What a difference a week makes. The Philadelphia Eagles have parted ways with head coach Doug Pederson after a second meeting with team owner Jeffrey Lurie turned sour. Pederson leaves as the only man to guide the franchise to a Super Bowl title.
ESPN’s Dan Graziano was the first to report the news. Pederson, who has been under fire for allegedly tanking the season finale, posted a record of 48-41 (including playoffs) in five seasons at the helm. The 52-year-old took the Eagles on an unforgettable and improbable run to the Lombardi Trophy in 2017 but it wasn’t enough to achieve long-term job security.
Pederson appeared to be safe after he joined general manager Howie Roseman on a Zoom call last week detailing their plans for the future. Then, Lurie reportedly disagreed with Pederson’s “vision” and had a sudden change of heart. One specific issue was how Pederson wanted to restructure the coaching staff in Philly, according to The Inquirer’s Jeff McLane, and promote from within rather than bring in new voices. For example, he wanted to promote Press Taylor to offensive coordinator and Matt Burke to defensive coordinator. It proved too much to overcome.
“Look, as far as the reassurances go, listen, I expect to be here in 2021 until something else happens,” Pederson told reporters on Jan. 1. “But that’s the confidence I have in my ability, and that’s how I’m going to approach the next few days and really 2021.”
The Eagles released a statement and billed the move as a mutual parting of ways, citing several conversations revolving around a “collective vision” and what they saw for the “future of the franchise.” Lurie praised Pederson as a Super Bowl-winning head coach who would have success with his next team.
The main reason for the divorce — a clean one, with neither side using the term “fired” — appeared to the two men having different views on the future of the franchise. Lurie wanted to keep the specifics of their conversation private but he did allude to his vision being more focused on taking the lessons from the past and applying them to the future. The Eagles are in a “transition period” and they need fresh eyes.
“And it’s almost not fair to Doug,” Lurie said, “because his vision has to be: what can I do to fix this right away and what coaches can I have that can help me get to a smoother 2021? My vision is much more: how can we get back to the success we’ve had and what we’re used to in the next two, three, four, five years? It’s not a difference of opinion. It’s a difference of where we’re both at, and I really feel it was in both of our interests to proceed on our own sort of paths that way.”
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Eagles Keep Struggling General Manager
Interestingly, Roseman will stay on despite putting together a doomed roster and plunging the Eagles into a nightmarish salary-cap situation. They are roughly $52 million in the red, per Over The Cap, and rank second-worst financially in the NFL. Roseman has also consistently whiffed on high draft picks in recent years, with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside becoming the poster boy for those failures.
“I’m not worried about my job,” Roseman told reporters on Jan. 4. “That’s not anything that really concerns me. That’s out of my hands. I’m worried in doing what’s the best and right thing for this team to get back. Like I said, when we talked about it, I think that some of the things that we did were more short-term oriented.”
While fans have been pleading for Roseman’s dismissal, the 45-year-old executive remains beloved in the organization and shares a special relationship with Lurie. It’ll be up to him to fix an aging roster and a broken quarterback, as well as lead the search committee for a new head coach. Roseman has now survived three different regime changes in Pederson, Chip Kelly, Andy Reid.
Pederson Becomes Hot Head-Coaching Option
Pederson should view his dismissal in Philly as a blessing in disguise. He’ll be an appealing candidate for one of six different NFL teams looking for a new head coach: Houston Texans, New York Jets, Detroit Lions, Los Angeles Chargers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Atlanta Falcons.
New York will probably have him on speed dial considering his existing relationship with Joe Douglas. The Jets general manager served as Roseman’s right-hand man in Philly where he served as vice-president of player personnel for three years. Pederson could go there and hand-pick the franchise quarterback since the Jets own the No. 2 pick in the draft.
Douglas waxed poetic about Pederson during a 2019 interview with ESPN’s Adam Schefter, hyping up both his high character and ability to get the most out of his players. Here it is, as transcribed by Alexis Chassen of Bleeding Green Nation:
Just the way Doug handled his first year. We started off 3-0, things were looking great, we lost some guys, we hit some pot holes along the way, we finished the season 7-9 and the way that he attacked that offseason and how he was able to unify the team with his messaging. And the type of guy he is, he’s as genuine and authentic of a person as you’ll ever meet. He’s a guy who says what he means, and means what he says, and players believe in him and they believe in his aggressive mindset, and so I love how he managed the team.
Adding intrigue to the situation, there had been mounting evidence throughout the year that Pederson had reached his breaking point in Philly and was trying to get fired. That would add more perspective to the decision to pull Jalen Hurts for Nate Sudfeld in Week 17. Either way, Pederson is gone and the organization needs a new head coach.
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