It became clear as the Eagles’ season sputtered along that offensive coordinator Mike Groh and receivers coach Carson Walch were most likely to take the blame by everyone in the Philadelphia area, except those who actually played for the team or coached it.
It’s the easiest conclusion in the world to see from afar. The offense has some problems, so it must be the offensive coordinator. The receivers aren’t catching enough passes (particularly down the field) so it must be the receivers coach.
Head coach Doug Pederson was going out of his way every chance possible at the end of the season to defend and praise them.
“With all my staff guys, I’m in that process of evaluating and would love to have them all back, obviously,” Pederson said Wednesday during a season-ending news conference.
Not everyone in the organization agreed with him, and The Inquirer’s Jeff McLane reported, per an NFL source, that owner Jeffrey Lurie wanted Groh and Walch gone, and gone they were on Thursday.
The Eagles finished in the top half of the NFL class in most critical offensive categories, including total yards per game, rushing yards per game, passing net yards per game, interception percentage, sacks per pass play, first downs per game, third-down efficiency, and points per game. Their average ranking in those categories was 10th in the league.
“My hat goes off to both of those gentlemen because of the game plans that Mike and I and the offensive staff put together, first of all. Then, here toward the end of the season, Carson Walch having a big impact on getting these young players ready to go and to play at a high level. That’s not easy,” Pederson said.
I have no idea what led the owner to step in – So why did ownership step-in and make Pederson look foolish for his defense of those coaches one day earlier?
There are several possibilities. Maybe season-ticket holders were inundating the team with demands for action of some kind. Maybe Lurie really thought he knew more about coaching than his head coach. Maybe there was a power-play attempt within the organization and the owner felt the need to remind everyone who signs the checks.
Whatever the reason, the owner has done Pederson no favors.
Lurie dumped on Pederson’s wishes. There’s no other way to look at it. The head coach wasn’t allowed to decide who should be on his staff for the coming season. Perhaps he’ll be allowed to choose the replacements for Groh and Walch.
Pederson was sure he had the staff he wanted already, and the challenging circumstances of the season, and many of the rankings it still produced, back him up.
The end result of the season was a disappointment, however, and someone had to pay for that. Two someones, in fact. Whether that was really justified, we’ll never know. And neither will Jeffrey Lurie.