Building a Staff

Posted: January 18th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 60 Comments »

The first few names being thrown around for DC are college guys and that has a few of you worried.  Shouldn’t Chip have NFL guys or veteran coaches?  That would certainly make us all more comfortable, but there is no right answer to building a staff.

Ray Rhodes was hired in 1995.  He had a defensive background.  He hired a veteran DC in Emmitt Thomas.  His OC was boy wonder Jon Gruden.  Jon was 32 and had never been a full time OC at any level. His playcalling experience was minimal, to put it mildly.  Was Ray nuts to hire a veteran on his side of things and go with a kid on the other?  As it turned out, that was genius.  Gruden turned out to be the great coach that Ray thought.  Ray also had a lot of college guys on his staff.  Mike Trgovac, Danny Smith, Ted Williams, and Bill Callahan had zero NFL experience.  All turned out to be great hires.

When Jimmy Johnson got hired by Dallas he brought his defensive staff from Miami with him.  Butch Davis, Dave Wannstedt, and Dave Campo all went on to be head coaches in the NFL, despite having no pro experience when they hit Dallas.

The Saints had the worst defense in the NFL this year with a veteran staff that included Steve Spagnuolo, Ken Flajole, Joe Vitt, and Bill Johnson.  Those guys could write volumes on the NFL, but didn’t get the job done.  Awful, awful defense.

The key here, as with hiring the head coach, is to hire the right guy and not just the big name.  You and I will sleep easier with the name we know, but as we learned with the hiring of Bobby April, that means nothing.  April was considered the best STs coach in the NFL when the Eagles got him.  For every thing that went right, there were two that went wrong.  I wouldn’t call his STs disastrous, but they had some awful moments and looked incompetent all too often.

I think one reason young guys/college guys turn out to be such good assistants is that they are hungry.  They want to get the job done.  Being an assistant coach is hard.  Tons of work, little reward.  They’re well paid compared to me and you, but not to players and head coaches.

Clearly veteran assistants work hard as well, but the young guys just seem to have that extra bit of pep in their step.  Maybe they relate to players better.  Maybe they are better listeners, to players and fellow coaches.  Whatever the reason, there is real value in having them around.

I would love for Chip Kelly to hire a couple of veteran assistants so that he’s got somebody to lean on when it is needed.  Let’s be honest.  Oregon played a couple of non-conference cupcakes.  They played a couple of conference softies.  Then they had 5 games against solid teams and a couple against top competition.  The NFL is so different.  There are no games against Arkansas State or Tennessee Tech.  Kelly has to be on his A-game every week.  Luckily he’s wired that way, but I still don’t think he’s fully prepared for what NFL life is going to be like.  Having a veteran coach or two on the staff would just be nice.

The one good thing is that Chip talks to other coaches.  He’s friends with Tony Dungy.  He spoke to Dick Vermeil before taking the Eagles job.  If Chip chooses to mainly have a younger staff, he at least has an outside support system to go to when he’s got an issue he’s not sure how to handle.

We’ll judge Kelly’s staff when we see who he’s hired and how the group looks.  Right now we just know a few names and don’t know any titles.

Per FootballScoop:

  • Sources tell us Oregon assistant director of operations / recruiting Josh Gibson will follow Chip Kelly to Philadelphia.
  • Sources tell us Oregon associate athletic director for James Harris will join Chip Kelly’s staff with the Eagles.
  • Sources tell us Oregon offensive line grad assistant Greg Austin, defensive intern Todd Lyght and Matt Harper (special teams intern) will all follow Chip Kelly to Philadelphia.

These guys will probably have peripheral roles…quality control – OFF, quality control – DEF, assistant STs coach, assistant DBs coach, and things like that.  They won’t be the primary guys, but they’ll help them out.

* * * * *

Things are getting interesting in the Joe Banner / Eagles war.  Jeff Lurie let out a bombshell when he said that the Howie criticism was coming from Cleveland.  Clearly he meant Joe Banner.  Reuben Frank has the story and it’s must read material.

