By Jack Ryan
Owner Jeff Lurie ditched coach Doug Pederson today, one week after the end of an awful 4-11-1 season.
The Eagles have won four or fewer games three times since Jeff Lurie bought the team – 1998, 2012 and 2020 – and Lurie fired the head coach each time.
Pederson is the first NFL coach in nearly half a century to be fired less than six years after winning a Super Bowl.
Multiple meetings with Pederson in the past week persuaded Lurie that Pederson couldn’t address the myriad of issues facing the team, ESPN reports, from navigating the Carson Wentz situation to fixing an offense that finished 26th in scoring (20.9 PPG) and 28th in passing yards (207.9 YPG) in 2020.
Lurie was also not sold on Pederson’s plans regarding his coaching staff, sources said. Pederson pushed for pass game coordinator/quarterbacks coach Press Taylor to be elevated to offensive coordinator rather than bringing a more established candidate in. The issue of how to fill the void left by defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who plans to take the year off from football in 2021, was also unresolved.
Wentz regressed dramatically in his fifth year and was replaced in the lineup by rookie Jalen Hurts for the last quarter of the season. Wentz has planned to ask for a trade in the offseason because his relationship with Pederson is fractured beyond repair, according to league sources. The trust issues between the two work both ways, sources said, despite Pederson recently saying that his relationship with Wentz was fine.
Sources describe an offense in 2020 that lacked an identity, in part as a result of a sizable and mismatched group of assistants and consultants brought in last offseason who struggled to get on the same page. The absence of a central vision for what the offense should look like made quarterbacking an uphill climb, and all the voices created a cacophony for both Pederson and Wentz alike, sources said.
As for Hurts, a second-round pick last April, there was not firm clarity from Pederson on wether he had a sense that the franchise had its quarterback of the future if the Eagles should move on from Wentz. The handling of the season’s final game in which Hurts was pulled in favor of Nate Sudfeld in a 20-14 loss to Washington also left questions about whether Pederson had lost his players’ confidence.
Pederson became just the eighth head coach to win a Super Bowl within his first two years at the helm when the Eagles beat the New England Patriots to capture the Lombardi Trophy during the 2017 season. That was the first of three straight playoff appearances for the Eagles under Pederson before the wheels came off in 2020. He compiled a record of 46-39-1 over five season with the Eagles, including four playoff wins.