Dear Tedy

Posted: February 13th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 239 Comments »

The Eagles have done a lot of talking in the last week. They won the Super Bowl and are letting everyone know how happy they are. Former Patriots LB Tedy Bruschi isn’t happy about that, specifically Lane Johnson’s comments on the Pats.

Wow. Shots fired.

I can see where current and former Patriots would be angry at that. I don’t blame Bruschi at all for defending his former team and all they’ve accomplished.

https://twitter.com/BosSportsExtra/status/963273000966606849

What a jackass. Instead of simply going on ESPN to tell stories about how the Patriots did have fun, he decided to rip on Johnson and the Eagles. Oh he casually mentioned laughing in meetings and listening to music on planes, but a good, specific story would have carried a lot more weight than a generic “We had a lot of fun” comment.

If Bruschi wants to be mad at anyone, just look at Bill Belichick and Tom Brady. Those guys are the faces of the Patriots and they look miserable a lot of the time. Belichick’s press conferences after a loss or close game are painful to watch. He is a complete jerk to the media. Those guys are just there to do a job and he treats them with such condescension that it’s crazy. Brady is all smiles when his team does win, but won’t shake the hand of the other QB when his team loses. God forbid something goes wrong on the field during a game. Brady will storm off and scream at anyone that talks to him. The man is wildly rich, has a handful of rings and is married to Gisele Bundchen. His smile should be bigger than Max Jean-Gilles’ backside.

I get that these men are ultra-competitive and incredibly intense, but that’s not an excuse for them to act like assholes as much as they do. And listen…I have incredible respect for both. I wish they would lighten up more so they would be more likeable, especially Belichick. He is so brilliant and fascinating. I hate that he’s so miserable on the outside.

Bruschi thought up a clever line about how the Eagles will need more than celebrations, dog masks and trick plays to go back-to-back. I agree. They will need more than that. But what did we just see in Minneapolis. The Eagles won the line of scrimmage. They were the more physical team. They tackled better. They were, and this has to really hurt, the better prepared team. And as for intensity…ask Brandin Cooks which team was hitting harder.

The Eagles were the best team in September, October, November, December, January and February. And they did it all while dancing and smiling. I can’t wait to see what they do in 2018.

Lane Johnson had a much simpler and better comeback for Mr. Bruschi.

*****

In case anyone else out there is unclear on this…

This is all about roles.

The OC is the key architect of the gameplan. He’s gathering data on the opponent and then helping the play-caller to figure out which plays work best for that opponent. Frank Reich was also given control of 2-minute drives so he had to put together the best plays for those situations.

Duce Staley has never put together a gameplan. The Eagles do things in a collaborative way so he’s certainly made play suggestions, but hasn’t led the process. Jeff Stoutland is the coach tasked with planning the running game. I’m sure Staley definitely contributes to this, but Stoutland runs it.

This isn’t an insult to Duce. RBs coaches generally don’t have prominent roles on a staff. Offensive coordinators generally come from QB coaches, WR coaches or OL coaches. That’s just how things have worked the past 40 to 50 years. The real key is to understand protections and the passing game. If you are strong in those areas, you have OC potential.

I could be dead wrong and the Eagles could make Staley the OC. I’m just basing my thoughts on the way things are done on a general basis and what I know of coaches duties from the previous couple of years. Putting Staley in charge of the offense (although still under Pederson) would be a huge jump.

I do think Staley can be a head coach. He is a tough, demanding coach and excellent leader. That may sound crazy that I’d be more comfortable with him as head coach than OC, but I feel that he has the skill set to run a team more than he does to run the offense. Staley is more of a leader than an X’s and O’s guru.

As to the Press Taylor comment above…I don’t get that. Taylor has basically spent most of his life preparing for this opportunity. He played QB in high school and college. He grew up watching his father work as a football coach. He saw his brother play QB. Taylor then became a college assistant and coached QBs. He came to the NFL and learned things from the ground up. He spent the past two years working with Eagles QBs. There is a direct progression in his background that leads him to this role.

Taylor might fail, but it won’t be because he had the wrong background.

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Next Coach Up

Posted: February 12th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 52 Comments »

After losing Frank Reich to the Colts and John DeFilippo to the Vikings in recent days, the Eagles appear to have finally made a move to begin replacing them. Nothing is official yet, but this is a pretty credible source.

