PHILADELPHIA -- He didn't look like Andy Reid. He was taller, leaner and younger, and he sported longer, gray hair and a clean shaven face. He didn't clear his throat before he spoke or announce, "Time's yours" after an opening statement to a standing-room-only crowd at the Philadelphia Eagles' practice facility.
But make no mistake: The Eagles' 22nd head coach bears a striking resemblance to its 20th head coach. Doug Pederson is Andy Reid 2.0.
And after the failed Chip Kelly experiment, that's OK. This organization needs stability. It needs accountability. It needs a human being -- not a Chip-bot -- who understands that men coach and play this great game, and they have lives and problems and issues just like everyone else. They aren't programmable droids you can force to sleep 12 hours a day and suck down banana-and-berry smoothies for lunch and treat as replaceable parts instead valuable commodities.
The Eagles need a real person, a leader and a guy who can unify a building that fractured under Kelly's enormous ego and inflexibility.
That person is the soon-to-be 48-year-old Pederson, a former journeyman quarterback who played and coached in Philadelphia during Reid's 14-year reign that produced six division titles, five NFC championship game appearances and one Super Bowl run.
It is striking, however, that at a time when Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie needed to stabilize his franchise, he went back to the past to move into the future. Lurie solicited his former head coach's opinion about whom he should hire -- unusual enough in its own right -- and then, after allegedly discussing that opinion with just about everyone in the NFL, took Reid's recommendation and ran with it. Lurie essentially said: If Pederson is good enough for Andy, then he's good enough for me.
Reid still holds that much sway over Lurie. Yes, he is the franchise's all-time winningest coach and a man still revered by players and employees inside the team's South Philadelphia practice facility. But there are plenty of people in the league who view Lurie's hiring of Pederson as a direct admission that the owner believes he never should have fired Reid in the first place. It was time for Reid to go, but all one needs to do is look at the postseason scoreboard since Lurie moved on to Kelly in 2013. Postseason appearances: Kansas City 2, Philadelphia 1. Postseason wins: Kansas City 1, Philadelphia 0.
And that says nothing of the talent Kelly showed the door during his three-year run that likely set the franchise back as long, if not longer.
So Lurie went back to the familiar. He went back to what was safe. In 1999, when Lurie hired Reid to replace Ray Rhodes, few had heard of Reid, who had all of seven years of NFL coaching experience. He came to the Eagles after coaching various positions with the Green Bay Packers, the most recent in 1998 as the quarterbacks coach. He'd never been a coordinator, never called plays.
Pederson is somewhat similar in his relative anonymity. He played 10 years in the league, starting 17 career games, including nine in Philadelphia, and posting a 3-14 record. He coached high school football in Louisiana for four years after retiring in 2004, and then joined Reid's staff in Philadelphia, where he served two seasons as an offensive quality control coach and two seasons as the Eagles' quarterbacks coach.
When Reid moved on to Kansas City, he made Pederson his offensive coordinator. The caveat: Reid would call the plays. Pederson would have input.
That changed this season after the Chiefs started 1-5. Reid called the first half of games, Pederson called the second, which meant that down the stretch against New England on Saturday, when the Chiefs trailed by 14 points yet took their sweet time moving down the field, Pederson was the man setting the tempo.
It wasn't the greatest admission. Eagles fans will never forget Super Bowl XXXIX, when the Eagles moved at a snail's pace down the stretch against the Patriots even though they trailed by two scores.
That's not the Reid comparison Pederson needed on his first day back in Philadelphia.
To his credit, Pederson didn't run from the Reid narrative. On multiple occasions, he called Reid "a mentor," and even allowed, "It doesn't hurt to have an Andy Reid endorsement."
"I think the things I've learned from him is how he embraces his players, the way he talks to his players, the way he cares for his players," Pederson said of Reid. "I think there are some similarities there. I think it's important that you understand what a player is going through. He's having a bad day on the practice field, well it's not just because he didn't get up on time. [Reid is] good about diving into the character of the man. That's how you get players to play. When you care about them at that level, then they'll do anything for you."
That said, Pederson added: "This is not an Andy Reid team. This is not a Doug Pederson team. It's the Philadelphia Eagles team."
That it is, and after the past three years when it was most definitely a Chip Kelly team, that's not the worst thing in the world. The bigger question now: Can Pederson turn the Eagles into a playoff team? Because if he can't do that and do it relatively quickly, it won't matter that Reid endorsed him.
Doug Pederson, time's yours.