Besides promoting from within, what do the Eagles do?
They had such a good thing going. Now they’re going to have to go outside the building for some replacements, even if they don’t for the openings at offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach.
What they’re certainly considering doing first is promoting running backs coach Duce Staley to offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach Mike Groh to quarterbacks coach.
Staley has earned the respect of everyone in the building and has survived the last two head-coaching changes. Though he wouldn’t have play-calling responsibilities with the Eagles — head coach Doug Pederson does that — making him an offensive coordinator would put the team at the forefront of helping to break the stigma still associated with black coaches on the offensive side.
Almost all of the black coaches in the league today and throughout history have risen through the defensive ranks.
Getting the right replacement for DeFilippo will be just as crucial. DeFilippo did a marvelous job with all the quarterbacks, which is why the Eagles blocked him from becoming the Jets’ offensive coordinator a year ago. They could not stand in his way this year, however, because his contract expired.
Groh might be a great choice, but that would keep the revolving door spinning at his old spot. If he is moved, it would mean the Eagles will have a different receivers coach four seasons in a row.
DeFilippo was not just instrumental in the quantum leap Carson Wentz made from Year 1 to Year 2, when he established himself as a legitimate MVP candidate before suffering a season-ending knee injury in December. He did the same with Nick Foles, who went on to be the Super Bowl MVP, and inspired the same kind of confidence in Nate Sudfeld.
Here’s some highlights of a conversation The Morning Call had with DeFilippo three days before the Super Bowl.
On how confident he is in the inexperienced Sudfeld, the only other quarterback they chose to keep on the roster following Wentz’s injury, if something should happen Foles:
“One hundred percent just as confident as I was Nick going in when Carson got hurt. I see him every day prepare, I see him every day getting better on the field. I mean, he can drive the football. There is no doubt he can drive the football.”
On the benefit of adding scrambling or shifting moves to every quarterback drill, driving all of them off their spots before throwing and sometimes throwing off the back foot:
“There’s two [constants] in the NFL. Very rarely is anyone open. Very rarely do you get a clean pocket where you don’t have to move your feet. So everything you see us do on the field we call real football. So we don’t jump over bags and do hoops and throw stuff at the quarterbacks or some of those other cute drills that may work for other people but they just don’t work for us. We do game movements all the time, and that’s just something that’s a philosophical thing for me. I will never make a quarterback make a movement that he will not make in a game.”
Reich and DeFilippo are huge losses, but there is little doubt the Eagles already have coaches in their system who are capable of filling those voids.
All of the running backs swear by Staley, and their production this past season, in which no workhorse was established, serves as proof. Running backs often cannot maximize their performances when sharing the workload. Jay Ajayi, LeGarrette Blount and rookie Corey Clement did — without complaint.