Back on February 4, 2018 the Philadelphia Eagles were led by head coach Doug Pederson to Super Bowl LII which they won with backup quarterback Nick Foles. It was the first Super Bowl win in Eagles history. Now, less than three years later, Doug Pederson has been fired.
Oh yeah you heard that right!
After five seasons with the team, Pederson is gone.
Eagles owner Jeff Lurie fired Pederson Monday afternoon after a miserable 4-11-1 season. The Eagles have won four or fewer games three times since Lurie bought the team. Those seasons are 1998, 2012 and 2020, and Lurie fired the head coach each time. Only three teams in the Eagles’ 88-year history have lost more games.
Pederson is the first NFL coach in nearly half a century to be fired less than six years after winning a Super Bowl. The last head coach to be fired less than six years after winning a Super Bowl was Don McCafferty, who led the Colts to the Super Bowl V championship after the 1970 season but was fired five games into 1972 when he refused to bench 39-year-old Johnny Unitas in favor of Marty Domres.
He’s also the second Eagles coach in franchise history to be fired within a year of reaching the playoffs. Buddy Ryan was fired after the 1990 season after taking the Eagles to the playoffs in 1988, 1989 and 1990.
Lurie has hired four head coaches since buying the team in 1994. All four have won 10 games and reached the postseason by their second season.
The Eagles went 42-36-1 in five years under Pederson, and his 42 wins are 5th-most in franchise history, one fewer than Ryan. Only Andy Reid (14 years), Greasy Neale (10 years) and Dick Vermeil (seven years) coached the Eagles longer than Pederson.
This is the first time the Eagles have failed to win 10 games under the same head coach three years in a row since Marion Campbell was the head coach in the mid-1980s.
Other than the Super Bowl season, the Eagles were 29-33-1. But in 2017, they went 13-3 and demolished the playoffs and then played the greatest coach and quarterback in NFL history. The Eagles ended up beating them as they won Super Bowl LII against the Patriots 41-33. It was the franchise’s first Super Bowl win and their first championship since 1960.
But since that miraculous Super Bowl title, a lot has changed. The Eagles won a playoff game in 2018 and reached the playoffs last year, but after a 3-4-1 start this year lost six of their next seven games, dropping out of the tepid NFC East playoff race with a 20-point loss to the Dallas Cowboys in Week 16. Since winning the Super Bowl, the Eagles are 22-25-1 and 1-2 in the postseason.
Pederson’s fifth season was marked by repeated bizarre in-game decisions, consistently making bad play calls, continued under-utilization of Miles Sanders and a very good running game, and the mysterious decline of Carson Wentz. It was a very odd season to say the least.
It was Pederson’s inability to get Carson Wentz back to his form of the last few years that created the tension that ultimately led to his dismissal. Wentz struggled all year and Pederson finally benched him for rookie Jalen Hurts in the third quarter of a Week 12 game against the Packers.
According to reports, Wentz believes his relationship with Pederson is beyond repair. It sure does looks like it ultimately came down to Lurie choosing between Wentz, the one-time Pro Bowler, and Pederson, the one-time Super Bowl winner. And Lurie chose that the head coach had to go.
It’s strange to see a head coach be fired only eight days after the season ended. But, it has been a weird season, and I guess this just tipped it off.
The last Eagles head coach who was fired more than two days after the end of the season was Joe Kuharich, who led the Eagles from 1964 through 1968. He wasn’t fired until the following May, after Leonard Tose bought the team from debt-ridden Jerry Wolman.
Lurie and Pederson reportedly met two days after the season ended to discuss Pederson’s future, but Lurie didn’t make the final decision to change coaches for another six days.
Lurie has been clear in the past that it’s very unlikely he would ever hire another defensive coach as a head coach, something he last did with Rhodes in 1995.
If the Eagles hire from the inside, which they last did in 1991 with Kotite, who had been Ryan’s offensive coordinator, running backs coach and assistant head coach Duce Staley would be the most logical candidate. Staley led the team this summer when Pederson got COVID-19.
Among the hot outside candidates this year are Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka, Ravens quarterbacks coach James Urban and Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady.
Bieniemy played for the Eagles in 1999 and holds the same position under Reid that Pederson held when Lurie hired him in 2016. Kafka was an Eagles draft pick in 2010, and his position coach with the Eagles was Pederson. Urban spent 2004 through 2010 as an offensive coach with the Eagles under Reid.
Here is Lurie’s statement on the move.
It sure is a crazy move for the Eagles. This crazy offseason has now gotten even more crazy!