Joe Douglas’ search for a new head coach for the Jets is all about finding someone who can lead a team to a Super Bowl championship.
Now there’s a chance that a coach who’s already done that could drop right into his lap.
Doug Pederson, the Philadelphia Eagles head coach, is apparently back on the hot seat, as ESPN reported on Sunday that he could be out of a job after he meets with owner Jeffrey Lurie sometime this week. And if he is fired, he figures to immediately land on the radar of Douglas, a former Eagles executive.
In fact, during the last week of the NFL season when it first appeared Pederson might be fired, one NFL source told SNY that if he became available “put him at the top of Joe’s list.”
That makes sense, of course, because Pederson and Douglas have a successful history together. 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 as bad as Pederson’s 2020 season was, Douglas had a front row seat for all the good. 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 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.
All of that would seem to make the 52-year-old Pederson a no-brainer for Douglas to at least interview, and it possibly might make him a front-runner for the job. But there are some issues with Pederson’s candidacy.
For one, he’s coming off a disastrous, 4-11-1 season in Philly and 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.
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 that 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. But that will all depend on what happens this week and whether Pederson’s job really is in jeopardy.
If it is, that “wide net” that Douglas has cast in his coaching search will likely at least try to bring him in.