This move makes sense. You always want to promote from within when possible. Taylor worked with the QBs over the last two years. He has played a part in their success and saw up close what DeFilippo did that worked. This won’t be an intrusive change. You want continuity when you’re trying to keep a good thing going so this move is good for Doug Pederson, the other offensive coaches and the players.

Taylor was hired back in 2013 by Chip Kelly. He was the offensive quality control coach for three years. He kept that title under Pederson, but also became the assistant QBs coach.

You could say that Taylor was born for this role. His father is a football coach. His brother, Zac, played QB at Nebraska and is now the QBs coach for the Los Angeles Rams. Press played QB at Marshall and then became a graduate assistant at Tulsa, most famously turning G.J. Kinne from mere mortal to Eagles preseason legend. While at Tulsa, they didn’t have a full-time QBs coach so the head coach let Taylor work with them. The head coach was technically in charge of the QBs, but couldn’t run every meeting or film session so he leaned on Taylor to help out.

Taylor’s claim to fame right now is coming up with the idea for Philly Special.

Reich told me the kernel of the idea originated from an industrious Eagles quality-control coach, Press Taylor. Said Reich: “Press has this, what we call this vault of trick plays. It’s an immense vault, so every week we go into Press’s vault looking for plays.” Taylor, it appears, found the play in a meaningless Week 17 game in 2016. At 1:10 this morning, The MMQB’s Kalyn Kahler found a play from the Chicago-Minnesota game that doubtless led to Target left bunch, Philly special. Bears running back Jeremy Langford took a direct snap from center, quarterback Matt Barkley lined up behind the right tackle, and wideout Cam Meredith circled back behind Langford and took a pitch from him. Barkley leaked out of the backfield into the end zone. No one covered him. At the 11-yard line, Meredith tossed the ball to Barkley, two yards deep in the end zone. Touchdown. Watch that play and keep it in mind. You’ll need it. “We’re fine with ideas coming from anywhere,” Reich said. “Doug loves ideas.”

I love this story. Pederson uses every resource he can. He coaches with an open mind. Why not steal plays from all over football? Instead of trying to be the smartest guy, collect great ideas and find a way to make them work for your team.

No update on the OC job yet.

*****

Great piece here from Peter King on the game-winning TD in the Super Bowl. He got Pederson, Reich and Mike Groh to explain exactly where the play came from and how it worked. Here is one small sample. Make sure you go read the whole piece.

Reich paused the Ertz completion. “So now we showed you this motion three different times,” Reich said. “One time it went to Sproles. One time it went to Torrey Smith up the seam versus zone, now it’s to Ertz on a crossing route. We hit three different areas of the field with the same motion. So every time we are using the motion for a different reason. And there’s a different pass concept with it every time.”

“The Patriots break down this motion and don’t see you do the same thing,” I said.

“Exactly,” Reich said. “The sample size is too small to figure out what the next move is.”

“The other thing,” Pederson said, “and this is sort of a philosophy that I’ve brought here a little bit. I like to create plays or unique formations and motions like this in multiples of three. You have a drop back pass, you might have a screen, you might have a run, off of the same shift in motion.”

“He’s always preaching that,” Reich said.

Pederson: “Because those are unique things. Teams are too smart on defense. Coordinators are too smart on defense. So they always see that same formation, same motion, and they can scheme it up. Well, what we’ve been able to do, sort of collaboratively here, is to take those same unique formations, shifts and motions and try to do it in multiples of three. This is the off-balance thing we try to create.”

Thank god for Doug Pederson. His ability to coach his players and his coaches is what brought the Lombardi Trophy to friggin’ Broad Street. That level of preparation and maximizing of resources is just tremendous.

It was no accident the Eagles were so great this year. They had big time talent on the field, but also a staff that knew how to help them out in a big way.

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Perspective on Pederson

Posted: February 12th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 159 Comments »

Doug Pederson has won a Super Bowl and just started his coaching tree. Let that sink in for a moment. He’s come a long way since word leaked he was a key target for the Eagles in January of 2016. Exactly zero people were excited when they heard that news.

Doug Pederson?

Here is the first long piece I wrote on him.

This isn’t a resume contest. Pederson wouldn’t stand a chance if that was the case. This is about Jeff Lurie trying to find the right coach for the Eagles. It is possible that Lurie and Roseman will think Pederson is the right guy.

There would be no “wow factor” with this hire. But the Eagles made the wow hire 3 years ago and now they are in the process of looking for a new coach so sometimes the wow factor is completely meaningless.