* * * * *

The Helmet2Helmet Show is back!  Jimmy Bama got over his drinking problem and we recorded a couple of shows last night.



Both are on the Chip Kelly hire.  We’ll see about recording another show in the next couple of days.  We’re waiting for Chip to hire some staff members.


60 Comments on “Building a Staff”

  1. 1 Iskar36 said at 12:32 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    I don’t mind him bringing in college coaches at all, I just think that somewhere on the team, he needs some NFL veterans. That doesn’t mean it has to be the DC or OC, but we know of the challenges of making the transition from college to NFL, so it seems that it should be made at least slightly easier by bringing in some help to make that transition smoother.

    As for the DCs that have been associated with the Eagles so far, I don’t think he has to have any specific type of experience, but I do hope there is some successful experience to look back to. Grantham seems to be the guy first talked about with the Eagles. From what I have read so far (which admittedly is very limited, so if his name continues to be floated, I hope Tommy will do one of his incredible pieces covering Grantham’s background), Grantham has had only mild success at multiple stops. To me, that doesn’t exactly inspire confidence that he will be a successful DC long term.

    On the other hand, Kirby Smart is a guy I would be very much interested in. He has had success in college, and while that may not translate to the NFL, it is clear that he has coached a successful defense (albeit, one that is strongly influenced by Nick Saban obviously) and it is a matter of making the adjustments to the NFL.

  2. 2 TommyLawlor said at 12:41 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Albert Breer just said on Twitter that Chip does prefer the 3-4 and is checking out NFL coaches.

  3. 3 Mac said at 2:53 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    I hope he’s using a pair of your mirrored sunglasses. Makes it less obvious when you’re checking someone out.

  4. 4 A_T_G said at 8:38 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    If you get the in-home LASIK no one can tell where you are looking.

  5. 5 TommyLawlor said at 12:49 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Ian Rappaport on Twitter just shot down the Kirby Smart rumors. Said a source told him “that’s not happening”.

  6. 6 RIP Worms said at 12:53 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Albert Breer, Ian Rappaport, blah, blah, blah. What’s JASON LACANFORA reporting?

  7. 7 TommyLawlor said at 1:16 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Whatever Joe Banner tells him.

  8. 8 RIP Worms said at 1:18 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Those are libelous accusations, Tommy. LIBELOUS!!! Now, back to my high road…

  9. 9 TommyLawlor said at 1:32 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Well played, sir.

  10. 10 Baloophi said at 4:53 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Very nice…

  11. 11 deg0ey said at 1:34 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Do we believe him again now, or is that report still not worth the paper it’s printed on?

  12. 12 D-von said at 1:50 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Wouldn’t surprise me if the rumors are false. Howard Eskin was the one who broke the news and he has not been the most accurate reporter. But I can still hold out hope for Kirby. I live here in Alabama (originally from Philly) and although Im not a fan I really enjoy how Bama’s defense operates. Not a fan of switching to the 34 but if Kelly wants that type of defense why not get one of the best up an coming DCs. Also, Im fascinated by Nick Allioti of Oregon. People always say that Oregon has no D but, everytime I watch Oregon games I always come away surprised at how well they played and how creative the calls are.

  13. 13 austinfan said at 2:24 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Hard to coach D when your offense keeps giving the ball back to the other offense every two minutes!

  14. 14 Jack Bauer said at 3:44 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Rappaport was also the cited source for the “Kelly and the Browns are close to a contract” story. His twitter timeline of the coaching hires over the past 2 weeks was awful

  15. 15 Aran Benyishay said at 1:42 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Did I mishear it, or didn’t Chip Kelly on WIP this morning say he’s interested in having an NFL coaching vet on his staff?

  16. 16 TommyLawlor said at 2:00 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    I did not hear that interview. Would be good to know.

