HEAD Coach Nick Sirianni had his introductory press conference on Thursday, and the fan base has been talking about it since then. I have been listening. However, before I weighed in, I wanted to step back, and fully digest exactly what it was that we saw.
Here it is, Monday, and my chief takeaway from Sirianni’s press conference, was that the Eagles Front Office wants the coach to be the hired help, and not the true leader of the football team. Sirianni’s job is to manage just what happens in relation to X’s and O’s. Unfortunately, that’s going to become a problem sooner, rather than later.
Stripping him of the ability to even decide his 53 man roster on Sundays, gives him no leverage when a star player gets out of line, or doesn’t buy into what Sirianni sells, this coming Spring. Not even being able to tell a player that he’s suspended, and will not travel with the team, cuts Sirianni’s balls off, putting blood in the water, right at the outset.
Younger players will be brought in to help lower the salary cap, and replenish the talent pool. Coming in knowing that they can test and challenge a head coach who has to ask permission to even sit them… Former Eagles S Malcolm Jenkins, said to Rich Eisen “you just hope that the competitiveness and the culture and the egos of what that team stands for at least stays in place.” In the current climate, that can’t happen. You can expect the Eagles locker room culture to slide. And in very short order.
The silver lining is that if it doesn’t work, if the team doesn’t win, and the players don’t pan out, General Manager Howie Roseman will be the one left holding the bag. Sirianni would be collateral damage of course, but the weight will be on Roseman. Owner Jeffery Luriewill actually be more responsible, but he can’t fire himself.
Understand, the Eagles could have given Doug Pederson more rope. They didn’t. They could have brought in an experienced ex-head coach. They didn’t. They could have gone with a hot-shot Offensive Coordinator. Didn’t take that road either.
What they did, was pick a guy who has never even called plays before. Who has also never made in-game adjustments. Who has never had to be the front-man for a billion dollar franchise. And now… now he’s doing it in the nations 4th or 5th largest television market. How is this possible? Why is this happening?
Sirianni was allowed to skip a couple of rungs on his way to being a head coach. The reason he beat out more qualified candidates is (according to Lurie), “because he cares”. Yeah. Right. Before Eagles fans eat that horse shit, you’ll have to win us another Lombardi, first.
Sirianni is here because he’s too naive to realize the predicament he’s in. Remember how Robert Saleh recently opted for the Jets job over this one? The Jets. Owned by Woody Johnson, who’s only a slightly better businessman than Donald Trump. Fact is, due to Roseman’s presence, the Eagles aren’t a gig that many candidates were lining up for. Most credible options said
Former Eagles Assistant Head Coach Duce Staley was the logical replacement for Pederson. But anyone who knows anything about the man, understands that he wouldn’t stand for being a figurehead, and so he wasn’t offered the job.
From an X’s and O’s standpoint, it’s very easy to be excited about this team. From a leadership standpoint, it’s impossible to be anything besides deeply, severely, gravely concerned. At least until Lurie finds someone better at giving him head, than Howie.
SEASON Reviews are usually done at the end of the season. A few are also done at the halfway mark. Starting in 2017, Eaglemaniacal.com began treating the season like a game, and breaking it into four quarters. Since football is a hard sport, we’ll take a hard look at where our team currently stands, in relation to where it started. Then we can discuss where it needs to go next.
STATUS: 4 – 11 – 1, 4th in the NFC East
W New Orleans Saints 12 – 4
L Arizona Cardinals 8 – 8
L Dallas Cowboys 6 – 10
L Washington Uhhh… 7 – 9
Due to events in, and inside ofour Nation’s Capitol last week, I delayed putting this article out. I imagined that you’d be too preoccupied with the real world, to give much of a damn about a report like this. That is the ONLY reason that I was able to get on here and make some edits, after learning about the firing of Head Coach Doug Pederson today.
Initially I was going to put a positive spin on missing the playoffs, and getting such a high draft pick. I wasn’t going to bullshit you, just make sure that we didn’t overlook the opportunity that being in this position affords us.