The best hire Lurie ever made, Andy Reid, was the least celebrated of his coaching hires. Ray Rhodes had just won the Super Bowl with the Niners when he came to Philly. The Eagles were going to become SF East. Didn’t happen. Chip Kelly was supposed to revolutionize the NFL. He certainly had an impact, but the Eagles never came close to being an elite team under him.

Reid was the guy who never called plays or was even a coordinator. He was the consolation prize when Holmgren took the Seattle job. Nobody had Reid as their first choice. He came in with little fanfare, but left as the best coach in franchise history.

If Pederson does get the job, remember that while he could be the next Pat Shurmur, he could also be the next Andy Reid. Lurie has made good hires so far during his time as owner. If there is something about Pederson he likes enough to roll the dice, history says he just might be right.

Rather than say “I love this idea or hate this idea” I wanted to figure out what made him a candidate. If Lurie and Roseman were willing to hire Pederson, there had to be a reason. The more research I did, the more I could see what they might be looking at.

*****

Here was my reaction to Pederson’s hiring.

Is this a good move?

No one knows the answer to that question. People can talk about their feelings in regard to the move, but only history will really tell us if Jeffrey Lurie, Howie Roseman and Don Smolenski made the right move. Just 3 years ago I thought the Eagles made a great hire when they lured Chip Kelly away from Oregon. Now he’s gone and there isn’t even a playoff win to reminisce about.

Pederson is not a sexy hire. He wasn’t interviewed by any other teams. To some outsiders, it appears the Eagles panicked and settled on a guy that no one else wanted. The problem is that we don’t know how high Pederson was on the list to begin with. He might have been close to the top. There were a few in the media who thought he would be a top target from the beginning.

You can still argue that they made a bad choice, but that’s different from panicking and settling for someone.

I don’t know if Pederson is the right guy. I know he can be. He needs the right people around him and he needs the right people playing for him.

And

Doug Pederson isn’t here to be Andy Reid 2.0, but he is here to move things back in that direction. Pederson played for Reid in Green Bay and Philly. He coached here for 4 seasons and followed Reid to Kansas City. Pederson has seen Reid when things are good and bad. He was part of the 4-12 disaster that led to Reid’s dismissal. He’s also been part of an amazing 11-game winning streak this season.

Critics see this as Lurie hiring a “Yes Man” type of coach who will fit in and not rock the boat. I certainly get that perception, but I think it missing a big part of the equation. Roseman’s future and reputation will be greatly affected by this hire. Lurie’s legacy will be affected. I don’t think the average person understands how much Lurie wants to win. It kills him to be the lone NFC East team with no rings.

Lurie would not make this move if he didn’t believe it could work. He isn’t an owner just out to make some money. Lurie has built the Eagles into a first class organization. He does everything he can to help the team out. He is more interested in winning games than making money. He wouldn’t just choose someone for the hell of it. Lurie believes in Pederson, whether you do or not.

Back in 2013, the Eagles went after the big names. They sold themselves to Chip Kelly, trying to convince him to leave college and come to the NFL. That process set the tone for the relationship. “Come save our team…” Lurie gave Chip every resource he wanted. He eventually gave him all the power. Lurie went all-in with Chip and it just wasn’t working.

This time out, Lurie decided he wanted a coach that would be part of the solution. Doug Pederson is not here to save the Eagles. He is here to be the coach. He’ll work with his staff, the personnel department and ownership to build the Eagles into a championship caliber football team. That’s the goal, anyway. Clearly, as we learned with Chip, there are no guarantees.

Based on Lurie’s history, the sexier the hire, the worse the coach. When Pederson leaves in 27 years, I hope Lurie hires someone we’ve never even heard of.

*****

Here was my reaction to Pederson’s first PC.

Pederson gave some generic answers. He wants his team to be tough, to work hard every day and to be aggressive. I’ve heard debate team coaches use the same description for their squad.

I hated the answer Pederson gave when he talked about not having specific schemes, but rather shaping things around his players. No, no, no. You absolutely need base schemes that you believe in. You tailor and adjust components of those schemes to fit the current players, but you must have schemes that guide your personnel decisions and are based on your philosophy. Trying to adjust every season to the players you have is not the way to go unless your name is Bill Belichick and you are a coaching freak. Mortal coaches need schemes. I hope Pederson simply meant that he’ll adjust his playbook to the personnel at hand. He better have some core beliefs and plays that he will build around.

