Doug Pederson

Doug Pederson Addresses Eagles’ QB Decisions, 2020 Downfall

The Eagles using a second-round pick on Jalen Hurts raised eyebrows last year, and it ended up being a precursor to the end of an era.

While other factors contributed to the five-year Doug PedersonCarson Wentz run abruptly ending, the since-fired head coach said the Hurts move was not part of a plan to develop Wentz’s heir apparent. It is rather remarkable that the Eagles taking Hurts 53rd overall preceded such swift fallout, considering the Alabama/Oklahoma product’s status as Philly’s long-term starter remains uncertain. But less than a year after the pick, Pederson is unemployed and Wentz is in Indianapolis.

You go into drafts and you go into each year looking for quarterbacks,” Pederson said during an appearance on SiriusXM NFL Radio (via NFL.com). “And we continued to look for quarterbacks, and that’s always something that will never change. We won a Super Bowl with our backup quarterback. And we’ve had to play with our backups a couple of times in Philadelphia.

So we did that a year ago and brought in Jalen Hurts — not to undermine Carson Wentz, not to do anything to take away his job or anything because Carson was our starter. He was the franchise and all that moving forward. But (we wanted) someone that could come in and could be the backup and learn how to play the NFL game — bring his talent to the Philadelphia Eagles.”

Pederson ended up benching Wentz in early December, following a rough stretch for the former No. 2 overall pick. A rash of injuries affected both the Eagles’ offensive line and their receiving corps, and Wentz’s play predictably worsened. The benching led to a fracture between Wentz and Pederson.

The Eagles then parted ways with both, ushering in a Hurts-Nick Sirianni pairing — barely a year after the team narrowly lost a wild-card game. Though the Eagles were believed to be interviewing candidates with an eye on jump-starting Wentz, making an ex-Frank Reich lieutenant a logical option, the franchise quickly went in a different direction.

And really as the season began, things just started to kind of I guess spiral out of control,” Pederson said. “Injuries began to set in. We weren’t playing very well. Turnovers offensively, just a number of things, penalties, more injuries compounded problems, and it just became harder and harder as the year wore on.

“… It’s just unfortunate for me because I was hoping to really have an opportunity to fix the issues that we had and kind of get everything back on track — whether it was going to be this year or the next year. And, obviously, that didn’t happen.”

Pederson, 53, said he will attempt to land a second head coaching job. He discussed Seattle’s offensive coordinator position, but that was the Super Bowl-winning HC’s only known link to a 2021 gig. The Eagles added a 2022 first-round pick in trading down with the Dolphins this year. Barring an injury that prevents Wentz from taking 75% of Indy’s 2021 snaps, the team is in line to collect another from the Colts in the Wentz trade. This would give Philly a good opportunity to draft Wentz’s true successor, if Hurts fares poorly this season.

It is unclear how well Hurts will need to play to prevent the Eagles from entertaining another first-round quarterback pick, but given that he was not drafted with a QB1 role in mind, Philly figures to be linked to 2022 QB prospects.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Doug Pederson Aiming To Land Another Head Coaching Job

Doug Pederson‘s fit with the Eagles unraveled quickly, following Philadelphia’s 4-11-1 season. Despite leading the Eagles to their first Super Bowl championship three years ago, Pederson is without an NFL gig at the moment.

But the five-year Eagles head coach is not planning a lengthy hiatus away from the game. The 53-year-old coach wants to land a second head coaching position soon.

The competitor inside wants to continue to compete,” Pederson said during an appearance on 97.5’s The Anthony Gargano Show (via NJ.com). “Hopefully, I get an opportunity to lead another football team and do the same things again and learn from the last five years — what a great teaching moment for me.

I always talk about how we learn from failures and different things like that. I don’t want to say that this was a failure, but at the same time, I want to learn from the last five years moving forward in my next opportunity.”

