The Eagles fired Doug Pederson on Monday afternoon and, in addition releasing a statement shortly thereafter, team owner Jeffrey Lurie spoke to reporters about the decision a few hours later.
Here’s what Lurie had to say:
On the decision to part ways with Doug Pederson
“There aren’t many tougher days for I think an owner of a team or CEO of a business than to have to make a very, very tough decision involving somebody you care personally a lot about. I’ve known Doug [Pederson] and his family for over 20 years. It’s rare to have somebody as your quarterback, as your assistant coach from the ground up and then as a head coach of your team and having all the success that we’ve had together. He’s a close friend, he’s a family friend and Doug is family to me.”
Lurie went on to say that as the leader of an organization he has to step back and look at things from an unemotional standpoint because his first allegiance is to making the best decision for the Philadelphia Eagles. He noted that it wasn’t a matter of whether Pederson deserved to lose his job, but more about what the future of the team looked like and whether that was with a new head coach.
He also wanted to reiterate that he and Eagles fans around the world are so grateful to Pederson for the success the team had over the last five years, including winning the Super Bowl, and the camaraderie and collaboration they had has an organization in large part thanks to the head coach.
“But you know, going forward, again, you have to make tough, tough decisions and after talking to Doug again today, it just felt that the path forward was best for us to part ways. And I actually think it’s better for both the organization and for Doug, and I really, really expect him to be a successful head coach in this league, and it wouldn’t surprise me in the slightest if he is on another NFL team later this week. I’m certainly there for any owner that wants to talk about hiring Doug, because I will be a major fan.”
On Howie Roseman and the front office
Lurie noted that he evaluates every aspect of the organization, including personnel. He explained that they made a lot of decisions in 2016 and 2017 to try and win a Super Bowl, and some of the significant strategic mistakes they made after that was trying to keep the band together.
“There was a lot of short-term decision-making and allocation of resources that gave us probably a slightly better chance to go back to the Super Bowl in 2018 and 2019.”
So, while they gained in the short-term, they were aware that a lot of those decisions and resource allocations — along with a lack of draft picks — would eventually create a real transition period. And, that’s where they are now. They have to retrench and rededicate resources to make them the best team in the mid-term and long term, while hopefully competing in the short term.
“I have real confidence that our football operations, led by Howie, can not only repeat the performance of 2016 until now, and once again, create a dominant football team that can really maximize every aspect of its potential. I think that’s the transition period we’re in.”
Lurie later further explained his confidence in Roseman and football operations under him, including the people he surrounds himself with and the people he’s attracted to the organization — including the last two major GM hires in Joe Douglas and Andrew Barry. The owner also noted that they have about five people in the organization now who could end up as GMs in the league.
“One of the jobs of the general manager is to attract really good people and executives around him because it’s not meant for one person. There’s been mistakes. There’s mistakes, but what I have to look at is the process and I have to look at the performance over time but most importantly I have to look at the process. If we are not identifying the best players leading up to a selection in the draft, then that’s a problem. If we are identifying the best players but they get taken two, three, four, five picks ahead of us, that’s also part of the evaluation. That’s part of understanding the process. Understanding the details.”
On Carson Wentz and his future with the franchise
Lurie emphasized that the decision to move on from Pederson has multiple variables, but it wasn’t based on a quarterback or a particular position group. He did, however, note the regression of the offense as a whole, which ranked 31st in league that, as a whole, put up the most points ever in 2020.
“I look more at the whole picture. It’s not about a particular player or a particular group, and that’s true for going forward. I think you all know me – I put a heavy emphasis on wanting to have an elite offense, and I feel like defense has variables, variations throughout the year. But if you want to be a dominant team, you need to be a top offensive unit.”
The owner was asked specifically if Carson Wentz would be back on the roster in 2021, and Lurie said that he didn’t think any owner should decide that. He went on to say that Wentz is a guy that was in many ways elite through in first four years in the league, but his fifth year was not satisfactory, for whatever reasons.
“The way I look at it is we have an asset and we have a talent. He’s a great guy and he wants nothing but to win big and win Lombardi Trophies for Philadelphia. This guy is tireless. He has his heart in the right place and he’s really dedicated off-season, on-season – he’s just what you want. It behooves us as a team with a new coach, a new coaching staff, to be able to really get him back to that elite progression where he was capable of.”
Lurie noted that there have been some great quarterbacks throughout the NFL’s history that had a single year with a bad TD-to-INT ratio, but he thinks it’s very fixable.
“I fully expect him to realize his potential.”
On attracting head coach candidates
Lurie wasn’t shy in saying that he thinks the head coach job is “very, very attractive” because they’re providing plenty of resources for them to be successful, they have good facilities, and they have a good track record over the past 10-20 years. He doesn’t think cap space is an issue because you can transition away from a difficult cap situation in about 12 months.
“On the quarterback situation, we’ve got two really interesting assets. They are both young. They are both hungry. They are terrific people, very different and terrific people. A coach is going to have options. A coach is going to have an ability to fix what he feels is necessary in our offense and have a potential star in Carson [Wentz] and a potential star in Jalen [Hurts]. That gives us an asset, also, so that if we end up deciding on one some day, the other is a really good asset.”
Plus, Lurie boasts that the Eagles have the best fan base in America. He notes that the community “really, really cares about their team” and the culture of the team, and how competitive they are.
“If I were advising a coach, I would say, you want to win and you want to win big and you want to have a fan base that’s there for you no matter what, Philly is the best possible place. It’s the best to own a team and it’s the best to coach a team. And yeah, tough, at times. I love that. I absolutely love that.”
- Lurie said that the Week 17 loss had nothing to do with the decision to fire Doug Pederson, and that Nate Sudfeld is someone they have a lot of confidence in and, “throws the best long ball on the roster.” He went on to note that the plan was to use as many young players as possible against Washington, and Pederson wanted to give Sudfeld a chance — something the QB deserved.
- He acknowledged that they want to be sure they include some of the best minority candidates in their head coach search, and he expects Duce Staley to be a candidate.
“He’s a great representative of the Eagles and knows our values. I would expect him to be part of the search, as well.”