Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson took the high road and turned a negative into a positive when addressing former New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo's comments about the Eagles' chances of repeating as Super Bowl champions.
McAdoo lobbied the following shot last week to the New York Post:
"I think Philly, how much success has Philly had?" McAdoo said. "I think they're gonna have a hard time handling success."
While Eagles cornerback Jalen Mills quickly dismissed McAdoo's words as "irrelevant," the Philadelphia coach took a different approach.
"I think there's a point there," Pederson said, via NBC Sports Philadelphia. "I mean, quite honestly, complacency can set in. You can skip an OTA, you can maybe skip a workout or whatever. But what I saw from our players was not that. Our players showed up for OTAs, they spent time getting themselves ready.
"... It is my job to make sure they don't get complacent and we stay hungry and there is an edge. And we're going to get everybody's best each week and that's what we want. I think anybody that plays on Sunday wants to play the best.
"So now we've got the targets on our backs and we're going to embrace that and get ready this training camp and we are going to try to defend. But at the same time, we're going to take it one week at a time and build the season just like we did last year."
The Eagles relied heavily on the underdog theme as they navigated their way through the playoffs before posting a 41-33 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LII.
"It's a great opportunity for us this season. Great motivating factor for us to sort of rip off the dog masks and no longer be the underdog, but now be the hunted. Have the target on our back," Pederson said during mandatory minicamp in June.
"We have to embrace it and use it as sort of motivation to get back to that game and to do it for the guys that didn't have an opportunity to play in that game last year."
McAdoo was fired in December with four games remaining in the regular season. The Giants were 2-10 in McAdoo's second season when management decided to axe the coach along with general manager Jerry Reese.
The disastrous 3-13 finish in 2017 may have cost McAdoo his job, but it gave New York the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, which was used to take running back Saquon Barkley out of Penn State.