The Philadelphia Eagles have had a long and complicated history with past head coaches. Some didn’t receive the support needed from the front office to really have a chance, others got so much control that they ultimately collapsed under the pressure.
With Doug Pederson returning to Philadelphia as the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, he returns with his legacy in the city a complex one. Everyone will cheer for the man who helped bring a Lombardi Trophy to the city, but his demise was as ugly as any in Eagle lore.
So where does Doug Pederson sit on a top Eagles coach’s rank? Let’s get to it.
5. Buddy Ryan
The architect of the greatest Eagles defense in franchise history, Buddy Ryan took to the city of Philadelphia better than any other head coach in team history. His “no b.s.” attitude coupled with the entrance of Reggie White and the late 80’s Eagles defense made fans more in love with their beloved Eagles.
Why isn’t Ryan higher?
Simple: Although Ryan won a lot of games in his five years with the team, the Eagles, with Randall Cunningham and a loaded defense couldn’t win a single playoff game. Three straight first-round exits coupled with turmoil with owner Norman Braman forced Ryan out and the Eagles’ top defensive era ended just three years after his firing.
4. Dick Vermeil
Dick Vermeil is finally an NFL Hall-of-Famer and rightfully so. Vermeil won over 100 games, won a Super Bowl, and helped rebuild three rosters into championship-level teams.
Arguably his greatest success was with the Philadelphia Eagles. After 15 years of missing the playoffs with embarrassing performances, the Eagles hired Vermeil out of UCLA. What followed was the first Super Bowl-era golden age of Eagles football.
Players like Ron Jaworski, Harold Carmichael, and Wilbert Montgomery flourished in Vermeil’s system, and Philadelphia ended up getting to the Super Bowl during the 1980-81 season. While his tenure ultimately ended in a burn-out in 1982, Vermeil’s heroics in turning around the Eagles is legendary in pro football history.
3. Earle “Greasy” Neale
There is only one head coach in Eagles history that has won more than one NFL championship during their tenure.
Greasy Neale incorporated the post-WWII player into the game in the late 40s and 50s to build one of the most dominant two-year runs in league history. Neale helped Philadelphia win championships in 1948 and 1949 with records of 9-2-1 and 11-1 respectively. Hall-of-Fame players like Chuck Bednarik, and Steve Van Buren were dominant under Neale and started their careers with the experienced coach.
With a 63-43-5 record, Neale is easily the most accomplished Eagle coach to ever live.
2. Doug Pederson
When you knock off the greatest quarterback of all time, and arguably one of the greatest coaches of all time, your legacy is all but assured in Eagles lore. Pederson took over in 2016 for a franchise that was in complete disarray because of the antics and unprofessionalism of Chip Kelly.
Pederson, with the help of a major infusion of talent, helped Philadelphia each the pinnacle of sports with their Lombardi win over the Patriots in 2017. Pederson’s aggressive nature meant Philadelphia was never out of a game and he became adored by fans and analytics alike.
So why isn’t Pederson at the top?
While the Eagles won the Super Bowl in 2017, Pederson’s legacy will also be one of the divided locker rooms, anonymous sources, and an inability to correct mistakes. The 4-11-1 season that ended his tenure in Philly is chalked largely to the declining QB play of Carson Wentz, but Doug was also overmatched in several contests.
1. Andy Reid
The Eagles may have had an incredible turnaround when Doug Pederson came to the fold, but that pales in comparison to what Andy Reid did when he was named the team’s head coach in 1999.
After a franchise-worst, 3-13 season, the Eagles hired Reid to change the culture of the franchise. Reid did more than just that. The Eagles became an NFC power under Reid and are considered to this day as one of the winningest franchises of the last two decades.
Five conference finals appearances and a Super Bowl berth made Reid one of the strongest coaches in sports. His coaching tree has seen several of his former proteges get head coaching jobs and succeed.
His legacy in Philadelphia may be one where he couldn’t get the final win, but Reid’s impact on the Eagles franchise will forever be one of the greatest coaches in team history.
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