Everyone involved with the Philadelphia Eagles, knew coming in Doug Pederson was going to have a lot on his plate. Well apparently, that plate keeps filling up. Way more than any of us could’ve expected.
Doug Pederson was hired by the Eagles, on January 18th. He’s taking over a team that crumbled under the weight of Chip Kelly’s ego. The team was coming off a seven win season, with a quarterback some wanted, and some didn’t. But more importantly, was finding a coach to repair this locker room.
The Eagles just seemed to quit on Chip Kelly multiple times, throughout the 2015 season. He released and traded away a lot of star talent for the Eagles. Most notably DeSean Jackson and LeSean McCoy. The Eagles regressed severely once Chip took over as the team’s general manger.
The biggest prize the team signed during the 2015 offseason, was their rival Dallas Cowboys’ running back DeMarco Murray. A couple games into the season, Murray couldn’t even deal with Chip anymore. He showed barely any heart in his runs, looked lost without Dallas’ offensive line, and just couldn’t perform in Chip’s offense.
We all know how Murray went to Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie, complaining to Chip Kelly, after the victory versus New England. Chip is gone now, planning on the 2016 season with the San Francisco 49ers. DeMarco Murray just had such a terrible experience in Philadelphia, in large part due to Chip Kelly, that he still demanded a trade and received one. That’s another situation Pederson had to deal with as head coach.
Doug Pederson was very vocal in his wishing that Sam Bradford would return to the Eagles. He preached through the media, during Bradford and Eagles contract negotiations, that he believed the Eagles could be playoff contenders, with Bradford has quarterback. Eventually Bradford bought into what Pederson was preaching, that he signed a two year deal with the Eagles. He signed this deal a week before the NFL free agency period started.
Once the new league year started, the Eagles started ridding themselves of Chip Kelly’s failed projects. The team shipped overpaid free agent signee Byron Maxwell to the Miami Dolphins. Kiko Alonso, the failed linebacker Chip traded LeSean McCoy for, was also sent packing. Next was DeMarco Murray. Doug Pederson said multiple times during Murray’s trade rumors, he wanted Murray on his team. Murray, however, wasn’t on board with that idea. He pressured the Eagles to move him, leaving money on the table and joined the Tennessee Titans.
The Eagles then moved all those draft picks they got back from Dolphins and Titans, along with some of their picks and future picks. They traded those picks to the Cleveland Browns, in order to move up to the 2nd overall pick. Once that trade was announced, quarterback Sam Bradford walked out of a team meeting, demanding a trade.
He knew he wouldn’t have a long-term future with the Eagles anymore, so he wanted out. The Eagles wouldn’t budge, even with interest from the Denver Broncos. This was another huge media circus Doug Pederson had to go through, all before he coached a single NFL game. Eventually, the Eagles selected Carson Wentz, and Bradford ended his holdout shortly after the NFL draft.
Doug Pederson has been weathering this quarterback situation very well. He’s stayed firm in his commitment that Bradford is the starting quarterback, every single time the media asks. His offensive coordinator (Frank Reich) floated the possibility of a quarterback competition, but Pederson stayed true to his commitment to Bradford as the starter. He hasn’t fully closed the door on a quarterback competition, which in all fairness, he shouldn’t. They invested heavily in Carson Wentz, yes they want him to sit and develop, but don’t let him accept his role. Let him give you a good problem to have, and make it difficult on Pederson to bench him. That seems to be the approach Pederson is using, since he hasn’t fully closed the door on a quarterback competiton.
He also had to deal with two potential holdouts. Eagles star players Fletcher Cox and Darren Sproles skipped all the voluntary workouts. They did in 2015, but under a new coaching staff, learning a new system it had fans worried. Pederson stayed in contact with Sproles, even prior to the Eagles fielding trade offers for his services, during the NFL draft. Pederson was determined to have Sproles be apart of his offense, that he took to the media saying Sproles will not be moved. He echoed same sentiment for Fletcher Cox, however, didn’t speak to him until mandatory minicamp. Fletcher Cox is in the midst of contract negotiations with the Eagles. Being the team’s best player, it was a concern to fans that Cox wasn’t there. He’ll be a big part of Pederson’s tenure, hopefully, but Pederson handled their absences well. He kept focus on the players in attendance and used the extra running back reps to showcase Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood more.
USA Today recently released their head coach rankings. Pederson, who again is a rookie head coach, was ranked 30th out of 32 coaches. So of course, after dealing with the most drama this offseason out of all the rookie head coaches, he gets ranked horribly. Rankings don’t mean much now, especially if the coach hasn’t coached a game yet.
Now Pederson has another slippery situation on his hands. Eagles 2015 1st round pick wide receiver Nelson Agholor, is being accused of sexual assault. This took place this past Thursday, June 9th, at a gentleman’s club in Philadelphia named Cheerleaders. The incident reportedly occurred at 3 PM. Connor Barwin and Fletcher Cox, were reportedly in attendance, but Barwin issued a statement saying he wasn’t present during the incident.
This is another huge storm to weather for Pederson. He’s already dealt with a quarterback who wanted out. A process of drafting the Eagles fifth 1st round quarterback in franchise history. He’s taking over a team that was crushed by the weight of their former coach’s ego.
Doug Pederson has a lot on his plate, coaching the Eagles this season. It’s his rookie year, so he’ll have those coaching struggles, but this offseason has been brutal on him. It wasn’t ever made clear if he was the Eagles first or last choice. They interviewed former Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, who reportedly blew the interview bashing the Giants the whole time. They interviewed running backs coach Duce Staley. They also interviewed new Dolphins head coach Adam Gase first, but decided to let him leave the building.
We have to be patient with Pederson. He’s slowly got to put the pieces together that Chip tore apart. He’s got to precisely manage the huge investment this team made on Carson Wentz. He has to deal with these Nelson Agholor accusations, even if they’re false, players at strip clubs in the afternoon is a bad look. He’s handled his fair share of disgruntled Philadelphia Eagles players this offseason. So far, Pederson’s plate has been pretty full.
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