Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday offensive coordinator Mike Groh and wide receivers coach Carson Walch will be back on his staff next year.
“Both those guys will be back,” Pederson said.
Minutes later, Pederson failed to give defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz the same vote of confidence.
And a little bit later he backed off his original comment about Groh and Walch.
Welcome to the Eagles’ offseason!
Schwartz and Groh have been on Pederson’s staff since he became head coach in 2016, Schwartz all four years as defensive coordinator and Groh as wide receivers coach for two years and offensive coordinator the last two.
Schwartz interviewed Wednesday for the Browns’ head coaching job, but he’s considered a longshot for the position.
Does Doug want him back?
Given several opportunities to say Schwartz will return, Pederson declined.
“Jim’s done an outstanding job with our defense and the improvement that we saw throughout the course of the season, so I’m excited for him and his opportunity,” Pederson said. “I wish him the best.”
So is he coming back?
“He’ll be on a plane back here at some point after the interview.”
But if he doesn’t get the Browns job, will he be back on your staff?
“I would assume, yes. He’s currently my D.C., yes.”
It sure seemed Pederson was being intentionally vague about Schwartz’s future.
Asked directly why he was so specific about Groh coming back but not about Schwartz, Pederson said this:
“With all my staff I’m in that process right now of evaluating,” he said. “I’d love to have them all back, obviously. We know what this league is about and any time an assistant coach can get a promotion, whether it’s here or someone else, I encourage that. But as I evaluate and look, we’re only three days removed from the season, so everything’s still fresh in my mind, too, so we’re still evaluating and all my coaches are in that evaluation process as well.”
But … you just said Groh and Walch will definitely be back.
“I know what I said,” Pederson said. “Yes. But at the same time I’m still evaluating the whole process, right? They are still currently here. And I’m going to continue to evaluate and assemble the best staff moving forward. But yes, they are still here.”
Later in the day, the Eagles clarified Pederson's comments, emphasizing that Pederson and Schwartz have a strong relationship and that Pederson does want Schwartz back if he doesn't get Cleveland job, he was just trying to express his support for Schwartz as a potential head coach.
Pederson and executive vice president and general manager Howie Roseman met with the media Wednesday for the first time since the Eagles’ season ended with a home wild-card loss to the Seahawks.
Pederson did say he’s not averse to bringing in an outside offensive coach to serve as a consultant without coaching a specific position, much the same way the Eagles brought in Matt Burke this past offseason as a defensive special assistant. Burke had served five years under Schwartz with the Titans when Schwartz was their defensive coordinator.
“Everything’s on the table,” Pederson said. “I’m not opposed to doing something like that. I actually thought, even thought my first year, as a rookie head coach, to maybe bring in someone who has a different perspective, different eyes. Those are things I continue to look at.”
It's tricky trying to make sense of what Pederson said, but it sure sounds like Groh will be back.
Schwartz? His future doesn't seem so clear at all.