Three Eagles players have had four separate run-ins with the law since Doug Pederson took over as head coach in January, which is not insignificant. The seriousness and legitimacy of each incident may vary, but no matter how we look at it, this is an alarming trend.
And also a coincidence. The reality is Pederson has precious little if any control over any of these situations. An NFL head coach can talk to his team about being law-abiding citizens. He can bench or deactivate individuals who make mistakes. At the end of the day though, these are grown adults making conscious decisions, and there's nothing Pederson or anybody else can do to stop them.
You think players aren't aware discipline is a potential consequence for their actions should they get caught, whether it comes from the team or the NFL has to step in? You don't think Pederson and the leaders inside the Eagles locker room preach doing the right thing and are setting a good example?
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Stop. The rash of arrests that began with Nelson Agholor in June, seem to be following Nigel Bradham around all season and now caught up to Josh Huff on Tuesday has nothing to do with Pederson or the way he runs the team. There's also nothing more he could have done to prevent them or stop them from happening in the future.
If Pederson had disciplined Agholor — whose name was cleared of sexual assault allegations by the way — does anybody honestly believe that would have prevented Bradham from getting into a physical altercation, or showing up at the airport with a loaded handgun? And if Bradham had been disciplined — amid two ongoing investigations mind you — does anybody believe Huff wouldn't have been doing whatever it is he was doing?
These guys know exactly what is at stake. Sometimes they are guilty of poor judgment. Sometimes things happen that are out of their control. Sometimes they are simply caught up in some very questionable or bad behaviors.
That's not the head coach's fault. There's almost nothing he can do and no reason he should be held accountable . In fact, if he comes down too hard on players who make regrettable decisions but aren't necessarily "criminals" or are even cleared of any criminal wrongdoing, he risks alienating some inside the locker room.
If there is anybody responsible for these players, besides themselves, it's not the head coach. Rather, it's the people responsible for bringing them into the organization in the first place.
NFL teams run exhaustive characters checks on these athletes, especially during the pre-draft process, and while that doesn't catch everything, the Eagles should have a pretty good idea about the personalities of the guys they are bringing in. Once they're here, all Pederson can do is coach and speak to the men he has.
Prior to his firing, Chip Kelly selected Agholor and coached Huff at the University of Oregon. Defensive coordinator had Bradham for one season with the Bills. The Eagles had some idea of what they were getting in all three cases.
Not only that, but since Howie Roseman reassumed his role as chief of personnel, the Eagles have made some arguably risky decisions when it comes to picking players with checkered pasts. In the 2016 draft alone, Wendell Smallwood, Jalen Mills and Alex McAllister all had run-ins with the law in college. Same with second-year receiver Dorial Green-Beckham, who was traded from the Titans.
That's not to suggest the Eagles should avoid anybody who's ever been in trouble before. Human beings, especially young people, deserve second chances. Perhaps the best example is the chance the organization took on Michael Vick, who's been a model citizen and productive member of society since his stint in prison.
But when players slip up, whether they have a history of such behavior or not, that's not on Pederson. If anything, it's on Roseman or whoever vouched for that player.
Even then, in most situations it's probably unfair to blame anybody other than the individual at fault. Again, these are grown men who know exactly what can happen when they run afoul of the law. Don't try to point the finger at somebody else.