Doug Pederson

NFC East Notes: Eagles, Washington, Staff, Vander Esch

While the Eagles are not officially holding out hope Brandon Brooks can return late in the 2020 season, they have not shut that prospect down. They placed the Pro Bowl guard on the PUP list, rather than injured reserve. Lane Johnson said his longtime teammate is ahead of schedule and can see him returning from his latest Achilles tear before the season ends, Tim McManus of ESPN.com tweets. Brooks recovered from a January 2019 Achilles tear to return in time for Week 1 last season. Following the same timetable, Brooks could conceivably be in play for a late-December or January re-emergence. As players like Terrell Suggs and Michael Crabtree showed during the 2010s, an offseason Achilles tear is not an automatic season-ender. Of course, Brooks is carrying a bit more weight and suffered his injury later in the offseason. Longtime Eagles left tackle Jason Peters is currently manning Brooks’ right guard position.

As the NFC East teams begin their padded training camp practices, here is the latest from the division:

  • Doug Pederson is back at work after contracting COVID-19. The fifth-year Eagles HC was the third known coach to test positive for the coronavirus, following Sean Payton and Anthony Lynn. Unlike the Saints and Chargers coaches, Pederson, 52, was asymptomatic.
  • Leighton Vander Esch has been playing a new position at Cowboys camp. The third-year linebacker has swapped spots with Jaylon Smith, with Vander Esch now playing middle linebacker and Smith shifting to the weak side, Clarence Hill of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram notes. Both players are set to reprise their roles as Dallas’ three-down ‘backers. The Cowboys changed defensive coordinators this offseason, moving from Rod Marinelli to Mike Nolan. Vander Esch is returning from offseason neck surgery.
  • Washington made a historic business-side hire, naming Jason Wright as team president. A former linebacker who played seven seasons with the Falcons, Browns and Cardinals, Wright is the NFL’s first Black team president and the fourth former player to be named to such a post. While the 38-year-old exec will succeed Bruce Allen, his responsibilities will be exclusively on the business side, John Keim of ESPN.com notes. Washington remains without a nominal GM.
  • The Cowboys will have a new voice in their quarterbacks room, at least for training camp. Seneca Wallace is working with Dallas’ QBs as a training camp staffer, Jon Machota of The Athletic tweets. Wallace joins fellow recent NFL passers Kellen Moore and Scott Tolzien on the Cowboys’ staff. Like Tolzien, Wallace spent time in Green Bay during Mike McCarthy‘s run.

Eagles’ Doug Pederson Tests Positive For COVID-19

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson will spend some time away from the team after testing positive for COVID-19 (Twitter link via Tim McManus of ESPN.com). In the interim, assistant head coach Duce Staley will assume HC duties at the team’s complex, as Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets

[RELATED: 2020 NFL Opt Out Tracker]

Pederson, 52, has not experienced any symptoms, but he’ll quarantine to avoid spreading the virus, per the protocols. The league’s guidelines mandate multiple tests for Pederson before he can get back to work.

Person is the second head coach known to have contracted the coronavirus, following Sean Payton‘s positive test earlier this year. Payton’s recovery was relatively quick – he tested positive on March 16 and he was cleared before the end of the month.

You fatigue real easy,” Payton said of his experience with the virus. “I’d be up moving around, doing something, then you’d want to lay down again. That lasted three or four days. By the time I got the test results back I had begun feeling better. I had my appetite back.”

Pederson is set to enter his fifth year as the Eagles’ head coach. Staley, a longtime Eagles running back, joined the team as an assistant in 2011 and worked his way up to AHC in 2018.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Longest-Tenured Head Coaches In The NFL

Things move fast in today’s NFL and the old adage of “coaches are hired to be fired” has seemingly never been more true. For the most part, teams change their coaches like they change their underwear. 

A head coach can take his team to the Super Bowl, or win the Super Bowl, or win multiple Super Bowls, but they’re never immune to scrutiny. Just ask Tom Coughlin, who captured his second ring with the Giants after the 2011 season, only to receive his pink slip after the 2015 campaign.

