Philadelphia Eagles head coach Doug Pederson might’ve taken the high road earlier in the week regarding Mike Lombardi’s controversial comments, but his owner Jeffrey Lurie didn’t hold back.
Lurie called out Lombardi in an impromptu press conference Thursday, calling his comments “clickbait” and “hot takes.”
Let’s take a step back and reminisce on what started this mess. Lombardi, the former general manager of the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders that drafted the biggest bust of all-time JaMarcus Russell and hired Rob Chudzinski, had the gall to proclaim that Pederson was the least qualified coach he’s seen in the 30-plus years he’s seen in the NFL.
HE HIRED ROB CHUDZINSKI!
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That’s just in case you didn’t hear me before, but seriously, how is he qualified to make an opinion like that? Below were his comments from The Ringer.
“Now, everybody knows Pederson isn’t a head coach. He might be less qualified to coach a team than anyone I’ve ever seen in my 30-plus years in the NFL. Pederson was barely a coordinator before he became head coach. Can you imagined if we elected a United States president who didn’t have any real training? Sorry, don’t answer that.
“Look, the Eagles looked increasingly sloppy and unprepared as the 2016 season limped along. That ain’t changing in ’17. Only Carson Wentz can save Pederson’s job, and Wentz actually got worse during his rookie year, not better. When will the Eagles admit their mistake? Will they throw away 2017 by stubbornly sticking to the Pederson Principle?”
Lurie eviscerated him on Thursday during an impromptu press conference at the NovaCare Complex.
“First of all, those comments, I kinda … you guys call it ‘clickbait’ or ‘hot takes’? That’s how I saw that.”
Ding, ding, ding!
Lurie had nothing but praise for his second-year coach.
“Doug, think about this, I mean, he took over a team that had some locker room issues with the previous head coach. He lost his starting quarterback [eight] days before the start of the season, and was asked to use our young third-string quarterback [Carson Wentz]. He had to put together a coaching staff. My personal evaluation of the coaching staff that he put together, or inherited, but was open to inherit, is outstanding. I mean, really outstanding.
“That’s a huge credit because quarterback analysis, locker room chemistry, and the ability to put together a top-notch coaching staff, those are three real key ingredients. I think he aced them all.
“Yes, there’s going to be growing pains with any first-year head coach. We had that with Andy [Reid], we had it with Chip [Kelly], we’ve had it no matter who it is. I see him as someone who can keep improving. He’s a listener. He’s a collaborator. I think he has terrific relationships with the players. The future is in front of him, and it’s there for the taking.”
Growing pains, huh? You don’t say!
Let’s face it, like 99 percent of Philadelphia – including myself – would’ve chosen anyone else but Pederson. So Lombardi isn’t wrong in a sense. Let’s just keep in mind that Pederson faced the same challenges as rookie quarterback Carson Wentz did in his first year. While he may not necessarily be the most qualified, he was also a rookie coach with no weapons to work with. He has a mammoth playbook that he’s barely been able to tap into. We saw the rookie mistakes too, the fourth-down calls, getting too cute on third down, throwing unnecessary challenge flags.
There’s no more excuses in year two with the additions of Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. Lurie explained what his expectations for Pederson and the team are.
“The expectation this year is that we have improved the team. Who knows how the season’s going to go in terms of injuries, whether chemistry comes together. Every season’s a marathon. It’s not determined until you really look back on it and what happened and how successful were you.
“But, I think I love the blueprint we have. I think that we are headed in a terrific direction. Look, I think, honestly, you’re dealing with a team that’s a pretty young team. You have some veterans at select positions like punter, things like that, and left tackle. But basically a young team that has re-signed a lot of players, a lot of the core players, [and the] ability to acquire future players will evolve and have a great opportunity there to do that.
The key is that we have the opportunity to compete strongly now, and that’s what I expect. I expect us to compete strongly.”
And what about Wentz?
“We’re in the second year of a very potentially special, young quarterback. We don’t even know that yet.
“So you look around the league. Like all of us, we look around. We see the good, young quarterbacks, how they do in their second year, how the teams do in their second year. It’s not so much these young quarterbacks don’t evolve. I think there’s a similarity to the way [Titans QB] Marcus Mariota, [Raiders QB] Derek Carr, [Buccaneers QB] Jameis Winston, you name it, the ones that are successful, you can see Year One, Year Two, Year Three. My expectation with Carson is he’ll be better in Year Two than Year One; he’ll significantly be better in Year Three than Year Two; and he’ll be significantly better in Year Four than Year Three.
“That’s where we’re at. The difference in records of the teams with all those, you can research it yourself, but it typically I think is how terrific do you surround him. You have young quarterbacks that join teams and take them to the Super Bowl. But those are teams basically that have top two, top three defenses. We hope to be there. We hope to be there. But that’s the rarity.
“I see us as a team with an excellent blueprint, great opportunity, terrific direction, but we’re in Year Two of the plan.”
Year Two commences Sunday in Washington.
You can follow Adrian Fedkiw on Twitter (@AdrianFedkiw) and e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Subscribe to The Bitter Birds on YouTube here. Follow Philly Influencer on Twitter (@PHL_Influencer), Facebook and Instagram.