Then the firing happened.
Pederson during his tenure here, has a 42 – 37 – 1 record.
He also has a Super Bowl win, chased by three years of injuries being the excuse for diminishing results. Put another way, taking out this last season (his worst), and the SB season (his best), Pederson is 25 – 23 (.520) as a head coach. For perspective, lets look at Andy Reid’ first 5 years here.
Take out Reid’s best and worst year and you still end up with a 34 – 14 (.708) head coach. So it’s not hard to see why instead of giving Pederson the increased control that he sought, Eagles owner Jeffery Lurie, would want to opt out of the partnership.
QB – (D): This quarter Jalen Hurtshas produced 8 TD’s and 5 turnovers. If you can get him outside the pocket and moving to his right, he’s dangerous. In any other instance, he becomes a liability. What’s worse, teams seem to have already figured this out. His season finale against Washington featured him running for 2 scores, but passing 7/20 (35%), 72 yards and a pick. Nate Sudfeld saw the field for a 18 snaps in Week 17, and he looked like a guy who’d seen no snaps until Week 17.
RB – (D): In the last four games of the season, Miles Sanders’ rushing yards have gone from 115, to 64, to 57, to 0. To be fair, he was benched for the last game (Tankgate). Still, it doesn’t look good that his production has declined steadily, since Cars… Never mind. Hey, how about Boston Scott? What can I say? He started Week 17, and now we’re picking 6th overall. Well alriiiiiiight!
WR – (D): During this 4 week stretch, DeSean Jacksongraced Eagles fans with an 81 yard curtain call against Dallas. On 5 targets, 4 catches, 100 yards and TD, Alshon Jeffery showed he can still do, what it is we brought him here to do in the first place. Both will be gone next season. On the other hand, none of the young guys has emerged as a future go-to guy. Jalen Reagor hasn’t seen a 50 yard day since Week 11. Greg Ward is averaging 7.9 yards per catch, and Travis Fulgham has been on a milk carton since the Week 9 Bye.
TE – (D): The Eagles have spent the season trying to sell us Dallas Goedert as a #1, but he lacks the explosiveness or dynamism for the role. He’s Robin, not Batman. He’s like a bigger, stronger Jay Novacek. Zack Ertz had a miserable final quarter, catching 10 of 23 targets (43%) for 126 yards. In fact, his season ends with him posting a 50% catch rate for the year, and seeing his targets drop from 135 in 2019, to 72 in 2020. (But we all know what that was about.) Still, his numbers won’t make it easy for him to find a team looking pay big money to a 30 year old who’s been nicked up lately.
OT – (C): Jordan Mailata has been receiving high praise these last few weeks at LT. Some are saying that he’s the future of the spot. (I guess folks have forgotten about Andre Dillard?) Matt Pryor is trash on the edge. He’s serviceable when moved inside, but outside, pure garbage. Jack Driscollwasn’t great either, but he was a rookie, and we lost him for the year, so why sweat it?
G – (D): Isaac Seumalohas consistently lined up on the left for seven straight weeks. Hasn’t meant much, but during this quarter, he did finally play in his only win of the season. That’s 1 win in 9 starts this year. I’m just gonna leave that right there. Nate Herbighas been serviceable on the right side. (He looked better on the left though.)
C – (B): Jason Kelce kept the line together as best he could.
DE – (B): Brandon Graham despite playing an increased percentage of the snaps in the last two games, still fell short of his goal of 10 sacks this season. He got one vs Dallas, but otherwise, he really seemed to wear down as the season went on. Derek Barnett missed the last two games and didn’t impose himself in the last tow that he played. Josh Sweat had two sacks and FF vs New Orleans, was hurt early the next week, and then was injured for the final two games of the quarter. Vinny Curry started the final two games and had his strongest quarter of the season. This position did a decent job of bringing pressure, but with lax coverage behind them, they couldn’t translate into sacks and three and outs. Genard Avery played in the last three games as a rotation player, but the Eagles still don’t have a plan for him.
