Doug Pederson wanted the status quo. Jeffrey Lurie did not.
When Pederson met with the Eagles owner last week and coaching decisions were discussed, the coach’s suggestions were mostly promotions for internal candidates. He wanted to fill the empty offensive coordinator position with pass game coordinator/quarterbacks coach Press Taylor, replace Taylor with pass game analyst Andrew Breiner, and bump up defensive line coach Matt Burke to defensive coordinator, an Eagles source said.
Pederson also mentioned former Eagles defensive backs coach Cory Undlin as a possible defensive coordinator candidate. He also wanted to retain special teams coordinator Dave Fipp.
Lurie was underwhelmed by Pederson’s proposals, sources close to the situation said. He wanted external candidates with top credentials. Pederson is slated to meet with Lurie again this week in Florida. Of question is whether he will stand by his original choices or have new outside targets.
General manager Howie Roseman has long been heavily involved in the search and hiring of Eagles coaches. He found former defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, for instance. While Pederson has mostly welcomed Roseman’s input, it has sometimes created an awkward dynamic with the GM having sway with assistants.
Lurie and Roseman also pressured Pederson into firing offensive coordinator Mike Groh a year ago after he told his assistant that he would return and publicly stated as much.
While uncertainty about Pederson’s future isn’t solely related to his vision for his coaching staff, it has become a sticking point for Lurie. The coach was believed to be safe before the season finale, but recent developments have placed him on tenuous ground with his boss, sources told The Inquirer Sunday.
Lurie obviously holds Pederson in high regard. The coach won him his only Super Bowl just three years ago, after all. But the Eagles have regressed in the time since and finished last in the NFC East, one of the worst divisions in recent NFL history, this season.
Lurie was inclined to keep Pederson because of his past accomplishments, but he also wanted a clear vision about the future and how he planned on turning the team’s fortunes around. Pederson has two years left on his contract.
Carson Wentz’s future with the Eagles also has been a major point of discussion. The Eagles quarterback reportedly wants to be traded, partly because his relationship with Pederson has been severed, although Wentz hasn’t spoken publicly since he was benched on Dec. 6.
Pederson has said that he still believes in the 28-year-old quarterback and that he can return to his pre-2020 form.
The Eagles, who finished the season 4-11-1, had one of the NFL’s worst offenses. Their pass offense finished last in yards per play. While Pederson was ultimately responsible for game planning and play calling, Taylor oversaw the pass game and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland oversaw the run game.
Senior offensive assistant Rich Scangarello, who was hired a year ago, worked as a bridge between the run and pass. But his 1-year contract wasn’t renewed. Marty Mornhinweg also isn’t returning, but he wasn’t directly involved in the offense and was hired as a senior consultant.
The Eagles didn’t fill the offensive coordinator spot last offseason after Groh was fired. Pederson apparently wants to return to having one and a more traditional hierarchy within the offensive coaching staff.
The defensive staff will depend on who is hired as coordinator after Schwartz announced last week that he was stepping away from coaching. Linebackers coach Ken Flajole already reportedly has decided he won’t return and could retire.
There could be other exits, as well. Some assistants are pondering whether to return, even if Pederson stays, league sources said.