Wiiiiiiiiiiiide

Posted: January 19th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 4 Comments »

We knew the Eagles would have a wide-ranging coaching search. What we didn’t know is that it would be this wide. The Eagles are either being creative and thorough or they are randomly choosing names out of a hat.

Who?

I’m not going to lie to you. I’ve never heard of Nick Sirianni before today. I might have heard his name during a broadcast, but it certainly didn’t register with me. Does that mean this is a dumb move? Not at all.

The Eagles are looking for the right guy, not the right name. There is nothing wrong with talking to lesser known assistant coaches. A lot of big name hires fail. Why not talk to different coaches and see if you can find The Guy.

Sirianni was with KC for several years and worked under Charlie Weis and Brian Daboll. He would have learned the Perkins-Erhardt (Patriots/90’s Steelers) offense from them. Sirianni then went to the Chargers and worked under Frank Reich. He stayed after Reich left until 2018 when Reich made him the Colts offensive coordinator.

I like his background. I like the fact he was a WRs coach for several years. Many of the best OCs started off as receivers coaches. I need to do a lot more research, but I’m certainly intrigued by Sirianni.

Fassel is a guy I do know. He was a terrific STs coach with the Rams before coming over to Dallas this year. He is a creative, aggressive coach who gets good results.

The big issue is whether he would make a good head coach. STs coaches are used to dealing with the whole team, but not having an expertise in offense or defense hurts them. They must hire outstanding coordinators. Fassel might have some really interesting ideas, but he would need to have compelling names for his coaching staff.

Allen was a hot shot assistant who was a major failure as head coach of the Raiders (8-28) in a little more than two seasons. It would be ironic if the Eagles hired a coach whose best record was 4-12 to fix a team that just went 4-11-1.

Allen has been the Saints DC since 2015. They started off as one of the worst units in the league, but they’ve gotten better each year. This season the Saints were fourth in yards allowed and fifth in points allowed. They run a complex scheme and Allen has been able to mix young and veteran players into his unit.

He is a 4-3 coach who likes to blitz and be creative. Allen would need to fix the Eagles secondary, but the front four would be a good match for him. Allen has seen some good offensive assistants in his time with the Saints. It would be interesting to see who he would want to run his offense. As always with DCs, that would be the key. Greg Knapp and Greg Olson were uninspired choices when he was with the Raiders from 2012-2014.

Moore is a coach on the rise. He is terrific with X’s and O’s. The question is whether he’s ready to run an NFL team. That’s why you talk to him. Try to find out more about him and decide if he’s still a few years away or is a coaching star in the making.

***

A lot of people are frustrated by the Eagles. Jokes fly left and right about how unprepared the team is. They must be desperate if they are talking to this many guys. Right?

Jeff Lurie told us he wasn’t in a hurry to hire a coach when he had his press conference. He said on the record that the search could go into February. I’m not sure why so many people are surprised.

As for talking to under the radar candidates, that is smart. There are 32 NFL teams. They tend to think a lot alike and there are a handful of coaches who are candidates every year. Why focus on them? Go talk to some young coaches and see if you can find a hidden gem. Even if you don’t find your coach, you might pick up a good nugget in the interview process. NFL teams love to steal ideas from each other.

I have no problem with the Eagles looking high and low.

***

But wait, what happened to Josh McDaniels? Good question.

We know the Eagles had a long interview with him. Jeff McLane reported the team was making calls around the league to do more background on him.

There were reports that the interview went well and McDaniels was the favorite. This isn’t factual, per se. It might be true, but we don’t have definitive proof. No one has come out and point blank said that to us.

Is McDaniels agent leaking info to the media to create buzz?

Are the Eagles still looking around to help their negotiations with McDaniels?

Am I asking too many questions?

We’ll just have to wait and see. I think the Eagles are legitimately interested, but if they were completely sold, I think they would have pulled the trigger and made a deal. You don’t delay on hiring a coach you really want. There is a reason behind what they’re doing.

McDaniels might be the front runner for now, but he’s not a slam dunk choice so the team continues to look around.

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Closing In?