There are also exceptions. Just look at Bill Belichick, who just wrapped up his 20th season at the helm in New England. You’ll also see a few others on this list, but, for the most part, most of today’s NFL head coaches are relatively new to their respective clubs. And, history dictates that many of them will be elsewhere when we check in on this list in 2022.

Over one-third (12) of the NFL’s head coaches have coached no more than one season with their respective teams. Meanwhile, less than half (15) have been with their current clubs for more than three years. It seems like just yesterday that the Cardinals hired Kliff Kingsbury, right? It sort of was – Kingsbury signed on with the Cardinals in January of 2019. Today, he’s practically a veteran.

Here’s the list of the current head coaches in the NFL, ordered by tenure, along with their respective start dates:

  1. Bill Belichick (New England Patriots): January 27, 2000
  2. Sean Payton (New Orleans Saints): January 18, 2006
  3. Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh Steelers): January 27, 2007
  4. John Harbaugh (Baltimore Ravens): January 19, 2008
  5. Pete Carroll (Seattle Seahawks): January 9, 2010
  6. Andy Reid (Kansas City Chiefs): January 4, 2013
  7. Bill O’Brien (Houston Texans): January 2, 2014
  8. Mike Zimmer (Minnesota Vikings): January 15, 2014
  9. Dan Quinn (Atlanta Falcons): February 2, 2015
  10. Doug Pederson (Philadelphia Eagles): January 18, 2016
  11. Sean McDermott (Buffalo Bills): January 11, 2017
  12. Doug Marrone (Jacksonville Jaguars): December 19, 2016 (interim; permanent since 2017)
  13. Anthony Lynn (Los Angeles Chargers): January 12, 2017
  14. Sean McVay (Los Angeles Rams): January 12, 2017
  15. Kyle Shanahan (San Francisco 49ers): February 6, 2017
  16. Matt Nagy (Chicago Bears): January 7, 2018
  17. Matt Patricia (Detroit Lions): February 5, 2018
  18. Frank Reich (Indianapolis Colts): February 11, 2018
  19. Jon Gruden (Las Vegas Raiders): January 6, 2018
  20. Mike Vrabel (Tennessee Titans): January 20, 2018
  21. Kliff Kingsbury (Arizona Cardinals): January 8, 2019
  22. Zac Taylor (Cincinnati Bengals): February 4, 2019
  23. Vic Fangio (Denver Broncos): January 10, 2019
  24. Matt LaFleur (Green Bay Packers): January 8, 2019
  25. Brian Flores (Miami Dolphins): February 4, 2019
  26. Adam Gase (New York Jets): January 11, 2019
  27. Bruce Arians (Tampa Bay Buccaneers): January 8, 2019
  28. Ron Rivera (Washington Redskins): January 1, 2020
  29. Matt Rhule (Carolina Panthers): January 7, 2020
  30. Mike McCarthy (Dallas Cowboys): January 7, 2020
  31. Joe Judge (New York Giants): January 8, 2020
  32. Kevin Stefanski (Cleveland Browns): January 13, 2020

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

NFC East Notes: Okudah, Groh, Heath, Jones

While there’s still plenty of time until the NFL Draft, but murmurs around the combine are tying the Giants to cornerback Jeff Okudah, according to Ryan Dunleavy of the NY Post. Okudah is considered the best defensive back prospect in the draft class and is expected to be a top-five pick. In his final season at Ohio State, Okudah recorded three interceptions, nine passes defended, 34 tackles, and, perhaps most impressive of all, zero holding or defensive pass interference penalties.

Here are some more notes from around the NFC East;

  • The Eagles made a number of changes on their coaching staff following a disappointing season. Most notably, Philadelphia fired offensive coordinator Mike Groh, but sources familiar with the situation tell Jeff McLane of The Philadelphia Inquirer that head coach Doug Pederson told Groh he would be retained for a third season. Instead, the team fired Groh alongside offensive assistants Rich Scangarello and Andrew Breiner. While there’s no direct consequence, it’s not the ideal way to conduct business.
  • Longtime Cowboy safety and defensive back Jeff Heath has received interest from a number of teams, including Dallas, as he nears free agency, per Calvin Watkins of the Dallas Morning News. Watkins notes that things will pick up after the league and NFLPA resolve their CBA negotiations.
  • As previously reported, the Giants officially hired Amos Jones to join Joe Judge‘s coaching staff. Jones’ position on the staff had not been previously known. According to Ralph Vacchiano of SNY, Jones will serve as an “assistant coach/special projects and situations.”

