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Andy Cohen: Remember Doug Pederson? Don Shula Does

Posted Dec 6, 2011

He is the answer to a great trivia question and I’m wondering how many Dol-Fans would have gotten it. Doug Pederson is quarterback coach of the Philadelphia Eagles these days. But 18 years ago on a mid-November day in Philadelphia, it was Pederson who put his name in Dolphins history, the quarterback that helped Don Shula become the winningest coach of all time.

Replacing the injured Scott Mitchell in the third quarter, Pederson led the Dolphins to a come-from-behind 19-14 victory over the Eagles and watched as Shula was carried off the field, his 325th coaching victory in tact.

“It really didn’t hit me until a couple of weeks later,” Pederson recalls today. “I have a print on my wall at home that honors that game and all the guys signed it. I look at it and remember. It was a great achievement for Coach.”

The Eagles and Dolphins play again this Sunday and everything is now different. Shula will watch the game from his skybox and Pederson will be in the coaches box with the other Eagles assistants. But whenever these two teams play, it’s hard for me not to think back to that game in 1993 when Shula broke a record that, I believe, will never be matched.

I remember Pederson standing by his locker after the game, not knowing really what to say. “Everybody suspected it would be Dan Marino in that position since he had won so many of those games with Coach Shula,” Pederson said.

But Marino was out with a season-ending Achilles’ injury and that moved Pederson up the pecking order. The Dolphins were trailing 14-13 when Mitchell went down. Pederson led the Dolphins to a pair of field goals and the victory. With it, his place in Dolphins history was secured. Pederson played only that one season with the Dolphins, and will be remembered for just one game.

And now that he is a coach – trying to solve the riddle of a vastly improved Dolphins defense this Sunday – he has a far better appreciation of Shula’s record.

“I look at Coach (Andy Reid) here in Philadelphia and what he has accomplished with more than 100 wins and he is still almost 200 wins short of Coach Shula’s record. It is incredible he had so much success for so long.”

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Back to the present and some additional thoughts before we put the victory over the Raiders behind us:

• The efficiency of quarterback Matt Moore continues to be remarkable. He has thrown two interceptions in the last seven games. It’s been a while since a Dolphins quarterback has been so mistake-free. Another aspect of Moore’s game that is highly underrated is his running ability. He has a great knack of knowing when to take off, when to slide, and when to just throw the ball away. You just don’t see many minus plays with this guy. Every game, I am more and more impressed.

• Can we finally put to bed all those questions about Reggie Bush being an every down back? It is clear, abundantly clear, that Bush can run the ball 20-25 times a game and still be fresh in the fourth quarter. This is a unique player, a unique person.

• Cornerback Vontae Davis is finally playing at an All-Pro level. He is a healthy and seems so at peace with himself. His sack against the Raiders was the first of his career, though I’ve got a feeling there are many more to come. When Davis is at his best, he does not need help from a safety. The value of this can not be overstated. There is no reason why Davis can’t now reside among the top cornerbacks in the league.

• The Dolphins defense had nine minus plays against the Raiders, according to Coach Tony Sparano. That statistic says so much about what this defense has accomplished lately. The defense is moving the line of scrimmage backward. I thought the Raiders would be a tough physical test for this defense. The Dolphins passed that test convincingly.

• Thought John Jerry did a nice job replacing the injured Vernon Carey at guard. Jerry is a massive individual. He could probably lose some of that “massive” in order to be more effective, though I was encouraged with what I saw.

• Cross your fingers that it continues, but if the Dolphins aren’t the healthiest team in the league with four games left they are certainly in the conversation.

• Finally, I know this is still several weeks away, but I’m already looking forward to the game at New England on Christmas Eve. This could serve as a clear indication of how far this football team has come. Everybody, no doubt, remembers what happened to the Dolphins, specifically on defense, in their season opener way back on Sept. 12th. If Tom Brady thinks he’ll be seeing the same defense again, he’s in for a major surprise. This isn’t to say the Dolphins are going to stop Brady – who does? – but I don’t expect it to be anything like it was in the first meeting.
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