Another Coaching Update

Posted: January 26th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Nick Sirianni continues to build his coaching staff. On Monday he hired his offensive coordinator. We also learned that another member of last year’s staff won’t be returning.

Steichen worked with Sirianni when they were both with the Chargers. Familiarity can be a good thing. Chemistry should not be an issue with this staff.

At the same time, it is also fair to question whether Sirianni is too focused on hiring his guys and not the best guys. The staff isn’t set yet, but he’s got ties to everyone other than Jeff Stoutland so far.

It does seem that DC Jonathan Gannon was a hot coach so he might turn out to be a great hire. Steichen is more of a mixed bag. The Chargers offense did some good things last year and he helped get an amazing season out of rookie QB Justin Herbert.

There were issues. The Chargers ran the ball more than they should have. Head coach Anthony Lynn wanted the running game to be the key to their offense, but Steichen called the plays and some of his calls were bad. There were a couple that were awful.

What does Steichen bring to the table? Usually you want someone to offer some new ideas. Chip Kelly had his college ideas and wanted Pat Shurmur to bring NFL experience. Doug Pederson had an Andy Reid/WCO background. He hired Frank Reich who played/coached in different offenses. Steichen and Sirianni have similar backgrounds.

It feels like Sirianni wants someone he knows and trusts and who can help him to teach the offense. If you hire someone with a different background, they have to learn the offense before teaching it. And there is something to be said for familiarity considering we don’t know what kind of an offseason there will be. As we saw with the Eagles last year, coaches with different backgrounds doesn’t always work.

Sirianni still needs to hire a QBs coach. Mike Kaye wrote a good piece with some different options. Two of the names stood out to me. Pep Hamilton was the QB coach for the Chargers in 2020 and deservedly gets most of the credit for developing Herbert. Hamilton has plenty of experience form a variety of college and pro offenses. He is also black. The Eagles need more diversity on the staff.

The other name that caught my eye was Mike McCoy. He is a former head coach (Chargers) and could help Sirianni deal with the odd issues that will most certainly come up. First time coaches think they know what will happen. They do not. Football always has surprises for coaches and few of them are the good kind.

There are other positions still to be filled. We haven’t heard good rumors on them yet.

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We thought this would happen. Taylor is a complex subject. Doug Pederson thought very highly of him. Carson Wentz loved him.

But QB play and offensive success went downhill the more he got involved with the offense. That could be more to do with circumstances than Taylor’s coaching. Or he might have been in over his head.

It will be interesting to follow his career and see how things play out.

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This is depressing.

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I hope Duce does a good job up there and is able to build up his reputation even more. That will help him to have a better shot at getting the job he really wants.

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He lists at 6-1, 174.

The fact he didn’t want to weigh in is a bit frustrating. We know he’s light. How light was he?

Hopefully he’ll be in the 175 pound range at the Pro Day. His size will affect his draft status. 175 is light for his frame. If he’s even less than that, it will bother some teams.

But he did have one amazing season and is one terrific WR.

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New Staff is Taking Shape

Posted: January 24th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Nick Sirianni is starting to fill out his coaching staff. Of course, he could only do that if he were officially the head coach. Let’s check in and see what’s happening on that front.

Boom. There it is. Just a few days late, but better late than never.

Let’s take a look at what we know so far.

Head Coach – Nick Sirianni
Defensive Coordinator – Jonathan Gannon
Offensive Line – Jeff Stoutland
Passing Game Coordinator – Kevin Patullo
Defensive Line – Tracy Rocker

I  wrote about Gannon last night.

The big news here is retaining Stoutland, one of the best OL coaches in the league. He also plays a big part in designing and calling the run game. Sirianni will now match up Stoutland’s running game with the new passing game.

Patullo’s background is coaching WRs. He’s also worked with QBs. I think it is encouraging that Sirianni and Patullo have a lot of experience with coaching receivers. That has been a weak spot here for a while. Hopefully the new coaches can help turn that position into a strength.

