NFL

Eagles owner Lurie: Wentz not the reason for Pederson's sacking

By Sports Desk January 11, 2021

Philadelphia Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie denied Carson Wentz was the reason for Doug Pederson's departure, though he did not commit to the embattled quarterback returning next season.

The Eagles sacked Super Bowl-winning head coach Pederson on Monday following a tumultuous 2020 NFL campaign.

Pederson, who was appointed in 2016, led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl title in his second season at the helm but Philadelphia struggled this term after a 4-11-1 finish.

Wentz's form resulted in the franchise quarterback – who signed a lucrative four-year, $128million contract extension in 2019 – being benched in favour of rookie Jalen Hurts in Week 13, while it raised serious questions over his future in Philadelphia.

While doubts remain over Wentz, Lurie insisted the 28-year-old was not behind Pederson's exit.

"My first allegiance is, what will be best for the Philadelphia Eagles and our fans for the next three, four, five years. It's not based on does someone deserve to hold their job or deserve to get fired; that's a different bar," Lurie told reporters on Monday.

"It's not about, 'Did Doug deserve to be let go?' No, he did not deserve to be let go. That's not where I'm coming from, and that's not the bar in the evaluation process."

"I don't think any owner should decide that [whether Wentz returns in 2021]. Carson, to me and to I think virtually everyone in our organisation, is a quarterback that in his first four years was in many ways elite, comparable to some of the great quarterbacks the first four years in the league," Lurie added on Wentz. "The fifth year, obviously not satisfactory for whatever reasons, there are probably multiple reasons for that.

"I think the way I look at it is, we have an asset and we have a talent. He's a great guy. He wants nothing but to win big and win Lombardi trophies for Philadelphia. This guy is tireless. He has his heart in the right place. He is really dedicated offseason, on-season. He's just what you want. And it behoves us as a team with a new coach and new coaching staff to be able to really get him back to that elite progression where he was capable of, and understand at the same time that there have been many quarterbacks in their fourth and fifth year, if you trace this, you can come up with many, many quarterbacks that have a single year where it's just, 'Whoa, the touchdown-to-interception ratio is not what you want.' And we're talking some great ones like Peyton [Manning] and Ben [Roethlisberger] and guys like that."

Wentz ranked 23rd for completions (251), 34th for passing percentage (57.4), 25th for yards (2,620) and tied for 20th for touchdowns (16), while he was equal first for interceptions thrown in 2020.

"So I take more of a longer view of this was not the best season for our offense," Lurie continued. "It was a poor season. And we also had a poor season from Carson, in terms of what he's been able to show in the past; very fixable, and I fully expect him to realise his potential."

Pederson compiled an overall 46-39-1 record over five seasons with the Eagles, including four playoff victories.

The 52-year-old, who oversaw three consecutive postseason appearances from 2017 to 2019 before dropping to the bottom of the NFC East this year, had not won 10-plus games since Philadelphia's run to Super Bowl LII.

"It has been an absolute honour serving as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. As difficult as it is to say goodbye, I will always look back on my time here with appreciation and respect," Pederson said.

"Thank you to Jeffrey Lurie for the opportunity, and to Howie Roseman and Don Smolenski for their partnership and support over the last five seasons. To all of our coaches, players, and staff, thank you for believing in me and allowing me to lead us on this journey. The memories we made here, together, will always have a special place in my heart.

"To the City of Philadelphia, thank you for embracing me and this team. I truly appreciate that passion you bring every single day – at home, on the road, and in the community. No matter what, you were always right there with us.

"Although I am disappointed that this chapter of my career has come to an end, I am extremely proud of what we accomplished together. Through all the ups and downs, one thing remained constant about our team – an unwavering commitment to battle through adversity and to achieve our goals not as individuals, but as a collective unit. There is no better example of that than when we celebrated the first Super Bowl Championship in Eagles history together with our city. That is a memory we will all cherish forever."

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