DT – (B): Fletcher Cox was Fletcher Cox, until a stinger vs Dallas shut his season down. Javon Hargrave stepped up in Cox’s absence and seemed to be a lot more disruptive than in the prior three quarters. He seemed more comfortable. I hope to see he and Cox return in 2021. Malik Jackson put up 12 tackles and a sack, during this quarter. That’s despite only starting one of the games. Undrafted rookie Raequan Williams made his presence felt, in very limited action. T.Y. McGill got a lot of snaps in the last two weeks, but will probably be best remembered for jumping offsides on 4th and 1, with 2:00 to go, vs Washington in a 20 – 14 loss. (But let’s put all the blame on the QB situation!)
OLB – (C): Alex Singleton recorded double digit tackles in three of four games, plus a sack and a FR. He’s much improved at reading angles and getting off blocks. More than that, he brought energy to the defense. Duke Riley missed the last two games, but had an interception vs New Orleans.
ILB – (C): T.J. Edwards has been serviceable in the middle of this defense. He arrived here with the label “athletic limitations”. Being put into this system didn’t do him any favors, in terms of developing his strong-suit. If he has one. Which was not made evident this last quarter.
S – (D): Jalen Mills is a good soldier, but he’s not special as a player. This was once again put on display this quarter. He plays sound team concept ball, helps corral ball-carriers, swarms the football, yadda yadda. He just doesn’t affect the outcome of games. Marcus Eppsstarted three of these four games, and turned it into a team-leading (how sad) two interceptions. Rookie K’Von Wallace got two starts, but it was too soon, in the wrong situation, with no teachers. Rudy Ford was unimpressive. If not for Epps, this position wouldn’t qualify for a grade.
CB – (F): Darius Slayplayed in three of these four games and finally snagged a pick, vs Dallas of all teams. Nickell Robey-Coleman continued to be a non-factor vs the pass. Michael Jacquetplayed in two of the four games and was utterly victimized vs Dallas. Grayland Arnoldplayed a lot vs Dallas, and he got the Week 17 start.
LS – (A): Rick Lovato added one more tackle to his impressive resume.
P – (D): Cam Johnston saw two games this quarter where he averaged less than 40 yards per boot. His 16 punts for 664 yards put him at 41.5 per swing of the leg, and he even had one blocked for the first time this season. It’s hard to say whether his leg wore out or whether he was affected by the air getting denser as the weather grew cooler. Either way, he was less effective.
K – (B): Jake Elliott was perfect on extra point kicks (when allowed to attempt them), and 2/3 on FG attempts. FOR THIS QUARTER! He had all of three tries, this quarter. I had no idea of that until I just looked it up! (Dear Doug, it’s decisions like this that get people FIRED! What, too soon?) Jake also stepped up and handled a couple of punts for us when injury struck at Arizona. That sort of
SINCE LAST QUARTER:
Entering the quarter with control of our own destiny, it largely felt like neither the Head Coach, General Manager, or Owner wanted to step up and declare a direction. As a result, the whole thing has been a rudderless mess. Did Lurie even want the Eagles to make the playoffs? Where does he stand on the tanking? What are his thoughts on Jalen Hurts? We have no clue about any of this.
MISSION FOR THIS QUARTER:
Without a Head Coach, I have no idea what the vision for the future is. That means I can’t even try to forecast it. What I can do is take a moment to indulge my vanity, and write about what I HOPE the mission is for this offseason. Who do I hope is the next Head Coach?
Duce Staley becomes the Head Coach. Not just because he’s an Eagles lifer. Not just because he’s been patient as promotions to Offensive Coordinator have twice passed him by.
Duce should be the coach because Carson Wentz at his best, had a VERY strong run game behind him. Duce believes in running the ball. Duce’s approach can win us another Super Bowl.