  17. 17 Aran Benyishay said at 3:30 PM on February 4th, 2013: refers to it in the question about staffing

  18. 18 austinfan said at 1:44 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Now who’s the Vanderbilt DC? Seriously, if I’m going with a college DC, I want someone who has coached up decent talent, not someone who didn’t screw up great talent. Because reading between the lines, Chip and Howie seem committed to a rebuilding process with a young team, and that means working with street free agents and UDFAs, not 1st rd picks (as Chip will learn, you are far more constrained in personnel decisions in the NFL, from limited draft picks, the cap, and available free agents). However, the 90 man roster provides a great opportunity to coach up guys other teams have overlooked (guys like Ninovich on NE, for example). So I think teaching and motivating will be as important as scheming for a year or two.

    Once the talent base is in place, and players have bee indoctrinated in the ways of Chairman Chip, then schemes become more important as the people look for an edge against the capitalist running dogs of Dallas, the gnomes of NY and the politically incorrect natives of Washington.

  19. 19 TommyLawlor said at 2:03 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Bob Shoop is the Vandy DC. Previously was the DC at William & Mary. Did great work there. Very good coach, but jumping from small school to Vandy to the NFL might be a stretch. Should be coveted by bigger schools.

    I would be willing to hire the guy to coach DBs.

  20. 20 austinfan said at 2:23 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    DC at Yale (so he knows how to work with smart players), DC at Villanova (so he knows how to work with dumb players, just kidding), HC at Columbia (so he knows how to coach losers, of course I’m a Penn alumni), DC at William & Mary (so he knows how to work with talentless players). Unfortunately, only one year at Vanderbilt, but did a fine job. DB coach would be perfect, groom him to replace the DC when he leaves for a HC job.

  21. 21 Anders said at 4:20 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    He sounds like a perfect DB candidate for us. I know there is no way we get him, but we can only dream.

  22. 22 Midnight_Greenville said at 6:38 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Lou Holtz, Bobby Ross, Mike Tomlin, and Sean McD all have W&M ties. I say bring him in. ( yes I’m an alum).

  23. 23 A_T_G said at 8:44 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    The say things read best we three examples. In this case, you definitely should have stopped at three.

  24. 24 Midnight_Greenville said at 10:24 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    I see your point.

  25. 25 ACViking said at 1:52 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Re: D-coordinators

    In addition to the names already out there, consider the following:

    1. Keith Butler – Steelers LB coach since 2003 (coaching since 1990). Reputed to be the designated successor to Dick LeBeau — if DLB ever retires

    2. John Pagano (brother of Chuck) – Chargers DC last season. Still under contract, but he’s not yet been retained by new HC McCoy. Runs a 3-4.

    3. Greg Blache (total off-the-wall longshot . . . next to Rob Ryan) – last coached in ’09 as Redskins D-Coordinator. Posted pretty decent numbers. Used a 4-3, but coached the 3-4 as the Packers d-line coach in the ’90s.

    By the way, Leon Lett is an NFL asst defensive coach . . . anyone interested in Leon for special teams?

  26. 26 TommyLawlor said at 2:05 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    How dare you make fun of Leon Lett!

    Pagano is reportedly a coach that the Chargers want McCoy to keep. We’ll see how Mike feels about that.

    Blache is enjoying retirement. Very good coach, though.

  27. 27 47_Ronin said at 2:47 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Butler would be a good choice, the Steelers allowed the Dolphins to speak with hima few years ago after denying requests in the past. But I doubt he would leave. One name that interests me is Reggie Herring on Wade Phillips staff in Houston. He’s had a varried career in college and NFL, and as DC too (several of squads have improved YOY, and he was up for college award for top asst).

    One problem with potential shift to a 3-4 is that the Eagles don’t really have
    a stud OLB (among other 3-4 positions). I think the defensive turnover would be significant, likely already looking at 2-4 new faces in defensive backfield. Not to mention that the Eagles have been a 4-3 team since 1986!

  28. 28 ACViking said at 2:49 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    I thought about Herring. Worth a look . . . unless CK wants someone who, as T-Law’s advocated, *already* been running the defense.

