The Philadelphia Eagles hit bottom this year, which is further reinforcement that Doug Pederson is the most overrated head coach in the NFL.
The final game of the 2020 NFL regular season meant nothing to the Philadelphia Eagles and head coach Doug Pederson. They showed as much with an extensive list of players ruled out ahead of Sunday night’s game against Washington, which invited references to the typically dreaded “T” word before the game even kicked off.
Then, with the Eagles trailing just 17-14, quarterback Jalen Hurts was replaced by Nate Sudfield. That went just as expected, with turnovers on his first two drives as any chance to win the game evaporated. Sudfeld had not even dressed for a game since Week 1, and his last regular season action came in Week 17 of the 2018 season.
After the game, Pederson was of course asked about the decision to go with Sudfeld.
“Yes, I was coaching to win,” Pederson said, adding that no one from management directed him to pull Hurts. “That was my decision solely. Nate has obviously been here for four years, and I felt he deserved an opportunity to get some snaps.”
Playing Sudfeld over Hurts, regardless of the broader situation, is not an effort to win a game. So Pederson is lying about “coaching to win,” he thinks we’re all stupid or he was given a directive from above to sit Hurts (which no one will admit).
A loss did improve the Eagles’ first-round pick, from No. 9 to No. 6 overall, so there’s that. And I’m on board with the idea the Eagles owed nothing to the New York Giants, who would have won the NFC East by way of their win over Dallas earlier Sunday if Washington had lost.
But this is about Doug Pederson…
The Eagles won the Super Bowl after the 2017 season, spurred by Nick Foles’ great postseason run and taking home Super Bowl MVP with Carson Wentz sidelined. They went 9-7 and made the playoffs in 2018 and 2019, winning the NFC East in 2019. In 2018, Foles nearly orchestrated another run to at least the NFC Championship Game with Wentz out again.
That Super Bowl run led to the exit of two notable offensive assistants. Offensive coordinator Frank Reich became the Indianapolis Colts head coach, and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo became the Minnesota Vikings offensive coordinator.
Mike Groh was offensive coordinator in 2018 and ’19, before leaving to become Reich’s wide receivers coach. So it has progressively become Pederson’s show offensively. This season, Wentz had his worst year (not entirely his fault) and Hurts was kept away from meaningful snaps for too long.
From 2009-15, from the Eagles to the Kansas City Chiefs, Pederson worked under Andy Reid as a quality control coach, quarterbacks coach and offensive coordinator. Reid has loosened in that respect lately with Matt Nagy and Eric Bieniemy, but it’s notable that he did not cede play-calling duties to his offensive coordinator for a long time.
Pederson did call plays in the second half of the 2015 season, and Kansas City’s 10-game winning streak after a 1-5 start advanced him quickly as a head coaching candidate.
Over five seasons as Eagles’ head coach, Pederson is 42-37-1 (.531 winning percentage). Take out 2017’s 13-3 mark, and with this year’s low of 4-11-1 he’s 29-34-1 otherwise.
Remove the Super Bowl run, spurred by Foles having an unrepeatable career-best stretch, and the Eagles needed a double-doink missed field goal by Bears’ kicker Cody Parkey to have any other playoff win under Pederson to this point.
As much as it might be convenient to do at a low point, this is not a call for Pederson to be fired. But even with a little nod toward another coach with a Super Bowl win and little else on his resume, he is the most overrated head coach in the NFL right now.