You may wonder about the Eagles going with a passing game coordinator. One of the problems this year was that it seemed like there were too many cooks in the kitchen. Shouldn’t the organization learn from that? This is a new model that plenty of teams are going to. I don’t think job titles and duties were the issue in 2020. I think that staff was cobbled together awkwardly and just never developed as hoped. It was a year long blind date gone horribly wrong.

Sirianni is being selective with who he hires. These aren’t all the hottest names in the coaching world. These are guys he wants. That’s important. You need smart, talented coaches, but chemistry is also important. To use the cliche of cliches, everyone has to be on the same page.

Sirianni is still talking to plenty of candidates. There are more jobs to be filled.

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One thing we do know…Duce Staley won’t be back.

This is good news, for Duce and the Eagles.

Duce obviously wants to be a head coach or coordinator. The best way to do that is to go build the resume. Staying the RBs coach in Philly wasn’t going to change anything. Sirianni wasn’t likely to name him OC. Sirianni is trying to find coaches he has a history with. He did hire Stoutland as an unknown, but Stout has an outstanding reputation around the league (and college football).

Duce has never been an OC. Sirianni would have been taking a big chance by going with someone he doesn’t know and who doesn’t have ideal experience.

I say this is good for the Eagles because they no longer have to deal with the questions around Duce. I think everyone in the organization would tell you they want the best for Duce, but making him head coach or OC is tough. The timing and circumstances have to be right. Duce was just part of a staff that went 4-11-1. Firing Doug Pederson and promoting Duce would have been very awkward. What would make you think Duce had the answers to turn the team around?

By letting him go to another team, Duce can be exposed to new ideas and get more experience. He very well could be a top candidate the next time the Eagles go looking for a coach (although hopefully that won’t be for a while).

I’ll be following him wherever he goes. I hope he gets the job he wants at some point. I know I’d enjoy his press conferences a heck of a lot more than Doug’s.

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Dorsey was a consultant with the Eagles. He’ll have a more definitive position in Detroit.

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Eagles Reportedly Have Their New DC

Posted: January 23rd, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

The biggest test for all new coaches is hiring a good staff. Nick Sirianni has already made some choices about who will stay and who will go. There is a report out tonight that he has chosen his defensive coordinator.

Gannon makes a lot of sense. His background is with defensive backs and the secondary, a weak spot for the Eagles going back a long time. He has also primarily coached in the 4-3 defense.

Gannon spent four seasons coaching with the Vikings. His final season there was 2017, when they finished with the No. 1 defense in the league and made it all the way to the NFC title game (don’t remember what happened that night). For the last three years, Gannon coached the Colts secondary. They were Top 10 in points allowed in two of the three seasons. That’s a good track record.

The Eagles weren’t the only team interested in Gannon. The Bears, Raiders and Chargers all talked to Gannon or wanted to interview him. The NFL is a passing league. If you can slow down opposing QBs/WRs, teams will have interest in you.

There is a risk with a young head coach hiring a young defensive coordinator. Most first time coaches like to hire a veteran to run the unit that isn’t their specialty. Andy Reid hired Jim Johnson. Doug Pederson hired Jim Schwartz (with a big push from the Eagles). I would assume Gannon would have a veteran coach on his staff to lean on when he needs advice.

This move does show that the team is letting Sirianni choose his staff. Pederson needed help as he put his staff together. There is a huge difference in the situations. Pederson had coached in Philly and then went to KC with Reid. He wasn’t exposed to a lot of different people. Sirianni coached for the Chiefs, Chargers and Colts over the course of 12 seasons. He worked for four head coaches and was exposed to different systems and staffs. He’s got a much larger pool of candidates to draw from.

It would seem the Eagles checked out Chris Harris as well. Harris is a former player (Bears, Panthers) who spent time with Sirianni on the Chargers staff. This would have been another young coach with a DB background.

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The Sirianni hire isn’t official for some odd reason. That should happen in the next day or two.

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Peelle did a good job, but Sirianni obviously wants his own guys.

