Just over a week after a controversial loss to the Washington Football Team, the Philadelphia Eagles made it official. Doug Pederson will no longer be their head coach. Replacing the man who led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl victory will be a challenge.
The Eagles’ quarterback situation is a mess
The key talking point of the Eagles’ 2020 season was their quarterback situation. Carson Wentz played like a shadow of the passer who once won five national championships at North Dakota State. This season, he tied for the league lead in interceptions thrown, with 15, despite only playing in 12 games.
Unfortunately, the alternative isn’t much of an improvement, if any. Rookie passer Jalen Hurts, who replaced Wentz as the starter for the final four games, completed barely over half of his passes. Hurts himself was benched under controversial circumstances for third-stringer Nate Sudfeld late in the Eagles’ finale against Washington.
According to NFL reporter Ian Rapoport, Pederson’s firing dramatically improved the chances of Wentz returning to Philadelphia. Wentz was on the verge of demanding a trade, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen, as the relationship between himself and the organization had “fractured” after his benching.
Not all coaches are lucky enough to have their quarterback controversies involve tandems such as Joe Montana and Steve Young.
The Howie Roseman question
As if the quarterback situation weren’t bad enough, the Eagles could be $80 million above the salary cap by the time 2021 rolls around.
Due to the financial impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL salary cap is expected to decrease to no less than $175 million. This is bad news for the Eagles and free-wheeling general manager Howie Roseman, who many fans point to as the true cause of the Eagles’ misfortune.
According to Spotrac, the Eagles will have over $278,000,000 in player contracts on the books for the 2021 season, and few options on how to relieve the cap pressure. 94WIP cites wide receivers Alshon Jeffery, DeSean Jackson, and Marquise Goodwin as the most likely targets to be cut or traded.
No matter what the Eagles do to get under the cap, there are no attractive answers. 2021 seems more and more like a rebuilding year in Philadelphia.
Replacing Doug Pederson will be difficult
In the three years since the Eagles’ Super Bowl win, the hangover has yet to subside. The offense has fallen from third in points scored in 2017 to 26th this season, while their quarterback has devolved from an MVP-caliber passer into a laughingstock.
It’s hard to tell how much of the team’s collapse can be attributed directly to Pederson. Injuries and COVID-19 infections claimed a chunk of the Eagles’ roster, including most of their offensive line. This contributed heavily to Wentz’s struggles. Wentz took 50 sacks in 2020, which led the league.
It cannot be overemphasized that the Eagles made their decision one week after the other six NFL teams who fired head coaches. Those teams are already well into their coaching searches. This gives the Eagles a late start on interviewing and choosing their next head coach.
Try to name a single positive thing that Pederson’s successor could look forward to. While Bill O’Brien left a pile of toxic waste behind in Houston, his replacement will still have J.J. Watt and (most likely) Deshaun Watson to work with. The Jets have a group of talented players who were led astray by horrible coaching.
What do the Eagles have? An aging, depleted roster and two equally mediocre quarterbacks to choose from.