confirmed us was that it will not all the time be straightforward for McDermott, and the way in which the Bills come out in Week 10 after their mini-bye and towards the red-hot Saints will badist us resolve how rather more to make of McDermott’s case for this award. So will the 2 video games the Bills nonetheless need to play towards the Patriots, who’re 29-5 towards them throughout that aforementioned 17-year drought.

Sean Payton’s Saints are off to a 6-2 begin after three straight 7-9 seasons. AP Photo/Bill Feig

The Saints’ 2017 draft clbad is an absolute smash, with cornerback Marshon Lattimore, working again Alvin Kamara, sort out Ryan Ramczyk and security Marcus Williams all smack in the midst of New Orleans’ shocking resurgence. Payton deserves credit score for the power of all these rookies to include rapidly and for steering the crew out of an Zero-2 ditch into their present six-game profitable streak. What the Saints confirmed us in Week 9, in a 30-10 victory over a Bucs crew going nowhere, is sustained variety in methods to win on offense. It was the Kamara present on Sunday, however that does not imply it will not be Mark Ingram’s recreation to hold the load subsequent week, or that there is not every week arising through which Drew Brees should throw for 500 yards to win it. Payton has lengthy been thought to be one of many recreation’s nice playcallers, and the choices at his disposal this yr — to not point out a rejuvenated protection that is not gifting away video games anymore — are highlighting that after once more.

Honorable Mentions

  • Bill Belichick, New England Patriots: As talked about, Belichick is all the time a candidate, and there he’s at 6-2 with out Julian Edelman and with accidents all around the protection.

  • Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars: The Jaguars’ subsequent win can be their sixth. They have not gained six video games in a season since 2010. Marrone deserves a point out right here.

  • Ron Rivera, Carolina Panthers: Rivera is coping with loads in Carolina, from his quarterback’s off-field information convention points to an offense that is nonetheless struggling to determine an identification. But he is 6-Three with protection and his traditional regular hand, and he simply gained an enormous division recreation Sunday towards the Falcons.

  • Pete Carroll, Seattle Seahawks: Carroll is the principle purpose the Seahawks and their followers have religion even when issues do not look proper. Seattle is 5-Three and misplaced inexplicably to Washington, however few are higher at fixing in-season issues than Carroll and his employees are.

  • Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh Steelers: Tomlin has been performing some teaching in Pittsburgh, what with gamers asking for trades and quarterbacks questioning whether or not they have it anymore.

  • Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings: Zimmer may need the most effective NFC crew this aspect of Philadelphia, and the Vikings actually do not know who their quarterback can be from week to week.

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