Mike Lombardi

Mike Lombardi: 'I think I know what a good coach looks like'

Mike Lombardi: 'I think I know what a good coach looks like'

Mike Lombardi, who recently created a stir with strong criticism of Doug Pederson, defended and explained his comments Tuesday.

Lombardi, a former NFL executive who has worked for the Patriots, 49ers, Browns, Raiders and Eagles, ripped Pederson's qualifications to be a head coach.

"Now, everybody knows Pederson isn't a head coach," Lombardi, now with The Ringer, said. "He might be less qualified to coach a team than anyone I've seen in my 30-plus years in the NFL. Pederson was barely a coordinator before he became a head coach!"

So, what was behind the remarks?

"I just voiced an opinion — it's not a hot take by no means," Lombardi said on CSN's Tuesday edition of Philly Sports Talk. "I've studied the Eagles, I've studied the NFL for 35 years, I've been to four Super Bowls, I've won three. I've been around Bill Walsh, I've been around Bill Belichick, I've been around Al Davis — I think I know what a good coach looks like. I just don't see Doug being able to be ready for the job that they [have] given him, and I think that's the challenge."

Pederson on Monday had little to say when asked about Lombardi's critique.

"I haven't seen the article," he said. "I'm not sure what you're talking about. So I don't pay attention to that.

"Listen, I'm confident in what I do. He's not in the building. I coach our coaches and coach our players. And I think if you ask any one of our players or our assistant coaches, I think they would maybe say something a little different. I have not read the article so I can't respond to it."

Safety Malcolm Jenkins came to the defense of his head coach, even providing a glimpse into Pederson's coaching style and strengths. As expected, Lombardi's take didn't sit well with the fan base.

"A lot of Eagles fans, they take it personally," Lombardi said. "Look, they have great pride in their team, I understand it.

"The things that you look for in a coach are [do] mistakes get better, does the team improve — records are meaningless. I mean, Bill Walsh wrote a book called 'The Score Takes Care of Itself.' He's right, you don't need to look at the score, you watch the games, how they're managed, how they're handled within close point, and you see how it comes.

"The Eagles were 26th in the National Football League in first-quarter points. That means your game plan that you started out with isn't really working. And then when you break down the season, and you go through the first eight games and then you look at the second eight games, everything they did offensively got worse — everything. It went down hill."

Lombardi also used other stats such as special teams penalties and how the Eagles fared in close games — which you can hear all in the video above — as evidence behind his claims on Pederson, who is entering his second season as Eagles head coach.

"My point is this, Doug applied for the job, he was [three] years in Kansas City as the offensive coordinator, but he's not because Andy (Reid) called the plays," Lombardi said.

"I think the NFL is a challenging place to learn on-the-job training. That's my point. I think it's not a friendly league, and I think when you look at the close games and you look at the record down the stretch — I've been around some really good coaches, and I just don't see that coming out. The symptoms that I see don't register in terms of being a great coach."

Rob's Rants: Lombardi on Pederson; Crawford's debut; Rhule's rough start

Rob's Rants: Lombardi on Pederson; Crawford's debut; Rhule's rough start

Here's the latest edition of Rob's Rants in which CSNPhilly's Rob Ellis does just that about the hottest topics in Philly sports.

Qualified opinion
Former NFL general manager and front office member Mike Lombardi pulled no punches when it came to his assessment of Eagles head coach Doug Pederson. Lombardi is now an analyst for The Ringer, and his comments have caused quite a stir locally. At first glance, them’s fightin words. No gray area there. He is not a believer in Doug P. And naturally there are Eagles fans who haven’t taken kindly to Lombardi’s hot take on their coach. 

"Now, everybody knows Pederson isn't a head coach," Lombardi said. "He might be less qualified to coach a team than anyone I've seen in my 30-plus years in the NFL."