Eagles Notes: Schwartz, WRs, Groh, Staff

In a rookie receiver class that included big seasons from A.J. Brown, D.K. Metcalf, Terry McLaurin and others, the Eagles did not get much from second-round pick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. The Stanford prospect caught 10 passes for 169 yards, even as the team losing each of its starters created consistent opportunities. The Eagles bypassed Metcalf for Arcega-Whiteside, but Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer notes the team placed a higher grade on the eventual Seahawks starter. But Metcalf having failed an Eagles physical meant the team did not want to use a second-round pick on him, McLane adds. Metcalf amassed 900 regular-season receiving yards and posted 160 in Seattle’s win over Philadelphia in Round 1. Regardless, the Eagles will likely be linked to first-round wideouts this year. The Eagles are “all over” this year’s wideout and cornerback classes, per Matt Miller of Bleacher Report.

Here is the latest from Philadelphia:

  • The Eagles restructured Alshon Jeffery‘s deal to create 2019 cap space, guaranteeing the veteran receiver’s $9.9MM 2020 salary. It would cost the Eagles more than $26MM to release the soon-to-be 30-year-old target, but McLane notes offset language is included in Jeffery’s deal. It is unclear, however, how much the Eagles would save if another team signed Jeffery after a release. Howie Roseman has done well in recent years to create roster-improvement avenues for the Eagles. But with Jeffery and 33-year-old DeSean Jackson‘s money nearly fully guaranteed, the veteran GM may need to get creative to improve Philly’s wideout situation.
  • Roseman appeared to hint at the Eagles’ window closing with their current nucleus, and McLane expects the team to cut ties with some regulars to infuse the roster with younger talent (Twitter link). Roseman projects the Eagles to hold 10 draft picks in April, meaning three compensatory selections, and held off dealing two first-round picks for Jalen Ramsey because of Carson Wentz‘s contract requiring more rookie-deal salaries on the roster (Twitter links via NFL.com’s Mike Garafolo and SI.com’s Albert Breer). Roseman has been aggressive on acquiring veterans for draft picks in recent years; the Eagles may change up that strategy in 2020. They currently have 11 starters under contract who are over 30 or will be by year’s end.
  • Jim Schwartz interviewed for the Browns’ HC job on Wednesday, but the Eagles would like him to stay. Doug Pederson would like him to return for a fifth season as Philly’s DC, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets.
  • Pederson was clear on the statuses of offensive coordinator Mike Groh and wideouts coach Carson Walch, indicating (via ESPN.com’s Tim McManus, on Twitter) both will be back next season. Pederson, however, added all of the Eagles’ staffers remain under evaluation. Despite Schwartz’s interview with Cleveland and Pederson’s declarative statement on Groh and Wach, McLane sees the DC as being more likely to be back than the offensive staffers (Twitter link). It was obviously a rough year for Eagles wide receivers. And Groh’s offense — likely as a result of the frequent starter unavailability — ranked 14th in DVOA in his second season at the helm.

QB Notes: Wentz, Rudolph, Darnold, Carr

Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz struggled once again in Philadelphia’s 17-9 loss to the Seahawks. Wentz received a x-ray on his right hand during the second half of the game, but would not blame his poor play on the injury, according to Josh Alper of Pro Football Talk. In his postgame press conference, when asked if the injury affected his play, he said, “I don’t think it did.” Eagles head coach Doug Pederson clarified that the x-rays were negative, but Wentz would go through further tests.

Whether the injury played a role or not, Philadelphia needs to find an answer for their offensive woes. Wentz made a number of poor decisions, but two passes to open receivers in the flat that sailed well out of reach were especially emblematic of his problems. The Eagles are now 5-6 on the season, but have a vital stretch of their schedule against Miami, New York, and Washington. It will be crucial for their playoff chances to come out victorious against three of the weakest teams in the league.

