As the 2020 Eagles season takes on a Groundhog Day feel on a weekly basis, the future of every key member of the franchise is now in serious question. That includes Doug Pederson, the head coach that the toast of the town just three years ago.
Pederson is a good coach in the midst of a tough year. I’ve been a fan of his since early in his first season here, and always appreciated the aggressive mindset and willingness to go along with the smart, forward-thinking approach to the game on fourth down, two-point conversions and run-pass ratio.
But it’s hard not to see where this Eagles train is headed, and I’m ready to join so many that want significant change with a new head coach. Of course, it’s not because I want to fire Doug. It’s because I want to free him from the mess that the Eagles have become.
Pederson is the least-respected Super Bowl winning head coach I can remember, and I’m not talking about fan reaction. I’m talking about his own team. By all accounts, the Eagles have tried to hold Pederson’s hand from the minute he was hired. His say on personnel seems as limited as you can have in the NFL. His coaching staff isn’t even fully his call. Every time he says a big decision is his, it’s natural to question it.
The Eagles are in a rebuild. No, not about to start one in January. It started already. Go back and check out Howie Roseman’s comments last February about prioritizing 2021 and 2022 over 2020 and trying to build the next Super Bowl team. It was code for rebuild. You know what rebuilding years look like? 2020. Yet it’s Pederson that seems set up to take the fall for what was obviously an organizational decision.
Pederson is saddled with a general manager who can’t pick elite talent. Roseman does some things at a very high level, and his read on the league and ability to make trades and structure contracts is why he’s well-respected around the NFL. But look at the drafts since he took back over personnel in 2016. It’s bad. Misses abound. Great players that could be here are not. You can only get so far finding Travis Fulgham, Boston Scott and Josh Sweat. The Eagles don’t have blue-chip talent, and that’s a Roseman problem that Pederson is forced to confront every single day.
Pederson has an owner that’s become more Jerry Jones-ish that anyone of us is probably willing to admit. You know that “I look like I’d rather be anywhere but here” demeanor Pederson has given off in Zoom press conferences this year? My guess is a lot of that stems from Lurie firing (or strong-arming Pederson into firing) Mike Groh last January. Pederson vouched for his offensive coordinator, then he was gone a day later. Now reports emerge of the owner green-lighting a quarterback change, if necessary.
Owners shouldn’t be dictating assistant coaching moves, and they certainly shouldn’t be making calls on playing time. Lurie has been more involved from the moment he fired Chip Kelly. It’s getting out of hand now.
And most troubling: Pederson has a quarterback that no offensive coach could win with right now. Carson Wentz is the NFL’s worst full-time starting quarterback this season. His regression is alarming. If you didn’t know this player’s age, you’d think he was closer to retirement than his 28th birthday. Pederson has had to simplify the offense down to rookie-level basics, then listen to an entire city wonder where the “creativity” has gone. When the quarterback can’t complete a simple five-yard slant and looks away from open receivers, creativity isn’t the issue.
Pederson hasn’t been great in 2020. He’s made mistakes. I thought he should have stepped back from play calling weeks ago. But making this coach the scapegoat for poor drafting, meddling ownership and a bad quarterback is so ridiculous that I’m actually now rooting for his exit. Maybe it’s Houston, a team with an elite quarterback. Maybe it’s Atlanta, a team that needs to learn how to win again. Maybe it’s Los Angeles, where Pederson can mold Justin Herbert from young, promising star into an MVP candidate, like he did here before injuries ruined Wentz.
41 wins. Three consecutive playoff trips, something only the Chiefs, Patriots and Saints can also claim. A Super Bowl for the ages. A team that still plays hard for him and has his back. Only seven active head coaches have a better career winning percentage and a ring. The other six will all likely be back with their teams in 2021.
You want Pederson gone? Me too. It’s time to Free Doug and let him win with a franchise that has its act together.