The hot takes from fans in and of themselves are ironic considering there was a throaty portion of said fan base who shared those very same sentiments when Pederson was hired and as the team lost seven of its last 10 games in his first season as coach. In a previous life, I fielded a large number of phone calls echoing precisely what Lombardi, an Ocean City, New Jersey native, expressed. Does this mean I agree with Lombardi? 

Yes and no.        
I was then and am now concerned that the Eagles' front office and ownership brought in Pederson to recreate some form of the Andy Reid era. A kinder, gentler time of mostly winning, a stark contrast to the choppy, adversarial, screw-your-holiday-party, Chip Kelly regime. I never bought that Reid would cede play-calling in second halves of games to Pederson. It’s difficult to know just how much coaching acumen Pederson actually has. There were losses last year, like the first meeting in Dallas, that were directly on him. There were lapses in judgment like asking your starting quarterback fresh out of concussion protocol to be a lead blocker. These are legit concerns.

But Pederson should be given some rope. He was left with an ill-fitting roster, damaged by Kelly. His receivers were as bad as any team's in the NFL, and half of his secondary was equally inept. His defensive line was not talented enough to get any kind of consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks. He had eight days to prepare a rookie quarterback thrust into the job. None of this was on him. 

And back to the anti-Chip thing. There was something to that. The players had had enough of Kelly. There was a divide in the locker room and the next coach did need to have a better bedside manner than the Chipper. Pederson is well liked by his troops, who appreciate being treated like men.   
A case could be made for both sides. And here’s the thing about Lombardi: I’ve never viewed his analysis as some clearly contrived Skip Bayless hot take. His stints in Cleveland and Oakland did not go well, and that certainly opens him up to be questioned. But he knows the league. The proof will be this year. No more rookie excuses, and the talent has been upgraded. Pederson needs to show he is in fact qualified. 
Welcome to The Show  
The Phillies absolutely did the right thing bringing up J.P. Crawford right now. There was some debate that he should have stayed with Lehigh Valley as they begin the International League playoffs. But with all due respect to the IronPigs, this is not about them; it’s about the big-league club. I was highly critical of how long the Phillies waited to bring up Rhys Hoskins. Hoskins has shown in his first 25 games he was more than ready. 

Crawford, after an awful start, has been excellent the last two months. The Phils have 25 games left. There's nothing to lose by getting Crawford a taste of the major leagues while also moving some pieces around to get a handle on what you want to do in 2018. And from a fan's standpoint, it’s yet another reason to watch a team that is 33 games under .500.    
Give me Liberty?
Matt Rhule’s run at Temple was nothing short of remarkable. He took what Al Golden started and brought the Owls' football program to legitimacy on a national level. So it wasn’t a matter of if but when he would leave for greener ($$$) pastures. But the choice of Baylor seemed a strange one. The program is and has been mired in a sexual assault scandal, among other violations. You share the state with Texas, Texas A&M and Texas Tech. 

You knew it would take some time to clean things up and get the school back to prominence. But losing at home to FCS division Liberty as a 34.5-point favorite? The Fighting Jerry Falwells' quarterback torched the Bears' defense for 447 yards in the air. Could be a long year in Waco for Coach Rhule. Guess the grass isn’t always greener. 

Speaking of upsets, Howard University’s stunning win over UNLV was the biggest point-spread upset ever. The Bison, another FCS team, went off as 45-point underdogs. Howard was 3-19 the last two seasons. If you placed a $100 wager on Howard, your return was a cool $55,000 beans.  

Only in Vegas.     

Upon further review
The chilly, wet, conditions in the Delaware Valley Saturday provided perfect couch potato weather. I watched college football pretty much nonstop for about 14 hours. Honey do’s be damned. It was glorious. 

For the most part. 

The inordinate number of reviews for plays has gotten completely out of control. I understand they want to get every play right. But clear, obvious, no-doubt-about-it plays that even I in a salsa dip coma can see from my couch have to have a two or three-minute look under the hood. Take the Penn State-Akron game. It lasted three hours and twenty-six minutes. The Florida State-Alabama game clocked in at an untidy three hours and fifteen minutes. It kills momentum, flow, brain cells, etc. when these games drag on as long as they do. Less is more and the people in charge need to realize it.     

