Eagles Pick Pederson

Posted: January 15th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 808 Comments »

The Eagles will hire Doug Pederson to be their new head coach when the Chiefs are eliminated from the playoffs. A few months ago, that statement would have seemed ludicrous. The Chiefs started 1-5 and there was some thought that those coaches would be on the hot seat. Chip Kelly didn’t have the Eagles riding high, but there was no things were good enough that job security didn’t seem like an issue.

How things change.

The Chiefs haven’t lost since October and are in the divisional round of the playoffs. Chip Kelly just got named the head coach of the Niners. And Doug Pederson is coming “home”…to be the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

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.

One of the interesting aspects to the job search this year is that there was no elite candidate to pursue. Adam Gase is the guy I wanted most and he had his flaws. Ben McAdoo, who the Eagles strongly considered, had his flaws. I’m glad the Eagles didn’t hire Tom Coughlin, whether that was his choice or theirs. The search is coming under a lot of scrutiny right now and I’ll address that later on in a separate piece. For now, let’s get back to Pederson.

Lurie saw the Eagles getting away from being the kind of organization he wanted. There was a bit of a cold, corporate culture that started to take place under Chip. Things were very different under Andy Reid. Can you ever in a million years picture Chip Kelly giving this speech?

That was Big Red addressing the NovaCare staff after he was fired. Amazing.

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.

There is no doubt that Lurie’s relationship with Pederson played a big factor in the hire. You can argue whether that is a good or bad thing. Mike Shanahan was an assistant with Denver and later came back to win a pair of Super Bowls as their head coach. Tom Coughlin was an assistant for the Giants before coming back later to win a pair of titles as the head coach. Bill Belichick was an assistant for the Pats for one season before later coming back to establish himself as one of the greatest coaches of all time. Jimmy Johnson and Jerry Jones were teammates at Arkansas and they built the Cowboys into a short term dynasty.

There are other examples where past relationships did not work out so well.

Lurie obviously felt there was value in bringing someone back to the organization that knew how things should look and feel off the field. Lurie must believe that establishing the right environment off the field will lead to more success on the field. This isn’t to say things will all be unicorns and rainbows between the players and management. There will be issues here and there. But there will also be improved relationships between players and coaches. And that does have value.

Let’s talk about the staff for a minute. The Eagles have already hired Ken Flajole as a defensive assistant. It sounds like he will be the linebackers coach. The good news here is that almost all of his experience is in the 4-3. He was the Rams defensive coordinator from 2009-2011.

Flajole will not be the DC, but there are some rumors out there about candidates.

I would love Schwartz as the DC.

Some people talk about him running the Wide-9. That’s not the case. Schwartz runs the 4-3 defense. They use the Wide-9 front at times, but there is much more to his scheme than just that. Schwartz ran Top 5 defenses in both Tennessee and Buffalo. He knows how to coach, teach and run a game.

To me, the key is to find someone who can build the defense around Fletcher Cox. In 2007 and 2008, Schwartz had Albert Haynesworth and used him creatively. The Titans were 5th and 8th in yards allowed and Haynesworth was dominant.

Pettine is a good defensive coach and I would be fine with him as well, but I don’t think he is as good as Schwartz.

As to offense, it sounds like Pederson will go with Pat Shurmur or Brad Childress as his OC. Both guys are former head coaches and solid assistants. I’m sure Pederson will be bringing his version of the WCO to Philly.

Doug Pederson started his first NFL game for the Eagles. He joined an NFL coaching staff for the first time in Philly. He has strong feelings for this organization and wants to see it return to the glory days. He now has the chance of a lifetime.

Pederson wasn’t gifted enough to be a good starting QB. Coaching is a different story. He’s done well for himself since starting that part of his career. There are no physical limitations this time. He will succeed or fail based on effort, decision-making, hiring the right people and a little bit of luck.

It also wouldn’t hurt if he could find his own version of Donovan McNabb. Instead of losing his job to a hot shot young QB, that guy could actually be the foundation for Pederson’s success.

*****

Sorry for the delay in writing this. A couple of things came up and I was away from the computer for a frustrating amount of time.

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Coughlin the New Target?

Posted: January 14th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 1,439 Comments »

It sure sounds like the Eagles were leaning heavily toward Ben McAdoo. With him now out of the picture…

Okay.

