New Eagles head coach Doug Pederson made an appearance on the Mike Missanelli show on 97.5 The Fanatic on Tuesday afternoon. He touched on a number of topics, but these two stood out the most.
Eagles ready to win now
Mike Missanelli: A lot was made at your initial press conference that you weren’t the first choice, and you answered it properly. You said that you’re here so it doesn’t really matter now. But it comes with the pressure, I think, to win right away if there’s a perception out there that you’re not the first choice. Do you feel that right away?
Doug Pederson: That I’m not the first choice?
MM: No, no, that you feel that you have to then convince people by winning that you are a worthy choice right away?
DP: I don’t necessarily think so. First of all, this is a good football team. This is not a rebuilding football team. There is tremendous talent here. I think just getting these guys focused, getting them on the same page, working hard every day … it sounds cliche but that’s exactly what you do. I just came from a place where we turned the culture of the organization around. We turned the culture of the community around. Two out of the years years we were in the postseason. So it can be done. We obviously have, in my opinion, a little bit better talent here and I’m looking forward to working with these guys.
Pederson has already answered questions about "winning now" so this answer isn't new. It's just a reminder of how the Eagles don't appear to be committed to a "rebuild." This isn't just lip service. Pederson has said he wants 33-year-old left tackle Jason Peters to return in 2016. The Eagles also gave a new contract to 30-year-old Brent Celek. The Eagles were 7-9 last year and it appears they don't feel the need to tear everything down.
With that in mind, it's interesting to think about how the Eagles will handle their quarterback situation. Which brings us to the next topic ...
Pederson noncommittal on Sam Bradford
MM: I don’t have to remind you that you have a major situation at quarterback. And I know you can only talk so much about it, but if you’re planning to win right away, the chances of winning with Sam Bradford are a lot better than somebody you take as a rookie quarterback or even a backup quarterback or somebody you bring in from Kansas City. A lot of people say you’re fancy on Chase Daniel, you have Mark Sanchez here. Can you enlighten us at all on the Sam Bradford situation
DP: I just think that’s the most important position on the football field. That’s the leader of your team. That’s the face of the franchise. Everything is going to run through the head coach and the starting quarterback. Free agency doesn’t start until a little over a month now. We’ve got time. We’re going to evaluate that position. And at the end of the day, we’re going to have the right guy for the Philadelphia Eagles. That’s just the way we’re going to approach it.
MM: Is the price an impediment to the value of Sam Bradford as your starting quarterback here?
DP: The price?
MM: The price it’s going to cost you.
DP: Well, I mean you have to take all the factors in consideration, yeah. That’s all the part of having a top quality quarterback, obviously. Look around the league, look at the guys that are in the Super Bowl this weekend, and you can’t tell me that price wasn’t a factor there either. That’s all part of the evaluation process.
MM: So what you’re saying is that even though that you’d be better with Sam Bradford possibly —
DP: Don’t put words in my mouth.
MM: Well I’m just kind of … he’s the more experienced quarterback. If I’m a first year head coach, I want the more experienced quarterback to be my quarterback so I can win right away, like you’re saying you think you can right away. So would the price overrule your football mentality as it involves the quarterback?
DP: You know … at the end of the day, when this is all said and done, we are going to have the best quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles. And I can’t say if price is going to be a factor. I can’t tell you what Sam’s agent is telling him. I don’t know that.
MM: I guess I’m asking are you willing to pay going rate.
DP: What’s the going rate?
MM: The going rate’s about $19 million a year or your franchise him for more than that.
DP: Well you can. You can. And that’s something we have to look at as we go forward.
MM: I’m not going to crack you on that, am I?
DP: I don’t think so.
"We’ve got time. We’re going to evaluate that position." is basically what Pederson had to say about Bradford at the Senior Bowl last week. Once again, it's a noncommittal stance.
Why is this noteworthy? Well, it's a stark contrast from how Pederson talked about Bradford in his introductory press conference. Pederson originally called Bradford a "top notch quarterback" and said the passer would fit perfectly into his scheme.
Perhaps Pederson's lack of praise is due to the fact Bradford is due a new contract and the Eagles don't want to appear overly desperate to re-sign him. That wouldn't help their leverage.
Or perhaps it's a sign the team isn't really committed to him coming back, especially at such a high price tag. If you have a quarterback you really believe in, why not pound the table hard for him? It's not a position where you need to get cute and risk missing out.
The window for NFL teams to designate players as franchise or transition players begins on Feb. 16 and ends on March 1. Unrestricted free agency begins on March 9. The Eagles will have to make a decision before then or else risk losing Bradford on the open market.