Posted: January 19th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

The Eagles didn’t even get to talk to Brandon Staley on Monday. The Chargers hired him on Sunday night, keeping the young defensive guru in Los Angeles. The Eagles did meet with a couple of candidates and one seems to be the front runner at this point.

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels talked to the Eagles at great length on Sunday. He flew down to Florida and had an all-day interview with Jeff Lurie and several other members of the organization. By all accounts, the meeting went well.

The buzz in the media is that McDaniels is now the leading candidate. Here is a nugget from Jimmy Bama.

Update: Based on information PhillyVoice has gathered, McDaniels is the frontrunner to land the Eagles’ head coaching job.”

And…

Is this a good thing? Yes, if McDaniels has truly learned lessons from his failure in Denver and the Colts fiasco.

McDaniels became the coach of the Broncos at age 33. That’s insane. I knew how to tie my shoes and pay the cable bill at 33, but I wasn’t ready to run an NFL team. And neither was McDaniels. He started off 6-0 and then went 5-17 the next year and a half. That led to his firing.

The problem wasn’t brains or X’s and O’s. McDaniels was fine there. He had horrible people skills and an ego the size of the Rocky Mountains. McDaniels firing caused him to do a lot of introspective thinking and he seems to be a changed man at this point.

As for the Colts situation, that was just a couple of years ago and it really is hard to understand that. Assistant coaches joined his staff and then McDaniels backed out of his agreement to be the coach of the Colts. That left assistants in some tough spots. I would hammer McDaniels on that situation and really dig for an honest answer. We don’t know anything publicly, but he might give the right answer behind closed doors.

Failing at Denver is fine. Plenty of coaches have been significantly better in their second job than the first. That was a long time ago and his mistakes were pretty obvious. You just have to find out if he’s truly a changed man or if that’s just an image. As Jeff McLane mentioned in a tweet above, the Eagles have to do their homework to see what is reality and what is just lip service from McDaniels. If he’s changed, the people around the league will know. Coaches talk. Players talk. People know who the jerks are.

From a football standpoint, McDaniels makes a lot of sense. The Eagles want an offensive coach and that’s his background. He did great things with Tom Brady, but also worked well with young QBs like Matt Cassell, Jimmy Garropolo and Jacoby Brissett. McDaniels believes in a versatile offense and has won with a variety of personnel.

One key question would be his staff choices. Would McDaniels load up on Pats coaches? Ideally, you would want him to bring in a mixture of different ideas and backgrounds. No one has had success when trying to build a different version of New England. There are plenty of lessons and ideas to take from the Patriots, but Bill Belichick is a freak. Do not try to copy him. You will fail, as McDaniels learned in Denver.

We’ll see if anything comes of this meeting. The Eagles talked about being patient in their search. Is it possible there is a coach left in the playoffs that they want to talk to? Are they still working on Lincoln Riley?

Brian Daboll removed his name from consideration. We don’t know if that means he didn’t want the job or if he heard behind the scenes that he was no longer a serious candidate. Daboll both fascinated and scared me. His track record is highly questionable, but he did such an amazing job this season with the Buffalo offense and Josh Allen that I think you had to take a close look at him.

***

Is McDaniels our only hope? No, there is another, as Yoda once said.

Bowles coached in Philly in 2012. Lurie and Roseman might like him. Like McDaniels, Bowles didn’t fare well in his first stint as a head coach. That was with the Jets and no one wins there consistently. Bowles has done a good job with the Tampa defense the past two years and has the team in the NFC title game right now. He is a good DC. Is he meant to be a head coach again?

I think the interview would be key for him. Bowles would need to share a smart plan for the kind of offense he wanted and who would run it. A lot of defensive coaches want to run the ball and avoid turnovers. That’s not good enough in the modern game.

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Look Everywhere

Posted: January 17th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 3 Comments »

Back in January of 1999, the Packers lost to the Niners in a playoff game on a crazy catch by Terrell Owens. That play changed Eagles history, maybe NFL history. Since Green Bay lost, an under the radar assistant named Andy Reid could be interviewed by other teams looking for a head coach. The Eagles brought him to Philly, saw the infamous blue binder and a lot of winning ensued.

On Saturday, the Packers won a playoff game over the Rams, meaning a young assistant named Brandon Staley could talk to teams looking for a head coach. He is scheduled to meet with the Eagles on Monday. Could history repeat itself?

