The last two years have been beyond turbulent for the Eagles organisation. From the initial article blasting Carson Wentz, Doug Pederson's firing and everything in-between. It has been one big mess. One of the main issues of this is the distrust that has grown within the organisation. It has caused an unwelcome distraction for the team, mainly due to the untimely leaks that have surfaced.
Owner Jeffrey Lurie and General Manager Howie Roseman have done little to combat this, and it appears there are new inside leaks from within the organisation weekly. National media seem to announce a new story each Sunday, and frankly, it is just getting boring now. It makes you wonder what goes on inside that building and how they have not managed to keep a single bit of information wrapped behind closed doors.
Other team's are now having quarterback problems that have grown throughout the season. However, we did not hear a peep from them until their campaigns were over. As Steve Wyche reported earlier this week, Jared Goff and Sean McVay's relationship had run into some issues throughout the season. He believes that they will need to work on things if they are to work together next season. DeShaun Watson is involved in a full-blown revolt against the Houston Texans. It is evident that things have been boiling over before the General Manager situation, but they managed to keep all of his problems and grievances with the organisation under wraps.
The Texans finished the season 4-12, and they managed to keep things quiet until their season was over. So that dispels the winning prevents details from being leaked problem because we have not heard a peep of this situation all season. Even when the Eagles were a playoff team and competing there were still midseason leaks. Having looked across the league, this does not seem to be a regular occurrence. Yet the Eagles over the last two years have suffered inside leaks continuously.
This article will look at what has occurred during the final two years of Pederson's reign, and how similar incidents happened during the final moments/years of Andy Reid and Chip Kelly's days. There seems to be a common theme within the Eagles organisation, and it could lead to a greater problem if they do not manage to sort it out.
It all started with Joe Santoliquito's article in January 2019. The Eagles had just been eliminated from the playoffs with Nick Foles at quarterback, and everyone was gearing up for an intriguing offseason. Instead, a report led by anonymous teammates and other sources questioned Carson Wentz as a leader. He was brandished as selfish by some players and showing favourites by others. Not an ideal way to start the offseason. Although experienced team leaders, former players and plenty of fans came out in support of 11, the report left a bad taste in your mouth.
Little did we know, this would become the start of a mountain of inhouse problems that had risen to the surface and spread outside the locker room. There was distrust within the Eagles organisation, and not everyone was on the same page. Although the front office had shown its support to Wentz by picking him over Foles and then signing him to a mega-deal, he still had the task of winning over the locker room.
The 2019 season, unlike 2018 was a messier one for the franchise. The leaks and reports proved to be a distraction for the team.
Firstly, Josina Anderson reported that an Eagles player was not happy with Wentz's approach to his play. Then a report stated that a fight had broken out in regards to the locker room rat. The Orlando Scandrick ordeal was also fun. However, his outlandish and brash comments appear to become truer by the day as former Eagles have made similar comments since leaving the franchise.
Despite all of this, the Eagles made the playoffs, and it appeared all was well. Wentz had won over his teammates, Pederson had reunited the locker room, and the team were hoping for a good push in 2020.
That did not happen. As we all know how disastrous this season was, but the reports that came out from the team were incredible. It showed just how disjointed the locker room is, and that players were not happy. Wentz got benched for rookie Jalen Hurts, and Pederson's play-calling significantly regressed. However, the reports only added to the fans' frustrations.
Joe Banner reported that Pederson would not mind getting fired, then came the Wentz trade rumours. The 28-year-old had stunk the place out with his diabolical season. Then the reports on his future were being released weekly with new and contradicting pieces of information. Soon the Eagles were one of the largest topics in sports. Although, they were one of the most irrelevant teams. Pederson and Wentz's relationship was supposedly beyond repair, and the awful takes and comments continued.
At this point, you would think that Lurie and Roseman would try their best to calm the situation down, but it carried on coming. More reports about Wentz and Pederson were surfacing as their positions on the team became threatened. Despite all of this, the man who had created this roster and was in charge of the playing personnel had a report stating he would get a General Manager job in seconds. It appeared fishy.
Pederson would soon be fired, and the reasons for his dismissal remain uncertain. However, the reports about the team would carry on coming. Jeff McClane wrote another article disputing Wentz's personality. Soon there was a story about Duce Staley's relationship with the quarterback. The number of sources within the organisation that are willing to release inhouse information is ridiculous.
However, this is not the first time inhouse reports were released leading up to the firing of a coach. In 2015, the Eagles had just beaten the New England Patriots in Gillette Stadium to keep their hopes of winning the division alive. Chip Kelly was in charge at the time.
After the win, star offseason acquisition DeMarco Murray was frustrated with his lack of playing time. Ed Werder reported that Murray had spoken to the owner on the flight home to vent his frustrations. Someone had managed to spread the information and leak it to the press. It was not a good look for the team.