Check out some other notes on quarterbacks around the league:

  • After being benched in the Steelers 16-10 win over the Bengals, quarterback Mason Rudolph addressed allegations from Browns defensive end Myles Garrett that Rudolph used a racial slur last week on Thursday Night Football. Rudolph adamantly denied the claims with reporters after the game, writes Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com. “I couldn’t believe it and I couldn’t believe that he would go that route after the fact. But it is what it is and I think I’ve moved on. One day it was tough, but moved on. We’re good to go now.” Rudolph reiterated the claims were “totally untrue” and when asked if he said anything that could have been construed in a racist way he said, ““Absolutely not.’’
  • Young quarterback Sam Darnold was criticized a few weeks ago for talking about the playoffs with half the season remaining, but the young Jets gunslinger is showing progress dealing with the media, according to Rich Cimini of ESPN. Darnold mentioned that the playoffs were in the back of his mind after 34-3 blowout win against the Raiders, but quickly made clear that he is taking the season one game at a time. This season has definitely been a roller coaster for Darnold who is still looking to string a few strong games together after missing the start of the season dealing with mononucleosis.
  • Raiders quarterback Derek Carr was benched amidst a blowout loss to the Jets by head coach Jon Gruden. The move is not meant to create any controversy at the position, however. Carr was removed alongside other important players in Oakland’s rotation to protect them from injury down 31 in the third quarter. Still, Gruden acknowledged the difficulty decision talking with reporters after the game, according to Jerry McDonald of The Mercury News. “I didn’t want to take him out, but doing what I think is right and I’m sure I’ll be second-guessed for that but I think I’m doing what’s right for our football team.”

East Notes: Eagles, Sproles, Dolphins, Redskins

The Eagles will have plenty of roster decisions to make heading into the 2019 season. Two of the names at the top of the list include veteran running Darren Sproles and oft-injured linebacker Jordan Hicks, Zack Rosenblatt of NJ.com writes.

After originally declaring this as his final season, Sproles has looked like a vintage version of himself, leading many to wonder if he would come back for his 15th NFL season. One person who would love to have the pass-catching back return is Eagles head coach Doug Pederson.

“I think Darren Sproles would be a great addition” for 2019, Pederson said. “He’s a great leader. he works hard, he’s a great mentor to a lot of young players. I think anybody would love to have a Darren Sproles. I mean, I would.”

He didn’t offer the same ringing endorsement for Hicks. Despite being a noted playmaker who ranks third on the team in tackles in 2018, the Texas Longhorns product has missed 21 games in his first four seasons, including four this season.

“I’ll worry about the roster in the spring when I get to the spring,” Pederson said. “Jordan’s been a big part of our success here and he helped us win the game last week and he’ll help us win another on Sunday.”

Here’s more from around the East:

  • Sticking with the Eagles, thanks once again to Nick Foles, the team is currently in the fight for the last playoff spot in the NFC. Should they make it, there will undoubtedly be a contingent of fans hoping Philly will bring back the veteran in 2019. However, that is unlikely to happen, writes Sports Illustrated’s Andrew Brandt. With Foles on the books for $20MM next year, it is much more likely the Eagles do not exercise his option and make him a free agent. If he goes on another magical run in January, however, every option has to be on the table.
  • Dolphins vice president of football operations Mike Tannenbaum is not expected back with the team in 2019, Armando Salguero of the Miami Herald writes. The move would end his four-year run with the team. Head coach Adam Gase is expected to be retained. Salguero also has heard a few of the names as possible replacements include Dan Marino and Dawn Aponte.
  • Following the release of D.J. Swearinger, one of the Redskins’ top needs this season has quickly become safety, Ben Standig of NBC Sports writes. Coupled with the potential departure of Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, the Redskins would be down both of their safeties heading into 2019. Should they address the issue in the draft, the team could target Alabama’s Deionte Thompson or Virginia’s Juan Thornhill, two of the top-ranked prospects at free and strong safety, respectively.

Eagles Extend Roseman, Pederson

In two years as a decision-making duo, Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson lifted the Eagles to never-before-seen heights. And ownership wants no part of a near-future breakup.

The Eagles extended both the GM and their third-year head coach on Sunday, with these new deals running through the 2022 season.