Although the Pederson-Carson Wentz era ended badly, with the injury-stricken 2020 team running aground, the Eagles went 42-37-1 during this partnership. Last season dragged down Pederson’s win percentage considerably, however, and he and GM Howie Roseman‘s relationship soured. Pederson discussed an offensive coordinator position with the Seahawks earlier this year, but the team went in another direction.

Super Bowl-winning coaches have been given second- or third-chance opportunities in recent years. Mike Shanahan landed in Washington after taking the 2009 season off, while Jon Gruden signed a monster contract to return to the Raiders. Mike McCarthy‘s Cowboys route, after the ex-Packers HC sat out the 2019 season, appears to be the path Pederson is aiming to take. Pederson, however, won a Super Bowl without his starting quarterback and did so without a dominant defense. It will be interesting to see how these accomplishments, along with the 2020 debacle, will be viewed by other teams when next year’s coaching carousel starts.

I’ll be defined in Philadelphia for my wins and losses,” Pederson said. “Obviously, the championship is huge. But for me, I feel like if I get another opportunity, I want to do it again. I went to two Super Bowls as a player in Green Bay, and then obviously now being a coach in Philadelphia, and so three Super Bowls, and when it gets in your system like that, it’s just hard to turn that off.”

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Rudolph, Eagles, Cowboys

Kyle Rudolph is expected to undergo foot surgery soon, and he may be in for extensive rehab. The new Giants tight end is believed to be dealing with a Lisfranc injury, Dan Duggan of The Athletic tweets. The troublesome foot malady can be difficult to shake, but Rudolph expects to be ready for Week 1. This injury is similar to what Evan Engram dealt with in 2019. Engram underwent surgery to address his Lisfranc issue in December 2019 and was ready for training camp last year. Rudolph’s timetable is considerably more condensed, which likely led to the delay in the veteran tight end signing his Giants contract. Engram and Rudolph would give the Giants one of the NFL’s top tight end tandems, but the former’s injury history and the latter’s current issue cloud that situation to some degree.

Here is more from the NFC East:

  • GM Howie Roseman and Eagles scouts had differing opinions on which players to select with the team’s top two draft choices last year. The veteran GM and Eagles coaches’ preference for Jalen Reagor won out over the consensus scouts’ preference: Justin Jefferson. Roseman also veered from his scouts’ recommendation in Round 2, tabbing Jalen Hurts over safety Jeremy Chinn, Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes. The Eagles will bank on the latter move this season, having since traded Carson Wentz and seemingly signed Joe Flacco to back up Hurts. Chinn went to the Panthers at No. 64 — 11 picks after Hurts — and finished second in the Defensive Rookie of the Year voting. Going to the Vikings one pick after Reagor, Jefferson finished second in the Offensive Rookie of the Year voting.
  • Frank Reich‘s future took a major turn in 2018, when Josh McDaniels‘ backtracking on his Colts commitment ended up re-routing the Eagles OC to Indianapolis. This came shortly after Reich played a key role in the Eagles’ first Super Bowl championship. Reich nearly saw his status change in 2017, however. A front office push for Reich’s firing existed, according to McLane, who adds Doug Pederson managed to save Reich’s job. In Wentz’s first season — a 7-9 Eagles campaign, which was also Reich’s first as Eagles OC — the team ranked 22nd in total offense. They rose to seventh in 2017, with Wentz finishing first in QBR. The Eagles, who promoted Mike Groh to replace Reich and then fired Groh after the 2019 season, have since hired Reich’s top Colts protégé (Nick Sirianni) as head coach.
  • Brandon Graham agreed to restructure his deal to provide the Eagles with additional cap space last month. Graham’s adjusted contract can be classified as a one-year extension, with Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com tweeting the new deal is worth nearly $20MM over two years. The Eagles converted Graham’s salaries into prorated bonuses, with the 11-year veteran set to earn barely $1MM in base salary in each of the next three seasons. The team tacked on three void years to the contract, per OverTheCap, which indicates each of Graham’s cap numbers over the life of this through-2023 contract are south of $10MM.
  • After hiring Dan Quinn as defensive coordinator, the Cowboys brought both Keanu Neal and Damontae Kazee over from Atlanta. The latter’s deal will be worth the veteran minimum, according to ESPN.com’s Todd Archer (on Twitter). Kazee will count just $988K against the Cowboys’ cap. Attempting to return from an Achilles tear, Kazee will collect $250K guaranteed.