I did like Pederson talking about creatively using the players on offense. He talked about lining up guys in different roles and different spots. He talked about not being static, as in RCB vs LCB or Riley Cooper almost always being on the left side and Jordan Matthews mostly being in the slot. Move players around. Mix things up so you don’t become static and predictable. Chip was very disappointing in this aspect.

I liked it when Pederson talked about giving the QB freedom at the line of scrimmage. Pederson is a former NFL QB and I’m sure he would have loved to call his own plays. KC gave Alex Smith a lot of freedom at the line and he helped the team get red hot and make the postseason.

It is really funny that I compared his ideas to Belichick after that PC. I had no idea that Pederson would prove to be such and X’s and O’s guru that he could in fact do things on offense that Belichick does on defense.

Pederson showed an amazing ability this year to adjust the offense. We saw an incredible amount of versatility and creativity.

No one had an idea just how good of a coach the Eagles were getting, the Eagles included.

*****

I assume you aren’t too tired of Super Bowl talk…here is a good piece from a Patriots site on how the Eagles got the best of the NE defense.

Winning is fun.

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Reich to the Colts

Posted: February 11th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 209 Comments »

The next shoe has fallen.

Congrats to Frank. He was a terrific assistant for the Eagles, helping to develop star QBs and build a championship offense.

Doug Pederson now has a major challenge, trying to replace his offensive coordinator and QBs coach. Let’s start by talking about internal candidates.

Many people have asked about Duce Staley moving into the role of OC. I don’t think that is likely. He has never run an offense or had extensive experience with building a gameplan. Staley is highly regarded by the Eagles for his ability to manage his RBs and for his leadership skills. Gameplanning isn’t his area of expertise. Even with the run game, Jeff Stoutland is the one who really puts those plays together and then works with Pederson and the OC.

Staley had a long NFL career and has been a good assistant coach for a while. It is possible that Pederson could feel Staley is ready for the challenge of being the OC. Pederson isn’t afraid to take chances, with his players or staff. I don’t see this as likely, but it certainly isn’t impossible.

Mike Groh was an OC at the college level. He played QB in college and has a good offensive mind. Moving him to OC would be a steep promotion, but after he just did a brilliant job with the WRs nothing is out of the question. As with Staley, this doesn’t feel like a likely move.

If Pederson does decide to move Groh to being the QBs coach, that could affect his thinking on the rest of the staff. If he made Staley the OC, he would be making significant changes to several positions. That doesn’t seem like a wise scenario for a team that wants to compete for another title. You would have a new OC, QB, WR and RBs coach in that scenario. That’s too much movement in my mind.

The more you think about it, the more it makes sense to bring in an outsider to be the OC. Darrell Bevell makes the most sense. He was just let go by Seattle, but did have success there, helping them to win a Super Bowl and just miss out on another. Bevell worked for the Packers from 2000-2005. He worked directly with Pederson from 2001-2004. Bevell then went to the Vikings from 2006-2010, before moving on to Seattle, where he had his most success.

Bevell wouldn’t come here to call plays. He would be here to help design gameplans and to work on whatever specific situations Pederson assigned him (3rd downs for example). Bevell knows Pederson and has plenty of NFL experience.

Mike Shula could be another name of interest. He and Pederson crossed paths with the Dolphins in the early 1990s. Shula struggled to get the Panthers offense to perform at a consistent level, but certainly was creative and did some good things with Cam Newton and that offense. They led the NFL in scoring in 2015.

Todd Downing would be someone to check out, for either OC or QBs coach. He did a great job with Derek Carr in 2015 and 2016. Downing was made the OC in 2017 and the offense struggled. Not all of that is on him, but it appeared play-calling wasn’t his strength. That wouldn’t be an issue in Philly, where Pederson runs the show on Sundays. Downing is a good coach and certainly knows how to prepare for games.

I wonder if John Morton could be a target. He did an excellent job with a very questionable Jets offense this past season, but then was fired at the end of the year. That leaves plenty of tough questions. He has experience working with WRs and could be a possibility for that role if Mike Groh does get the QBs position.

I would give Bevell and Shula an advantage here because Pederson seems to like former QBs for his staff. Bevell was excellent at Wisconsin, but never got a shot in the NFL so he went right into coaching. Shula was good at Alabama and did get an NFL shot, but moved to coaching after just one season.

One thing to keep in mind, Pederson will be looking for the right fit as much as the right resume. Nobody from the NFL was throwing jobs at Reich and Flip when the Eagles hired them. Flip had just gotten fired by the Cleveland Browns (thank you, Hue Jackson)!

