The NFL clipped a microphone onto Doug Pederson for last Sunday's game against the 49ers, and it captured the Eagles coach in a mode fans might not recognize.
Pederson's reputation is for being a "players' coach." It's a tag he embraces. Frequently, Pederson's answers to questions contain references to when he was an NFL quarterback, about how he knows how it feels to be released or traded or benched. Everyone remembers that Jeffrey Lurie's big requirement, in the wake of the Chip Kelly disaster, was that his new coach exhibit "emotional intelligence," that he communicate honestly and effectively with players and staff.
Pederson rarely criticizes specific players to reporters, and he tends to emphasize the responsibility of coaches in getting problems corrected, instead of blaming the guys on the field.
In a clip popularized on Twitter this week by Philly Influencer writer Nick Piccone, Pederson does a bit of pungent communicating. It happens in the first half of a game the Eagles ultimately won handily, after leading the winless 49ers only 3-0 at the end of the first quarter.
The offense is trotting off the field and the punt team is headed on. Here is what the head coach has to say in the 13-second snippet, delivered at the top of his voice, with some heat:
"We're goin' BACKWARD, dammit," Pederson says around the 2:07 mark. "Let's go! Before I lose my frickin' MIND, we better figure this s— OUT! Let's go offense! Pull your head out of your ass!"
You can watch the video here.
Practice-squad offensive lineman Josh Andrews is the player standing closest to Pederson, and Andrews looks over with trepidation, though obviously, Andrews isn't at fault, he isn't playing. A ball boy standing between Pederson and Andrews quickly backs up and out of the coach's view.
Andrews said this week he had no memory of the situation.
Guards Brandon Brooks and Stefen Wisniewski trundle past the camera just as Pederson delivers his opinion on where the offense's head is located; later, neither Brooks nor Wisniewski acknowledged recalling that moment in the game, but both said it sounded unremarkable.
"When you hear 'players' coach,' you're like, 'Aw, man! The players do whatever they want!' But being a players' coach, to me, is more along the lines of, you're in tune with the players," Brooks said. "You know how dudes are feeling."
And you also know when you aren't getting their best effort, Brooks added.
"I just don't want people to misinterpret – he will get after some ass out there, if we're not doing what we're supposed to do, offensively, defensively, special teams. He'll call guys out, call units out, challenge units," Brooks said.
"If we're not doing things right or doing things well, he's going to tell us about it," Wisniewski said. "I think every good coach does that, you know? Being a players' coach is a good thing, but obviously, if something's wrong, you've got to tell your players about it, and he definitely does that."
Wisniewski said one reason he doesn't remember the upbraiding is that when things are going poorly, he gets much more specific, detailed criticism from offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland.
"I didn't hear much of him talking, really. I mostly just deal with 'Stout.' Stout's got a high standard for us, and for himself, and if we're doing anything wrong, he's going to let us know," Wisniewski said.
Pederson had seen the clip before a reporter brought it up, following Pederson's Friday news conference.
"A players' coach is not being buddy-buddy. A players' coach is understanding the players, having been in the locker room, but at the same time, knowing what it takes to get the work done, and the effort," Pederson said. "I just felt at the time of that little rant that we weren't performing up to our capabilities."
Pederson and his staff, with the Eagles 7-1 heading into Sunday's visit from the Denver Broncos, seem to have built an atmosphere in which players expect to be held to a high standard.
Wideout Mack Hollins said he didn't remember Pederson saying anything last Sunday, mainly because he and everyone around him felt upset with the offense's execution.
"I feel like everybody was [unhappy]. We know what we can be. We know what our level should be at, and when it's not there, we know that something needs to be corrected," Hollins said.
Linebacker Nigel Bradham said Pederson isn't in defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz's league when it comes to invective, "but they both'll get on you. When it's needed, it's needed. Gotta get stuff done. That's how it is."
This wasn't the first time Pederson has worn a microphone during a game. He said Friday that he doesn't tone anything down on the sideline because of it, mainly because he forgets the mic is there.
"You kind of know it's on, like, during pregame … you're careful with what you say and who you're talking with and what you're sharing," Pederson said. "But once the game starts, you totally forget that that thing's on."