Despite only being on the job a single season, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson is already on the hot seat with fans, which is wrong.
The term “rebuild” is one that sports fans in the city of Philadelphia should be very familiar with by now.
The Sixers have been rebuilding for a few years now, seemingly taking three steps backward for every one step they take forward. The Phillies are in the midst of a rebuild that should have happened years ago but didn’t thanks to former GM Ruben Amaro Jr. And the Flyers are supposedly rebuilding, but may be the only Philly team that competes for a playoff spot even when they really aren’t supposed to be.
And then you have the Philadelphia Eagles.
In the aftermath of the Chip Kelly debacle, there was no question that the Birds needed to take some time and rebuild what they had. Kelly had done immeasurable damage to the franchise in just three years and it was going to take time to fix it.
Howie Roseman resumed his de facto role as GM and worked some serious magic during the offseason. He somehow managed to jettison the garbage Kelly signed to ridiculous contracts and put the Eagles in a position to draft quarterback Carson Wentz with the second overall pick last year.
But before that happened, owner Jeffrey Lurie and Roseman hired Doug Pederson to replace Kelly as the Eagles head coach.
Pederson had spent the previous three years as Andy Reid‘s offensive coordinator with the Kansas City Chiefs and before that had been a part of the Eagles coaching staff. Most looked at the selection as a “safe” choice that would restore some stability to a team that had seen so much upheaval while Kelly ran things.
Pederson wasn’t the sexy choice, and he wasn’t the popular choice, but fans and analysts seemed willing to give him time to prove himself one way or another while the Eagles were rebuilding.
Then the team started the 2016 season 3-0 and everyone’s expectations changed.
Suddenly there was talk of winning the NFC East and a Super Bowl run. The reality of rebuilding went out the window and everyone had visions of the playoffs running through their heads.
So when the team came crashing back down to Earth and the Eagles finished the season 7-9 and missed the postseason, fans blamed Pederson. The sports radio hosts blamed Pederson. Suddenly the coach who had been mentioned as Coach of the Year was talked about as if he should be run out of town.
This despite the fact Pederson was a rookie head coach and he had a rookie quarterback, an offensive line missing a key player thanks to a positive PED result, a defense that started the season strong but faded as the year progressed and a receiver corps that couldn’t catch a cold.
As the current offseason has progressed, sports radio has said repeatedly that if the Eagles don’t make the postseason, Pederson should be fired. That they just don’t know if Pederson is the coach to take the Birds to the promised land of a Super Bowl.
Which is just absurd.
You are going to judge Pederson on a single season of 16 games with a roster that was a combination of leftovers from last year and whatever players Roseman could afford thanks to the salary cap crunch the team found itself in thanks to Chip Kelly?
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Sure, not every choice Pederson made was a gem. There were times everyone was left shaking their head wondering what he was doing. But just like what Wentz went through, there is a learning curve to being a head coach. It takes time to know instinctively what to do in any given situation.
Despite what fans may think, the Eagles are rebuilding and the rebuild will continue this year even if they start 3-0 again. There will be no Super Bowl this coming season or probably the season after that. The rebuild will likely continue well into the 2019 season and beyond if Lurie and Roseman are serious about doing it right. It is the reality of the situation Kelly left the team in when he was fired.
At that point you can judge Doug Pederson fairly and know if he can take the Birds to a Super Bowl. Until then, relax and give him a chance. He deserves it.