    As for the OLB, B-Graham swears he’s ready to be the Clay Matthews of Philadelphia.

  29. 29 deg0ey said at 3:20 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Even if Graham is able to do that (and I don’t think it’s toooo big of a stretch to think he can at least be functional in the 3-4) we’d still need a guy for the other side ’cause I don’t see Cole or Curry being particularly suited for it…

  30. 30 A_T_G said at 8:51 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Maybe we could give Vick a shot at it. He still seems to be faster than most OLBs. Well, pretty many of them at least.

  31. 31 Mike Flick said at 1:56 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    I gotta give Reid props for helping to sell the Eagles to Chip, and Chip publicly thanked him in his press conference.

    That guy is a class act.

  32. 32 TommyLawlor said at 2:05 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Reid is a legitimately great guy. I’m pulling for KC to be good.

  33. 33 ChaosOnion said at 2:10 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    It is night and day when comparing Reid and Banner and their relationship with the Eagles since leaving.

  34. 34 xeynon said at 2:20 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Me too. It was time for him to go, but he was a great coach and a great person for a long time here and I wish him nothing but the best in the future.

  35. 35 xeynon said at 2:03 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Re: the Banner/Lurie feud, Banner comes off like a bitter ex-gf who claims she’s okay with the split but then goes around badmouthing your new gf behind your backs. Lurie did not bash him or leak nasty quotes to the Jason LaCanforas of the world, so, it’s nice to see the guy who took the high road rewarded.

    I think Howie just needs to send Banner a video of himself singing a karaoke version of Shaq’s classic “How my ass taste?”

  36. 36 Aran Benyishay said at 2:05 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    I bet Banner told Lurie that Kelly tastes like Cheerios, a la KG

  37. 37 TommyLawlor said at 2:06 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    I’d like to see that video.

  38. 38 T_S_O_P said at 2:15 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    I’m still hoping to hear Dave Toub’s name associated with our new staff.

  39. 39 ACViking said at 2:16 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    It will be — as a *former* Eagles ST coach.

    He’s been hired in KC.

    (T-Law . . . isn’t that right?)

  40. 40 T_S_O_P said at 2:20 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    No fair AR; play nice !

  41. 41 Mac said at 2:50 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    I saw that connection a day or two ago on twitter.

  42. 42 HoneyGratz said at 2:16 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    I was totally sold on Chip yesterday but if you want some icing on the cake, check out what Chip tells Brian Dawkins on SpudCam.

  43. 43 scott_mather said at 2:34 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    For not being a fan of the “schmoozing” required as a college head coach, Chip sure has done a bang up job so far in his brief time in Philly. Very impressive.

  44. 44 Aran Benyishay said at 2:39 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    I imagine catering to boosters to be different than this

  45. 45 tad said at 5:04 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    “Yessir, Mr. Trumpington, we’ll be sure to run the hook ‘n ladder against State this year.”

  46. 46 ACViking said at 2:29 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Just an aside . . . Kelly is fighting a lot of history here.

    Not just that most NFL head-coaching hires fail.

    But that, since 1970, of the 14 NFL head coaches hired directly from college with ZERO prior NFL experience of any kind . . . only 2 have won the Super Bowl.

    Those were Jimmy Johnson and Barry Switzer (using Jimmy Johnson’s team).

    Not a single one of the remaining 12 reached the Super Bowl. Only 2 others reached their conference championship game (Don Coryell – Chargers, 1980 & 1981; John McKay – Bucs, 1979).

    Yes, as T-Law’s argued, the NFL is borrowing more and more from college football.

    And Kelly’s a really creative thinker driven much like Jimmy Johnson. (They seem to act the same on the sideline.)

    I’m just noting that Kelly’s climbing a steeper historical hill than most coaching hires.

    I think Kelly has a great chance to do very, very well because — like Don Coryell — Kelly has an incredibly fertile offensive-football mind.

    And like Jimmy Johnson, Kelly’s driven so much that, in a couple years, he’ll likely overcome whatever shortcomings he may have from his lack of NFL experience.