Carson Wentz Fallout: Hurts, Patriots, Pederson

The Carson Wentz era in Philadelphia came to an end today, as the former second-overall pick was dealt to the Colts. However, just because Wentz was sent packing, that doesn’t necessarily mean Jalen Hurts will slide into the starting spot. Sources tell ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen that the Eagles intend to bring in “competition” at quarterback, and the “starting job is not expected to automatically go to Hurts.”

The Eagles made a significant commitment to Hurts when they selected him in the second round of last year’s draft, and the former Alabama/Oklahoma standout showed flashes of potential during the 2020 season. Hurts ultimately started four of his 15 appearances this past season, completing 52 percent of his passes for 1,061 yards, six touchdowns, and four interceptions. He added another 354 rushing yards and three touchdowns on 63 carries.

It’s pretty clear that Hurts is the heir apparent at the quarterback spot, so this report is probably mostly lip service … teams don’t want their young players to rest on their laurels. Rather, the team is likely looking toward a veteran free agent who will provide some extra motivation to the young signal caller.

Let’s check out some more Wentz-centric notes:

  • The Colts ended up sending Philly a 2021 third-round pick and a conditional 2022 second-round pick. According to Zak Keefer of The Athletic, Indy’s offer “hadn’t changed all that much across 10 days of negotiations.” The Colts front office ultimately believed the compensation was “fair,” and they never intended to “meet the Eagles’ initial demands of multiple first-round picks.” Per Keefer, the Colts understood that Wentz wasn’t their only option to replace Philip Rivers, and the front office was weighing other options while negotiating with Philadelphia.
  • We learned earlier today that the Bears had inquired on Wentz but never made a definitive offer. The same goes for the Patriots. According to Jeff Howe of the The Athletic, New England called the Eagles about the quarterback but lost interest when they heard the asking price. As the reporter notes, the Patriots are unlikely to “overpay for a veteran if it’s not a perfect fit,” especially at this point in the offseason.
  • How did it get to this point between Wentz and the Eagles? ESPN’s Tim McManus writes that the drafting of Hurts may have marked the “beginning of the end,” but there were plenty of additional factors that came into play during the 2020 season. As the Eagles losses and injuries continued to mount, (former) head coach Doug Pederson stripped Wentz of “much of his control over the offense.” As a result, Wentz vicariously lost faith in his head coach and the system.
  • Wentz didn’t just lose faith in Pederson. Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer writes that Wentz “lost faith in [general manager Howie Roseman‘s] decision making. Wentz held a similar sentiment toward owner Jeffrey Lurie, who supported his GM and the front office’s decision to select Hurts in the second round.

Former Eagles HC Doug Pederson To Take Year Off?

Doug Pederson is out of work and he’s planning to keep it that way for now. The former Eagles head coach says he’s “leaning towards” taking the 2021 season off (via Les Bowen of The Inquirer). 

Just a few years ago, Pederson was a hero in Philadelphia. But, after an especially trying season, the Eagles gave him the hook. The Super Bowl LII winner went 9-7 in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, his Eagles went 4-11-1. It was initially reported that the Eagles would bring him back for another year — that all changed after the team’s Week 17 debacle.

It stands to reason that Pederson’s absence from football can make hearts grow fonder. After all, the Birds have been plagued by injuries in recent years, and their struggles cannot be placed squarely on Pederson’s shoulders. While Carson Wentz regressed sharply in 2020, Pederson had a hand in the quarterback’s early career success.