The Eagles might be taking another look at Coughlin, a more in-depth look. That makes sense given the fact that the 2 hot young offensive assistants are gone. Coughlin is a proven winner and actually has a lot of the traits that the Eagles are looking for.

One big question is age. Coughlin will turn 70 in August. Most coaches talk of having a 2, 3 or 5-year plan. They want to build the team up and establish their systems. You certainly aren’t going to have a 5-year plan with Coughlin. I guess there is no reason he can’t technically coach that long, but the NFL is such a grind that I can’t imagine a 75-year old man handling it well.

If the Eagles were on the verge of being a title contender, hiring Coughlin would make complete sense. I thought the Eagles were such a team in August, but things turned out a little bit differently than I anticipated.

The Giants went 4-12 back in 2003. Jim Fassel was fired and they hired Coughlin. The team traded for/drafted Eli Manning and went 6-10. The next year they went 11-5. The Giants didn’t have a losing season until 2013. Coughlin was able to get that team from the bottom to the top pretty quickly.

Maybe he could pull that off again.

Hiring the right staff would be huge. Solving the QB issue would be critical. Maybe hiring him does make sense. Coughlin oversaw the development of Mark Brunell and Eli. Brunell was a Packers backup with virtually no experience when the Jaguars traded for him. Coughlin built Eli from the ground up.

There is no perfect candidate for the Eagles. Maybe the old guy with the great track record is the guy they should be looking at. I’m sure we’ll hear more on this as the day goes along.

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No Big Mac For You!

Posted: January 13th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 43 Comments »

Ben McAdoo is no longer on the Eagles radar.

Bennie Mac got the Giants gig. Solid choice by them. Smart of him to stay with team that has quality veteran QB and an elite WR in place.

No big deal, right?

What?

I actually also heard McAdoo was a serious possibility, if not the favorite. Whether true or not, the Eagles will not be hiring him. So who does that leave?

The Eagles have interviewed:

Duce Staley
Pat Shurmur
Tom Coughlin
Doug Pederson

Some believe that Pederson is now the front runner and that might be the case.

You do wonder if the Eagles will open things up and take a look at another couple of candidates. Maybe they’ll talk to Teryl Austin or Paul Guenther. Maybe they’ll take a look at a former head coach. I’ve mentioned Mike Smith and Jim Schwartz as guys that interest me.

Or maybe Pederson is the guy now and the Eagles simply have to wait for the Chiefs to lose. They play at New England on Saturday so we’ll see how that goes.

This is a strange coaching search. There is no “gotta have him” guy. I think the Eagles are smart to take their time and find the right guy, but they may have waited a bit too long if McAdoo is the coach they wanted. We’ll see if some reports and rumors start to leak on Thursday.

Somebody send Les Bowen on an all day run so we’ll definitely get some Eagles news.

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Interesting Updates

Posted: January 13th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 631 Comments »

It is hard to know what to make of the Eagles coaching search. There isn’t much info coming from reporters that are tied in to the Eagles. We have gotten a couple of reports from national guys.

That was interesting, but hardly definitive. The Eagles might not have had any more interviews scheduled, but that doesn’t mean they couldn’t change that.

Then came a report from Adam Schefter this morning. Tim McManus has the details.

Adam Schefter isn’t so sure that Doug Pederson is the favorite to land the Eagles head coaching gig. In his mind, Ben McAdoo is.

Appearing on the 97.5 the Fanatic Morning Show, the ESPN analyst had this to say about the Eagles coaching search, which looks to be coming down the home stretch:

“I don’t know that [Pederson]’s the front-runner. I know that he’s square in contention for that job, I know they really like him. In my mind, my sense — these are just senses — is that Ben McAdoo is the front-runner. But I don’t know that to be right. I think Pederson and McAdoo both are square in the conversation,” he said.

“I think Tom Coughlin‘s interview went well. You can’t meet with him and not be impressed by the coach and man he is. But ultimately, as good and as impressive as he is, I just think the Eagles’ model here is to find someone that they can work with for the next 10 to 15 years and I don’t think Tom Coughlin fits that description as good of a coach as he is…

“Maybe even Pat Shurmur would be in consideration because he is a very good football coach. But to me, I would handicap McAdoo as the favorite for whatever that’s worth and we’ll see if that’s proven right.”