Staley is an incredibly fascinating candidate. Like Reid, he spent much of his coaching career in college, especially at small schools. Reid learned at San Francisco State, Norther Arizona and UTEP. Staley was at Hutchinson Community College, John Carroll and James Madison. Both men go to the NFL and learned at the right hand of a master. Reid learned from Mike Holmgren. Staley from defensive guru Vic Fangio.

Staley was the outside linebackers coach for the number one scoring defense in the NFL in 2018 when he worked under Fangio in Chicago. This year Staley was the defensive coordinator for the Rams, who finished first in yards and points allowed. He doesn’t have a lot of NFL experience, but the results are impressive.

The Rams had arguably the most complex scheme in the NFL this year. They were very creative with fronts, coverages and techniques. Staley had two elite players in Aaron Donald and Jalen Ramsey. He also had plenty of no-names. Casual fans don’t know Sebastian Joseph-Day, Morgan Fox, Troy Reeder or Jordan Fuller. These guys all were critical to the Rams success this year.

Staley doesn’t make sense in that he’s a defensive coach and has a 3-4 background. He totally makes sense because he’s a coaching star on the rise, knows how to get the most of his personnel and is schematically creative.

Maybe the Eagles will see him as the defensive version of Andy Reid, a young coach with smart ideas and a vision for how to run a football program.

I thought Sean McVay was nuts when he fired Wade Phillips and turned his defense over to Brandon Staley last offseason. Who the heck is Brandon Staley? Now, I’d be fine if the Eagles made him their head coach. Funny how things change.

***

I can hear the collective groan from most of Eagles Nation. That guy?

I think this is a smart interview. McDaniels has had a ton of success. Bill Belichick and Tom Brady were the keys to that, but McDaniels played his part as well. He did fall on his face in Denver. That’s fine. He backed out on the Colts and hurt his reputation. That’s fine as well.

If he can explain what happened in those situations.

You talk to McDaniels to see if he understands why he failed in his first stint as a head coach. You ask him about the Indy situation. Maybe something happened behind the scenes we don’t know about. If he gives you good answers, you consider him as a serious candidate. If it comes across as lip service, you say thanks for coming and scratch out his name from your list.

McDaniels has run different kinds of offenses. The Pats were an explosive offense in 2007. They have also been creative with 2-TE sets. They have been a power run offense. This year they did a lot with QB runs. You name it, they’ve done it. They weren’t changing the playbook. The coaches just focused on different ideas based on the personnel they had. That’s good coaching.

It would be interesting to see how McDaniels would deal with the Eagles QBs. He and Tom Brady worked closely for a long time and had their share of arguments and tough moments. McDaniels isn’t a shy boy. He’ll stand up to the star QB. Wentz might be okay with this, if McDaniels can convince him this worked for Brady and could work for him as well. Jalen Hurts played for Nick Saban so he’s likely fine with anything short of being coached by a grizzly bear.

Like most people, I have very mixed feelings on McDaniels. I respect his success with the Pats, but his issues certainly bug me. He would have to give some genuine answers when asked about his past. I do think he’s worth talking to.

***

The Chiefs won today so the Eagles can only do a zoom meeting with him until the team is eliminated.

Bieniemy has been part of some dynamic offenses in KC and is another guy worth talking to. One of my concerns is that he has been under Andy Reid in KC and the Eagles just fired a former Reid protege.

My thinking in this regard is that coaches do and say what they are exposed to. Would Bieniemy have the same message as Doug Pederson after a tough loss? Not the exact same words, but the same overall message? Would they be too similar?

After a 4-11-1 season I think you need someone to shake things up. Maybe Bieniemy can be that guy. I’d certainly ask questions that would give me a feel for how he would be different than Reid and Pederson.

***

Of course the Eagles are getting the message out there that Wentz is fixable. They either want to keep and fix him or to trade him. Either way, you want that message to get out.

Is this a deal breaker for candidates? I doubt it, as a general rule. If there is a compelling candidate that didn’t want Wentz, I think the Eagles would listen. The coach would have to offer a strong argument for why moving on from Wentz is the right decision. This couldn’t be a casual “I want my own guy” deal.

