WHAT WE LEARNED: SUPER WILD CARD WEEKEND
BY ADAM GREENE
DOUG PEDERSON AND EAGLES CONSCIOUSLY UNCOUPLE
We thought we had six open NFL head coaching jobs, but we were wrong. Monday, the Philadelphia Eagles announced they were parting ways with Super Bowl winning head coach Doug Pederson. Reportedly the reason behind the move was that Pederson “didn’t like people telling him what to do.”
And while leaving an NFL team the same way a three-year old storms out of the room after being informed that they can’t leave the house wearing their Batman costume might not be the best possible ending to Pederson’s Philly tenure, this changes a lot on the NFL landscape.
First off, the obvious; we now have seven open head coaching jobs. Secondly, and maybe just as obvious, Pederson is going to get one of the other jobs if he wants it.
Which one? Well, it depends. The Jacksonville Jaguars seem to be circling Urban Meyer and, if that’s realistically on the table, that job is set. They are closing that deal.
We have five more after that (outside the Eagles, of course) and I’d imagine each one would like a word with a coach that has a winning record, three consecutive playoff appearances and a Super Bowl ring. This year was a disaster in Philadelphia and there’s no question about it. But before 2020, Pederson’s worst year was his first, a 7-9 finish with a rookie quarterback. The very next year he won a Vince Lombardi Trophy with a back up.
How quick he gets hired will have a lot to do with how desperate a team is to fill its job with guys like Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, Buffalo Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll and Kansas City OC Eric Bieniemy all still in the playoffs (though they all can take interviews).
There are also guys that might have already jumped ahead in the game like San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh, who’s been free for over a week now. And, of course, there’s always New England Patriots OC Josh McDaniels who, for once, also has his schedule clear since the Pats didn’t make the postseason.
Where do I think he’ll end up? It’s obvious to me that the only way he doesn’t get the Houston Texans head coaching job is if he doesn’t want it. The McNair’s are dying to NOT hire Bieniemy for reasons that, shall we say, seem a little suspicious considering their past problems with DeAndre Hopkins that led to a pennies on the dollar trade and overruling the Korn Ferry consulting firm they paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to find them a new general manager when they came back with two names; Pittsburgh Steelers vice president of football and business administration Omar Khan and Monday Night Football analyst Louis Riddick.
There was some reason those two guys, named the best candidates by Korn Ferry, just weren’t up to snuff for the McNairs and instead they hired former New England Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio.
A guy that, we’ll say, has a “different background” than Khan and Riddick.
Which makes me think that all this talk that there’s no way the Texans would trade Deshaun Watson could be VERY WRONG for VERY OBVIOUS REASONS.
Ironically, with the Eagles job opening up there’s less of a chance for Bienemy to get shut out this time around. Philadelphia hired Andy Reid’s OC last time, they’re likely to do it again. Bienemy could be just the guy to get Carson Wentz back on track or elevate Jalen Hurts’ game.
Last week I ranked the open head coaching jobs 1-6. Where would the Eagles HC position rank? Dead last. If Wentz continues to want out (which me might not now), they have huge salary cap issues to deal with and a middling roster on hand. This will have to be a soft rebuild at best and the only thing they have going for them is playing in the NFC East, but that might not even be an advantage with Ron Rivera coming into Year Two with the Washington Football Team, a vastly improved New York Giants squad and a healthy Dak Prescott taking the field for the Dallas Cowboys.
Though Mike McCarthy’s presence on the Cowboys’ sideline could keep them hovering around the dumpster.
SUPER WILD CARD TRENDS
This was our first Super Wild Card Weekend, but some important things happened which we need to make note. Supposedly this was an “experiment” for the NFL, putting in seven playoff teams per conference and, if so it was a rousing success. There ain’t no going back. This is how it’s going to be from here on out.
Here’s a few facts to note.
1. Of the six games, four road teams won.
2. Two underdogs won outright and only two favorites, the Baltimore Ravens and New Orleans Saints, covered.
3. We had four games go over on their totals. The two that hit the under (Ravens at Titans -54.5 and Bears at Saints – 47) didn’t even come close.
IS THIS THE LAST WE’LL SEE OF BEN ROETHLISBERGER AND PHILIP RIVERS?
If so, Rivers went out strong. He played a hell of a game against a significantly better team than he was bringing to the field and nearly pulled it off, throwing for 309 yards and two touchdowns. I don’t think he’s a Pro Football Hall of Famer, but he’s definitely a guy I’d love to hear in the booth as an analyst for the next 20 years. He’s got the personality for it.
As for Roethlisberger, he put up monster numbers, completing 47 passes for 501 yards and four touchdowns, but his four interceptions were deadly. Unlike Rivers, Roethlisberger certainly has a gold jacket in his future and won’t have wait long to get it. He’s as good a first ballot bet as it comes. But, like Rivers, he’ll have his pick of TV jobs if he wants one. I’m not sure that he does.