After his dismissal, some believed that Pederson was ticketed for the Jets, where he could reunite with old pal Joe Douglas. He was also connected to the Seahawks’ offensive coordinator vacancy just last week. Ultimately, he wasn’t a hot HC candidate in this cycle, but he might have better luck next year.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Wentz, Smith, Cowboys

Carson Wentz‘s status has fluctuated considerably over the past month and change, with the veteran quarterback having gone from starter to backup and then trade candidate to a player around whom the Eagles again want to build. The fifth-year passer’s issues with the since-fired Doug Pederson began well before the December benching, with the Philadelphia Inquirer’s Jeff McLane noting the quarterback would randomly audible out of Pederson play calls down the stretch this season. This helped lead to Pederson benching Wentz on his own. During training camp, however, Eagles staffers saw warning signs of a potential decline, per McLane, who adds that some within the organization were concerned about passing-game coordinator Press Taylor‘s promotion. The proposition of a Pederson-Wentz-Taylor offensive power structure returning next season did not sit well with Lurie. The Eagles promoted Taylor last year but brought in Rich Scangarello and Marty Mornhinweg to help the offense as well; the latter two will not be back next season.

The Eagles are in the process of hiring Pederson’s replacement. Colts OC Nick Sirianni and Cowboys OC Kellen Moore interviewed Tuesday. Here is the latest from Philly and the other NFC East cities:

  • Alex Smith said at season’s end he would take a few weeks before deciding if he wanted to play a 17th season. He is under contract through 2022. But the Washington quarterback indicated during a 60 Minutes interview (via CBSNews.com) that the 2020 comeback season “has only emboldened for me that I can, you know, play at this level.” After cutting Dwayne Haskins, Washington has Smith and Kyle Allen under contract for next season. Though, Taylor Heinicke is a restricted free agent. Washington cutting Smith — an onerous proposition in 2019 and ’20 — would save the franchise $14.7MM in cap space, however, creating a complex situation for the QB-needy team.
  • Cowboys wide receiver Amari Cooper recently underwent ankle surgery, but Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram described it as a cleanup procedure (Twitter link). The Cowboys are not concerned about their top wideout missing much offseason time.
  • On that note, Giants left tackle Andrew Thomas also went under the knife recently. Last year’s No. 4 overall pick also underwent ankle surgery. Thomas played through ankle pain for much of the season, per Dan Duggan of The Athletic, who adds (via Twitter) the Giants expect Thomas to be ready for their offseason program.
  • The Eagles will have a new linebackers coach next season. Ken Flajole will not be back, according to Alex Marvez of Sirius XM Radio (on Twitter). The 66-year-old assistant joined the Eagles as part of Pederson’s first staff in 2016. After spending most of the 1980s and ’90s as a college coach, Flajole has been an NFL assistant for 22 seasons.

Seahawks, Doug Pederson Discussing OC Role

It’s been less than a week since Doug Pederson was fired as head coach of the Eagles, but it may not take long for him to find another gig. NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero reports (via Twitter) that the Seahawks have spoken with Pederson about their offensive coordinator vacancy.

Following underwhelming 9-7 campaigns in 2018 and 2019, Pederson found himself on the hot seat heading into the 2020 season. We all know how that story ended; Carson Wentz regressed to a new low, and tempers flared in the building about how to handle the situation. Eventually Wentz was benched, with the team turning to second-round rookie Jalen Hurts. With injuries rising on both sides of the ball, Philly ultimately finished the season with a 4-11-1 record, their worst showing since 2012. Despite having a Super Bowl championship on his resume, Pederson was canned earlier this week.

Pederson made a name for himself when he was offensive coordinator for the Chiefs. He inherited play-calling duties from Andy Reid in 2015, and the Chiefs proceeded to win 10-straight games with Pederson at the helm. He was hired as the Eagles head coach the following offseason.