We all know Schefter has great connections. He breaks a lot of stories. That said, he also gets used by agents on a regular basis. This could be a legit report and the Eagles might love McAdoo. Or this could be his agent leaking this to Schefter to try and generate more interest from other teams that still have an opening.

Think about the market right now. Miami has already made a hire. Let’s say the Eagles are leaning toward Doug Pederson. It sounds like Cleveland really wants Hue Jackson. Reports from Tennessee indicate they may go with Mike Mularkey.

That leaves SF, Tampa, and the Giants with openings. None of those teams seems close to making a hire, If there is a perception with them that the Eagles might be in play for McAdoo, one of those teams could decide he is in fact the coach they should go for. Good old human nature. When someone else wants something, it makes you want it as well. Agents aren’t fools. They know how to help their clients, even when that means getting creative.

If McAdoo is in fact the leader, I’m fine with that. Here is something I wrote about him the other day.

BEN McADOO

Another young coach with a strong offensive background and good track record. As with Austin, I need to do more research on him.

Like Gase, McAdoo is a grinder. He started coaching at the high school level before becoming an graduate assistant at Michigan State (what is it about MSU?). A couple of years later he became a GA at Pitt, where he worked for Walt Harris (good offensive coach).

During that time in his life, McAdoo had met a coach by the name of Mike McCarthy. They were both natives of western PA and developed a friendship. McCarthy was impressed enough by McAdoo to hire him to come work for the Saints in 2004. McAdoo then followed McCarthy to SF in 2005 and onto Green Bay in 2006. They worked together there through 2013.

McAdoo coached TEs from 2006 until 2011. He then coached QBs in 2012 and 2013.

In 2014, McAdoo was hired away to be the Giants OC.

The biggest selling point for me in regard to McAdoo is his work with Eli Manning. We all know the saying that you can’t teach old dogs new tricks. McAdoo got Eli to completely change his game. Eli just set personal records for TD passes and QB rating this season.

In the past, Eli liked to throw vertically. That meant  holding onto the ball. McAdoo got him to embrace quick throws. Instead of 7-step drops and 20-yard throws there were 3- and 5-step drops and quick hitters. This eliminated some negative plays and helped the offense to be very efficient at times. Think about it. Eli had a banged up O-line and serious receiver issues, but still set personal passing records. That’s pretty impressive, by him and McAdoo.

Things worked out pretty well in Philly the last time the Eagles hired someone who had coached the Packers TEs and QBs. That was Andy Reid. McAdoo had the added benefit of leaving the nest and going to NY to work under Tom Coughlin and see another organization up close and personal. Reid never got to be an OC. I’m sure McAdoo learned quite a bit in his time away from the Packers.

McAdoo would be of interest because he has gotten good results from a pair of QBs. He knows the NFC East. He understands coaching in a bit city and the pressure of being in the spotlight. He knows how to run someone else’s system (McCarthy’s) and also how to create his own.

The Giants may make a strong push to keep McAdoo themselves.

McAdoo isn’t a household name, but he’s had success with 2 QBs and 2 offenses. That is very impressive and makes him a candidate that should be taken seriously.

The Eagles need better QB play, whether from Sam Bradford, Mark Sanchez (god forbid) or a rookie. McAdoo seems like a coach who gets results from his QBs. He would need to hire the right staff to fix the defense. Obviously making the right staff hires makes or breaks just about any coach.

We’ll keep discussing candidates and rumors until we get something more concrete. I’m expecting things to heat up this week. Stay tuned.

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What’s Up With McDermott?

Posted: January 12th, 2016 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 127 Comments »

Sean McDermott was a terrific assistant coach for the Eagles from 2002-2008. He then succeeded Jim Johnson as defensive coordinator and held that job for two seasons, offering mixed results. Andy Reid fired him at that point and McDermott was hired by Ron Rivera to be part of his staff with the Panthers. McDermott has been the DC down there for five seasons and has put up excellent results.

McDermott is young, smart and successful. But there isn’t much buzz about him right now. Why?

I don’t have any concrete answers. I do have some guesses. First, McDermott was fired by Reid after only 2 years. Some people around the league know why that happened, but I’m sure plenty don’t. On field results were only part of the picture. Put simply, McDermott did not handle his promotion to DC well, on or off the field.