These are good problems to have. They are problems, but so much better than “How do I turn 7-9 into 13-3?”.

This is a key time for Pederson. He needs to make the right hires so this team can continue to play at a championship level in the future.

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Flipped

Posted: February 10th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 307 Comments »

There is a downside to winning the Super Bowl.

First, good for him. DeFilippo deserved the job and I wish him well. He made sure he took a job he actually wanted and with a team where he can succeed.

What does this mean for the Eagles?

They need a new QBs coach. Press Taylor had the title of Offensive Quality Control/Assistant QBs Coach this past season so he is an obvious candidate. Here is PE.com’s bio on Taylor, who has been with the Eagles since 2013.

If the Eagles want a more experienced person for the job, they could move WRs coach Mike Groh over to work with the QBs. Groh wants to be more than just a WRs coach, even though that is something he excels at. He was an offensive coordinator and QBs coach at the University of Virginia and wants to get back to one of those roles at the NFL level. Here is his bio.

The Eagles could always move Groh to QBs and Taylor to WRs, giving both young coaches a promotion. Part of the challenge is rewarding your own coaches to keep them happy, while also making sure you are hiring the best candidates. The Eagles could look at outside possibilities. I tend to think they’ll focus on internal candidates for this position.

Losing Flip would hurt a lot more if the Eagles didn’t have Doug Pederson as the head coach. Pederson has a strong relationship with his QB. Flip certainly did a great job with the Eagles QBs this year and replacing him won’t be easy, but this won’t be a crushing change like when Ray Rhodes lost Jon Gruden after the 1997 season. The Eagles offense fell apart. Carson Wentz has established himself as a top QB and Nick Foles has been a Pro Bowl MVP and Super Bowl MVP so I think he’s in good shape.

Flip did spend more time with the QBs than any other coach. He knew what to say to them and what not to say. Finding the right coach who can push the same buttons isn’t as easy as hiring the guy with the best resume. Flip also did a lot of work on the Red Zone offense, which was 2nd in the NFL. That will take someone with a good feel for X’s and O’s.

The Vikings have a full staff so I don’t anticipate DeFilippo trying to bring any coaches with him. So what about players?

The Vikings have free agent QBs in Sam Bradford, Case Keenum and Teddy Bridgewater. My guess is that they will let Bradford walk. Keenum is the guy who makes the most sense, but how much can you commit to him financially? He might want to test free agency, hoping to land a huge deal from a desperate team. Minnesota would love to have Bridgewater pan out as their franchise QB, but they can’t completely commit to him. He’s thrown two passes in two years.

Could DeFilippo convince the Vikings to trade for Nick Foles? Minnesota is a very talented team. They are built to win now. There is a strong argument for them trying to get a QB who is ready to win right now. Foles just showed he can deliver in the postseason. He and Flip obviously have a solid relationship. The Vikings saw firsthand how good he can be when things are clicking.

It would not shock me for the Vikings to make a run at him.

That said, I still think Keenum ends up back there. He played really well this year and is a known commodity to them. Foles has a higher upside, but is more risky because of his highs and lows, as well as the fact he would cost at least an early pick. I can’t see the Eagles dealing Foles for less than a 2nd rounder.

And I don’t think the Eagles will just shop Foles. I think they would only trade him if it is something that he’s on board with. I’m not sold that he wants to leave.

Thank you to John DeFilippo for helping to develop Carson Wentz and for helping the Eagles to win a Super Bowl. Now you better focus on a way to slow down Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and the rest of the Eagles defense. No mercy will be given when the Vikings and Eagles play in 2018.

*****

Frank Reich is a possibility to be the next coach of the Colts.

I’m not sure if the Frazier interview is strictly to fulfill the Rooney Rule. Frazier was part of the staff that led the Colts to the SB win in 2006. It could be that Jim Irsay wants someone he’s familiar with and has had success with.

I have mixed feelings on Reich. From a selfish standpoint, I hope he doesn’t get the job so the Eagles have staff continuity. I also think Reich does more than people realize and he’s a key part of the Eagles success. At the same time, part of me would like to see him rewarded for what he helped the team accomplish. The Colts would be a good fit for Reich so he would have a chance to win there.

We’ll talk more about the OC situation if Reich leaves. Lots of moving parts with that one.

*****

Mike Jensen wrote a terrific story about a fan’s wild trip to the Super Bowl.

It will be a long time before I get tired of stuff like this

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