Doug Pederson's trust in Nick Foles key to making Philly special

Eagles' Tate on game-winning catch: 'Foles dropped a dime' (1:46)

Golden Tate says that Nick Foles threw him a "dime" for the game-winning TD and how stressed he was watching Cody Parkey's missed field goal attempt. (1:46)

PHILADELPHIA -- There is a statue outside Lincoln Financial Field of Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson and quarterback Nick Foles discussing the "Philly Special" playcall in Super Bowl LII.

What's most striking about that iconic moment, other than the fact that it brought about the greatest play in the history of the franchise, is how casual Pederson was in ceding control to his quarterback.

"You want Philly Philly?"

One Mississippi. Two Mississippi.

"Yeah, let's do it."

Yeah, let's do it. Let's run that crazy trick play on fourth-and-goal in the biggest game of our professional lives. Why not?

A similar sequence unfolded at Soldier Field on Sunday at the most critical point in the game. One minute remaining, the Eagles down five to the Chicago Bears, fourth-and-goal from the 2-yard line. Timeout. Foles jogs over to talk to Pederson.


"Yeah," Foles said. "We were over there talking and I figured, you know, from studying them in those situations where the game is on the line, they like to blitz and bring a lot of pressure. So you know, why don't we move the pocket and put one of our best guys on one of their guys and let them win. So Doug and I discussed it and he was all for it."

Instead of trickery, Foles called a sprint-out to the right. Sure enough, defensive coordinator Vic Fangio brought the heat, which Foles rolled away from before hitting Golden Tate for the touchdown.

"You can't be scared to speak your mind in situations," said Pederson, who was thinking sprint-out for that play as well. "I trust the players, and the same is true if they have ideas and they want to bring them to us. I have to trust that, and so the conversation is just that. It's open. It's honest. It's real. It's based on what he's seeing, based on what we're seeing as coaches, what I'm seeing as a playcaller, and if the instinct is right, if the gut feel is right, we go with it."

Pederson's approach seems counterintuitive to a degree. It would be natural for a coach to clutch the steering wheel extra tight in the most important moments. But as a former quarterback, he has seen things from the other side and recognizes the importance of empowering those who are in the fray.

"At the end of the day, they are playing the game, not me," he said. "I'm over on the sideline where it's a little more relaxed. They are the ones out there playing, and so it does come from learning and watching through my days of playing and being a backup and watching the starter, whoever it was, talking with the coordinator, talking with the position coach on the sideline, the offensive-line coach with protections, whatever it is, and just having that conversation.

"Things are changing for us, anyway. I'd say back in those days, it was more about the coaches making the decision and players just fall in line. But listen, I learned, too, that players make plays and they are the ones out there, and if I don't show that I trust my guys, then they will turn in a hurry, and so I have to make sure that I'm trusting them. As long as what they're saying is right and it's matching up to what we're seeing as coaches, then we can go forward."

It helps that he has a relationship with Foles that dates all the way back to the predraft process in 2012 when Pederson, then the Eagles quarterbacks coach under Andy Reid, was the only one in the NFL to travel to Arizona to work Foles out. That trust has been built up over time.

While the dialogue prior to "Philly Special" is the most celebrated, the exchange after the touchdown is just as telling.

"I was feeling it. I was feeling it right there," Foles said to Pederson as he ran back to the sideline.

"I know," Pederson responded.