Doug Pederson could emerge as the favorite for Jets head coach

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Ralph Vacchiano
·3 min read
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Doug Pederson stands on the sidelines with a play sheet in his hand
Doug Pederson stands on the sidelines with a play sheet in his hand

Joe Douglas’ search for a new head coach for the Jets is all about finding someone who can lead a team to a championship.

Now there’s a coach on the market who recently did.

Doug Pederson was fired by the Philadelphia Eagles on Monday, just three years after he led them to the first Super Bowl championship in team history. And multiple NFL sources expect him to at least soon get a call from Douglas, the Jets’ general manager and a former Eagles executive.

It’s possible the 52-year-old could even emerge as the favorite in the Jets’ wide-ranging search, which has seen management conduct interviews with at least nine candidates so far. Late in the regular season, when there was first speculation that Pederson might be fired, one NFL source told SNY that if he became available “put him at the top of Joe’s list.”

There are many others around the league who agree that Pederson will get strong consideration and that the lure of hiring a coach he knows with a championship on his resume will be too much for Douglas to pass up. But there are some who aren’t sure Pederson will be Douglas’ ideal candidate, especially coming off such a terrible season with the Eagles.

Don’t discount their successful history, though, and what sources said is a strong personal relationship between Douglas and Pederson. Douglas was the Eagles vice president of player personnel from 2016-19, joining the organization just four months after Pederson was hired. They won a Super Bowl together in their second year.

So Douglas had a front row seat for the best parts of Pederson’s resume. He watched Pederson develop Carson Wentz into one of the more promising, young NFL quarterbacks. He saw him lead the team to a championship in 2017 with backup quarterback Nick Foles after Wentz went down. And he watched in 2018 as Pederson led the Eagles to within an Alshon Jeffrey drop of the NFC championship game, again with his backup quarterback at the helm.

In all, Pederson and Douglas went 29-19 in three seasons together, with two playoff appearances and that Super Bowl championship. Pederson took the Eagles back to the playoffs in 2019 after Douglas left, too.

None of the nine known candidates on Douglas’ shortlist have a resume like that. In fact, only former Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis has experience as an NFL head coach. And Lewis’ 16 seasons in Cincinnati included only six winning seasons and not a single win in a playoff game.

But the Eagles’ disastrous 4-11-1 season creates some issues with Pederson’s candidacy. Not only was the team bad, but Wentz, his prized pupil, struggled so much that he eventually lost his job to rookie quarterback Jalen Hurts. Then in the final week of the season, Pederson drew the ire of some of his players – and many around the league – when he benched Hurts for third-stringer Nate Sudfeld late in the fourth quarter of their season finale against Washington.

It appeared to many that he wasn’t coaching to win the final game of the season. The Eagles ended up losing, 20-14, giving Washington the NFC East title and costing the Giants a playoff spot.

And even if Douglas could get past all that, there’s also this: The Jets’ last head coach, Adam Gase, was hired less than two weeks after he was fired from his previous job. With the Jets looking for a leader who can galvanize their organization as well as their fan base, it’s not clear they’d want to hire someone who was just discarded by another team again.

Of course, Gase didn’t have Pederson’s resume or that Super Bowl championship – and that ring could be enough make Pederson an easy sell to fans and players in an organization looking for instant leadership in a head coach.