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McLane: Pederson showing he's more than just a Reid clone

Doug Pederson has adopted his share from the Andy Reid school of head coaching, but he has also diverged from the template, most notably in regard to how offensive plays are communicated and the speed at which they are delivered.

Doug Pederson has adopted his share from the Andy Reid school of head coaching, but he has also diverged from the template, most notably in regard to how offensive plays are communicated and the speed at which they are delivered.

The new Eagles coach has altered about half of the West Coast terminology to one-word calls, he has streamlined the play-calling process, and he has allowed quarterback Carson Wentz to wear a wristband with the plays printed it.

All three changes were implemented in the interest of saving time. The 2-0 Eagles, it should be noted, have yet to waste a timeout because a play took too long to reach the huddle or because Wentz had a difficult time spitting out verbose calls.

"I love it, personally," Pederson said of the wristband. "It speeds up play calls because I can just throw him a number and then he reads it right off the wristband . . ."

Reid has never had a quarterback wear the wristband, but Pederson said that it wasn't because his mentor forbade it. Nevertheless, there is the stigma that a wristband is a crutch. And Reid, at least during his time with the Eagles, never demanded Donovan McNabb or others wear it.

"They had talked about it as an option before I was even the guy," Wentz said. "And then I kind of pushed for it for a little more comfort."

Pederson has heard the Andy Lite comments since the Eagles hired him in January. Owner Jeffrey Lurie made it clear that his association with Reid was one of the characteristics that made him an attractive candidate. And much of Pederson's offense, training, and schedule have come from the former Eagles coach.

But Pederson has picked his spots to tweak. He may be a newer version of Reid, but he is also very much his own man.

"I don't try to fight it as much as try to be who I am," Pederson said of the Reid comparisons. "Listen, a lot of my background has been learning from Andy Reid, so that's kind of all I've known. But at the same time, I've watched and observed and took my notes over the years and have now tried to do things differently."

Pederson is 160 wins, 11 playoff appearances, six NFC East crowns, and an NFC championship game victory from being mentioned in Reid's class. But of the changes he has made to his mentor's blueprint, each would seem to address a weakness or seem logical.

Spring workouts and training camp were a carbon copy of Reid's. But the regular-season schedule has been different, in particular the time between the morning walk-through and practice. Reid's plan has lunch and media availability in between the two sessions, while Pederson moved practice from early afternoon to late morning.

"There was such a big break between the walk-through and practice and I just wanted to flow right into practice," Pederson said. "Give the players the back-end times for meetings, media, lift."

The morning time line is now breakfast, installation meetings, walk-through, and a practice that runs into the early afternoon. Fletcher Cox, who played a season under Reid, said that the players are given about three minutes to put their pads and helmets on in between walk-through and practice.

"It carries over into the practice so it's fresh in our mind," Cox said. "And you don't have to get dressed again."

Wentz wore a wristband at North Dakota State. He said he uses it now for "little reminders" and in case the headset in his helmet goes out.

"It's being adaptable to what your players' need or want to be successful," said backup quarterback Chase Daniel, who played for Reid with the Chiefs. "Carson felt really comfortable with the wristband and it showed. It's actually sped up the calls even more because you're just getting the wristband number."

Pederson originally said that he would follow Reid's play-calling system that had the head coach relaying the call to the offensive coordinator, who then passed it on to the quarterback. Reporters asked him then if it was too cumbersome and Pederson said that he would experiment with dropping the middleman.

He ultimately decided to keep the modification. One-word calls and numbered calls on a wristband and simplifying the communication have gotten the Eagles offense out of the huddle quicker and have allowed Wentz to get to the line with plenty of time to make the necessary pre-snap reads.

"It's a lot faster," Daniel said. "There's no doubt."

Pederson's full team meetings are about the same length as Reid's - five minutes - but he may have more to say. Reid was stoic, at least toward the end of his Eagles tenure.

"Coach Reid was relatable, but a lot of guys were intimidated by him, too," defensive end Brandon Graham said. "Doug's more outgoing. He's just younger. He's having more fun. Not that Coach Reid didn't have fun, but he tried to have this serious approach."

Reid reportedly tried to improve his relationship with the locker room in Kansas City, but he is always going to be coming from an outsider's position. Pederson spent 13 years inside.

"I love being with the guys," Pederson said. "Andy loves being with the guys, but I think it's different from my standpoint because having been in the locker room as a player you kind of know that dynamic."

There are, of course, risks with becoming buddy-buddy with the players. But Pederson seems to have their ears, and more important, he seems to listen. He will evolve from Reid, and if all goes right, Andy 2.0 will be better than the original.