Skip to main content

Eagles owner chose Howie Roseman and Carson Wentz over fired coach Doug Pederson


play
Show Caption

There were many head-scratching statements from Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie on Monday after he fired head coach Doug Pederson, three seasons after winning the only Super Bowl in franchise history.

Lurie said he didn't agree with Pederson's vision for the future, one in which Pederson wanted to make slight adjustments to his staff while expecting a return to health of key offensive linemen to improve the team.

Lurie also said he understood that Pederson was interested in contending next season (imagine that), while Lurie wanted a more long-range approach.

But if Pederson was going to keep his job for 2021, it would stand to reason that he'd have to win in order to keep it for 2022.

Lurie, evidently, isn't as focused on winning in 2021 following an awful 4-11-1 record in 2020.

Yet Lurie continued to absolve general manager Howie Roseman of blame, even though Roseman assembled the aging roster, missed on draft picks, and signed injury-prone veterans to salary-cap busting contracts.

PEDERSON IS OUT: Eagles fire head coach Doug Pederson as Jeffrey Lurie explains decision and why he believes in Howie Roseman

TOP CANDIDATES? 7 coaches Eagles could tap to replace the fired Doug Pederson

He also absolved quarterback Carson Wentz, too, for his regression that led to Pederson benching him for the final 4½ games.

Let's take Lurie's comments one by one to show just how Roseman and Wentz won a power play over Pederson:

"If there were significant, I would say, strategic mistakes (in the roster), they were made in the name of trying to hold the band together, kind of bring back the band together. You know, again, we were probably, without focusing on one person, an Alshon (Jeffery) reception from getting back to the (NFC) Championship Game (in 2018). In 2019, back in the playoffs and our quarterback (Wentz) got hurt."

Lurie later said he didn't "regret any of it" as far as chasing another run at the Super Bowl by signing veterans or trading for them by giving up draft picks.

Eagles. Phillies. College and high school sports. Subscribe to Delaware Online to get every story.

But the veterans the Eagles did sign in the last two seasons mostly did not perform up to expectations. That included Jeffery, wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who played in just eight of 33 possible games, defensive tackle Malik Jackson, and others.

Sure, cornerback Darius Slay was a good acquisition. But there was no help at the other cornerback spot, and injuries ravaged the secondary.

It's like a bad major league baseball team having an elite closer. What's the point if you never have a ninth-inning lead to protect?

"It's a transition point and we've got to get younger and we have to have a lot more volume of draft picks, and we have to accumulate as much talent as we possibly can that is going to work in the long run with a focus on the mid-term and the long term, and not on how to maximize 2021. And it's almost not fair to Doug."

Pederson reportedly wanted to promote Press Taylor to offensive coordinator and promote defensive line coach Matt Burke to defensive coordinator. Pederson no doubt figured that if the offensive line returns healthy in 2021, that Wentz, with some tweaks, would rediscover his form from previous seasons.

The Eagles had 14 different line combinations in 16 games, an NFL record, not to mention injuries at wide receiver and tight end. Certainly all of that affected Wentz.

It's understandable Lurie wants a new coach going forward to keep up with the offenses that produced the most points in NFL history in 2020.

But he does not want a new general manager.

Roseman has survived and overseen three coaching changes, which rarely happens in professional sports.

"If we are not identifying the best players leading up to a selection in the draft, then that's a problem. If we are identifying the best players but they get taken two, three, four, five picks ahead of us, that's also part of the evaluation. That's part of understanding the process. Understanding the details. But in terms of every level of the football operation, I am really confident of where we're at, and I don't see any reason why we're not going to return to pre-eminence with more mid-term and long-term decision-making."

That's almost like saying the Eagles recognized that wide receivers DK Metcalf in the 2019 draft and Justin Jefferson in the 2020 draft would be good players – but the Eagles decided to take J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Jalen Reagor, respectively, anyway. 

And if there are players the Eagles really wanted who went before they picked, then why didn't they trade up to get them? 

In the 2014 draft, head coach Chip Kelly said there were six players he wanted in the first round. Two of them were remaining with two picks left before the Eagles. But the Saints traded up to get one of them (wide receiver Brandon Cooks), and the Packers took the other (safety HaHa Clinton-Dix).

At that point, the Eagles traded back and took Marcus Smith, who never started a game in the NFL.

The same thing likely happened in 2017 when the Vikings traded up in the second round to take running back Dalvin Cook. The Eagles took cornerback Sidney Jones. They released him last summer.

This past spring, the Eagles chose Reagor over Jefferson. Reagor can still turn out to be a top NFL receiver after a rough rookie season. We already know that Jefferson is elite.

"Carson, to us, to me, and to I think virtually everybody in our organization, is a quarterback that his first four years was in many ways elite and comparable to some of the great quarterbacks' first four years in the league. Fifth year, obviously not satisfactory, for whatever reasons. There are probably multiple reasons for that."

Basically, Wentz made his power play with the report that he would seek a trade and his relationship with Pederson was "fractured beyond repair."

It sure seems like Lurie chose Wentz over Pederson even though Wentz ranked among the worst quarterbacks in the NFL in several categories.

Yet Lurie said that there were many reasons for that beyond just Wentz.

Lurie also pointed to prominent quarterbacks who regressed for a season in either their fourth or fifth seasons, mentioning Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. He could have added Russell Wilson, too.

So Wentz is the guy going forward, although Lurie quickly said that's not up to him.

"First of all, I would think it's a very, very attractive job because if I'm a coach, first thing you want to know is if you're going to have as much resources as possible to create a successful team. Are the facilities good? What's the organization's track record over the last 10, 20 years? 

The track record is that the Eagles were a dysfunctional mess in 2020, that Lurie, Roseman, Pederson and Wentz all seemed to be pulling in different directions.

And Roseman and Lurie apparently meddled in Pederson's coaching staff, most likely after last season when Pederson fired offensive coordinator Mike Groh and wide receivers coach Carson Walch a day after saying publicly that both would return.

There will be candidates because there are only 32 head coaching jobs in the NFL. It's just that the perceived top candidates like the Chiefs' Eric Bieniemy or the Bills' Brian Daboll might want a situation where the head coach could have more say in staff and personnel decisions. 

"A coach is going to have options. A coach is going to have an ability to fix what he feels is necessary in our offense and have a potential star in Carson and a potential star in Jalen (Hurts). That gives us an asset, also, so that if we end up deciding on (keeping) one some day, the other is a really good asset."

Is the new coach making that decision? Or are Roseman and Lurie hiring a coach who agrees with their vision, which seems like Wentz? 

Martin Frank, sports reporter

Martin Frank, sports reporter

I cover the Philadelphia Eagles for the News Journal. I've learned that there's never an offseason for a team that has such a hold over people in Delaware. I enjoy bringing that passion for the Birds to readers, whether it's in-season or out, a Super Bowl run or the drama leading up to the draft. But I mostly enjoy bringing you the stories of the players, from the 53rd man on the roster to star quarterback Carson Wentz. Your support as a News Journal subscriber enables me to bring those stories to you.

Contact Martin Frank at mfrank@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.