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It’s time to focus on firings.
First, Philadelphia Eagles coach Doug Pederson ought to be ashamed of himself. He embarrassed his franchise by tanking Sunday night’s loss to the Washington Football Team in a highly significant game, and deserves to be fired by his team owner or at least substantially fined by the NFL commissioner for conduct unbecoming.
Reportedly already on thin job-security ice, in the fourth quarter, with his team trailing by three points, Pederson pulled an extremely mobile rookie quarterback who had already run for two touchdowns. In his place, he inserted an inept, immobile journeyman (at best), and career third stringer (also at best), ostensibly to see if he was worthy of a roster spot next season.
He clearly is not.
And so, Washington won the NFC East with a 7-9 record, even if the team likely would have won it quite legitimately without Pederson’s help. Good for Washington, who reached the postseason for the first time since the 2015 season, bad for the New York Giants, who needed a Philly win to make the playoffs.
Now, let’s talk about a real and well-deserved firing from last week, and another that Washington fans should hope comes soon.
On Dec. 28, Washington parted ways with disappointing second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins Jr., a 2019 first-round pick, after he was benched at halftime for another journeyman quarterback.
The substitution of Taylor Heinicke for Haskins was justified and, truth be told, most welcome. As was the dismissal the next day of the 23-year-old who risked his own and his teammates’ health by attending a party—without a mask—during a pandemic.
When Haskins was benched, a national TV audience watched him sitting and sulking alone on the bench, or pacing the sidelines in solitude. What a difference from an earlier game that day, when Miami Dolphins’ rookie quarterback Tua Tagovailoa was benched in favor of veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick in the fourth quarter. When Fitzgerald threw a 59-yard touchdown pass, there came Tagovailoa, sprinting from the bench onto the field to giddily chest thump his friend and mentor.
Haskins clearly had no one to blame but himself, and not a single team picked him up on waivers. That may change in the offseason when Haskins will likely get another chance, and he’s hardly the first college star to become an early professional bust.
Still, his lousy preparation and questionable work ethic led to his benching as a rookie under Jay Gruden. Apparently it wasn’t much better with Ron Rivera, who sat him down after continued non-production and immature decisions following the fourth game of the season.
And now, here’s a fond wish for what may yet be another well-deserved firing. That would be team owner Dan Snyder.
Among his countless transgressions over his 21 reign-of-error years, he went against his personnel people and insisted on drafting Haskins, who played at Bullis School, the same school Snyder’s son attended. The staff had other ideas, but Snyder has always operated by the Golden Rule: “The man with the gold rules.”
How long Snyder can use that rule remains to be seen. He’s currently embroiled in bitter litigation with three well-heeled minority partners, the same men who apparently convinced him—or perhaps threatened him—to change the team’s racist name last year.
FedEx chief executive Frederick W. Smith, real estate magnate Dwight Schar, and investor Robert Rothman want out, most likely because the value of their 40 percent stake has grown exponentially in recent years, despite the team’s dreadful record under Snyder. They’ve been as unhappy with him as he’s been with them, evidenced by his decision to throw the minority owners off the board of directors sometime in June, denying them access to the team’s financial statements.
The Post also recently revealed that Snyder paid a $1.6 million settlement to a former female employee who accused him of sexual misconduct on his private plane in 2009. And that comes in the wake of an NFL investigation into sexual harassment inside his dysfunctional organization. It was launched amid multiple Post reports detailing allegations of inappropriate incidents in the team’s workplace.
Snyder has made constant hiring and firing blunders on the coaching staff and in the front office, as well as demonstrating a history of inept meddling in football decisions, Haskins being the latest example. He’s been a disaster and hardly deserves to keep this once proud franchise.
It remains to be seen if NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell or his fellow owners will do the right thing and fire Snyder. Surely there will be Tua-like chest thumps aplenty all around the Washington area if that ever happens.
Photo by All-Pro Reels/Joe Glorioso, used under the Creative Commons BY-SA 2.0 license.