Fipp needed to go. He was terrific for his first five years, but STs have been on the decline. I do think a mediocre roster is part of the problem, but he wasn’t getting the most out of his units. A change of scenery should do him good.

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If you want to know more about Sirianni, go read this excellent piece by Mike Kaye to get a better feel for his background.

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Siri, Find Me A Coach

Posted: January 21st, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 4 Comments »

The Eagles coaching search is over. The team looked far and wide before finding their man.

This is a risky hire, but I like it. The Eagles went with a young coach with lots of upside. I prefer that to hiring a guy who has been looked at heavily for several years and checks all the boxes. If you want to get ahead in the NFL, you have to take some chances.

Sirianni has been exposed to different schemes and styles of coaching. He has worked with several QBs. His career isn’t built on one player or one amazing season. He hasn’t been a regular play-caller in the NFL, but Andy Reid and Doug Pederson had limited experience as play-callers before becoming head coaches and they both did okay.

That isn’t fully accurate, but there is some truth in Brandon’s quick take on the hiring. The Eagles seemed to have one primary target…Lincoln Riley. After that, they were wide open.

And let’s be honest about Sirianni. One of the reasons he was chosen is that he didn’t have a lot of clout. He wouldn’t come to Philly and fight with Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman over certain issues. Josh McDaniels would have had a better understanding of office politics and would have been much harder to deal with at times.

Still, let’s not downplay Sirianni. He was an up and coming coach. The Chargers hated to lose him to Indy back in 2018.

Time will tell if the Eagles hired a great coach, terrible coach or something in between.

Not everyone is on board with this hire and there are some who don’t like the optics.

The Eagles never interviewed Eric Bieniemy. They did interview Todd Bowles a couple of days ago.

Duce Staley got passed over and that will bother some players and outside observers. More than a few people thought he deserved the job. He’s coached in Philly since 2010. He’s well-liked in the building and is a natural leader. He bleeds Eagles green, so why not hire him?

You don’t just give out head coaching jobs as rewards. You need to feel the candidate is capable of running an NFL team. Football is the most complex sport because of the sheer size. An NFL coaching staff is about the same size as an NBA team. Think about that.

You have 53 players, plus a practice squad of 10 to 16 players and a coaching staff of 10 to 15 people. There is a large support staff. Payroll for the players is almost $200M. You don’t give this job out lightly. This isn’t a reward.

Timing is also a huge key. Duce Staley was part of the staff that went 4-11-1. I just don’t think you could promote him to fix that mess. Had the Eagles gone 9-7 and Pederson left for whatever reason, promoting Staley would have been fine.

As for Bieniemy, it sure sounds like the Eagles wanted to go away from Andy Reid. That’s nothing against Reid, but you need to shake things up. Bring in an outside coach who isn’t part of the Reid tree. Sirianni doesn’t know Reid’s speeches. He doesn’t know Reid’s schedule or practice style. Sirianni will do things differently and I think this team needs that.

We’ll have to see what happens with the coordinators. There are veteran coaches out there who could be good coordinators. Jim Caldwell could be the OC. Marvin Lewis could be the DC. He’s reportedly heading back to Arizona State for now, but might be open to an NFL DC job. Sirianni worked with Anthony Lynn in the past and could bring him in as the OC.

Mike Caldwell, former Eagles player and assistant coach, could be an interesting DC candidate. He knows the 4-3, but also a lot about blitzing. He also has done good work with young LBs.

As for the history side of things, Andy Reid’s first target for DC in 1999 was Marvin Lewis. Lewis turned him down so Reid then hired Jim Johnson. Todd Bowles ws the interim DC after Juan Castillo was fired at midseason in 2012. The Eagles spent big money on black QBs (Donovan McNabb, Mike Vick) so it isn’t like this team is anti-progressive.

We’ll see how things go with the coaching staff this time around.