Duce should be the coach because he has gotten productivity from every RB that has been brought in here. He has found a way to reach and develop players. This has been a sore spot for the Eagles for too long. Duce can fix that.
Duce should be the coach because he (like Doug when he got here), understands where he is. He understands the nature of the media that will attack him from Day One. He already gets how the fans demand so much in terms of effort, and that you will earn our hearts forever when you deliver.
And then there’s the Rooney Rule. Wouldn’t it be nice to ignore it? To not have needed it. To see critics go
Especially in this racial/political/social climate. ESPECIALLY for a guy who deserves it, and that it’s damned well overdue for?
I want the arrogance of saying to our rivals: That the Eagles were socially progressive only by happenstance. That we were doing what we wanted to do, and being forward thinking is a side effect of just being fucking better than you. I want that.
So I hope that Duce becomes our next Head Coach. That’s our Mission For This Quarter.
I’M on record as saying that if Head Coach Doug Pederson hired anyone else to be the Offensive Coordinator besides Assistant Head Coach Duce Staley, that Staley should walk. Well, Doug didn’t hire anyone else. What he did was tweak and jiggle his staff a little, but he basically kept last year’s alignment.
Dismiss any talk of needing to replace Mike Groh. During the 2019 season Groh was the OC, but it was in title only. Offensive Line coach Jeff Stoutland served as the run game coordinator, which essentially made Groh just the passing game coordinator. Doug determined the system, and called the plays from the sideline, thus making him the de-facto OC.
In 2020 Doug will still call the plays. New Defensive Line coach Matt Burke will coordinate the run. (Yeah, I don’t get that either.) The new passing game coordinator is Press Taylor (last year’s QB coach). So as I said, it’s mostly a re-shuffling, and the way the Eagles function on game day, won’t change very much.
What WILL change is the mix of ideas in the room during meetings. While Doug will lay down a concept, the play designs will come out of new heads. Taylor (passing game), and Burke (run game) are unproven, but with so much technical and analytical support around them, I’m interested to see how their imaginations impact our approach to the 2020 season.
I’m most curious about Senior AssistantRich Scangarello, who will probably take over G.J. Kinne’s duties in Offensive Special Projects. QB Carson Wentzwill also have a new voice in his ear, in the form of Passing Analyst (QB coach) Andrew Breiner.
Scarangello was only Denver’s OC for about a year, to no particular distinction beyond having a hand in rookie QB Drew Lock’s 4 – 1 record. That said, he has worked continuously since 1998 (22 years) as an offensive coach or coordinator.
No Defense. No Special Teams. Nothing just to “have a job”somewhere. Scangarello has been dedicated to just one side of the football for half of his lifetime. (Sort of like former Eagles DC Bud Carson was.) That level of singular interest has me curious to see what little trinkets are rattling around in the guy’s head.
I’m not interested in the big stuff. Not the broad strokes. Everyone does those. I wanna see the wrinkles. The nuances. The small concepts. Those are the things which will show up as ripples throughout our play design. That’s where the difference between last year and this year will be.
Still, in the end, it’s Doug who lays out our system concept, and calls the plays in the heat of battle. Doug Pederson is your OC. He always has been, and as long as he’s the coach, he always will be.
ASIDE from possibly getting a Wide Receivers coach who can actually coach Wide Receivers, this team won’t be much different from last season. In fact, it’s basically the same team it’s been since 2016. And that’s sort of a problem.
Regardless of who is named our Offensive Coordinator, what we run on Offense will still be built on Head Coach Doug Pederson’s TE-based West Coast concept. What we run on Defense will still be Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz’s Wide 9/Single-High concept.
In failing to move on from Schwartz, we missed an opportunity to level the playing field, by wiping the board clean of all of our tendencies, keys and “tells”. We also missed an opportunity to stabilize the Defense. Honestly, even the most ardent Schwartz supporter, would have to admit that the week to week product of this unit is anything but consistent.
And it’s been that way for years.
