By Justin Gincauskas
As a shock to many, on Jan. 11 the Philadelphia Eagles decided to part ways with head coach Doug Pederson after five seasons with the team.
The move comes after the Eagles disappointing 4-11-1 record this past season, in which they finished last in the NFC East. The Eagles led the division for most of the season until giving up the lead for good in week 12 after a loss to the Seattle Seahawks. The team was officially eliminated from playoff contention in week 16 after a loss to the Dallas Cowboys.
Doug Pederson’s firing comes less than three years after helping the Philadelphia Eagles capture their first Super Bowl in franchise history. After finishing last in the division in his first season as head coach, Pederson helped lead the Eagles to the playoffs the next three seasons, including winning Super Bowl 52 in just his second season with the team.
In his final game as head coach, Pederson received some criticism around the NFL for his coaching late in the game against the Washington Football Team. With the Eagles down only a field goal heading into the fourth quarter, Pederson decided to pull quarterback Jalen Hurts from the game, putting in Nate Sudfeld for his first snaps of the season. Pederson defended the move by saying that the plan before the game was to get Sudfeld some playing time.
Many around the league, including Giants head coach Joe Judge who would have seen his team advance to the postseason had the Eagles won that game, were furious with the move and saw it as tanking for a better draft pick.
Letting Hurts finish the game was the more reasonable decision, since the Eagles have to decide whether to go back to Carson Wentz next season or stay with Hurts.
It seemed as though the Eagles ownership was pushing for Hurts to start at quarterback as the season went on while Wentz continued to struggle, but the firing of Pederson has proven that to be false. Reports came out near the end of the season stating that Pederson and Wentz were not on the same page and that the relationship between the head coach and the quarterback had been “fractured beyond repair,” according to Chris Mortenson of ESPN.
At the end of the season, it looked quite possible that Wentz would be traded in favor of Hurts as the quarterback of the future. However, according to sportingnews.com, the firing of Pederson signaled that the Eagles are choosing to keep the struggling quarterback, who in 2019 signed a four-year, $128 million extension, over the coach that has brought them to the playoffs three of the past four seasons.
The Philadelphia Eagles will now be the seventh team looking for a new head coach this offseason, joining the Falcons, Lions, Texans, Jets, Jaguars and Chargers.