To that end, it’s not surprising that Pederson would be a candidate for offensive coordinator vacancies. The Seahawks fired three-year OC Brian Schottenheimer earlier this week, opening a spot on their staff. We’ve already heard that Anthony Lynn had talked to the organization about the role, and Pederson now joins a growing list of candidates.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Fallout From Doug Pederson Firing: Eagles, Wentz, Staff

Monday was a pivotal day in Eagles franchise history, as the team fired Super Bowl winning coach Doug Pederson. There’s been a lot trickling out since then, and we’re here to bring you all the fallout from the decision:

  • This all has been “boiling” since last offseason, when owner Jeffrey Lurie and GM Howie Roseman pressured Pederson to fire offensive coordinator Mike Groh, Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. A source told McLane that Pederson actually threatened to quit over it, but Eagles brass didn’t take it seriously. We noted in our initial writeup yesterday a report that “Pederson was sick of people telling him what to do.”
  • To that end, Lurie was apparently “underwhelmed” by the staffing suggestions Pederson made for the 2021 season when they met last week, a source told McLane. Pederson apparently wanted to promote from within, as McLane reports he wanted to promote QBs coach Press Taylor to offensive coordinator and to “bump up defensive line coach Matt Burke to defensive coordinator.” Clearly Lurie was more inclined to bring in bigger names from outside the organization, and it sounds like this was a sticking point in the ultimate divorce.
  • Finally, McLane points out in another tweet that Roseman will now be on his fourth head coach (third that he’ll hire), after Andy Reid, Chip Kelly, and Pederson. McLane writes that “Pederson and Roseman had decreasingly seen eye to eye on personnel.” Roseman is turning into somewhat of a polarizing figure, but he clearly has a lot of power.
  • One of the biggest questions on everyone’s mind when the decision came down was what it meant for Carson Wentz. It might be good news for the former second overall pick, as a source told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com that the firing “significantly increases the chances” of Wentz staying in Philly next season (Twitter link). We had heard just before the end of the regular season that the relationship between Wentz and Pederson was fractured beyond repair, and this could be a sign that Lurie and Roseman believe Wentz should be the quarterback in 2021. The increased likelihood of Wentz returning was confirmed by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, who added that had Pederson been retained Wentz would’ve wanted out (Twitter video link).
  • Lurie released a statement through the team explaining the decision and thanking Pederson, which you can read via this tweet. Not surprisingly, he said Pederson will be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame.
  • The Eagles also tweeted a statement from Pederson, thanking the team, the city, and the fans.
  • We’ve already heard the team is interested in Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley, but Lurie also said at his press conference explaining the decision that assistant head coach and running backs coach Duce Staley would be a candidate for the job. Staley is very popular in the locker room and a number of former players immediately voiced support for him on social media, but that still seems like a pretty big long-shot.

Eagles Fire Doug Pederson

Seismic news out of Philadelphia, as Doug Pederson is out as Eagles head coach, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network tweets. Originally it was reported that Pederson was expected to be back in 2021, but that was before Philly’s Week 17 debacle.

We heard yesterday that his status was still up in the air, and a Monday meeting with owner Jeffrey Lurie has culminated in his dismissal. It’s a remarkable fall from grace for a coach that was on top of the world following Super Bowl LII just a few short years ago. It’s yet another reminder of how quickly things change in the NFL. The 2017 season of course ended in a championship, and although Pederson made the playoffs in each of the next two years, tensions flared in the organization.

The 9-7 campaigns in 2018 and 2019 didn’t meet expectations, even as Pederson juggled less than ideal circumstances to get to the postseason both times. Things reached a boiling point this season as Carson Wentz regressed to a new low, and tempers flared in the building about how to handle the situation. Eventually Wentz was benched, with the team turning to second-round rookie Jalen Hurts.

