Eagles Wake-Up Call: Where Things Stand With Kelly’s Staff

A week ago today, the Eagles introduced Chip Kelly as their new head coach.

His first order of business was to fill out his staff. The Eagles are not confirming any of the moves and plan to announce all the hires at once. But many of the pieces are in place. Here’s a look at where things currently stand:

Offensive coordinatorPat Shurmur was part of the Eagles’ contingent in Mobile and is expected to fill this spot. Shurmur’s background is different than Kelly’s, but the Birds’ head coach said that could be a good thing.

“I don’t want everybody to be the same because I don’t think we’d grow as a group,” Kelly said. “I think we need to challenge each other.”

Shurmur, 47, spent the past two seasons as the head coach of the Browns. Cleveland went 9-23 under his direction. He was the offensive coordinator of the Rams in 2009 and 2010. Shurmur spent 10 seasons as the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach from 1999 to 2008. He coached the tight ends at Michigan State from 1990 to 1997 and Stanford’s offensive line in 1998.

Defensive coordinator – Nothing official here, although it looks like the Eagles could be waiting on 49ers secondary coach Ed Donatell, who currently has the Super Bowl to worry about. Donatell has spent the last two seasons as the 49ers’ secondary coach. Before that, he held the same title in Denver from 2009 to 2010. Donatell was the defensive coordinator at the University of Washington in 2008, a special assistant to the Jets in 2007 and defensive coordinator of the Falcons from 2004 to 2006. He spent four seasons as the Packers’ defensive coordinator (2000-2003) and was Denver’s secondary coach from 1995 to 1999. Donatell coached the Jets’ secondary from 1990 to 1994. Overall, he has 21 years of NFL experience, including seven as a defensive coordinator.

Special teams coach – Dave Fipp showed up at the Senior Bowl Wednesday with an Eagles hoodie on. He’ll take over for Bobby April as the team’s special-teams coach. Fipp spent the past two seasons as the Dolphins’ assistant special teams coach. He served the same role with the 49ers from 2008 to 2010.

Running backs coach Duce Staley takes over for Ted Williams. Staley has spent three seasons on the Eagles’ coaching staff – one as an intern and the last two as special teams quality control coach. He has also been assisting Williams with the running backs during that time.

Wide receivers coach – According to FootballScoop.com, Bob Bicknell will join Kelly’s staff, although it’s unclear exactly what his title will be. Bicknell coached the Bills’ wide receivers in 2012. He was the Chiefs’ tight ends coach in 2009 and Kansas City’s offensive line coach in 2008. He served as assistant offensive line coach in 2007 and also has experience in college and NFL Europe.

Tight ends coach – Williams moves from running backs to tight ends. He had been the team’s running backs coach since 1997, but Williams did spend two seasons as the team’s tight-ends coach in 1995 and 1996.

Defensive line coachJerry Azzinaro was in Mobile all week as part of the Eagles’ staff. He comes over after having spent the past four years as Oregon’s defensive line coach. In case you missed the earlier video, Azzinaro likes violence.

Linebackers coachRick Minter was also in Mobile all week and could fill this role. Minter spent the past two seasons as Kentucky’s defensive coordinator. He was Cincinnati’s head coach from 1994 to 2003. John Harbaugh coached special teams on Minter’s staff, and Mike Tomlin coached defensive backs under him. Overall, Minter’s coached at 12 different places – all in the college ranks. This will be his first NFL job.

Defensive backs coach – According to FootballScoop.com, Boston College defensive coordinator Bill McGovern will join Kelly’s staff, although again, we’re not sure of his role. McGovern spent the last four seasons as BC’s defensive backs coach. He was in charge of linebackers from 2000 to 2008 and defensive backs from 1994 to 1996. McGovern coached Pittsburgh’s defensive backs from 1997 to 1999. He has never coached in the NFL.

* No word yet on quarterbacks coach or offensive line coach.

* Per Adam Caplan, former NFL tight end Justin Peelle will join Kelly’s staff.

* Per FootballScoop.com, Mike Dawson will serve as defensive quality control coach.


Tim took a look at the team’s possible transition to a 3-4.

A couple Pac-12 defensive players talked about what it’s like to play against Kelly’s offenses.

Tim’s got more on the special-teams hire.

Kelly and the Eagles met with Malvern Prep product Ryan Nassib. Is he a potential QB target?


Tommy Lawlor over at IgglesBlitz.com offers his take on Donatell:

Donatell is a 4-3 coach, but has spent the last 2 years in SF working on a 3-4 defense.  He’s got nothing to do with the front seven, but you wonder if he has picked that scheme up and would now want to run it.  I tend to think he’d stick with the 4-3, but that isn’t a certainty.  The reason Donatell would be an appealing DC is because his teams are good at coming up with takeaways and he knows how to coach DBs.  Those were 2 huge problems on the 2012 Eagles.

