Four weeks into the 2019 season, Doug Pederson sat down for his scheduled inquisition.
The Tuesday tribunals with team owner Jeffrey Lurie and general manager Howie Roseman were a weekly occurrence during Pederson’s five-year tenure as Eagles head coach. In the meetings, Lurie and Roseman questioned Pederson about all aspects of his game management the week prior. Fourth-down decision-making, play calling, personnel choices — everything was on the table.
Days earlier, the team overcame a 10-0 second-quarter deficit to beat Aaron Rodgers and the Packers 34-27 and even its record at 2-2. The offensive key to the win was a steady dose of the running game that took advantage of Green Bay’s defensive game plan.
Apparently, that wasn’t good enough. Lurie, who has long advocated the use of analytics, wanted to know why Pederson hadn’t called more passing plays. The interrogation was the same after another win that season — this time in Buffalo on a day with 23 mph winds.
“(Pederson) was ridiculed and criticized for every decision,” one source told The Athletic. “If you won by three, it wasn’t enough. If you lost on a last-second field goal, you’re the worst coach in history.”
Following the season, Lurie wanted Pederson to get rid of offensive coordinator Mike Groh and wide receivers coach Carson Walch. It wasn’t the first time Pederson found himself on the opposite end of a disagreement with his bosses over his assistant coaches.
After Pederson’s first year as head coach in 2016, he fought to keep then-offensive coordinator Frank Reich, pushing back against doubts from above. Pederson put his foot down again with Groh and Walch, saying he wanted both coaches to return.
That’s when Lurie reminded the coach who makes the final calls at the NovaCare Complex.
Pederson was given 24 hours to make the moves, according to multiple sources. If he didn’t, he’d be fired.
A source close to Lurie says the owner never gave Pederson an ultimatum, but the next day the Eagles announced Groh and Walch had been let go. A year later it was Pederson, who declined comment for this story. Lurie and Roseman also declined to participate in this story through a team spokesperson.
Three years after the Eagles captured the first Super Bowl in franchise history, the team finished in last place in the worst division in football. Pederson is currently out of the NFL. Former franchise quarterback Carson Wentz is in Indianapolis. Lurie is more involved in all aspects of football operations than ever before and has kept Roseman by his side to usher in a new era with head coach Nick Sirianni, the fourth head coach in the GM’s tenure.