Optimism among NFL teams runs rampant during the summer and early into training camp, where teams can express lofty goals before reality sets in. Jeff Fisher’s now-infamous “I’m not going 7-9 or 8-8 or 9-7” speech from last year’s “Hard Knocks” comes to mind as a notable example.
But Doug Pederson would be in a good position to measure talent, having played in the NFL not that long ago. The Philadelphia Eagles coach, though, made a lofty comparison recently — one that is sure to raise a few eyebrows.
“I look back at my time in Green Bay as a player when we were making those playoff runs and those Super Bowl runs there, and do we have as much talent on this team than we did then? We probably have more talent, right?” Pederson said, via Tim McManus of ESPN.com.
Pederson played for the Packers from 1996-98 before returning to close his career in Wisconsin from 2001-04. The Brett Favre-led operation qualified for back-to-back Super Bowls after the 1996 and ’97 seasons, winning Super Bowl XXXI. His former backup is probably technically correct, given the evolution of athletes and the modern training methods available to him; Pederson’s current Eagles are likely more talented when that is factored in.
But without adjusting for the era, Pederson’s comparison about a team that finished last in the NFC East in 2016 is interesting.
“But we also had a lot of talent in  here and where did that get us? So there’s got to be a combination of blending all this talent with the coaching staff, with my ideas and philosophy, to bring that all together, put the egos aside, put pride aside, and just go focus on winning this game that we have in front of us,” said Pederson, who served as Andy Reid’s quarterbacks coach on the 2011 Eagles.
The Eagles went 7-9 in 2016 but did add the likes of Alshon Jeffery, LeGarrette Blount and Patrick Robinson in free agency. Still, the Eagles haven’t made the playoffs since 2013. They have a ways to go before comparisons to repeat Super Bowl entrants are realistic.
“If we win eight, go 8-8, is that a successful year? No. … I don’t coach to be average, I’ll tell you that,” Pederson said. “These players don’t practice the way they do to be average. We’re all in this together, and we’ll just continue to work every single day till we get to that goal.”