***

Still no word on Mike Kafka.

***

The Eagles have been linked to Todd Bowles and Kellen Moore, but they have not had an interview with either one so far as I can tell. We’ll see if that changes this week.

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Tough Love

Posted: January 16th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1 Comment »

The Carson Wentz saga isn’t over. In some ways, it may just be beginning. When you’re a 28-year old quarterback with big time talent, one bad season isn’t the end. It just changes the narrative and starts the clock on when your career will end.

Wentz could play another 10 years. He’s smart, experienced, mobile and has a big arm. He can still make crazy plays and incredible throws. He still has the potential to be an outstanding QB.

But…read this story from Jeff McLane and you can see some fatal flaws as well.

Wentz’s Type-A personality could be credited just as much for his past success. Many top quarterbacks share the same trait. But the 28-year-old had increasingly rebuffed advice, defied criticism, and clashed with former coach Doug Pederson last season, Eagles sources said.

“Every great quarterback wants to be coached and they want to be coached hard and by the best, and it doesn’t seem like [Wentz] wants that,” one source said. “It’s kind of like whoever’s coaching him is working for him. But it can’t be that way.”

And…

In the quarterback room, when his errors were pointed out, Wentz would sometimes make irrelevant excuses and Taylor wouldn’t correct him. For instance, there would be a play when he didn’t throw to an open receiver. The read was drawn up as designed, the coverage played out as expected, and he would be asked why he didn’t pull the trigger.

And Wentz would say the look wasn’t there, or he would overemphasize the pass rush, and when it was suggested the play be run again in practice as to get it right, he would object.

Things were different in 2016 and 2017. Frank Reich and John DeFilippo were harder on Wentz. He handled that better and the results speak for themselves.

Both the Eagles and Wentz share blame for things going in the wrong direction. The Eagles made Press Taylor the QBs coach after the Super Bowl and that hasn’t worked so well. He is a young coach and has a friendly relationship with Wentz. That created an awkward dynamic. Taylor wasn’t able to be tough on Wentz and Wentz didn’t seem to accept what criticism Taylor tried to give him.

Friends or not, Wentz should have taken the criticism and learned from it. Part of his job is to accept coaching and work on his deficiencies. That didn’t happen.

Players have to embrace criticism and tough coaching to meet their full potential. If you want someone to focus on what you’re doing right, you aren’t going to improve. You need someone to point out what is wrong and then how to fix it.

That wasn’t happening with Wentz the past couple of years. So what is tough coaching?

There is a famous Bill Walsh story I’ve told before. Sometime in the mid 1980’s he was watching practice. Joe Montana, winner of two Super Bowls, threw a slant pass to Jerry Rice. The ball was on Rice’s back hip, but he adjusted and caught it and ran up the field. Mike Holmgren was the offensive coordinator and saw the play, but didn’t say anything. Walsh went to Holmgren and angrily told them to run that again. The ball needed to be out in front so that Rice could catch it in stride and really burst up the field.

Don’t just run the play. Don’t just complete the pass. Do it exactly right or do it again. As the saying goes, excellence is not an act, but a habit. Walsh, Montana and Rice are all amongst the best in NFL history and that’s not an accident. Walsh had a gifted offensive mind, but he also was demanding and pushed his players to be excellent.

Bill Parcells has a saying that I love. “Don’t let ‘good enough’ be good enough.”

Simple, but brilliant. Push for excellence. Always try to be better. Don’t settle. That litte phrase says so much. He stressed this with his QBs.

Bill Parcells and Phil Simms had a complicated professional relationship, one that included a great mutual respect and a fierce desire to win. It could also be contentious, because Parcells constantly pressured Simms.

“Every practice was the end of the world,” Simms said. “Today has got to be a great day. If it’s not the greatest day, oh my gosh.”

QB is the most important position in football. Coaches have to be demanding in order to push them and get the best out of them.

When Jon Gruden came to Philly in 1995, he studied the 1994 game tape to get a feel for Randall Cunningham and the other holdover players. Gruden became really concerned about Cunningham taking sacks. He made a tape of all the 1994 sacks and showed it to Cunningham, focusing on the need to throw checkdowns or just to throw the ball away. Gruden wanted to stress avoiding sacks.

