Eagles Wake-Up Call: Pederson’s Potential Staff
When Jeffrey Lurie fired Chip Kelly, he sent the Eagles into a state of uncertainty. It’s a state that — even with the expected hiring of Doug Pederson — won’t be settled for weeks.
The lack of clarity looms because it’s unknown who Pederson will tab as his coordinators, and who the assistant coaches will be on both sides of the ball, as well as on special teams. However, reports have circulated about which coaches will leave, be retained or be added.
In an attempt to clear up the murky picture, let’s piece together Pederson’s potential staff.
There are (at least) three coaches who are expected to follow Kelly to San Francisco: quarterbacks coach Ryan Day, wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell, and assistant head coach/defensive line coach Jerry Azzinaro.
NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport reported that Day will join the 49ers either as their quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator. It makes sense that Day would follow Kelly, as he both played and coached under Kelly at New Hampshire. Although 2015 was Day’s first season as an NFL coach, he seemed to make an impact as Sam Bradford credited Day with his improved footwork, pocket movement and weight transfer.
Bicknell, whom the 49ers expressed interest in last year to be offensive coordinator, will be San Francisco’s wide receivers coach. Alex Marvez of Fox Sports first reported the news about Bicknell, who joined the Eagles at the start of Kelly’s tenure in 2013.
The least surprising move is that Azzinaro will follow Kelly, as the Inquirer’s Jeff McLane reported. Azzinaro, whom the Eagles’ website describes as “a coaching confidant” of Kelly, came to the Eagles from Oregon in 2013. The defensive line was one of the team’s strengths this season, and although Azzinaro had plenty of talent to work with, his players attributed a lot of their success to him.
Although he fired Kelly, Lurie — as well as Howie Roseman — knew immediately that he wanted some of his assistants to stick around. According to Paul Domowitch of the Daily News, Lurie and Roseman planned to recommend to the Eagles’ next coach that special teams coordinator Dave Fipp, running backs coach Duce Staley, defensive backs coach Cory Undlin and offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland should be retained.
FootballScoop reported that Pederson will keep Stoutland, Staley and Fipp. Marvez also reported that Undlin will remain as the Eagles defensive backs coach, while Tim Hauck will be the assistant defensive backs coach. Matthew Harper currently assists Undlin, but it’d make sense if Harper follows Kelly to San Francisco as he interned and coached under Kelly at Oregon. Hauck, meanwhile, was Pederson’s teammate in Philadelphia in 1999.
The defensive backs have raved about Undlin in his first year, so it’s no surprise he’ll be back. Fipp has been the special teams coordinator since 2013, and his unit ranked in the top six in the NFL in 2014 and 2015, according to Football Outsiders.
The Eagles obviously think highly of Staley, who’s been on staff since 2010, and interviewed him in their coaching search. Although Stoutland’s unit didn’t play well this season, it’s safe to say he didn’t have much talent to work with, particularly at guard.
Before the Pederson news even leaked, Aaron Rich of KTSM NewsChannel reported that Ken Flajole accepted a job with the Eagles on Thursday. It’s unknown what Flajole’s position will be, but his latest NFL job was as the Browns’ inside linebackers coach.
However, when it comes to Pederson’s offensive and defensive coordinators, his preferences are less clear. Marcus Hayes of the Daily News reported that Frank Reich is Pederson’s top choice for offensive coordinator, and Steve Spagnuolo is for defensive coordinator.
But when the Pederson hiring became public, 97.5 The Fanatic’s Anthony Gargano reported that Brad Childress was “likely” the offensive coordinator. Sports Illustrated’s Don Banks also reported that the Eagles were interested in Jim Schwartz, who has multiple other offers to be defensive coordinator.
Reich was recently fired by the Chargers, along with four of his position coaches, after being San Diego’s offensive coordinator for two seasons. Spagnuolo is expected to be retained in New York, but it’s possible Pederson could hire him.
Schwartz’s last NFL job was as the Bills’ defensive coordinator in 2014, and he was previously the Lions’ head coach from 2009 to 2013. Meanwhile, Childress was the Vikings’ head coach from 2006 to 2010. He’s currently the spread game analyst/special projects coach for the Chiefs.
Andy Reid was asked on Sunday at his press conference whether he anticipated Pederson taking some coaches from Kansas City to Philadelphia, but Reid sounded dubious.
“I don’t think so,” Reid said. “Starting back with Mike Holmgren, and Mike Holmgren with Bill Walsh, you always kind of check with the head coach on those things. Normally, what you want to do is start and take your own guys and go build a program. That’s kind of how you roll. It was a little different in my situation coming here because we were all released. If the staff is intact, normally you talk with the head coach, and we’ll do all that, but I don’t foresee that. I don’t foresee a lot of guys leaving to do that.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
“Gamble’s affinity for Kelly proved to be a big reason Kelly landed back in the NFL.” What they’re saying about Chip Kelly.
“All of that gives him a unique perspective on the quarterback position when he’s coaching it.” What they’re saying about Doug Pederson.
Unlike Andy Reid, Pederson seemed to be a backup plan, writes T-Mac.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Les Bowen explains how Ron Jaworski aided the Eagles’ coaching search.
THERE WERE 20 to 25 candidates “that we spent a lot of time on,” when the Eagles made a list of head-coaching possibilities, Ron Jaworski said Friday. He said a thorough vetting process knocked the candidates down to the half-dozen who were interviewed, with Doug Pederson emerging as the eventual choice.
Jaworski served as a “special adviser” to the search committee of team chairman Jeffrey Lurie, team president Don Smolenski and vice president Howie Roseman. Jaworski said veteran former NFL general manager Bill Polian also advised, though Polian did not sit in on interviews.
John Smallwood details some Andy Reid habits Pederson should avoid.
* DO NOT mismanage the game clock. Doug, for the life of you, do not call a timeout within the first 17 minutes of your first game unless you absolutely have a crystal- clear reason for doing so.
Reid became infamous in Philadelphia for his constant inability to properly manage time.
On Saturday, with the Chiefs down two touchdowns with 6 1/2 minutes left, he let 5 minutes, 16 seconds burn during a scoring drive without using any of his three timeouts.
The Eagles may officially announce Doug Pederson’s hiring as early as today.