Doug Pederson was the designated opening-day starter in 1999, Andy Reid's first year with the Eagles, but we all knew it was only a matter of time before Donovan McNabb would be the starter. And about a week before the season began, Reid announced that he would actually give McNabb a few series here and there in relief of Pederson to get him acclimated to the NFL game before he became the permanent starter. That made Pederson the first QB in history to get benched before he even took a snap. I remember catching up with Doug in the parking lot after practice the day Big Red made that announcement and asked him about leaving games so a rookie could get some reps. And Doug essentially said, Oh, OK, well, that's great, that's a terrific opportunity for him. It'll help him get a feel for the speed of the game before he becomes the starter. Doug said Donovan was the future of the franchise and he was all for whatever made the team better. I was floored. Here was a veteran NFL quarterback who I thought was being almost publicly humiliated by the head coach — I mean, who announces that he's going to take the starter out before the game even starts? — and he was handling it like a total team guy. Now, almost two decades later, that same team-first mentality has carried the Eagles to a 12-2 record and a first-round bye. Same guy. Same attitude. Doug was asked Monday what the biggest challenges of this 2017 season have been, and he first mentioned all the injuries the Eagles have dealt with and the second thing he brought up — on his own — was how tricky it is making sure all the skill guys stayed focused on team goals while getting limited reps and putting up what some may perceive as subpar stats. The Eagles won't have a 1,000-yard rusher or a 1,000-yard receiver. When the Pro Bowl teams are announced Tuesday night, Carson Wentz will be the only offensive skill player on the list. But here the Eagles are on pace for the 20th-most points in NFL history. Pederson has found a way to keep veterans like LeGarrette Blount and Alshon Jeffery, who are used to being THE MAN, focused on team goals while their individual numbers suffer, and that wasn't easy.