Cunningham was shocked at this discussion. He wanted to talk about the playbook or anything else. A lecture on avoiding sacks? That was a waste of time to him.

The Eagles started the 1995 season 1-3. Sacks were a major issue and Cunningham lost his job. The team went 9-3 after he was benched. Rodney Peete was no great talent, but he listened to the coaches and did the little things it took to win.

Look what Troy Aikman said in regard to Jimmy Johnson.

“We had a rough start, went through some difficult times, had stretches when we didn’t speak. What I’ve learned though in life is we remember those who make us better. Jimmy made me better, but more importantly, he made the Dallas Cowboys better.”

Tough coaching isn’t fun. It isn’t easy. It can strain relationships and lead to some really challenging times. But it also can be hugely important in developing players and teams.

Carson Wentz can still have a good career, but he must embrace tough coaching. Wentz is driven and hard working, but effort doesn’t lead to greatness. Practice doesn’t make perfect. Perfect practice makes perfect, as a more accurate version of the saying goes. Wentz needs someone to push him and he has to realize that is the best thing for him.

Tough coaching can save Wentz, but only if he lets it. If Wentz resists criticism and focuses on excuses, he will be gone sooner than he should have and his career will be disappointing.

Wentz has the talent, but not the answers. If the Eagles find the right coach and if Wentz truly buys in, there could be a bright future for everyone involved.

If…

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Coaching Carousel Update

Posted: January 15th, 2021 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | No Comments »

The Eagles are still looking for a coach, but two teams found their man. The Jags made a splash hire, bringing in Urban Meyer. His track record is phenomenal, but he does have the challenge of going from college to the pros. The Jets hired Robert Saleh, the DC from the Niners. Saleh will be a first time head coach. Two bad teams made two very different hires. It should be fun to see how that plays out.

Back to the Eagles. Saleh was an Eagles target so they now have one less guy to choose from. On the flip side, we learned of a new candidate on Thursday.

Moore has done really good things with the Dallas offense in the past couple of years. He had plenty of talent to work with, but then delivered good results. I think it is smart for the Eagles to talk to him. Moore has never had to fix a broken QB, but he knows how to design and call plays. That’s crucial in the modern NFL.

Is Moore enough of a leader to run an NFL team? That’s a big question and I’m not sure of the answer. The reason you meet with Moore is to get a better feel for him as a person and potential leader.

Moore was a great QB at Boise State. He was good enough to be an NFL backup for a couple of years. That was more on brains than talent so moving to coaching was a natural transition. He’s on pace to be a head coach some day. That could be in the next few weeks or the next few years.

***

There is a lot of buzz with Smith and the Falcons. If he went there, he could coach Matt Ryan this year and draft a franchise QB to develop. That has to be very tempting.

The Eagles have their share of issues, but Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts could be intriguing for a gifted offensive coach.

Smith will meet with the Lions on Friday. A lot of people are interested in him.

***

Here is an interesting video with Jerrod Mayo.

He seems like a bright, thoughtful guy. I was surprised at how natural he seemed in that conversation. At the end I had to think…what if you pulled him out and put Doug Pederson in there?

The conversation would have been less interesting and a lot more confusing.

Doug did a lot of good things, but his ability to communicate was an issue. Maybe one of the key points Jeff Lurie is looking for this time is someone who has superior communication skills.

I don’t think Mayo is ready to be a head coach, but he’s an interesting guy to talk to and could be an excellent DC candidate.

***

Your scary news of the day.

Say what? Stout is a terrific assistant.

Why would the Eagles let him go without trying to see if the new coach might want to keep him?

That’s better.

Stoutland should be in high demand. I would think several NFL teams would want him, as well as Bama, where he coached in the past.

One thing that could keep him in Philly (or the league in general) is that he might not have any interest in recruiting. Bama gets the best players, but coaches still have to go chase after them. In the NFL, you draft, trade or sign guys and then coach them up.

Most coaches hate recruiting. They come to the NFL and get a taste of the good life. Very few want to go back.

I hope the Eagles are able to keep Stout in Philly. He was a great hire by Chip Kelly and then Doug wisely kept him around.

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