Not So Safe

Posted: January 10th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 4 Comments »

Doug Pederson talked to the media after the season and everyone took that as a sign he would be coming back in 2021. That was last Monday. On Tuesday, Pederson met with owner Jeff Lurie. Apparently that meeting did not go well.

Wow.

So what’s the problem? What happened? Chris Mortensen and Tim McManus offer some details.

But Lurie to this point has not been sold on how Pederson plans to fix the offense and get the Eagles back to contender status, according to sources.

That is a major concern.

While Pederson’s fragile status does not necessarily focus around Wentz’s issues, according to sources, his description when pressed about the team’s offensive identity during one internal meeting with management was “troubling.” His plan to address his coaching staff also lacked urgency, the sources added.

Another year of coaching staff issues. That’s not shocking.

Let’s talk about this.

I’ve wondered all year if Pederson really appreciated what an awful season his team had. You can lose a bunch of games and then talk yourself into it not being that bad due to injuries, close losses, bad luck, etc. The way Pederson talked to the media made you think that’s the way he looked at 2020.

Last Monday Pederson talked about the need to get healthy, to have a full offseason and to focus on fundamentals. That would be fine if the Eagles had gone 7-9. In case you forgot, they didn’t.

The Eagles went 4-11-1, despite playing in arguably the worst division in modern NFL history. Of those four wins, three came against backup QBs. The other win came against Daniel Jones. The Eagles trailed by 10 or more points in 12 games. This wasn’t a bunch of back and forth games where the Eagles came up just short. They were down big in several games.

There is a lot that needs fixing.

Pederson is delusional if he thinks getting back the right side of his O-line and having a full offseason will fix this team. That would help in a major way, but the issues go well beyond that. And you can’t fix what you don’t know is broken. Again…does Pederson truly understand how bad his team was this season?

The Eagles have been in decline since winning the Super Bowl. Yes, they did make the playoffs in 2018 and 2019, but the team is headed in the wrong direction. Add in the disastrous 2020 season and you can see where Lurie might be asking some tough questions. Pederson obviously didn’t have the answers that Lurie was hoping for.

As to the coaching staff, that has been a tricky subject since the Super Bowl. Pederson lost Frank Reich and John DeFilippo in February of 2018 and the offensive staff has been unsettled since then. Last year Pederson told the media there wouldn’t be coaching changes. A day later, Pederson made changes, almost certainly at the behest of Lurie and Howie Roseman.

The changes did not work.

It sounds like Lurie wants the offensive staff overhauled, while Pederson doesn’t completely agree. The central figure may be QBs coach/passing game coordinator Press Taylor. Pederson apparently thinks very highly of him. Carson Wentz loves Taylor. Unfortunately the data doesn’t paint a pretty picture. Wentz hasn’t played as well since Taylor replaced DeFilippo. And the passing game this year was a mess. The Eagles were 28th in passing yards and QBs had a cumulative passer rating of 72.9. Yikes.

Taylor might be an NFL assistant for years to come. He might be better than I’m giving him credit for. But he sure wasn’t the right coach for the 2020 Eagles. What makes us think he’s the right guy for 2021? Pederson would need to make a compelling case in order to bring him back. This isn’t a case of surrounding yourself with coaches you like or that you’re comfortable with. Pederson needs to find the right guys to fix this mess. Wentz had a historic regression in 2020. I don’t see how you  bring back the QB coach who oversaw that.

Jeff McLane wrote a good piece on the situation and offered up another nugget.

While Pederson said that his relationship with Roseman has been on solid ground, there have been indications that the two have decreasingly seen eye-to-eye on personnel, team sources said.

I don’t know what moves they would have disagreed on. Both guys seem to love veteran players so it is hard to know what they were butting heads about. McLane did report that the coaches were the ones pushing for the Eagles to draft Jalen Reagor in the first round. Maybe that is one of the big issues.

I also think the season finale against Washington could be a factor in all of this. In Pederson’s mind, he simply gave some snaps to his number three QB. The rest of the football world saw that very differently. It led to a lot of outrage and criticism. I’m sure Lurie saw that as an embarrassing end to a horrible season. How does your coach not understand that pulling Hurts and playing Sudfeld is going to create a firestorm? That coach is naive or dumb. Neither is a good option.

There is also the question of the players reaction to the QB switch. Some people think this could have lingering effects in the locker room. I disagree, but it is tough to know what will resonate with players. One of Pederson’s big selling points is his emotional intelligence and handling of the locker room. If he’s lost some of that, it hurts his value.

The X-factor in all of this is the future of Carson Wentz. We don’t know what Lurie wants. Pederson has publicly stated that he still thinks highly of Wentz and that the two can get things turned around together. It doesn’t seem like Wentz feels the same way. He did not have an exit interview with Pederson last Monday. You can bet that wasn’t an accident. It could be a situation where Wentz is pushing Lurie to choose between him and Pederson.

Let’s be fair to Pederson in all of this. He met with Lurie less than 48 hours after the season was over. I’m sure there was a lot going through his head. Trying to put together a complex offseason plan that quickly would be incredibly challenging. Lurie gave him a mulligan, so to speak. Pederson is scheduled to meet with Lurie down in Florida on Monday.

Pederson has now had time to come up with a strong plan and some detailed answers.

He will either save his job or secure his departure.

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