The Eagles’ offense in 2020 ranked 25th in points scored, 22nd in yards and looked completely broken throughout the miserable season.
Their offense had no identity.
After last year, the Eagles fired offensive coordinator Mike Groh and went forward with an unusual offensive coaching structure in which Doug Pederson still led the way but there were other strong voices in the room and because of it the offense looked disjointed all season.
This past week, Pederson was talking like a coach who expects to be back in 2021 and that’s fine. But if he’s back, it’s time for the Eagles to make a decision when it comes to their offense. Because this middle ground isn’t working.
They really have three options:
1. Bring in an offensive coordinator to take over that side of the ball and call plays, relegating Pederson to a head coach who can focus on in-game decisions and leadership duties.
2. Give Doug back full control of his offense and put the whole thing on him to figure it out.
3. Continue to live in the middle ground.
Let’s start with that first option.
If Jeff Lurie doesn’t think Pederson is the guy to fix the Eagles’ offense, then he should bring in someone they think can. Lurie wants the Eagles to be on the cutting edge when it comes to offensive football and the Eagles certainly weren’t that in 2020.
The problem here is whether or not Pederson would go for it. Running the offense and play calling is his favorite part of the job. There’s nothing wrong with a head coach who delegates those responsibilities but Pederson wouldn’t be fond of doing that.
I thought it was interesting that Pederson was asked on Friday about any assurances he would need from the organization to continue coaching here. We’ve gotten so wrapped up with the thought that he could be fired, we forget that Pederson is a Super Bowl-winning head coach and would probably have another opportunity if he left Philadelphia.
Pederson recently told the Associated Press that he’s happy in Philly and with the Eagles, but that might change if they tried to drastically change his role.
“Again, those are obviously private conversations,” Pederson said of his year-end chat with Lurie. “I’ll say they've usually been a day or two after our final game that he and I get together. Normally the day after, as you guys know, we're wrapping up the exit physicals, wrapping up things with the team. That takes pretty much the majority of the day. It's usually the next day or the day after that that he and I will get together.
“Look, as far as the reassurances go, listen, I expect to be here in 2021 until something else happens. But that's the confidence I have in my ability, and that's how I'm going to approach the next few days and really 2021.”
Option No. 2 would be much more palatable to Pederson. And in a weird way there’s a little bit of a precedent for it. Think back to 2015 when Lurie handed over personnel control to Chip Kelly. He said he did it so he could maximize Chip and basically said he could then fire him if it didn’t work out. He put it all on Chip.
So maybe the Eagles should be willing to give Pederson back control of his offense, let him be that only voice and tell him it’s all on him to fix it however he sees fit. And if he can’t do it, see ya later.
It seemed like in 2020, the Eagles forced other offensive coaches on Pederson and told him to figure out how to make it work. On Friday, Pederson made it clear he wants his voice to be louder than everyone else’s.
“Really, everybody has great ideas,” Pederson said. “That's part of putting plans together. But at the end of the day I want to make sure there's one voice, and that's my voice, that's heard offensively and nobody else's. That's the part that I've got to get across to the staff, and I have done that.”
Then there’s option No. 3, the one they already tried in 2020. Maybe they use the unusual offseason as a reason this structure didn’t work. After all, Rich Scangarello’s role would have probably been more pronounced had there been OTAs. The Eagles can move some folks around, bring some people in, try to reinvent a lousy structure that didn’t work for an entire season.
But they shouldn’t.
They should pick Option 1 or Option 2. Either give Doug the keys or take them away.
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