Ford: So far so good for Eagles and Pederson, but the road gets tougher in July

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Things have gone smoothly for Doug Pederson during spring workouts, but his first real test will come when training camp opens in July.

With the exception of whatever comes over the police scanner, the Eagles are entering radio silence for the next six weeks, with new head coach Doug Pederson having maneuvered the team well enough through one phase of a transition that still holds a few hazards.

More than anything, what Pederson has brought to the team, along with a jaw line that could cleave concrete, is a sense of comfort and familiarity. At the locker room level, he speaks the language of the players and doesn't trouble them with nonsense about wearing sleep monitors at home, or tracking their ergonomic efficiency through the day, or pushing them at a pace that negates learning and becomes pointless busy work.

You see where that comparison is going, naturally, but it is real to the players who were tossed through the spin cycle of the Chip Kelly R.P.M. machine. They have played football all their lives and - with the exception of the three Kelly-era Oregon Ducks who have thus far survived the hunt - they are more familiar with the rhythms of football that Pederson prefers.

"[They] have bought into the things that I've talked to them about, and that's encouraging," Pederson said. "The [idea is] that I can trust them, and they can trust me, and that's the bottom line in this deal."

The real bottom line for all of them doesn't arrive until September, but having a team that appears to be on the same page until that accounting begins is a positive. On the other hand, a year ago the players all said they bought into what Kelly was selling, too, so take that for what it's worth. Still, a little peace and quiet isn't a bad thing.

Pederson didn't have an entirely smooth road this spring. He had to hold his own with the scouting and player personnel departments when they were assessing potential draft picks and free agent signings and putting together a roster philosophy. There's no way to judge how much weight he carried in those discussions, but he did get Chase Daniel in the quarterbacks room, which he wanted, and he appeared enthusiastic about the decision to spend multiple tickets in order to get one dance with Carson Wentz.

That decision, and the trades and other moves to make it possible, almost certainly mean the Eagles won't be as competitive in the coming season, but, again, Pederson didn't betray a hint of not being on board with it. He obviously feels he won't be judged too harshly on just his rookie season. He better hope not, anyway.

Beyond having Pederson as an agreeable partner, Howie Roseman and the entire front office had to be pleased with how he dealt with a series of roster hiccups, any one of which could have become full-blown regurgitation if handled improperly.

Let's say a Chip Kelly roster strategy backfired to the point that a starter requested a trade because he felt he wouldn't be given the chance for long-term success here that he had been (at least tacitly) promised. Kelly would have shrugged, said a few backhanded, smart-ass things, and then traded the guy - probably at a loss.

Pederson, by comparison, said quarterback Sam Bradford would be "welcomed back with open arms" when he chose to return, and that's exactly what happened. Bradford came back from his mini-holdout and, aside from enduring some noise outside the building, work proceeded as if nothing ever happened.

"He was awesome," Bradford said.

Maybe Pederson could pull that off because everyone knows he isn't the one who makes trades. He still kept things calm while the process was taking place. The same goes for his reaction to the absence of Fletcher Cox and Darren Sproles from voluntary workouts and their return for the mandatory mini-camp.

Pederson aw-shucksed his way through an explanation of how sometimes this is the business, and he understands that, and these guys are professionals, and it's great to have them back. Again, not to suggest these are exactly parallel situations, but ask Evan Mathis how things were handled a year ago. Also again, it isn't Pederson who will be negotiating with Cox's agent.

"I'll leave that to Howie," he said.

Down in the trenches, this plays well. Pederson didn't hang out a player to dry when it came to merely business, and that resonates because it could be any of them next. When it comes to football, they won't require the same soft touch, as long as it is good work and not busy work. Pederson said there would be tackling to the ground during some sessions of training camp, which is another return to the Andy Reid days.

"I'm a big believer in putting the pads on and banging a little bit," Pederson said.

With that to look forward to when training camp opens, Pederson shut things down Thursday. It's been quite a stretch since he got the job in January, although nothing compared with the stretch that begins in six weeks. If it seems to this point that the new coach has brought back good, old football, that's part of why he was hired in the first place.

Mostly, though, he was brought in to coach the team to wins. That will take more than running familiar practices and saying comforting things. How much more no one knows yet, least of all Doug Pederson.

bford@phillynews.com

@bobfordsports


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