Just three years after he brought the franchise its first Lombardi Trophy, Doug Pederson has been fired as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. The decision was made with the Eagles coming off a disappointing season in which they finished last in a poor NFC East with a record of 4-11-1, with franchise quarterback Carson Wentz suffering a drastic loss of form that saw him lose his starting role.
Pederson brought the Eagles their first ever Super Bowl victory in 2017, leading Philadelphia to a 13-3 regular season record before an unlikely post-season run with backup quarterback Nick Foles that culminated in an enthralling 41-33 victory over the New England Patriots.
“Sometimes you just have to look towards the future, try to evaluate things in as unemotional a path as possible and a process as possible and arrive at a decision that might make you very uncomfortable,” Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie told reporters Monday. “My first allegiance is what will be best for the Philadelphia Eagles and our fans for the next three, four, five years. It’s not based on does someone deserve to hold their job or deserve to get fired; that’s a different bar.
“Very few people probably after success deserve to lose their job. This is much more about the evaluation of whether the Eagles, moving forward, our best option is to have a new coach. That’s really, really what it’s about. It’s not about did Doug deserve to be let go. No, he did not deserve to be let go. That’s not where I’m coming from and that’s not the bar in the evaluation process.”
The 2020 NFL season has been bizarrely poor for the Eagles, with quarterback Carson Wentz regressing significantly, going from a passer rating of almost 100 to a below average figure of 73. Despite the NFC East being one of the worst divisions in recent memory, the Eagles were rarely in contention and spiraled to just a four-win season.
“It has been an absolute honor serving as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. As difficult as it is to say goodbye, I will always look back on my time here with appreciation and respect,” Pederson said in a statement through the team.
“Thank you to Jeffrey Lurie for the opportunity, and to Howie Roseman and Don Smolenski for their partnership and support over the last five seasons. To all of our coaches, players, and staff, thank you for believing in me and allowing me to lead us on this journey. The memories we made here, together, will always have a special place in my heart.
“To the City of Philadelphia, thank you for embracing me and this team. I truly appreciate that passion you bring every single day — at home, on the road, and in the community. No matter what, you were always right there with us.
“Although I’m disappointed that this chapter of my career has come to an end, I am extremely proud of what we accomplished together. Through all the ups and downs, one thing remained constant about our team — an unwavering commitment to battle through adversity and to achieve our goals not as individuals, but as a collective unit. There is no better example of that than when we celebrated the first Super Bowl Championship in Eagles history together with our city. That is a memory we will all cherish forever.”
Pederson leaves Philadelphia with an overall record of 42-37-1 in five seasons, including three straight playoff appearances before the capitulation of the 2020 season. The 52-year-old had not led the Eagles to a 10-plus win seasons since the franchise’s Super Bowl run, winning nine or fewer games in four of his five seasons at the helm.
Pederson joins Tom Coughlin and Jon Gruden as the only Super Bowl-winning head coaches to post a losing record over their next three seasons, with Pederson going 22-25-1 over that span. Despite being known as an offensive coach, the Eagles were one of two teams unable to score 30-plus points in a game in 2020.
Because of his past successes and the fact he has so many ties with other members of NFL front offices, Pederson will likely be a sought-after name for teams looking for a new head coach. A pairing with Joe Douglas’ New York Jets has been rumored, as has a one-year sabbatical.
“I have spent the last few weeks evaluating everything from this past year and looking ahead,” said Lurie in an official statement. “We are all very disappointed with the way our season went and eager to turn things around, not just for next season but also for the future of the franchise. Coach (Doug) Pederson and I had the opportunity to sit down and discuss what that collective vision would look like moving forward. After taking some time to reflect on these conversations, I believe it is in both of our best interests to part ways.”