I’m sure there are teams that saw a very loyal coach like Reid letting a long time assistant go and filed away the notion that “That is not a good sign for Sean. Something must be up with that. “If those teams are not part of the Reid circle, they may not have a good feel for the situation to this day.

There is also the question of just how much of Carolina’s success is McDermott’s. His Eagles defenses were 12th in yards allowed in both 2009 and 2010. They were 19th and 21st in points. McDermott goes to work for a defensive head coach like Ron Rivera and his numbers are suddenly much stronger.

Rivera ran the Bears defense from 2004-2006 and the Chargers defense from 2008-2010. In 2005 the Bears were 2nd in yards and #1 in points allowed. They slipped to 5th in yards and 3rd in points in 2006. Rivera’s defenses in San Diego improved each year and in 2010 they led the NFL in total defense and were 10th in points allowed. So Rivera coached for two teams and put elite units on the field with both.

I think you are being dumb or naive if you believe that Rivera has not had a major impact on the success of the Panthers defense. McDermott is a good coach. He can come up with elaborate gameplans and he’s very bright. But his track record alone is nothing like Rivera’s. The Eagles were historically bad in Red Zone defense under McDermott. At one point in 2010, teams had scored TDs on 26 of 33 Red Zone possessions. That’s insane.

The question really is how much of an impact has Rivera had. He gives McDermott all the credit, which is what a good head coach should do. But reality tells you that McDermott is only part of the equation.

If you want the negative spin on things, you have McDermott getting fired by the most loyal coach in the league after just 2 years on the job and then having his only true success at a new team who is run by a defensive guru. And even then, the Panthers defense has only been outstanding since the arrival of Luke Kuechly, who looks like he could be on his way to a Hall of Fame type career.

Last week, Reuben Frank wrote that he thinks McDermott is the guy the Eagles should hire. Roob made a logical argument with a lot of good points. Go read that for the argument for McDermott.

I’m not against McDermott. He was a terrific assistant for the Eagles for a long time. I’m happy he’s having success in Carolina and I hope he does become a head coach. I don’t think he’s right for the Eagles right now. Late in his tenure here, some players really disliked McDermott. They didn’t think he was a good teacher/communicator. They thought his gameplans were too complicated. Elaborates X’s and O’s on paper are great, but they fail in reality if you can’t teach them and/or don’t have the right people to execute those ideas. Some players did love McDermott, but more than a couple were thrilled to see him gone.

I’m sure McDermott has changed. Time does that. Getting out of the shadow of Jim Johnson was hugely important for him. I also think working for Rivera has helped quite a bit. That said, the Eagles are coming off the Chip Kelly era and need someone that can build relationships. They need a strong leader and communicator. I’m not sure McDermott is at that point quite yet.

Tampa and Cleveland have interviewed McDermott. Some think he’s got a legit shot at the Bucs job. Still, there isn’t much buzz about him. McDermott went on 97.5 recently to discuss…a bit of everything. It felt a bit like a PR move to generate interest in him as an coaching candidate (Eagles and otherwise). I can’t recall a hot assistant coach doing an interview quite like that, but I could be wrong. I think McDermott would desperately love to get the Eagles job. He’s from Philly and was part of the organization when it had tremendous success.

McDermott will eventually get a head coaching job. I don’t get the feeling it will be this year, but we’ll see. He actually might be a great fit for the Bucs. Give him a franchise QB and a defense with some young talent to work with and McDermott might deliver strong results. Unless he’s with a division rival, I’ll be pulling for McDermott when he does get a job.

*****

Some people are frustrated that the Eagles haven’t hired a coach yet. I think league matters have affected the team. Jeff Lurie and the rest of the owners were in Houston all day Tuesday to vote on teams relocating to L.A. He also had to attend a meeting in New York over the weekend. Those are not exactly minor distractions.

Lurie will be back in Philly on Wednesday and can then focus on finding a new coach to relocate to Philly.

*****

Tom Coughlin update.

How crazy would it be to have Coughlin as the Eagles coach? He really does make a lot of sense with his experience and ability to connect with players.

Coughlin did interview with the 49ers. I think he might be perfect for that team. They need stability as much as any organization in the NFL. Coughlin would provide stability and leadership there.

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