The Eagles have a head coach, but, if they didn’t, they could begin the search for one on Wednesday when requests and virtual interviews can commence with candidates employed by other teams.
Teams can deny that request, but the process can begin.
This is a big change in the coaching process. Typically, teams who want to talk to coaches employed by other teams have to wait until both championship games in late January are played.
Now, the coaching carousel can begin to grind its gears, and that’s beneficial for teams who fired their coaches in-season like the Lions, Texans, and Falcons.
Not that it matters in Philadelphia because, well, they have Doug Pederson. At least for now.
The Eagles’ hopes of winning the NFC East are still hanging by a piece of tinsel, but if that snaps and the season ends on Jan. 3, there is plenty of speculation that Pederson will be relieved of his duties, and he won’t be that bummed about it.
That Pederson is on thin ice is remarkable given that he won a Super Bowl just three years ago, has two division titles on his resume, and three straight trips to the playoffs in five years, but this is what a season that has reached nine losses and a quarterback controversy brings.
Pederson said he has not been given any reassurances by owner Jeffrey Lurie that he will be brought back in 2021, though it’s becoming clearer that he has plenty of support in the organization.
His assistant head coach, Duce Staley, went on record last Friday, saying he doesn’t want Pederson going anywhere.
“I only know that Doug is a hell of a coach, man,” said Staley. “He’s been a hell of a coach for this organization, bringing a Super Bowl, of course. I don't want him to leave.”
This is from an assistant coach who was passed over twice to be the offensive coordinator.
All Lurie has to do is look at Pederson’s players.
Left tackle Jordan Mailata said last week that Pederson challenges him every day, quizzing him on the intricacies of the game plan, asking him about certain zone-read techniques and blocking schemes.
“He’s done a lot of work with me on so many things,” said Mailata. “I appreciate Doug and his coaching abilities.”
Something else to consider if you are Lurie and that is that not one of Pederson’s players has quit despite having plenty of reason to, with a losing record made worse from a four-game losing after their bye week streak.
“Guys are still going out there and giving it everything they got,” said veteran center Jason Kelce. “I think a great head coach is a guy that is a great motivator. Is it important to be a genius? It helps, I guess. Is it important to be a big rah-rah guy? Yeah, it helps.
“But the most important thing is, does this guy relate to people and does he motivate people and does he get the most out of people – players, the coaches under him, everybody?
"I know that Doug builds an environment that empowers individuals, empowers players, empowers his coaches underneath him to be the best that they can be. In my opinion, that’s the best quality trait you can have in a leader. It’s a lot harder to find than I think is often credited.”
When your veteran leader, one of the best players to ever put on an Eagles uniform, says something like that, it should speak volumes to Lurie, but the decision could run deeper than just that.
The biggest indictment of this team this year has been slow starts. That speaks of lack of preparation, and preparation is the responsibility of coaches.
You can say what you want about player execution, the penalties and turnovers being the reason for slow starts, but that is a coaching problem. Those mistakes need to be ironed out during the week.
There is no reason for the Eagles to go from Oct. 4 to Dec. 13 without having a halftime lead. There's no reason for waiting until the second quarter to pick up an initial first down, the way they have in at least three games this year.
Then there’s Carson Wentz to consider, and this may be the biggest issue for Lurie to ponder.
Jalen Hurts has looked good, yes, operating Pederson’s offense like he’s been in it for years.
Will that be enough to save Pederson’s job?
More pressing: Can Wentz and the coach coexist?
It’s a longshot that Wentz gets traded because of his contract, so if he is back in 2021, will he trust his head coach to be able to put him in a position to be successful.
Yes, Wentz has to take accountability here, but it is also the coach’s job to get the most from a quarterback who was supposed to be the franchise’s cornerstone for at least a decade. Halfway in, and that foundation is cracked, and Lurie may believe that Pederson can’t repair it.
There is plenty Lurie will need to consider with Pederson before a decision is made if he will put his franchise on board the coaching carousel.
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