    But Kelly will need a great QB. Simple as that.

    Either he can turn Foles into one . . . the way Coryell made a free-agent journeyman named Jim Hart into an All Pro and a 3rd-Rd pick named Dan Fouts into a HOFer.

    Or Kelly can luck into drafting an All Pro-talented QB, the way Johnson did with Aikman.

    (Personally, I think using the 1960-style kelly-green jerseys would help by resurrecting the ghost of the Dutchman, who QBd the Eagles to their last NFL title.)

  47. 47 T_S_O_P said at 2:39 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    How many have got to the show straight from college? DV; are there others?

  48. 48 ACViking said at 8:41 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Since 1970, the 14 coaches I listed are the only coaches who moved from college to the NFL without ever having coached in the NFL previously.

    NOTE: In 1960, when the AFL was born, Hank Stram was hired by the then-Dallas Texans, later the KC Chiefs, as their HC directly from SMU. No prior NFL experience. He lost the first SB to Lombardi’s Packers and won the last AFL v. NFL SB against Bud Grant’s Viking.

    There are 3 coaches with prior NFL assistant-coaching experience who moved from college to an NFL head-coaching job and later won a SB without either becoming an Asst Coach again or returning to college:

    2. Dick Vermeil (UCLA to Eagles to Rams, where — after a 15-year hiatus — he won his lone SB);

    3. Bill Walsh (Stanford to 49ers and 3 SBs); and

    4. Tom Coughlin (Boston College to JAX then, after 1-year off, to the NYG and 2 SBs)

    There are two former NFL assistant coaches who went from college to an NFL HC’ing job, but lost in the SB:

    1. Sam Wyche (a Walsh acolyte) hired by the Bengals from Indiana University, only to lose to Walsh himself in the ’88 SB.

    2. Bobby Ross, who after winning a share of the (still-mythical) national championship in 1990 at GA-Tech, went to the Chargers and lost in a SB blow-out to the 49ers — in the famous Steve “Someone Get this Monkey Off My Back” Young game in 1995.

  49. 49 Ark87 said at 2:48 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    1 in 7 coaches coming into the nfl with no nfl experience win the big one? I’m actually impressed.

  50. 50 ACViking said at 2:50 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Lies . . . damn lies . . . and statistics.

    You’re killin’ me!

  51. 51 Ark87 said at 2:55 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Don’t get me wrong, I wouldn’t bet the mortgage on those odds haha

  52. 52 A Roy said at 4:24 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Considering how few actually win the SB, those odds are probably about par.

  53. 53 47_Ronin said at 3:03 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Good post, shows how difficult the big boy league is. Couple points I would make about JJ was he was also a great talent evaluator no doubt helped by seeing many of his former players come into the league and do well. I’m not sure how much of a evaluator Kelly is.

    And on Coryell, he was great offensively but he could never get a good defense.

  54. 54 Baloophi said at 4:57 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Chip Kelly mentioned that Foles is tough and once completed a pass left-handed against them.

    Here it is, courtesy of Les Bowen:

  55. 55 TommyLawlor said at 6:16 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    You know what that play needed…More Violence!!!

  56. 56 Baloophi said at 5:14 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    While it seems like the leaked “Eagles Agenda” I posted here re: Kelly’s 9 hour meeting with Lurie, Roseman and Smolenski may not have been 100% accurate…

    …it does appear that my boy Smoke played a large role in landing big Chip…

  57. 57 TommyLawlor said at 8:44 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Show off.

  58. 58 jamie b said at 8:43 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    “Great Hires”?!? Danny Smith was a disaster, if I remember correctly.

  59. 59 Flyin said at 8:52 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Look for Dawkins to be on his staff.

  60. 60 A_T_G said at 11:08 PM on January 18th, 2013:

    Speaking of prophetic, we all shook our heads when Chip headed back to Oregon and Bounty left his Chip Kelly reading on the top of his list.

    Lazy slacker, or insightful soothsayer?