The Philadelphia Eagles, led by head coach Doug Pederson, are currently in the midst of one of their more disappointing seasons in recent memory. When the 2019 campaign started, expectations were high considering the team was only two seasons removed from a Super Bowl victory. This Sunday in Week 16, they will be facing the Dallas Cowboys and playoff hopes will be on the line. The simplest path? Beat the Cowboys and the Giants (Week 17), and the Eagles will win the NFC East title. Lose to the Cowboys? Their playoff hopes are over.
However, no matter the outcome of these next two weeks, Pro Football Network’s NFL Insider Ben Allbright is hearing from sources that Pederson is safe. Beyond that, you can expect Pederson to consider several other assistant coach changes as well.
The Eagles’ defensive struggles could lead to the dismissal of defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz
Jim Schwartz has been the defensive coordinator for the Eagles since 2016 and was part of their Super Bowl LII victory during the 2017 season. Having found success early on in his time with Philadelphia, 2019 has been quite the opposite and has been a categorical mess for Schwartz. The Eagles defense has had moments where they play up to their competition but have also struggled in surprising spots. They managed to hold talented teams like the Bills, Bears, Patriots, and Seahawks to a combined 61 points over a four-game stretch. But since then, have allowed 81 points to three teams that are a combined 9-33 overall.
After their comeback win against the Washington Redskins this past weekend, Pederson was frank about the issues his defense is facing.
“We have got to do better. Look at the tape, make the corrections, and we’ve got to tighten some guys up. It all comes down to fundamentals and techniques. Once you leave training camp, you don’t leave the fundamentals and techniques in training camp. You’ve got to bring them with you throughout the course of [each] week. We’re at that stage of our game right now where you’ve got to continue to work those techniques. Those fundamentals.”
The head coach sounds frustrated by the way his defense is performing. Offensively, quarterback Carson Wentz and his limited weapons are doing enough to keep them in games but the defense continues to put them in tough spots. Over their last three games against mediocre quarterbacks, they are allowing 63 percent of opposing passes to be completed for 829 yards with eight TDs, one interception, and a combined 113.3 passer rating.
Who else might be on their way out of Philadelphia?
Pro Football Network has also heard from sources that Schwartz is likely not the only one on his way out. While we weren’t given specific names beyond Schwartz, we can look at the defensive side of the ball, considering it is one of the Eagles’ biggest concerns.
That means defensive backs coach Cory Undlin could be in danger as well. Undlin has been in charge of developing a young cornerback core with the Eagles, a position that has actually been getting worse over the years.
Undlin is one of the few Chip Kelly era coaches that remained when Pederson took over. He has worked closely with cornerbacks like Ronald Darby, Jalen Mills, and Avonte Maddox. Darby’s play in 2019 has regressed significantly since being acquired in 2017. The same can be said for Jalen Mills. Injuries have also been a huge part of their defensive struggles with players like Darby, Mills, Maddox, and Jones all missing time this season.
The Eagles secondary has currently allowed six touchdown passes of more than 50 yards on the year. This is twice as much as any other team. They have also allowed an NFL high eight pass plays of at least 50 yards. The cornerbacks are struggling, and all eyes are on Undlin for an answer.
Time will tell regarding Undlin. But before any coaching changes are made, the Eagles have a big task at hand against the rival Cowboys. If the Eagles find themselves hosting a home playoff game and come out victorious, then maybe…just maybe…some of these assistants can keep their jobs. However, it would involve a playoff win against the likes of San Francisco 49ers, Seattle Seahawks, New Orleans Saints or Green Bay Packers, which is no easy task.
We’ll keep you updated with the latest here on Pro Football Network regarding the Eagles and possible coaching changes. For more rumors around the NFL, click here and check back daily. Be sure to follow Ben on Twitter: @AllbrightNFL along with Pro Football Network: @PFN365.