Reports grew surrounding the unhappiness of the team. It happened until Kelly was fired before the end of the 2015 season. There were similarities between the final days of both Pederson and Kelly's reigns as head coach. It was clear that they had a fractured locker room, and did not have the full backing of their players. There were also leaks regarding problems that should have been kept within the organisation.
It is not a good look for the Eagles organisation. Considering it has happened twice for two head coaches, there is clearly a problem.
When other teams and players had issues, they at least had the guts to speak out publicly. Jalen Ramsey was public with his desire to be traded. Earl Thomas did not hide his displeasure at how his contract situation in Seattle played out. Even Antonio Brown went public in his dislike of Ben Roethlisberger. The 2019 Atlanta Falcons were a poor team, but you did not hear a word from them. The only report you heard from them was that Julio Jones and the players were rallying around Dan Quinn.
Hiding behind sources and anonymity creates a dangerous precedent. It allows players to air grievances without being able to find solutions. It creates distrust within the organisation when players cannot speak with coaches, and sources within the building leak information. It allows problems to linger, and people to continue leaking information without repercussions. It builds drama and distrust amongst the front office, coaching staff and players. The way the Eagles have let things brew without trying to step in is not a good sign. It is something Lurie needs to look into before the dysfunction grows.
The distrust is more on the level of the head coach and the front office. At the end of the 2010 season, the Eagles fired then defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. It came after Andy Reid had guaranteed his return to the team in his end of the season press conference. Reid would not finish above .500 again and was fired just a couple of seasons later. Does this remind you of another coach?
After the 2019 season, Pederson guaranteed that offensive coordinator Mike Groh and wide receivers coach Carson Walch would return. Lurie would fire them the next day.
It angered Doug greatly. He even contemplated quitting after the disrespect he was shown by the owner. The firings showed the lack of trust they had in Doug's decision making, yet they let him select his own staff.
There were big changes to the offensive staff for the 2020 season, but it led to a more disjointed and unorthodox coaching team. The Eagles offense was a disaster in 2020, and Pederson would again have to make changes. However, after being disrespected by Lurie and the front office last time, he would not budge on his plans ahead of 2021.
It became clear that Doug was going to stand by the staff he had outlined, even if it was a terrible one. He essentially told the owner if you do not trust me, fire me. Although Lurie did not give the real reason for Pederson's firing, the coaching staff is likely the main reason why.
The final moments of Doug's tenure became his breaking point, the last couple of years he saw his influence and word diminish. He was not as influential in the draft process as he would have liked to be, and they gave outside voices more consideration than their own head coach. Rumours were that Lincoln Riley and John Dorsey had a big say in certain selections.
Clearly, the distrust between Pederson and Lurie had grown so far that the former head coach had enough. As Ian Rapoport reported, Pederson was sick and tired of being told what to do.
When management and the head coach are not on the same page, things will become dysfunctional. Once Lurie had betrayed Pederson's trust, it was going to be hard to rebuild it. Similarly, Andy Reid never recovered when Lurie went over his head to fire McDermott. Lurie's overbearing presence has not done his coaches favours.
If he cannot fix his approach of only having faith in Roseman, it will only drive coaches and players away. Jim Schwartz chose potential retirement than sticking around the organisation for another year. The trust within the organisation had broken down from top to bottom. It needed to be resolved.
Perhaps Lurie felt that a rebuild was necessary. Not just on the field, but off it too. The Eagles need to rebuild its culture and to regain trust with one another again. That distrust amongst everyone certainly played a part in the downward spiral of this team.
With the constant leaks to the media and the destruction of his relationship with Pederson, Lurie needs to make changes. Not only to his coaching staff but his approach of running the organisation.
Time for Change
Change is needed, and it starts from the top. Lurie is the man that runs this team, and everything begins with him. Having coaches scapegoated, an untouchable General Manager and constant locker room leaks is not a good combination. It creates a toxic environment. It certainly played a part in the downfall of Pederson's reign.
Discussions of the Eagles being an unattractive place due to the salary cap and quarterback issues are a one-year problem. It can be fixed. The issues listed in the paragraph above is what makes a team unattractive. If these habits are allowed to continue. Who in their right mind would want to come to the Eagles organisation?
Why would a head coach want to join an organisation that always takes the side of the general manager; leaving the head coach out to rot? Why would a head coach want to work for an owner that goes over his head and undermines the word he has already put out.
Why would a young player or free agent want to come to Philly if their every move, relationship and discussion is somehow leaked to the media? Understandably, information is leaked to the media. You cannot help that. However, every move within the Eagles organisation getting out is ridiculous.
It is a toxic environment that does not allow people to thrive. If Lurie does not change the culture, rebuild trust, and his own approach. The Eagles become a trap for people's careers. He needs to do it sooner rather than later because if Sirianni is chased out of town with the same issues. Then it clearly runs deeper than the coach and quarterback.
It is time for Lurie to look in the mirror, put his foot down and get everyone on the same page again. Stop the absurd leaks, work better with his coaching staff and hold himself and the people around him accountable. The Eagles need a culture change sooner rather than later.