Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman met with the media on Wednesday to reflect on the season that was and discuss what lies ahead. One major talking point concerned the futures of offensive coordinator Mike Groh, and WR coach Carson Walch.
Will Coach Groh and Coach Walch be back though?
“Yes, both those guys will be back.” Doug Pederson said confidently.
Less than 24-hours later, it was announced that both coaches had been fired in a statement that contained a confusing backpedal from Doug Pederson.
In the days that have followed, reactions have varied from concerns over Jeffrey Lurie’s involvement that compare the Eagles owner to Jerry Jones, to worry about Pederson’s accountability. But through all the smoke and mirrors, we’re missing the small print.
Are Pederson’s words losing weight?
This is perhaps the most valid criticism. On the surface, Pederson has said one thing to the media, and then done another, creating a lack of trust. It should be mentioned that Pederson did hint at an ongoing evaluation process, but it wasn’t exactly his main statement.
At the end of the day, Pederson was never going to come out and fire his coaches in a presser, nor throw them under a bus. Although, he could’ve been much clearer about his intent.
This, unfortunately, comes on the back of a season where the injury reports given by the Head Coach to the media would often be misleading. Players described as day-to-day would end up missing several weeks and we don’t really know what ‘Trending in the right direction’ meant considering it was used on just about every Eagle who picked up a knock.
Then, there was the guaranteed win against Dallas. The less said about that, the better.
Pederson came out today in an interview and stated that it was indeed his decision to cut ties with Groh and Walch after speculation around Lurie’s involvement grew quickly. If this is the case, then it really does damage the relationship between Pederson and the media.
That’s not to say Pederson is dishonest, there could be a disconnect on the backend, with the information he’s giving out being as accurate as can be. Or, he’s playing cards close to his chest and it’s beginning to frustrate others at the table.
But what if…
There is a chance that Pederson had originally intended to retain both of his coaches. It’s at least understandable to see why he may wish to keep Groh around a little longer after he helped transform the Eagles offense in the final weeks of the season.
For all the criticism he endured, Groh had a hand in turning a slow-starting Eagles offense into one that helped play to the strengths of its biggest remaining playmakers in Carson Wentz and Miles Sanders. It saw far more designed rollouts and opportunities for Wentz to make a play, as opposed relying on a lack of playmakers and expecting Wentz to force it.
If Pederson wished to keep Groh around and there was a disconnect behind the scenes, it’s easy to see why a frustrated owner would pull the plug. In the same way that if you saw a vulnerable friend peer-pressured into taking drugs, you’d try to pull them away, no matter how embarrassing it may be for said friend.
Accountability has become a staple of this Eagles team and the harsh reality of this particular role is that the offensive coordinator isn’t responsible for a whole lot in comparison with other teams. Doug Pederson calls the plays, Duce Staley and Jeff Stoutland help coordinate the run, and that leaves Groh to script the opening fifteen plays and help with play-design.
If the offense stagnating since Reich’s departure was a major alarm bell for Lurie, ripping away the offensive coordinator and forcing Pederson to step up and make a change is the best way to find out what’s really going on and if anything will change in the future.
It’s not a ‘Jerry Jones’ move, it’s the move of a protective owner who is emotionally invested in the team’s long-term future and his businesses sustainable success. There’s nothing wrong with that.
And at the end of the day…
It doesn’t matter who pulled the trigger, as long as the right target took the bullet. Will this really be a discussion if in one year from now the Eagles have a league-leading offense? Don’t answer that.
Whoever made the call, did so with the team’s best interest at heart. Could it have been cleaner? Absolutely. But you have to crack a few eggs to make an omelet.
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports