If the Super Bowl was the first time you watched Doug Pederson and the Philadelphia Eagles, his aggressive play calling likely surprised you on more than one occasion.
But for those that are familiar with Pederson’s coaching style, the now infamous “Philly Special” call from the 1-yard line on 4th-and-goal during a pivotal period of the game wasn’t surprising at all. There were games during the course of the season where Pederson went for it on fourth-down two, and even three times, in a single game – which radically bucks the conventional wisdom most NFL coaches abide by.
According to the Indy Star, Pederson’s unconventional approach rubbed off on new Colts head coach Frank Reich, who coached the quarterbacks for Pederson in Philly last year and ended up earning the job after Josh McDaniels first accepted the job, and then backed out.
That outside-the-box approach, and more specifically, an absolute trust in players by the head coach is something Reich is bringing with him to Indianapolis. According to Reich, it’s about time some of the thought that goes into the game gets an overhaul.
“There’s no question that a byproduct of working in Philly and seeing how sometimes conventional football wisdom can be challenged and it needs to be updated in ways,” Reich shared with the Indy Star. “I think it was indicative of how aggressive Doug was on fourth down and the consistency of that and the trust in the players to get it done.
“I think there’s a lot to be learned from that.”
There is no shortage of statistical analysis out there that coaches should go for it on fourth-down more than they do, but the vast majority of coaches (especially at the NFL level) have traditionally been very hesitant in pulling the trigger when the time comes.
The Indy Star notes that, in Philly, the staff had a chart going into games to guide them through those decisions so the they were able to make a call based on much more than a gut feeling, and Reich noted that with the chart they found that they can actually be more aggressive than they originally thought.
Head here to read more, including how many points those fourth-down decisions ended up accounting for per-season.