Sometimes the timing of things is fitting.
Shortly before my last column was posted about how it’s playoffs or bust for Doug Pederson’s Eagles, and on the heels of the 2017 regular season beginning, The Ringer’s Mike Lombardi, a former NFL executive, took a direct jab at Pederson’s credibility as a head coach, throwing out the question of when will the Birds do away with their mistake?
Pederson defended himself on the fly, and it’s a credit to the Eagles’ head coach for responding as succinctly as he did. But the truth is, Lombardi is correct and Pederson’s qualifications are sometimes overlooked, especially after a really positive offseason orchestrated by Howie Roseman and Joe Douglas.
Pederson’s best qualities are his likability and ability to connect with his players. Occasionally, he’ll nail an aggressive but risky decision in the game, yet, more often than not, they backfired and were costly for the 2016 Eagles.
Pederson’s mentors and peers throughout his NFL career have been really good players/coaches, including the likes of Don Shula, Dan Marino, Mike Holmgren, Brett Favre and Reggie White, among others. Yet, his NFL coaching experience is limited to a short stint as Andy Reid’s offensive coordinator in Kansas City and assistant with the Eagles in the final years of the Reid tenure. The only other known place Pederson was a head coach was high school.
Sorry, that really doesn’t qualify somebody for the National Football League.
That’s why it’s really important the Eagles make the playoffs this season. They are good enough to do so with improvements across the board, especially on offense with Carson Wentz leading the way.
Lombardi feels only Wentz can save the head coach’s job and that’s true because if Wentz and the offense click, they’ll make Pederson look really good even if he has very little to do with their success. He needs to at least prove himself in that regard. But, if the offense falls flat on their face, as I’ve written before, it won’t be Roseman or Douglas’ fault. Pederson will be the one to blame.
The former NFL backup has been upgraded to a Mercedes after driving a Subaru in 2016. Is he qualified enough? Time will tell.
Before I forget…
• Carson Wentz is the quarterback of the Philadelphia Eagles, arguably the most valued entity in the city. But, Joel Embiid could be deemed the most important athlete in town because the Sixers will never reach elite status without him. Period. He’s more vital than Ben Simmons, Markelle Fultz, Dario Saric and whatever draft assets they still have combined. Period. That’s why the Howard Eskin report that Embiid’s agent wants his client to get a new deal before he returns to five-on-five play is alarming. The Sixers need Embiid, but is he worth the risk of a massive contract with his inability to stay healthy so far? The answer is unequivocally yes. The franchise and fan base has waited this long for Embiid, which is proof of a major investment in the talent. Unfortunately, they haven’t gotten the bang for their buck, but if they’re going to want to do so in the future, the Sixers will need to pay up now. Sorry. Trust The Process.
• Rhys Hoskins, Nick Williams and Jorge Alfaro have done a nice job so far in Phillies pinstripes, showing their potential for the future. Can you imagine if they would’ve been called up earlier this season? Would the Phillies be competing for anything? No. In fact, they very well could’ve still been in last place. But, the season would have been more tolerable and worth your time. Next season there should be no hesitation as to whether most of these prospects should make the big club out of spring training, including JP Crawford and Scott Kingery.
• Flyers training camp starts next week and Claude Giroux is confident he’ll turn around his recent struggles. The only solution to that is remove the pressure of being the captain and sign free agent Jaromir Jagr. The latter is a little risky considering the legend’s age. The former is such an easy move based on Giroux’s personality from an outsider’s perspective. Both should be done.