Dave Richard of CBSSports.com offers his take on Kelly bringing his up-tempo attack to the NFL:

As Long and Barner progress to the pros, so will Kelly’s offense. But here’s a parting thought: What if: Kelly wanted to scrap the up-tempo no-huddle approach, be it because NFL defenses are different than the Pac-12 or because he feels like it’s best based on his personnel? If that were ever to be the case, Barner goes back to what he’s been saying about Kelly all along.

“He has no problem adapting to any situation that he’s been placed in,” he said. “The man’s a genius, so I think he can change anything.”


Our time in Mobile is up, but we’ll have plenty to talk about in the coming days.

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  • aub32

    I think Bicknell might have been brought in specifically to teach our WRs how to run block given his O line and TE background.

  • Graham

    Really like the idea of Ted Donatell, looks like someone who can really take a hold of the D and leave the O to Chip

  • RC5000

    I thought it was Ed Donatell – other than a sighting or two, this article has about zero info except something you could get off Wiki.

    • ICDogg

      It’s not supposed to be anything more than a cumulative summary.

  • Damien

    I actually really like these hires. It’s a good mix of college, NFL, and past Eagles coaches. If we get Donatell I will be very pleased.

  • The Guru

    So let me get this straight, our defensive coaching staff is going to be 1 guy with NFL experience who was VERY average as a coordinator, and 3 college coaches with no NFL experience who the coordinator did not choose? Wow I hope I’m wrong, but this has all the makings of a complete disaster on defense.

    • Graham

      Agreed here, who really knows tho. Like CK says, it’s all about relationships. Plus that Dline coach Azzinaro looks really interesting lol…. excited to see him

      • theycallmerob

        Didn’t we all jump the gun 2 years ago when Washburn, Mudd, Bowles, etc. came aboard? Who’s to know how they’ll transition?
        And any coach who can turn Carlos Rogers into a pro bowler is a miracle worker!

        • ICDogg

          Washburn brought a distinct system with him. So did Mudd. That’s not what is happening with the Kelly hires. These assistants are teachers, not schemers. They will teach any system that they are asked to teach.

          • ICDogg

            And, by the way, that’s why they (on the D side) won’t be a problem for a new DC hire, whether it’s Donatell or someone else. They would have the flexibility to help the DC implement whatever system the DC wants to implement.

          • theycallmerob

            I agree with you, and in fact like/support most of the hires. Just making the point that college coaches with no NFL experience won’t be as big an issue as it was those years ago, when it was more a scheme issue.
            Until there’s concrete evidence otherwise, in Kelly I trust.

    • aub32

      Maybe, but on the flip side look at NO last season. They and Spags and a bevy of NFL coaches. Yet their defense was historically bad.

      • The Guru

        New Orleans was crushed by losing all their coaches and suspensions etc. I’d take Spags over Donatell any day of the week…

        • aub32

          The defensive side of the ball remained relatively untouched. Vilma was on PUP so he wouldn’t have played anyway, and he never missed a game due to the suspension. Plus, they added Bunkley and Lofton in FA. Seems like the problems were talent than coaching.

        • GoBirds1

          spags was just fired, be careful what you wish for

          • The Guru

            Saw that. They would be extremely foolish not to kick the tires on Spags. He’s a much better option than Ed Donnatell.

  • Dawkins20Fan

    Pat Shurmur only became the QB Coach in 2002 (Brad Childress was the QB Coach from 99-01 until he got promoted to OC).

  • Can we get BDAWK to Coach our D?

    I like that

  • RickInJersey

    Sheil, more digging, please. I want to see where these coaches ranked when they were in their former positions. When ___ coached the ___, the team ranked ___ in takeaways, or 3rd down defense, or sacks, etc. Knowing Fipp coached in a ST that ranked 2nd and 4th the last two years fills me with confidence. Would like that on the other hires/potentials.

  • Dan

    I think Shurmur is the defacto QB coach….I’m sure they’ll hire a young guy to have the title but Shurmur’s main focus will be developing Foles or whoever is the QB.

  • Um…why would you move the only successful assistant coach on the team, Ted Williams, to a different position? Seems kinda dumb, like making an o-line coach a DC.

  • FMWarner

    I have no idea if he’s actually a good coach, but it’s just nice to see Duce Staley on the staff.

  • MAC

    The concern I have is that we are hiring defensive position coaches before the defensive coordinator. I think that it’s best to let the Def Coordinator choose his position guys. I am going to give CK the benefit of the doubt, but that part scares me, Unless Kelly already knows he has his guy for Def Coordinator but can’t announce it. Maybe he already has consulted him for the defensive position coaches. I am keeping an open mind about all this, but this sure doesn’t look like something the elite franchises in this league would do. Neither does hiring a guy like CK though so I guess just role with it all and will see over next 3-4 years.