While on one hand it’s great to have a solid identity, we’re in a division where every one of our rivals will be brand new in 2020. We are the only known quantity in the division, and the only team which has plenty of film on what we run, how we run it, and how we want to run it.
Are we seeing the body language here? Someone is happy that he doesn’t have to compete for daddy’s love anymore.
Though it’s true that Dallas and Washington’s coaches have highly trackable histories, radically different personnel will change how thee coaches implement their favorite concepts. Those conditions put us at a MASSIVE disadvantage in terms of initial intelligence gathering.
Nothing communicates power and dominance, like lower-case letters.
New York’s head coach comes with no trackable history whatsoever. However, if they sign Jason Garrett to be their offensive coordinator, there will be a definite power shift in the middle of the division, since he has a deep working knowledge of every roster in our division. New York goes from third place, to threatening for first.
Garrett also has an intimate familiarity with every weakness and mental flaw possessed by each of the Cowboys key players, as well as knowledge of how Dallas likes to cover or hide those flaws. It would then be a matter of the rest of us watching NY vs Dallas, to learn how to take the Cowboys apart.
Understand, if New York can pull off signing Garrett, it will be seismic for the division, and the aftershocks will not be survivable for Dallas in particular.
Our saving grace may be the preseason. Since these new coaches need to make sure players understand the concepts and their own roles, smarter coaches will run some of their concepts. Thereby tipping their hand. and giving us a sneak peek. Idiot coaches will decide not use the practice games for practice, and likely get off to slow (sputtering) starts.
All this basically reduces the importance of our assistant search, to near nil. That is, unless the Eagles promote from within. (HEY DOUG! PROMOTE DUCE STALEY!! IS THIS TOO SUBTLE!!!? AM I DOING IT AGAIN!? BEING TOO SUBTLE, I MEAN?)
There’s a ton of chatter about the Eagles needing a new voice in the room, but a new voice doesn’t necessarily mean a trusted voice during high pressure moments. Getting a person to listen against what their instincts tell them, is no easy sale. It’s harder when they don’t implicitly trust you.
While yes, Staley is part of this old regime, his elevation would allow him to put a more definitive stamp on Doug’s system. Play design, play install, package assignments, formations, and rotational patterns, are all things that would subtly impact a system that was only the same, on the surface. Regardless of who calls the plays.
As of today, the Eagles are behind the curve in terms of intel and element of surprise. Without any new wrinkles added, the story of 2020 will be of how the rest of the NFC East has caught up to/caught onto us.
FIRING Offensive Coordinator Mike Groh and Wide Receivers coach Carson Walch seems to have caught everyone off-guard.
Everyone except me, that is.
I know, I know. At the joint press conference with General Manager Howie Roseman, Head Coach Doug Pederson outright said that the two would be back. And you believed him. This is why everyone was confused.
Well, that was PARTLY what had everyone confused…
I have to say, when Doug said that both would return in 2020, THAT is what left me confused. It would have meant Doug spending a second straight offseason defending the job Groh has done, had Groh stayed. Had Walch stayed, it would mean keeping a position coach who A) failed miserably to develop young players, and B) couldn’t help any player (young or established) once they started to struggle.
ESPN reporter Chris Mortensen, said on December 2nd “Barring a run in the playoffs, I would say that there is going to be some significant changes on the Philadelphia staff“. Local scribe Rueben Frank echoed those thoughtson THE SAME DAY.
Two reporters, from two different agencies, with one story? Folks, that’s what we sportswriters call “a done deal”. I think many people (both fans and media) either ignored them, or forgot that they said it. I did neither. So for me, these firings were natural. They were the final result, of sustained poor results.
I’m in that large pool of people who thinks that the OC job should go to Assistant Head Coach/Running Back Coach/Run Game Coordinator Duce Staley. I hate the idea of losing him as a position coach, because we’ve generally gotten great results out of his pupils. However, it’s time that Staley got a chance to see if he has higher level coaching chops.
Snubbing him a second time… If the Eagles do that, he should leave. He’s done nothing but succeed for this team, both as a player and as a coach. He’s earned it. More than earned it.
