Eagles

All the ways Eagles proved Chip Kelly wrong

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All the ways Eagles proved Chip Kelly wrong

The Eagles are well past the mostly disastrous days of Chip Kelly, but it's astonishing to look at how often they proved him wrong this season en route to their first Super Bowl title.

Time of possession does actually matter
Remember all those times Chip said time of possession didn't matter? 

Well, the Eagles just led the NFL in time of possession, dominated all three playoff opponents in time of possession and won the Super Bowl.

Think it helped that their fourth-quarter, game-winning drive lasted over seven minutes? Or that they set the tone against the Patriots' defense with an opening drive that lasted nearly half of the first quarter?

Eerily, the Eagles held the ball for exactly 34:04 against the Vikings in the NFC Championship Game and the Patriots in the Super Bowl. For the season, they controlled the ball for 32:48 per game.

In some convoluted way, you wonder if the grueling nature of practices and games under Kelly inevitably helped the Eagles' defense. These guys were used to being on the field 35 minutes a game, so they built up that stamina and energy reserve, then didn't need as much of it. 

Foles > Bradford
Remember how frustrated Eagles fans were initially when Chip traded Nick Foles and a second-round pick to the Rams for Sam Bradford?

Sure looks like another talent misevaluation.

Bradford has had trouble staying healthy, missing nearly all of 2017 with a knee injury.

Foles just won a Super Bowl and became the only QB ever to have three TDs, 350-plus yards and 65-plus percent accuracy in consecutive postseason weeks.

There's also this:

As for Bradford, he's still yet to attempt a playoff pass.

Empowering players works ... who'da thunk it?
Jeff Lurie's "emotional intelligence" quote after the firing of Kelly got a ton of attention. It's not a phrase you often hear uttered in sports.

Know what? Lurie got that aspect of his coaching search 100 percent right. Super Bowl or not, innovative play-calling or not, aggressiveness or not, Pederson connected with these players from Day 1. 

The veterans' council he set up went a very long way in creating a harmonious link between locker room and coaching staff. Guys got to rest when they needed to. They got to ramp up practice aggression and hit more when they needed to. Under Chip, the Eagles never hit in practice.

And, maybe most importantly, they got to be themselves. One of the best quotes after the Super Bowl came from Malcolm Jenkins in his postgame message to the locker room. 

If only Chip had past evidence that democracies work better than dictatorships.

'Big people beat up little people'
Not always the case.

Know who's undersized for his position? Mychal Kendricks, who fell out of favor under Kelly and just had by far the best season of his career.

Jordan Matthews is a big receiver Kelly loved playing in the slot, but the Eagles traded Matthews and took their slot production to another level this season with the smaller, shiftier, speedier Nelson Agholor.

On the flipside of that equation is Eric Rowe, a cornerback with good size drafted under the Kelly regime and traded by Howie Roseman. Rowe has been an OK pro, but he was overmatched in the first half of the Super Bowl against Alshon Jeffery and was in coverage on Jeffery's 34-yard touchdown catch. It wasn't until the Patriots moved Stephon Gilmore onto Jeffery that he slowed down.

Interchangeable running backs
Another common refrain from Kelly during his time here was that all of his running backs were interchangeable and capable of doing the same things on the field.

That claim from Kelly defied logic considering he said it about a group of DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles, three very different running backs.

Pederson this season divvied up playing time among his RBs in a strategic, effective way. Darren Sproles, then Kenjon Barner and eventually Corey Clement played well in the James White role. LeGarrette Blount was money in short yardage more often than not. Jay Ajayi's fresh legs provided runs of 71, 46, 30, 22 and 19 yards down the stretch.

Leonard Fournette was the only running back in the NFL this season who had more rushing first downs than Blount and Ajayi.

Values
One thing Chip was right about? Culture does indeed beat scheme. Just not his culture.

Duce Staley would have been the easier choice

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Duce Staley would have been the easier choice

The right choice isn't always the easy one. Ultimately, we won't know for some time if the Eagles' tabbing Mike Groh for the job of offensive coordinator over Duce Staley was the correct call. But we know they didn't take the easy way out.

Staley has spent 14 seasons with the Eagles as a player and coach. He's been in charge of the Eagles' running backs since 2013 and even interviewed for the head coaching spot after Chip Kelly was fired following the 2015 season. He has the utmost respect of the guys who have played for him and from the organization. His time coaching in Philadelphia has spanned three head coaches (Andy Reid, Kelly, Doug Pederson). That tells you how the folks in the executive offices feel about him. He would have been the easier choice. He juggled egos and the Eagles' crowded backfield skillfully. He smoothly integrated Jay Ajayi into the Birds' system after a midseason trade.

Duce checked a lot of boxes. But Pederson and the Birds chose to go with Groh, who has been with the club for just one season. (They did, according to a league source, reward Staley with a new title: Assistant head coach/running backs.)

The 46-year-old Groh coached the Eagles' wide receivers last year and is credited with helping Nelson Agholor find his game and confidence. Groh has coached in college and the pros for 18 seasons, including a stint as the offensive coordinator at his alma mater, Virginia. Perhaps that gave him the edge in Pederson's and the team's eyes. 

Despite Pederson's calling the plays, the job of offensive coordinator is not just a title. Frank Reich played a huge role game-planning and acting as a sounding board. 

Can't imagine Staley is too happy about this development. It will be interesting to see if he chooses to stay or go elsewhere. But if the track record of Pederson and Roseman is any indication, they did a pretty good job putting together the staff that helped them win their first Super Bowl. So they've earned some trust on the hiring end.

Eagles reach decision at offensive coordinator

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Eagles reach decision at offensive coordinator

Doug Pederson has made his decision. 

The Eagles are promoting wide receivers coach Mike Groh to offensive coordinator, a league source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia. ESPN's Tim McManus first reported the move.  

On Monday, Pederson interviewed Groh and running backs coach Duce Staley for the vacant offensive coordinator job after Frank Reich became the Colts' head coach earlier this month. 

Groh, 46, just joined the Eagles last offseason, taking over for Greg Lewis. In his first year in Philly, he did a masterful job with the Eagles' receivers and had a bigger role in the offense and game-planning than a typical receivers coach. 

There had been a report that Pederson was thinking about not having an official offensive coordinator for the 2018 season. He already calls the plays. But it looks like he saw the value in filling Reich's old spot. 

Staley did get a consolation prize though. According to league sources, the longtime Eagle will get a new title of assistant head coach/running backs. Staley has been with the Eagles as a coach since 2011 and has been in his current role as running backs coach since 2013. He has previously expressed interest in moving up the ladder. ESPN's Josina Anderson first reported the new title for Staley. 

When Pederson hired Reich to be his offensive coordinator, he said he was interested in what Reich could bring to the downfield passing game. If that's still important, it would make sense for him to hire a receivers coach with a background as a quarterback over a former running back and running backs coach. 

The 2018 staff is starting to come together. Press Taylor is expected to be named the team's quarterbacks coach (filling in for John DeFilippo), Groh is OC and Staley will stay with the running backs. The last shoe to drop appears to be filling Groh's old post of receivers coach.