With the Eagles sputtering along at 5-7 and coming off one of the ugliest losses in a generation, there’s been plenty of speculation about Doug Pederson’s future and just how long owner Jeffrey Lurie will be patient if Pederson is unable to get this team back on track.
Pederson won a Super Bowl two years ago, but the Eagles are 15-15 since, although they did win a road wild-card game last year in Chicago.
Pederson isn’t getting fired after this season, and I think everybody understands that he still has plenty of equity left just 22 months after leading the Eagles to their first and only Lombardi Trophy.
But the Eagles certainly aren’t trending in the right direction. They’ve lost three straight games and the 37-31 loss Sunday in Miami to a 2-9 Dolphins team turned the heat up on Pederson.
His play-calling magic seems to have disappeared, his franchise quarterback has struggled at times, some of his assistant coaches often seem overmatched and way too many young players are failing to develop.
After being picked by many experts and analysts to contend for a Super Bowl, the Eagles need to go 3-1 to avoid just their fifth losing season in the last 20 years.
So how long should we expect Lurie to stick with Pederson if things don’t get better?
History — Eagles history and NFL history — can help us sort this out.
Lurie has fired four head coaches — Rich Kotite, Ray Rhodes, Andy Reid and Chip Kelly. He let go of each one at the exact same time — after the first time their teams failed to reach the playoffs two straight years.
Does that mean if the Eagles don’t win the NFC East this year and the Eagles don’t rebound and reach the playoffs next year, Pederson is gone?
It’s hard to imagine Lurie looking at Pederson the same way he looked at Rhodes, Kotite or Kelly. That Super Bowl trophy could very well earn Pederson more than just two down years.
Plus, only one coach in NFL history has ever won a Super Bowl and been fired before he coached at least four more seasons with that team.
Let’s take a look at the curious history of Super Bowl coaches getting fired:
There have been 53 Super Bowls and 32 Super Bowl-winning head coaches.
Out of those 32, six are still with the team they won a Super Bowl with. Of the remaining 26, 17 either voluntarily resigned or retired.
That leaves only nine who have been fired, and that includes Tom Coughlin, who initially resigned, although it was later reported he had been forced out.
Let’s take a look at the nine and how long they lasted between their Super Bowl triumph and their dismissal:
Tom Landry, Cowboys: Won Super Bowls after the 1971 and 1977 seasons and was fired after the 1988 season (after a loss to the Eagles). Coached 10 more years. Four losing seasons.
Mike Shanahan, Broncos: Won Super Bowls after the 1997 and 1998 seasons. Coached nine more years. Four losing seasons.
Mike McCarthy, Packers: Won the Super Bowl in 2010. Coached eight more years. Two losing seasons.
Mike Ditka, Bears: Won Super Bowl in 1985. Coached seven more years. Five losing seasons.
Jon Gruden, Buccaneers: Won Super Bowl in 2002. Coached six more years. Four losing seasons.
Brian Billick, Ravens: Won Super Bowl in 2000. Coached five more years. Three losing seasons.
Hank Stram, Chiefs: Won the 1969 Super Bowl and was fired after the 1974 season. Coached five more years. Three losing seasons.
Tom Coughlin, Giants: Won Super Bowls after the 2007 and 2011 seasons. Coached four more years. Three losing seasons.
Don McCafferty, Colts: Won the 1970 Super Bowl and was fired after the 1972 season. Coached two more years. Two losing seasons.
So seven of the nine Super Bowl-winning coaches who have been fired coached at least five more years after their Super Bowl before getting the axe.
The two others?
Coughlin didn’t get fired until the Giants had gone 28-36 without reaching the playoffs in his last four seasons.
McCafferty is an anomaly. He won the Super Bowl in 1970 with the Colts and went 10-4 the next year before getting fired just five games into the 1972 seasons with the Colts 1-4. He coached the Lions to a 6-7-1 record in 1973, was fired again and never coached again.
Which means he’s not only the only head coach in history to win a Super Bowl and get fired within the next three years, he actually got fired twice within the next three years.
If Lurie fires Pederson before the end of the 2021 season, it would equal the second-fastest a Super Bowl-winning coach had been fired in nearly half a century.
It’s just hard to imagine Lurie giving up that quickly on the only coach to deliver a Super Bowl championship to Philadelphia.
And who knows? Maybe the Eagles will actually start winning again.
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