Beautiful sight
This is anything but a rant; in fact it’s the polar opposite. We tend to focus on the negatives in sports. But what took place in the Western Michigan-USC game this past weekend was what makes sports great. 

Jake Olson lost both of his eyes to cancer and has been blind since the age of 12. He grew up a diehard Southern Cal fan in Huntington Beach, Calif. He dreamed one day of playing for the Trojans. That dream became a reality when he was used as a long snapper on an extra point in USC’s win over W. Michigan. Credit Trojans head coach Clay Helton and his administration with making this happen. 

But a very special assist goes to Western Michigan’s head man, Tim Lester. Helton reached out to Lester via e-mail during the week. Lester was on board and the result was one of the coolest things seen in sports in a while. Olson was allowed to make the snap, untouched by a defender. 

“I didn’t think it was a hard decision at all. It was bigger than the game. I was happy to be a part of it," Lester said to USA TODAY.  

Olson, a junior, was a long snapper in high school and practiced his craft the last two seasons with the Trojans.  

"I just loved being out there. It was an awesome feeling, something that I will remember forever," Olson said to AP.  

Football is the ultimate team sport. You won’t find a better example than this story.

Malcolm Jenkins defends Doug Pederson amid former NFL GM Mike Lombardi's criticism

Malcolm Jenkins defends Doug Pederson amid former NFL GM Mike Lombardi's criticism

Malcolm Jenkins shed some light on Doug Pederson's coaching style Monday when asked about Mike Lombardi's comments blasting Pederson.

Lombardi, a former NFL executive and TV analyst, said over the weekend that, "Everybody knows Pederson isn't a head coach," and added, "He might be less qualified to coach a team than anyone I've seen in my 30-plus years in the NFL."

Lombardi, a one-time Eagles front office executive, is not currently employed by an NFL team.

Pederson is, and Jenkins eloquently came to his coach's defense Monday, as the Eagles began their preparation for Sunday's season-opener against the Redskins.

"I think he's on the right track," the Pro Bowl safety said. "I think he knows and understands that this is a players' league and so a lot of the ownership and a lot of the responsibility for wins and losses around here falls on the players. He's willing to allow us to have input on where we see the team going. He leans on his leadership a lot, keeping the pulse of the locker room, and I think those are things in my experience that make really good head coaches.

"Guys that can give ownership to the players and have them buy in just as much as the coaching staff, and then your players will follow you anywhere. I think he's off to a good start. He's definitely got a good grasp of the locker room, good relationships with his veterans, so I'm excited about it."

Pederson, whose only previous head coaching job before last year was at the high school level, played for four teams in his NFL career and was the Eagles' opening-day quarterback in 1999. He was on Andy Reid's coaching staff both with the Eagles and Chiefs before replacing Chip Kelly as the Eagles' head coach after the 2015 season. The Eagles went 7-9 last year after a 3-0 start.

"Any coaches, you understand whether they're a veteran coach or a rookie coach, they have to establish a culture, and that's the hardest thing to do," Jenkins said. "Usually there are two methods of doing that. Some are authoritarian, where they say, 'You're out of here (unless) you do it my way.' And then there's some that just build it organically, where they'll kind of grab the hearts of the veterans, and once you have the veterans in the locker room and have the leadership following you, then the rest of the team will come along.

"I think Doug took the latter of that, and he really made a concerted effort to really have a relationship with the leaders on the team, and that in turn kind of set a culture pretty quickly."

Jenkins said Pederson meets weekly with the Eagles' leadership council to discuss concerns the players have and also concerns Pederson and his coaches have.

"He'll sit down with the players, with leadership, and we'll be able to take any concerns that we have as leadership or from the team and bring it to him or vice versa," Jenkins said. "So we're always on the same page. We always have input and we always feel responsible for everything we do."