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Big Names Not Always the Best

Posted: January 21st, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

Chip Kelly was a coveted coaching prospect in 2012. Tampa thought they had him in the bag, but Kelly decided to stay at Oregon. A year later, he was again the most coveted candidate. This time the Eagles were able to pry him away from college. He didn’t even last three full years in Philly.

At the time of his hiring, I was ecstatic. I thought the Eagles made a great hire. He was the coach I wanted.

Be careful what you wish for.

There was a time when Josh McDaniels was the hottest name out there. He didn’t even last two full years in Denver.

Jason Garrett was once a coveted assistant coach. He turned down the Ravens and Dallas was thrilled. He coached the Cowboys for 10 years, winning 85 games and going to the playoffs three times. He never reached the NFC title game.

Steve Spagnuolo shut down arguably the greatest offense in NFL history when the Giants upset the Pats 17-14 in the Super Bowl. The defense was outstandin the next year and Spags was a hot candidate. The Rams hired him to turn their franchise around. They went 10-38 in three years and he was fired.

Jimmy Johnson was probably the most coveted coach in NFL history after he left Dallas. A lot of teams talked to him in 1994 and 1995 (including the Eagles). Johnson turned everybody down. He finally agreed to coach the Dolphins in 1996, replacing Don Shula. Johnson never had a losing season in Miami in his four years there. But he was only 2-3 in the playoffs and lost his final playoff game 62-7. Yikes. Hardly what South Florida expected when they celebrated his hiring.

The biggest name, the sexiest candidate…that’s not always the right guy. If you went back and did research, you might just find out the hot candidate doesn’t work out as hoped most of the time.

The Eagles are not a hot destination in this hiring cycle. There are just too many questions and issues. The team missed on Lincoln Riley, the consensus top candidate. They had interest in Robert Saleh and Arthur Smith, but we don’t know how much. We never heard of a job offer to either guy. But they were hot names and the Eagles missed on them.

I’m not trying to say it is good that the Eagles missed on the biggest names. One of these guys could do incredibly well. Mike Shanahan was coveted after SF won the Super Bowl in 1994 and he did great things in Denver. Sometimes when you swing for the fences, you hit a home run.

My point is that the Eagles can still come out of this situation with a good coach. Too often we obsess on resume, what is known and quantifiable. If you find a talented guy who is the right fit, you can have big success. Andy Reid wasn’t a compelling name when he was hired. Joe Gibbs had never been a head coach when Washington hired him.

It isn’t likely that the Eagles will find a great coach under these circumstances, but missing out on the hot names might not be the worst thing in the world. Take a chance on an under the radar guy or an interesting re-tread. Maybe you strike gold. If not, you have a couple of tough years. You get high picks and might be able to stock the roster with young talent, making the position a lot more desirable the next time around.

There is no perfect formula for hiring coaches. There is a lot of risk no matter who you target and how desirable the job is. There are just too many X-factors.

I hope the Eagles embrace risk when they finally do make a hire. The world is full of solid offensive coordinators. Find someone who has some interesting ideas and is willing to take some chances.

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Could Nick Sirianni be the right guy?

Sirianni is an interesting guy. He has worked at small colleges and for three NFL teams. He’s done grunt work and been a coordinator. If you listen to Frank Reich, Sirianni is a sure thing.

Then there’s Nick Sirianni. If you haven’t heard of him, Indianapolis Colts head coach Frank Reich promises you will.

“When I got here,” Reich said, “the first thing I said to (GM) Chris Ballard was, ‘There is one guy we have to get on this staff, and that is Nick Sirianni.’

“Thankfully, (GM) Tom Telesco and the Chargers organization allowed Nick to take our coordinator position. I was grateful for that.

“I think the world of Nick. I think he is a brilliant offensive mind. He is a tireless worker. He pays attention to detail. He has a dynamic coaching personality.

“I think he is going to be a great head coach in this league sooner rather than later. It is hard for me to have a higher opinion of Nick than I already do.”

That’s pretty darn compelling.

Here you can watch him break down some offensive plays. Two of them are actually Eagles plays…from back when the offense was good.

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