If we don’t give him a bigger nibble, we are officially an obstacle to any higher aspirations that he may have. If we don’t offer him the spot, a serious question has to be raised as to (and I can’t believe it’s me raising this issue), why Duce keeps being passed over, for lesser qualified White candidates. (It’s a non-issue of he gets the nod this time.)
At Wide Receivers Coach, I’d like to see us bring in someone like former WR Cris Carter. He’d bring Immediate Hall Of Fame credibility, high standards, and would make Philly a more attractive destination for free agents, who want to work with coaches who understand what they go through.
I also like Ricky Proehl, but I doubt he could be coaxed up here, from his life in North Carolina. Carter on the other hand, may be (ahem) looking for a next move. Making the move here, could be just the doctor ordered for a man with a much knowledge as he has. Especially, given that it could finally grace him with the Super Bowl ring that has eluded him.
In any case folks, I hardly think we’re done with this overhaul. And just so we’re clear, my 6th sense is telling me that Defensive CoordinatorJim Schwartz won’t be here in 2020. Regardless of whether or not Cleveland hires him as their new head coach. .
AGAIN, LB/DE Connor Barwin has made his wish to comeback to Philadelphia, publicly known. It was a good idea when I wrote about it last March, and it’s still a good idea now. The only question is: Are the Eagles smart enough to pull the trigger? By the way, we should also grab RB Darren Sproles while we’re at it.
No. I’m not interested in an Eagles reunion tour.
What? No! Wrong Eagles! Ooooohh in it’s entirety? No. Never mind that.
Look, I’ve been a fan of bringing back Barwin for years now. On Sproles, I’ve had a recent change of heart, following a recent change of heart. However, as it stands now, both players would be a Necessary Luxury. Yes, the statement is oxymoronic. Allow me to explain.
Barwin is more of a 3-4 OLB than a typical 4-3 DE. However, in a Wide 9 front, the DE position operates more like an OLB with space around it. This puts emphasis on containment and then penetration, as opposed to block stacking and then penetration. Both are examples of setting an edge, but the tactic is different. Last time I checked, Defensive Coordinator Jim Schwartz still employ a Wide 9 front.
With the recent retirement of DE Chris Long, there is a hole here. Second year DE’s Josh Sweat and Joe Ostman, along with rookie DE Shareef Miller,would all like a shot at the 4th spot behind DE’s Brandon Graham, Derek Barnett and Vinny Curry. In fact, it makes sense to elevate a youngin. The trouble is the lack of versatility, which the Eagles covet. Every guy on this list is a defensive lineman. They aren’t meant for playing in space.
Barwin can play with his hand in the dirt, and can can also offer some value as zone coverage LB. He’s played both ILB and OLB, so the Eagles can move him around either situationally, or in the case of an injury. True or false: LB depth has been an issue for the Eagles for a while now? See? Necessary luxury. Barwin is a great locker room influence and also truly embraces the city of Philadelphia itself. In the absence of Long, you really can’t ask for better.
Sproles, is a quietly intriguing case. When I talk to people about him, they always go right to discussing how we don’t need him, because we have RB Miles Sanders. While there may be some truth to that, there is no such thing as too much depth at RB. (Just compare 2018 to 2017.) Besides, if Sproles doesn’t come here, he’s going to New Orleans. Do we need that? Do we?
Also, what most people fail to realize is that right now, as you read this on June 30th 2019, the two most accomplished return men on the Eagles team are WR DeSean Jackson, and RB Corey Clement. Using DJax as a regular returner AND starting WR is stupid. Especially at his age and with his hamstring history. As I said in a prior article Clement has a grand total of 6 (I say again, just 6) career punt returns and just 15 kick returns.
Seems like maybe an on-field mentor would be good to have around. Teach the young guys? See? Necessary luxury. In addition to that, RB Coach Duce Staley has indicated that there might be a budding coach in Sproles. If we can transition him here, it’d be a ton of current wisdom to have in our stockpile.
