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Mike Lombardi backtracks on Doug Pederson criticism — sort of

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Mike Lombardi backtracks on Doug Pederson criticism — sort of

Having previously stated Doug Pederson is unqualified, former NFL executive Mike Lombardi is finally walking back his criticism of the Eagles’ head coach. Kinda.

It only took a 13-win season and a trip to the NFC Championship game for Lombardi to admit he might’ve been mistaken.

Even now, Lombardi doesn’t sound entirely convinced about Pederson, who’s a strong candidate for Coach of the Year.

Lombardi garnered attention back in September after questioning Pederson’s credibility.

“Everybody knows Pederson isn't a head coach,” Lombardi said during one of his regular NFL podcasts for The Ringer. “He might be less qualified to coach a team than anyone I've seen in my 30-plus years in the NFL.”

The comments grew beyond meaningless banter when Lombardi was tied to Jim Schwartz, and a report stated the Eagles’ defensive coordinator was actively working to undermine Pederson — just days before the start of the regular season.

It all seemed like a bunch of nonsense at the time, and the entire narrative over whether Pederson is the right person for the job hasn’t aged well. So four months and an Eagles win over the Falcons in a divisional playoff game later, Lombardi was finally ready to go back on his podcast and say he was wrong.

Well, sort of.

"I admit, I’m wrong. Okay, Doug Pederson was way better than I thought he was going to be in terms of his ability to lead that team. I think Jim Schwartz is a tremendous defensive coordinator. I think he deserves a lot of credit here. But I thought (Pederson) did a really good job with Nick Foles (Saturday). So all you Philly fans give me all this crap about, ‘Give Doug Pederson his due,’ yeah, okay, I was wrong. He’s a better coach. Now he’s going to have to do it again this week, and we’ll see how that is, but for me, I think when you win a playoff game, and you beat a team that you’re an underdog to, and you beat (Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan), and Nick Foles plays well enough, I think you deserve it. I think I have to admit — hey look, I think I was wrong in terms of how far I went with Doug, I’m not sure how great of a coach Doug is, but I was wrong in terms of how far I went with it."

Lombardi almost immediately praises Schwartz, before going on to say Pederson needs to prove himself again in the conference title game, he still doesn’t know how good Pederson is and the actual problem with his comments was the extent of his criticism, not necessarily that he was critical of Pederson in the first place.

Again, the Eagles won 13 games this season, earning the top playoff seed in the NFC, a postseason bye and home-field advantage throughout the tournament. Then they defeated the reigning conference champion Falcons and are now one victory away from a trip to the Super Bowl. He absolutely should win Coach of the Year. Even last season, Pederson won seven games as a first-year head coach with a rookie quarterback, so the idea he was ever wholly unprepared, as Lombardi suggested, was always a laughable take.

It’s safe to say Pederson has put any and all doubt to rest. There’s no need to qualify that statement or assign credit to somebody else. Pederson is good at his job. That much is a fact.

Look, almost everybody had concerns about Pederson when he was hired in 2016 and coming into this season. Perfectly reasonable. What Lombardi said in September was as preposterous as it was inaccurate, and anything less than saying he was completely, 100 percent incorrect isn’t backtracking nearly enough.

The Dodgers are now calling Chase Utley 'dad'

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The Dodgers are now calling Chase Utley 'dad'

Dodgers shortstop Kike Hernandez hit a two-run homer off Stephen Strasburg in the fifth inning on Sunday to help spark his team’s 7-2 win over the Nationals on Sunday. 

Then he thanked his dad. 

Not his real one. 

In his postgame interview with SportsNet LA, the 26-year-old thanked his 39-year-old teammate Chase Utley, who is apparently a father figure. 

"After my first at-bat my dad Chase told me to use his bat, and I did, and first pitch I hit a homer,” Hernandez said. “It’s dad’s bat.”

So the Dodgers are now calling Utley dad. Fantastic. 

We've found the 1 thing that scares Joel Embiid

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We've found the 1 thing that scares Joel Embiid

We've found the one thing Joel Embiid is afraid of.

It's not an opposing big man. 

It's water.

We all know Embiid would have no qualms about sliding into Rihanna's DMs, but prior to those pictures, it was difficult for his mates to get him down a slide in the Bahamas. As evidenced by this hilarious video from Sixers minority owner Michael Rubin.

@joelembiid is not a fan of water slides 😂 (@michaelgrubin)

A post shared by Bleacher Report (@bleacherreport) on

Hey, as long as he doesn't have to face-up Hassan Whiteside in a pool, the Sixers should be OK.

In all seriousness though, Sixers fans would probably prefer that Embiid stays as far as possible from any type of contraption that could potentially lead to a freak injury.