We are thrilled to solidify continuity in our organization’s leadership with the extensions of Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman, whose collaborative partnership helped deliver our city its first Super Bowl championship,” Eagles Chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie said. “Doug and Howie are committed to the success of our franchise by ensuring that we remain competitive, both in the short and long term. That unified vision for the future of our team is what gives us the best chance to win moving forward.”

Pederson’s initial Eagles contract ran through the 2020 season, and the team picked up the HC’s fifth-year option recently (per Jeff McLane of Philly.com, on Twitter). So it’s not a big surprise to see the franchise extend that for two more years. In his second season as a head coach, Pederson guided Philadelphia to its first Super Bowl championship and first NFL title since 1960. And he did so after the team’s starting quarterback was lost for the season in December.

Roseman’s path may be even more stunning. Demoted in 2015 in order to give Chip Kelly decision-making power, Roseman returned in 2016 and set out to fortify the team’s core with a slew of extensions that year. That helped lead to the Eagles’ Super Bowl run, and Roseman’s 2016 deal to move into position to draft Carson Wentz has the franchise set up long-term at sports’ premier position. Roseman earned multiple executive of the year honors for his 2017 work.

Pederson, 50, rejoined the Eagles after three years as Andy Reid‘s offensive coordinator with the Chiefs. And after a 7-9 season in Wentz’s rookie year, the Eagles stormed to the NFC’s No. 1 seed and notched three upset (by point spread) victories to secure the Super Bowl LII championship. Roseman, 43, has been with the Eagles since 2000 as a salary cap staffer. He ascended to the GM role in 2010 and was reinstated in that position after Kelly’s ouster late in 2015.

With Wentz back and Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles serving as the NFL’s top insurance policy, Roseman and Pederson have the Eagles positioned as a top threat to become the first team to win back-to-back Super Bowls since the 2003-04 Patriots.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Eagles Pick Up Doug Pederson’s Option

The Eagles picked up an option in coach Doug Pederson‘s contract after the team’s Super Bowl win, sources tell Tom Pelissero of NFL.com (on Twitter). Peterson’s original four-year deal had him signed through 2019, but he’ll now be in place through the 2020 campaign. 

The Eagles hired Pederson in 2016 to replace polarizing coach Chip Kelly. After going 7-9 in his first season at the helm, the Eagles went 13-3 in 2017 before winning their first Super Bowl in franchise history. Thanks in part to Pederson’s offensive acumen and his ability to mold quarterbacks, the Eagles did not miss a beat even after losing Carson Wentz to a torn ACL in Week 14.

Coming to Philadelphia after at three-year run as Andy Reid‘s OC in Kansas City, Pederson helped craft a dominant Eagles season that peaked with one of the most unique playoff runs in NFL history.

After the Eagles finished the regular season as the league’s No. 7 offense (and No. 4 defense), Pederson helped to cater his offense to the talents of backup Nick Foles. And that helped produce three postseason upsets en route to the Super Bowl title.

Philly is now entrenched as one of the league’s elite teams and will be one of the favorites to win Super Bowl LIII. So, it could have been viewed as a given the Eagles would make arrangements to keep Pederson around via this contract option.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

Seahawks Targeting John DeFilippo As OC

Earlier this week, SI.com’s Albert Breer reported Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo is set to be a coaching free agent and could be a candidate for an OC job should he not become the Cardinals’ head coach.

The Seahawks are interested in DeFilippo to succeed Darrell Bevell as OC, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets, adding he will join Brian Schottenheimer as a sought-after interviewee for Seattle — should the Eagles lose to the Falcons today.

The Eagles prevented their QBs coach from speaking with the Jets about their OC job last year, with Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio reporting Jeffrey Lurie overruled Doug Pederson‘s decision to let DeFilippo do so, but can no longer block him from interviews going forward. Seattle has interest in Schottenheimer but has yet to set up any interviews with candidates. This is the first time in seven years the Seahawks have had an OC vacancy.

DeFilippo played a key role in Carson Wentz rocketing from Division I-FCS product to one-time MVP frontrunner. The Seahawks, who are the first team to have reported interest in the soon-to-be 40-year-old coach as a coordinator, have a franchise quarterback but struggled offensively this season. Seattle had the league’s No. 13-ranked scoring offense this season — its lowest finish since 2010.

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.