Damage-Control Day for Doug Pederson
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - It was damage-control day for Eagles coach Doug Pederson after his 48-hour 180 that resulted in the firing of offensive coordinator Mike Groh and receivers coach Carson Walch.
Appearing on a Philadelphia-area radio station that serves as the flagship for the Eagles Radio Network Pederson denied that owner Jeffrey Lurie forced his hand when it came to the deposed assistants.
"I appreciate both of those guys, everything they did for me," Pederson told Angelo Cataldi of WIP. "Obviously, Mike was on staff when we won a championship. And ultimately I have to make the decisions that I feel are in the best interest of the football team and moving forward.
"And that’s what I did."
The controversy stems from Pederson stating that both Groh and Walch would be back at his Wednesday press conference, a day before he met with Lurie and then moved on from both coaches.
"My comments the other day might’ve been a little bit misleading," Pederson explained. "And I did a poor job there of communicating in the press conference. And just basically what I intended to say about my coaching staff was that I was still in the process of evaluating and evaluating everything.
"And that’s really what the week after the season is about. We take a look at everything. From the roster, to personnel, and I did a poor job of communicating that and for that I apologize for misleading anybody there."
Pederson also apologized to defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz for less-than-clear messaging.
"I think I did put Jim [Schwartz] in a tough situation. But I just want to let everybody know that these are ultimately my decisions and I do what’s best for the football team," Pederson said.
Schwartz is a candidate for the top job in Cleveland but will be back if he is not named the head coach of the Brows, according to Pederson.
"Jim and I have a great working relationship and I was excited to see that he had an opportunity to become, or at least interview for, a head coaching position," Pederson said. "I think what he’s done with our defense and, really, the job he’s done for the four years, has been tremendous. So, he and I have a great relationship, and the other thing is, if he doesn’t get that job, he’s definitely my defensive coordinator moving forward."
As for the owner, The Philadelphia Inquirer, citing a source, reported that Lurie made the decision that Groh and Walch had to go back in December, something that lines up with a Chris Mortensen report at the time that intimate changes were likely. Pederson, however, denied he was being steered.
"At the time of the press conference, I was still in the evaluation process. And I do have a lot of communications, a lot of conversations in the building. And part of my evaluation — me, personally — is with our owner Mr. Lurie," Pederson explained. "And I think it’s important that he and I continue to stay on the same page, along with Howie [Roseman]. And we do have some tough conversations and I think in my standpoint, it’s very beneficial to me, personally. And it helps me lead the football team. But by no means was there any influence there."
Moving forward Pederson also insisted that he will be given the autonomy to choose his new offensive coordinator.
"That’s the thing, this is what I appreciate from Mr. Lurie and Howie, is that they’ve given me the opportunity to control my staff," Pederson said. "And do they want to be a part of the process? They do. They want to meet these people, they want to have input and conversations. But ultimately I have to feel comfortable with these gentlemen on my staff. And because we’re the ones that work together. We’re with each the most. So, ultimately it will be my decision."
Pederson also gave a brief rundown of what he wants in the new OC.
"I think someone who obviously can come in and understand what we do," he said. "I think it’s important that this person is a person who, obviously, I have to feel comfortable with. And I had Frank [Reich], I had Mike, and someone that I’m going to be working closely with. But someone that can help us win football games. Someone that has a sharp, sharp football mind. Someone that can lead a room, lead a room of men, and he and I can be on the same page that way. And I’ll look at that. I’ll take some time here and look at that as I continue to evaluate."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen