The Philadelphia Eagles announced on Monday that they had decided to part ways with the man who led the franchise to its first ever Super Bowl title in 2017, head coach Doug Pederson, after five years on the job, sources told ESPN’s Tim McManus.
The three years since the Eagles won the big one more of a rollercoaster than a hangover, only this rollercoaster went right off the rails this season. The turbulent times (hopefully) culminated with this past campaign’s disappointing 4-11-1 record in a division won by a 7-9 Washington team that has already been bounced from the playoffs by Tom Brady’s Tampa Buccaneers, who are intriguing +143 odds underdogs at the New Orleans Saints in next weekend’s Divisional Playoffs.
But back to more depressing affairs. Pederson had come under fire during much of the season for some questionable play-calling and personnel decisions, and the head-scratching call to bench rookie starting QB Jalen Hurts for unproven clipboard aficionado Nate Sudfeld in a winnable division game in the season finale made the fire burn louder.
“We are all very disappointed with the way our season went and eager to turn things around, not just for next season but also for the future of the franchise,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie said in a statement released by the team. “Coach Pederson and I had the opportunity to sit down and discuss what that collective vision would look like moving forward. After taking some time to reflect on these conversations, I believe it is in both of our best interests to part ways. … Everyone in the organization understands the type of man and coach that he is, and how much he means to all of us as well as the City of Philadelphia.”
Pederson’s head-scratching play-calling and peculiar usage of his three quarterbacks this season was certainly a factor in the major regression of his former starting quarterback, Carson Wentz. Pederson drafted Wentz with the number two overall pick back in 2016 and the North Dakota State product looked on his way to an MVP campaign in 2017 before a torn ACL with a quarter of the season remaining removed that as a possibility.
Backup Nick Foles would go on to lead the Eagles on the Cinderella Story of all Cinderella Stories in Wentz’s position, with Foles eventually earning the undying love and respect of the City of Philadelphia for his gutsy performances down the stretch, most notably in the Super Bowl, during which he outduelled the GOAT, Tom Brady, to earn the Eagles their first Super Bowl of all-time.
However, with Pederson standing pat on Wentz as his starter, Foles exercised his option to leave and signed elsewhere in 2019, leaving Wentz as the unquestioned leader. That season, Wentz did well in pushing his team to the NFC East title and a 9-7 record while posting 28 touchdowns versus 14 turnovers, but was concussed in the first few minutes of their opening playoff loss on a dirty hit.
Though it didn’t seem like the Eagles were in need of a quarterback, they spent a second-round pick on one Jalen Hurts out of Oklahoma in the 2020 draft anyway, and with people in Philly still talking about Foles, that certainly didn’t help Wentz’s confidence. Most of the blame for his regression must be put on the man himself, as well as his revolving door of an offensive line and a lack of skill at the skill positions, however.
All of this aside, Pederson was expected to keep his job. It was when Pederson and Lurie apparently clashed during their conversations about the future of the team over the past week—specifically on the topics of the new offensive and defensive coordinator appointments—that the situation became untenable, according to ESPN’s sources.
Reports of Wentz losing confidence in Pederson and vice versa were followed by rumors of Wentz demanding a trade, but according to ESPN’s sources, the likelihood of Wentz staying has increased with the firing of Pederson.
“As difficult as it is to say goodbye, I will always look back on my time here with appreciation and respect,” Pederson said in a statement released by the Eagles. “… To the City of Philadelphia, thank you for embracing me and this team. I truly appreciate that passion you bring every single day—at home, on the road, and in the community. … Through all the ups and downs, one thing remained constant about our team—an unwavering commitment to battle through adversity and to achieve our goals not as individuals, but as a collective unit. There is no better example of that than when we celebrated the first Super Bowl Championship in Eagles history together with our city. That is a memory we will all cherish forever.”
Pederson amassed a 46-39-1 record over his five-year tenure as the top bird in Philly, leading the team to three playoff appearances, four postseason wins, and their first ever Super Bowl victories in one of the greatest upsets in NFL history. The Bellingham, Washington native will now enter an NFL head coaching market with six job openings at the moment.