FOR all those who think the Eagles offensive woes are due to losing two offensive coaches, I have an important update: One of them has already been fired, and he didn’t even last 14 games into his new gig.
Minnesota just shit-canned Offensive Coordinator John DeFilippo, and already Eagles fans are screaming that we should hire him back. This seems weird to me. Don’t get me wrong. I have nothing against the man. All evidence points to him having been good at his job, when he was a QB coach here.
My issue comes with the staggering level of self-deluding, that’s required to think such a move solves anything for this team. I’m alternatingly disgusted, and then morbidly fascinated by it. Instead of taking a hard look in the mirror and fixing what’s wrong, some fans seem to think a spin in the “Way Back Machine” will fix everything.
It won’t. It won’t because it can’t. I realize this makes me the resident buzz-kill, but the band will not be getting back together. The sooner someone says it, the sooner we can let go of the damaged mess we are today, and do the small handful of things needed to be the awesome dynasty we are meant to be. Again, it is a SMALL handful. (Irony is using all caps to write the word “small”.)
Frank Reich will not be coming back. His Colts team looks to be about to make the playoffs, and even if they somehow miss them, the ownership has to be thrilled with how he’s resurrected their franchise and it’s QB. So Reich ain’t coming back.
Reich not coming back means that we will have a different OC than we did during our Super Bowl run. So who should be our OC? DeFilippo? All indications are that he was a good QB coach, but he bombed as an OC, both in Cleveland and Minny. Duce Staley? That would be a great move, but the Eagles already passed on him. Mike Groh? Well that wouldn’t be a change at all, would it?
No. No it wouldn’t.
So do we bring in DeFilippo to be a position coach again, just so he can bail the next time a better job offer comes along? I mean he did walk away from a chance to repeat, right? And he did it quickly too!
You know what? Fine. Devil’s Advocate. Let’s say he gets brought back. Does that change the play-calling? Nope. Does it change the personnel groupings? Nope. How about the overall offensive concept? Well, to make the QB more comfortable, that could be tweaked in places, but by and large, nope.
Look, integrating a new OC meant there was going to be a drop-off. No one thought it would be quite this steep, but these things happen. They do. Also, keep in mind that the same awesome offensive staff from the Super Bowl, was 7 – 9 the season before. So relax. Show some patience. Let the new regime re-tool and grow.
If we add DeFilippo: “Hey, welcome back bro”. If not: “Hey, good luck fella”. Either way we can make it work. We’re going to make it work, because that’s who we are. We just have few small things we need to do, to get this ship righted. At that point, we can start working on our dynasty.
WHEN the Eagles traded for Golden Tate, many fans were happy about it. Not me. I was the guy on social media asking, “Why did we trade for a 30 year old WR?” Now, 3 games, 11 catches, and just 97 yards later, many of the happy crowd are souring on Tate himself. And that’s not fair. He never had a chance at doing what the Eagles need.
Offensive CoordinatorMike Groh, said recently that he’s having trouble integrating Tate into the Offense. Which makes total sense. When last year’s OC Frank Reich left to be the head man in Indianapolis, the Eagles had a no-brainer decision to make in promoting RB’s coach Duce Staley, to the OC spot. They goofed and instead gave the job to Groh, who isn’t nearly as seasoned as Staley. What we’re seeing from the Eagles Offense, is a poor integration of a position coach to a strategy coach.
Golden Tate is a WR. You throw him the ball past the line of scrimmage. That is how you integrate him into an Offense. This attempt to cast him the role of injured RB Darren Sproles is why his integration has gone so poorly. On the surface it seems like he’s a natural fill-in for a guy like Sproles, but that’s where Groh not being as seasoned as Staley, hurts us the most. It’s what happens when an Offensive Coordinator (who’s trying to prove how clever he is), fucks up by putting the cart before the horse. Repeatedly.
