Doug Pederson might want to send Mike Lombardi a fruit basket. Because now everybody has come to Pederson's defense.
On Thursday, Eagles owner Jeff Lurie added himself to the growing list.
So what exactly did Lurie think about Lombardi's saying Pederson might be the least qualified head coach he's seen in his 30 years in the NFL?
"First of all, those comments, you guys call it clickbait or hot takes," Lurie said at an impromptu press conference on Thursday afternoon. "That's how I saw that."
Lurie said he has a "strong endorsement" of Pederson.
"Think about this," Lurie continued, "Doug took over a team that had locker room issues with the previous coach, lost his starting quarterback 10 days before the start of the season and was asked to use our young third-string quarterback. Had to put together a coaching staff, and my personal evaluation of the coaching staff he put together — or inherited, but was open to inherit — was outstanding, really outstanding.
"That's a huge credit because quarterback analysis, locker room chemistry and the ability to put together a top-notch coaching staff, those are three real key ingredients, and I think he aced them all."
Lombardi, a former NFL general manager with a less-than-stellar track record, came out this week unprompted and ripped Pederson on The Ringer. Those comments have become fodder for local radio shows and have done the unthinkable: They've made many defend Pederson.
"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. Pederson was barely a coordinator before he became a head coach!"
Lombardi might have had a point to some extent. Pederson didn't have as much experience as an NFL coach before getting a head coaching job as many others, but he did a pretty decent job in his first NFL season. The Eagles went 7-9 as Pederson navigated several tricky situations, including a few arrests, the quarterback shuffle and Lane Johnson's suspension.
Lurie wouldn't say whether or not he expected the Eagles to make the playoffs in 2017. All he said was he expected the team to improve this season.
"Yes, there's going to be growing pains with any first-year head coach," Lurie said. "We had that with Andy (Reid), we had it with Chip (Kelly), we've had it no matter who it is. I see [Pederson] as someone who can keep improving. He's a listener, he's a collaborator and I think he has terrific relationships with the players. The future is in front of him and it's there for the taking."