Philadelphia Eagles general manager Howie Roseman caused a stir in the offseason when he declared the franchise was a “quarterback factory.” He was explaining the head-scratching decision to draft Jalen Hurts in the second round, a calculated move that has greatly impacted the franchise’s future.
Leaving Hurts’ immense talent out of the equation, the decision to draft the dual-threat rookie caused an instant quarterback controversy. The Eagles had just signed Carson Wentz to an $128 million extension and were finally putting the ghost of Nick Foles in the rear-view mirror. Why invite the drama?
Roseman’s main point at the time was that the Eagles consider themselves quarterback whisperers and developers of talent. Head coach Doug Pederson is a former signal-caller and has guided the team to an 11-5 mark with backup quarterbacks at the helm. Heck, he delivered a Super Bowl with one in Foles.
So it shouldn’t have been too big a leap to hear Pederson echo Roseman’s sentiments when asked to describe the pre-draft process on Hurts. He called the rookie an “intriguing figure for us,” citing conversations with regional scouts and assistant coaches, and “one of the top quarterbacks in the draft.”
Doug Pederson says as long as he's the head coach #Eagles will always evaluate the QB position and place a heavy emphasis on it, including when scouting prospects and adding talent. Translation: the team is keeping the quarterback factory in business! #FlyEaglesFly
— Michael Greger (@mike_greger) December 30, 2020
“As long as I’m the head coach here, we’re always going to evaluate the quarterback position, that’s not one position that is exempt from anything,” Pederson told reporters on Wednesday. “If we’re not looking at that position, I feel like we’re not getting better, we’re not adding depth. You’ve seen us here over the course of my five years, how the backup quarterback has been very effective and that’s something I’m going to continue to do is evaluate the quarterback position.”
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Leaning on Scouting Department, Collaborative Effort
Pederson stoked the flames of unrest on Monday after saying he wanted to be a “voice that’s heard” in the front office. His role in personnel decisions has been intensely debated this year, so some took the comment to mean there was a power struggle brewing in Philly. That’s not the case, according to the head coach.
“No, don’t misunderstand what I was saying. Our process here is we lean on the scouting department,” Pederson said. “We lean on Howie and his department and our scouts in the evaluation process. My staff also evaluates these players as well and I evaluate the players as well and all I’m saying is it’s a collaborative effort.”
Doug Pederson on his Monday comment about wanting more say in personnel: Doesn’t want to cross the line into player personnel. Wants collaboration between coaching staff evaluation and the personnel dept. #Eagles
(Me: Still not sure if he clarified.)
— Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) December 30, 2020
He doubled down even harder by saying he prefers to stay on the football side of things. Pederson’s passion lies in coaching the men on the field and sometimes that includes giving input on personnel decisions.
“We’re evaluating the players that can help us. That’s all I’m saying there,” Pederson said. “I don’t want to cross that line at all.”
Slower Process Due to COVID-19 Protocol
It’s been a bizarre year in so many ways but perhaps the biggest impact on a football team has been the ability to communicate. Coaches have resorted to Zoom meetings for virtual instruction and bringing in players for tryouts has been another nightmare. Guys must endure five days of quarantine and daily testing before being allowed inside the team facility.
“Obviously, this year has been different from the standpoint of the pandemic has not allowed us to really bring in players like we normally would after a game,” Pederson said. “You just can’t bring a guy in on a Monday or Tuesday and work him out any more like we did say last year.”
#Eagles coach Doug Pederson made it clear again today he’s not seeking more control over personnel decisions. He wants to stay focused on coaching. He evaluates players but leaves it to Howie Roseman and the scouting staff to make the decisions.
— Rob Maaddi (@RobMaaddi) December 30, 2020
So it’s been a mountainous ordeal for Roseman and Pederson to get on the same page. However, the two top decision-makers in the Eagles’ organization have fought the good fight. They talk every day, according to Pederson, and turn over every rock to uncover the best possible talent to help the team win.
“So, the process has been a little bit slower this year and we’ve relied more heavily on our practice squad, which is why they increased the practice squad numbers for us,” Pederson said. “Our communication is still all about how we can we improve the roster and who’s going to be up this week and who’s going to be allocated and we still have a great process even during the season.”
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