Explaining the Hill Doug Pederson Wants to Defend

The Eagles coach lost his battle with the front office to retain Mike Groh last year, now he wants to keep Press Taylor as his OC despite a big decline in the team's offense
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PHILADELPHIA - You've heard all the speculation swirling around the Eagles and many are asking a simple question: If Doug Pederson is going to pick a hill to die on, why Press Taylor?

Taylor, the team's current passing game coordinator who Pederson would like to make his next offensive coordinator, is only the symbol of the ridge Philadelphia's head coach is really concerned with, not the actual hill.

Pederson trusts Taylor, who will turn 33 on Wednesday, implicitly and that's a valued commodity inside the NovaCare Complex these days as the political winds stir just as Jeffrey Lurie's much-ballyhooed collaborative approach breaks down into the chaos of everyone man for himself.

According to an NFL source, Pederson trusts Taylor more than anyone else on his staff right now, a flashback to the days of his relationships with Frank Reich and to a lesser extent Mike Groh.

In fact, Pederson considers Taylor as his protege and a future head coach in the NFL, a sentiment many agree with around a league becoming increasingly-obsessed with young head coaches. That thought process has been tabled for the time being after the stench of a disastrous 4-11-1 season, however.

Pederson also understands he should have stood his ground on Groh last season and feels another acquiescence would completely neuter him in an organization where Lurie and his first lieutenant, Howie Roseman, seem, not only comfortable in calling the shots but now deem it as a necessity moving forward.

To those in the know, Pederson's trip to Palm Beach comes on the heels of an unproductive meeting with Lurie at the NovaCare Complex last week, one deemed that way by the owner because Lurie didn't feel the coach's "sense of urgency" for fixing the perceived offensive issues was there.

To Lurie, the synonym for that sense of urgency is change, the same new ideas and new voices that led to a wasted year with Rich Scangarello after failing to secure more desirable names like James Urban, Graham Harrell, and Mike Kafka.

Conversely, In Pederson's mind, hindsight reveals he would have had another 12 months under his belt with a coach he trusted in Groh and things wouldn't have come off the rails, at least to the degree they did.

Taylor, though, now owns a significant part of the 4-11-1 season in which Carson Wentz regressed to a historic degree, so in many ways, yet another promotion is an admittedly tough sell in a public-facing business.

His ascent in the organization from an offensive quality control coach under Chip Kelly to assistant QB coach, then the QB coach, and finally the dual-role of PGC and QB coach in 2020 has coincided with the decline of the offense as a whole.

The book on Taylor from a former coach in the organization is that he's got a brilliant offensive mind when it comes to scheming (he's the coach who mined the Philly special from a meaningless game between Chicago and Minnesota in Week 17 of the 2016 season) but he's a bit too friendly at times when it comes to the day-to-day grind of teaching.

In the case of Wentz, that latter part is particularly important because a separate Eagles source noted his relationship with Wentz is more of a peer-based one and the main issue with the soon-to-be sixth-year pro coming out of North Dakota State was his mechanics.

Wentz did not like his first position coach personally, now Chicago QB mentor John DeFilippo, a teacher known as a taskmaster who really pushed Wentz hard when it came to those mechanics.

DeFilippo would often cite Carson Palmer as the standard and while Wentz didn't appreciate the tough love at the time he should now realize what it meant for his career and that hasn't seemed to click.

The counterintuitive plan for the Eagles moving forward should be elevating Taylor to offensive coordinator and hiring a hard-nosed position coach in the mold of DeFilippo to try to rescue Wentz's failing mechanics.

Meanwhile, Taylor's close relationships with both Pederson and Wentz could in theory be the conduit to mend that fracture.

As for the hill, Pederson will be defending on "The Island" in South Florida, the coach wants someone he trusts implicitly in what is rapidly turning into a snake den.

John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Tuesday and Thursday on "The Middle" with Eytan Shander, Harry Mayes, and Barrett Brooks on SportsMap Radio and PhillyVoice.com. He’s also the host of Extending the Play on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

Ed Kracz is the publisher of EagleMaven. Check out anything Eagles-related you may have missed by going to www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter @kracze.