The Eagles won the NFC East and may have made a lengthy postseason run, minus a cheap shot off the helmet of Jadeveon Clowney. It wasn’t meant to be.
Instead, the team’s brass assembled before the media on Wednesday and answered the tough questions. Eagles GM Howie Roseman and head coach Doug Pederson stood up in the ultimate pressure cooker and put on their best poker faces. They acknowledged they didn’t achieve the goals they had set out at the beginning of the year and apologized to the Philadelphia fans.
“I think when you have a disappointing season it’s not just on the players and the coaches; it’s also on the front office,” Roseman told reporters. “That starts with me, and I’m sorry to our fans. They give us tremendous support.”
They also revealed a few tweaks to the structure of the organization, namely in announcing the Eagles had hired a new chief medical officer to combat the never-ending rash of injuries to the roster.
“Injuries are going to happen. But we have to figure out a way to get better here,” Roseman said. “We can help from a front office perspective by looking at the players that we bring in. Hope is not a strategy when it comes to injuries. When you bring in guys that are injured, it obviously increases the risk that they will get hurt again.”
Mike Groh, Carson Walch Coming Back as Lead Assistants
The biggest takeaway from Wednesday’s press conference was in regard to Doug Pederson’s coaching staff.
There had been a growing sentiment that the team may be moving in a different direction at the vital positions of offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach. That doesn’t appear to be the case.
Pederson gave a full vote of confidence to Mike Groh and Carson Walch, two guys credited with helping to rally the troops and lead a four-game winning streak down the stretch. Especially Walch.
Remember, the Eagles went into their wild-card playoff game with five former practice-squad players — Robert Davis, Boston Scott, Greg Ward, Deontay Burnett, Shelton Gibson — all getting meaningful snaps, including four wide receivers. Groh even received mention as a possible head-coaching candidate. Both men will be retained next season.
“Yes, both those guys will be back,” head coach Doug Pederson told reporters. “I think both of those guys did an outstanding job for me this year. There were a lot of things we faced on offense as you know, through adversity, through injury, through many different facets of trying to get the pieces together.”
Groh had come under intense scrutiny early in the year but his unit turned it around. The Eagles finished the season ranked No. 14 in total offense after averaging 360.8 yards and 24.1 points per game. Their average of 22.1 first downs per game was good enough for fourth-best in the league.
“For guys to basically come off our practice roster, who were within weeks of being on our roster or being on the practice squad, to be elevated to game status, it’s not easy to do,” Pederson said, “and these two gentlemen did an outstanding job for me, for the team, and really put us in a position to be in the postseason here at the end of the year.”
Jim Schwartz Interviewing for Browns Head Job
Doug Pederson confirmed that Jim Schwartz had an interview scheduled with the Cleveland Browns on Wednesday. Don’t worry.
Barring a head-coaching offer, Schwartz will likely return to Philadelphia in the same capacity as defensive coordinator. Likely, not definitely.
“I would assume, yes,” Pederson said of Schwartz returning next year. “He’s currently my DC [defensive coordinator], yeah.”
Pederson followed his answer up by saying that everyone on his coaching staff would be evaluated.
Pederson also praised Schwartz’s credentials and wished him the best in his dogged pursuit of a head-coaching gig. Schwartz, of course, served as head coach of the Detroit Lions from 2009 to 2013 and went 29-52.
“I think he would make a tremendous head coach again,” Pederson said. “His leadership and obviously what he has brought to me and how I have been able to lean on him through his experiences as a former head coach. Jim has done an outstanding job with our defense, obviously, and the improvement that we saw throughout the course of this season. I’m excited for him and his opportunity and wish him the best.”
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