The team dealt with a mountain of injuries on both sides of the ball yet again, and they entered Week 17 at 4-10-1. That’s when Hurts was benched for Nate Sudfeld late in a close game against Washington, leading to a lot of criticism of Pederson amidst accusations of tanking for a better draft pick. It always seemed like the front office had a hand in that decision though, and it’s possible that’s partly what led to the breakup.

To that end, Ian Rapoport of NFL Network tweets that what the situation “boiled down to” was that “Pederson was sick of people telling him what to do.” It sounds like there was a power struggle between Pederson and GM Howie Roseman that Pederson ultimately lost. This could also be a sign that Lurie and Roseman are inclined to try to salvage Wentz, as we heard recently that Wentz and Pederson’s relationship was beyond repair. 

As for who could take over for Pederson, Rapoport tweets to “keep an eye on” Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka as someone the Eagles might consider. Kafka, like Pederson, is a proud member of the Andy Reid coaching tree and played for the Eagles for a couple of seasons a decade ago. The Eagles wanted to hire him as OC a year ago but Reid blocked the move, Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets.

It’s not every day that a Super Bowl winning coach hits the open market, and Pederson certainly isn’t going to go away quietly. His new-found availability throws an interesting wrinkle into all the coaching searches currently underway. Pederson has a “strong relationship” with Jets GM Joe Douglas, which could make him a candidate for New York’s open job, Adam Schefter of ESPN.com tweets. Douglas, of course, was in the Eagles’ front office from 2016-19.

Pederson spent around a dozen years in the league as a quarterback, mostly as a backup. He got his first NFL coaching gig as a quality control coach under Reid with the Eagles in 2009, then eventually became Reid’s OC in Kansas City before getting hired by the Eagles as head coach prior to the 2016 season. He finished his run in Philly with a record of 46-39-1.

There will certainly be many post-mortems in the days and weeks ahead, and we’ll be sure to keep you posted on all of the fallout. Ron Rivera, hired by Washington on December 31st 2019, is now the longest-tenured coach in the NFC East.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles HC Doug Pederson Uncertain To Return

Earlier this month, we heard that the Eagles were expected to retain head coach Doug Pederson. However, sources tell Chris Mortensen and Tim McManus of ESPN.com that owner Jeffrey Lurie is not confident in Pederson’s vision and that Lurie will meet with his HC soon to hash things out (Twitter link).

The elephant in the room, of course, is quarterback Carson Wentz, whose struggles have been (fairly or not) attributed to Pederson, and recent reports indicate that the relationship between Wentz and Pederson is fractured beyond repair. However, Mortensen and McManus say that Lurie is not just concerned about the Wentz issue, and as NFL insider Adam Caplan tweets, Lurie is worried about the direction of the offense in general. Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer adds that Pederson and GM Howie Roseman — whose job is safe — are growing farther apart on personnel issues, and Pederson himself is upset that Lurie forced him to fire offensive coordinator Mike Groh last year and might insist on more changes this year.

Pederson earned his stripes as the Chiefs’ offensive coordinator from 2013-15, and while his team finished in the bottom fourth of the league in total offense this year, the rash of injuries the Eagles sustained at wide receiver and along the O-line were certainly a major factor in that performance. But injuries aside, the offense has not looked the same since former OC Frank Reich left for the Colts several years ago, which appears to be the source of Lurie’s consternation.

Still, after Pederson guided the Eagles to the Lombari Trophy following the 2017 campaign, his club managed to qualify for the playoffs in each of the next two seasons, despite dealing with myriad injuries in those years as well. He owns a 42-37-1 regular season record in his five-year head coaching career, a mark that looked a lot better before the Eagles collapsed into a 4-11-1 finish in 2020.

If Lurie elects to part ways with Pederson, he will have some catching up to do. The six clubs with head coaching vacancies are already well underway with their coaching searches, and it’s unclear how the top candidates feel about the Eagles’ QB situation.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.