Three years after delivering the first Super Bowl championship to the city of Philadelphia, Doug Pederson is out as the Eagles’ head coach.
Pederson and owner Jeffrey Lurie met in South Florida on Monday, a meeting that represented an about-face from last week when Pederson and general manager Howie Roseman appeared together to answer questions from reporters a day after their 4-11-1 season ended.
Lurie didn’t wait very long to sack Pederson after Monday’s meeting.
Pederson, who will turn 53 on Jan. 31, finished with a record of 46-39-1.
He was hired on Jan. 18, 2016, after the Eagles parted ways with Chip Kelly after three years.
On the surface, the firing looks more like a matter of Pederson putting his foot down as it pertains to being told what to do by Lurie and Roseman.
For example, in the final game of Pederson’s career, a loss to the Washington Football Team that appeared to be deliberate and led to charges of tanking and ruining the integrity of the game, the decision to try to lose and get the sixth pick in the NFL draft and not the ninth, was likely a call from those above Pederson.
Another example was last year when it was Lurie who wanted to fire Mike Groh as offensive coordinator, a day after Pederson endorsed Groh’s return.
“I want to be a part of the solution,” said Pederson on Dec. 28. “I want to be a part of the evaluation process. I want to be a voice that's heard, and I want to have that collaborative communication with Howie and his staff and be a part of that process.”
Those certainly sound like a coach not willing to go quietly into the night and one with a desire to move away from being a “yes” man all the time.
The firing of Pederson comes amid reports that he wanted a say in who he hired to be his assistants and who he wanted to retain but Lurie wouldn’t allow that to happen.
Specifically, Pederson wanted to make Press Taylor his offensive coordinator after a year spent as the passing game coordinator/quarterback coach.
Last year, he wanted to bring back Mike Groh as his offensive coordinator and even told reporters that Groh would return. A day later, Groh was fired and Pederson was hung out to dry saying he had changed his mind when it was later learned the directive from Lurie was to fire Groh.
The decision to move on also comes amid reports that quarterback Carson Wentz, after being made the scapegoat for an offense with multiple failures, did not want to return if Pederson were still the head coach. Whether or not Wentz decides he wants to return now, is still open to debate.
Sources have said that Pederson and Roseman bickered this past week, with each man pointing fingers at one another for this year’s disappointing end result.
It is the way Chip Kelly’s tenure ended with one week left in the 2015 season, with Kelly and Roseman disagreeing with the direction in which the franchise was heading.
Roseman won that battle and it would appear he has done so again with Pederson despite coming under fire for several bad drafts, the worst of which was 2017 only Derek Barnett and Nate Gerry, who is a free agent, remaining in a class of eight players.
In his first season as the head coach, Pederson went 7-9 and finished last in the NFC East.
A year later, with Wentz playing like an MVP before tearing two knee ligaments in a December game against the L.A. Rams, the Eagles won the NFC with a 13-3 record, claimed the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, and put a temporary halt to the dynasty of the New England Patriots by beating them, 41-33, in Super Bowl LII.
A statue was erected outside Lincoln Financial Field, forever immortalizing one of the greatest moments from that victory, and one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history, which became known as the “Philly Special.”
At a triumphant victory parade wound its way through the city on a sunny but chilly February afternoon, just days after the majestic victory in Minneapolis, Pederson stood on the steps of the Philadelphia Museum of Art and proclaimed the Super Bowl expectations to be “the new norm.”
While he would guide the Eagles into the postseason in the two years that followed, he never came to close to return to the Super Bowl.
The team went 9-7 the next two years, though it won the NFC East last year after winning their final four games.
In the 2018 postseason, the Eagles needed a missed field goal with less than five seconds remaining in the game with the ball bouncing off an upright then the crossbar - a moment referred to as the double-doink - to beat the Bears in the Wild Card round, 16-15. The following week, the Eagles fell to the New Orleans Saints, 20-14
In 2019, the Eagles lost in the Wild Card game to the Seattle Seahawks, 17-9, a game marred by the loss of quarterback Carson Wentz to a concussion in the first quarter.
This past season, the Eagles managed just four wins. Their offense ranked 26th in scoring (20l9 points per game), 28th in passing yards (207.9 per game), and showed little creativity or innovation.
Pederson lobbied to return as the coach in the days following their elimination from playoff consideration with a blowout loss to eh Cowboys in Week 16, saying that he knows how to “fix this thing.”
Now, he is out and perhaps will become a target of another franchise that needs fixing.
Ed Kracz is the publisher of EagleMaven. Check out anything you may have missed pertaining to the Eagles by going to www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.