The Philadelphia Eagles surprised many this offseason by firing Super Bowl-winning coach Doug Pederson. Based on everything that reportedly went on within that organization, Pederson might be happy to no longer work for them.
In the months since Pederson was fired, details about the dysfunction in Philadelphia have leaked out. Among them, former star quarterback Carson Wentz ignored the team’s coaching and the story of general manager Howie Roseman reportedly berating a fan-favorite in front of his teammates during the 2018 season.
Pederson was fired after a disappointing four-win season, that saw the Eagles fall short in a hapless NFC East division and included rapid regression from the offense. While the front office is hopeful that new head coach Nick Sirianni injects new life into the locker room and can quickly turn things around, it’s evident the young coach might be headed for an unwelcome experience before long.
The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia, Bo Wulf and Zach Berman released a joint report on Monday highlighting organizational dysfunction that alienated the former coach and will likely cause many to have long-term concerns about the direction the team is headed.
Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, general manager often ‘ridiculed and criticized’ former coach
Jeffrey Lurie, one of the most prominent NFL owners, has a very active role in the football side of the team’s operations. He reportedly encouraged the current coaching staff to hand Jalen Hurts the starting job in 2021, was influential in his selection and is involved significantly with NFL Draft decisions. Meanwhile, Roseman has been part of the reason for many saying the Eagles’ failures fall on the organization’s hubris.
Pederson reportedly experienced all of this on a first-hand basis. As anonymous sources inside the organization told The Athletic, it manifested itself in the coach having to sit through weekly meetings with Lurie and Roseman to be told everything he did wrong during the game.
“(Pederson) was ridiculed and criticized for every decision. If you won by three, it wasn’t enough. If you lost on a last-second field goal, you’re the worst coach in history.”Source inside Philadelphia Eagles’ organization, via The Athletic.
Roseman would meet with the general manager and owner every Tuesday, with Roseman and Lurie questioning every aspect of Pederson’s game management from the previous matchup. The criticisms ranged from fourth-down calls, play calling and often centered on Pederson’s choices for his coaching staff.
In one cited example from The Athletic, the Eagles responded to a double-digit deficit against the Green Bay Packers with a comeback 34-27 victory in the 2019 season. Philadelphia’s rushing attack paved the way, with Jordan Howard and Miles Sanders combining for 159 rushing yards and the game-deciding touchdown. The following Tuesday, Lurie questioned Pederson for running the ball too much.
It happened again weeks later. Dealing with extreme winds in Buffalo, the Eagles’ duo of Howard and Sanders combined for 170 rushing yards and two touchdowns in a 31-13 victory. When Pederson met with Lurie and Roseman days later, he was questioned for not throwing the football more.
Lurie also wanted to dictate Pederson’s coaching staff, insisting he fired offensive coordinator Mike Groh and receivers coach Carson Walch. It was a directive Philadelphia’s head coach was used to, having reportedly been asked to do the same after the 2016 season to coordinator Frank Reich.
It wore Pederson down over time, with every decision the coach made constantly questioned. As one person told The Athletic, the Eagles’ organization “treated him like a baby.”
Eagles’ draft history tied to organizational dysfunction
The alleged drama in Philadelphia went beyond just the coaching staff. While Roseman and Lurie held the most power in the building, Eagles’ vice president of football operations and strategy Alex Halaby reportedly also carries significant power. He has close relationships with both the GM and owner and there have been frustrations with his involvement and the team’s draft process.
“Coaches wanted their evaluations taken into account or felt like certain players were forced upon them, scouts didn’t understand why picks didn’t correspond with an established methodology, and other staffers were unsure how their analysis was being applied in decisions. Departments became siloed — or even pitted against each other — and the lack of collaboration made finger-pointing easier.”The Athletic on coaches’ issues with the draft process.
It wasn’t just the coaches who were frustrated with how analytics were used. According to The Athletic, Halaby was allowed to grade players on his own evaluation and his input was considered heavily because of Lurie’s investment in analytics. What frustrated scouts most, Halaby never received training on the team’s scouting methodology and they were never instructed on the reasonings for where a player was ranked.
The story dives further into numerous issues of organizational dysfunction and an evident rift between the top executives and coaches and scouts.
Given the Eagles are beginning a rebuild, it’s fair to wonder if the current regime will be able to turn this team back into a consistent winner.