Another head coach bit the dust Saturday with Detroit mercifully pulling the plug on Matt Patricia. With the way things are headed in Philadelphia, it wouldn’t be a shock if Patricia’s Eagles counterpart Doug Pederson followed him out the door. Pederson still has a month of games to prove himself—despite their anemic 3-6-1 record, the Eagles remain very much in the NFC East race—though upcoming matchups with the Seahawks, Packers and Saints, all of whom have winning records, could make that an uphill battle.
One question nobody has asked—until now—is whether Pederson even WANTS to save his job. Paul Domovitch of the Philadelphia Inquirer has a theory. “Doug Pederson clearly is frustrated right now with what’s happening. There are people both inside and outside of the organization who have told me he wouldn’t be totally unhappy if he ends up getting fired,” argued Domovitch in a Q&A with former Eagles executive Joe Banner. “He won’t have any trouble getting another head job. He might have more say over personnel someplace else.”
While Pederson may not be trying to lose his job like George Costanza when he dragged the World Series trophy through the Yankees’ parking lot, there’s reason to believe the former backup quarterback would welcome a change of scenery. With expected openings in Atlanta, Detroit, Houston, New York (assuming the Jets axe Adam Gase) and perhaps Jacksonville, Pederson would have a good chance to land on his feet if the Eagles let him loose.
Between the obvious regression of Carson Wentz, a misshapen roster of draft busts, underachieving vets and injury liabilities and the team’s current cap nightmare, there’s plenty of blame to go around in Philly. Pederson hasn’t helped himself any with his bland play-calling. The Eagles’ lack of urgency including whispers of Wentz’s “sloppy” practice habits also reflects poorly on Pederson. Even if Philadelphia manages to outlast the rest of the NFC East to earn the division’s nominal playoff berth, it’s hard to see the Eagles, whose three victories have come against the Giants (3-7), 49ers (4-6) and Cowboys (3-8), surviving Wild Card weekend.
Philadelphia will forever by indebted to Pederson who, along with Nick Foles, led the Eagles to Super Bowl glory in 2017. Even the greats, save for maybe Bill Belichick, have an expiration date. Tired of being second-guessed by ownership (he was reportedly irate the team fired offensive coordinator Mike Groh after last season), would Pederson benefit from a fresh start elsewhere?
Maybe there’s a part of Pederson that’s grown weary of the soap opera that is the Philadelphia Eagles, but Banner doesn’t think the embattled 52-year-old is ready to pack it in just yet. In fact, if anything, Banner believes the recent negativity surrounding the team has made Pederson even more motivated to lead the Eagles back to prominence.
“I worked with Doug. I was there when he played. I’m sure he’s incredibly frustrated. I’m sure, like all of us, he sees some things that can be better, and he doesn’t really understand why it’s this bad. But I would be shocked if it was leading to anything other than him being more determined to overcome it and fix it,” offered Banner in response to Domovitch’s suspicion Peterson wants out of Philadelphia. “If he is—and I doubt he is—reaching the point where he’s kind of had it, he’s probably just frustrated with internal dynamics and maybe some things that he had to do that didn’t work out, or things that he would like to do that he isn’t being allowed to do.”
Coming off consecutive losses to the Giants and Browns, the slumping Eagles will look to stop the bleeding when the Seahawks, led by MVP contender Russell Wilson, visit the Link Monday night.