With experience you gain not just knowledge (knowing how to do something), but wisdom (knowing why you do, or don’t do, something). Tate is similar to Sproles only on the surface. A WR thinks differently than a RB does. They have different intrinsic purposes, and so they are used differently. If a player like Darren Sproles could be manufactured by putting a WR in the backfield, then every team would have one or two. But it doesn’t work that way. Staley knows that. Groh obviously does not.
Tate isn’t a deep threat. He’s not a jump ball winner. He’s not a red zone dominator. He’s a guy who gets the ball in space and makes extra yardage. Basically he’s a Slot receiver. The easiest and most traditional way to work a Slot in, is to line him up on the weakside of the formation, and throw him passes that stretch the defense horizontally, or quick dumps over a blitz. There. Done. Integrated.
This would be apparent to an OC who himself wasn’t being integrated. Then again, given Staley’s background coaching RB’s who catch the ball (Brian Westbrook, LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Corey Clement), the Tate trade likely wouldn’t have even happened if he’d gotten the OC post. He’d have probably asked to get RBLeGarrette Blountback, so we could run over some people.
BLOWING an ACL while breaking your arm on the same play, is the body’s way of saying “Hey dude, why don’t you read the retirement pamphlet that I got ya”. While I feel bad for RB Darren Sproles, this turn of events has me sort of excited for the Eagles future.
Have you ever wanted to pull your hair out on 3rd and 6, when the QB (Sam Bradford or Carson Wentz), saw nothing downfield, then checked it to Sproles on the right, near the line of scrimmage, for not a first down? You can see that play in your head can’t you. We’ve seen it a lot, right? Too much in fact.
That play used to happen so often, because Sproles is one of the rare RB’s in the NFL who can make something out of it. Frequently he didn’t, but he did often enough for the coaching staff to leave it in as a staple. As a result it became a wobbly crutch, and I for one hated it.
Well good news! That play isn’t really an option anymore. While all of our RB’s can catch, none of them specialize in it. That means the play-calling on first and second down, has to reflect that now. That means the coaching staff has to grow. They must now add a new wrinkle that the NFL has no tape on. Sound good? Well it’s not even the best part.
Every season (going back to Andy Reid’s third year) has involved bringing players who fit the scheme. Coming into this camp, players like Sproles, RB Donnel Pumphrey, and WR Jordan Matthews, were our short passing game. However, with those players now gone, the coaching staff must work scheme towards the strength of the roster, instead working the roster to fit the scheme. They don’t have to scrap the scheme, but they do have to seriously tweak it now.
This is the first Eagles RB group since 2003 (Duce Staley, Brian Westbrook, and Correll Buckhalter) to feature more than one big back and a downhill blocking O-line. Our run game back then wasn’t perimeter based, it was between the Tackles. This is also before B-West had ever caught 50 balls in a season.
Duuuuuuce!, B-West, and Buck
People forget how good we were back then. All three of those RB’s averaged between 4.3 and 5.2 yards per carry, and had at least 675 yards from scrimmage. EACH. Good thing too, because we had to lean on them. In fact, their play put a spotlight on how weak the WR’s were, and so the Front Office stopped fighting us fans, traded for Terrell Owens.
Reminiscent of that Offense, are the players we now have at RB. We also have Wentz, who seems to have found his inner Randall Cunningham. Add that to a much better WR group than any from the Reid-era, along with TE Zach Ertz, who is head and shoulders over Chad Lewis. The Offensive Line just got a quick re-tool, and responded with their best game of the young season. Now just wait until it gels.
What we’re talking about here, is an Offense that works in any temperature, any weather, dome or open air, day or night. The talent is playoff caliber. In fact, the talent is deep-run playoff caliber. We just need to see the play-calling to match.
Sproles injury seems like a dark cloud, but only on the surface. The silver lining is, it will force the coaching staff to take a hard look at some things. The removal of our crutch will force growth, that will pull Doug Pederson further from his Reid upbringing, and more into the guy who brings this city it’s first Super Bowl parade.