Eagles

How hard could coaching losses hit Eagles?

How hard could coaching losses hit Eagles?

Andy Reid's original coaching staff in 1999 included names such as John Harbaugh, Brad Childress, Ron Rivera, Leslie Frazier, Pat Shurmur and Steve Spagnuolo.

Frazier left after the 2002 season, Rivera one year later. From 2005 through 2008, Childress, Spagnuolo, Harbaugh and Shurmur left. All either immediately or soon became NFL head coaches, most very successful ones.

Along with Rod Dowhower's retirement after the 2001 season and Jim Johnson's tragic death after the 2008 season, Reid's staff underwent a gradual and almost complete overhaul from 2002 through 2008.

Do the names Mike Reed, Bill Shuey, Ted Daisher, Pete Jenkins, Rory Segrest, James Urban and Mike Caldwell mean anything? 

They were among the replacements for that initial group of assistants. None ever became a head coach, and only Urban and Caldwell are even still coaching in the NFL — both as position coaches.

That's not the only reason for the team's gradual and almost complete decline over the second half of Reid's tenure with the Eagles, but it definitely had a lot to do with it.

Reid was never able to properly replace that original group. Whatever magic he had building from that original staff was gone. And after going 75-37 with eight playoff wins from 2000 through 2006, his last six years in Philly resulted in two postseason wins and a 50-45-1 record.

Which brings us to 2018, and Doug Pederson's staff, which I think is almost as strong as Big Red's initial staff two decades ago.

Quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and offensive coordinator Frank Reich — in that order — all may have an opportunity in the next month to become head coaches.

DeFilippo already has interviews arranged with the Bears and Cardinals, and Schwartz is scheduled to meet with the Giants for their head coaching vacancy. We're likely to learn of more interviews in the coming days.

DeFilippo would be an enormous loss. His work developing Carson Wentz from a third-string rookie out of an unheralded football championship subdivision school into an MVP candidate in just 16 months was remarkable.

Really, it's hard to imagine Flip won't get a head coaching job. He's that hot of a candidate right now. A tremendous teacher, a terrific communicator and one of those guys who just carries himself like a head coach.

All Schwartz has done is lead the Eagles' defense to its first top-five ranking since 2008, Johnson's last year here, and its first No. 1 ranking against the run in 26 years.

He has head coaching experience — he went 29-51 with one playoff season in five years with the Lions from 2009 through 2013 — but his biggest selling point is the work he did this year with a defense that was ranked 28th just two years ago and has evolved into one of the NFL's elite units.

A couple things are working against Schwartz. Most teams are looking for offensive head coaches these days. They want a head coach who can help develop a young franchise quarterback. Schwartz also may not be the ideal front man for a franchise. He's great with the media but trends toward the sarcastic and acerbic, and some teams may not want that personality as the face of the franchise. And then there's that 29-51 record in Detroit.

As for Reich, I'd be surprised if he's seriously considered for a head coaching job, simply because most teams are going to credit DeFilippo and Pederson for Wentz's development. And at 56 with no head coaching experience, Reich's not going to be considered a "hot" candidate.

The Eagles are in an interesting position with DeFilippo and Reich. Flip's contract is up, so he can go wherever he wants once the season is over. He's a coaching free agent who's going to be in tremendous demand. If he doesn't get a head coaching offer, he's sure to get numerous offensive coordinator offers.

One thing is virtually certain: He won't be back with the Eagles as quarterbacks coach. If the Eagles want to keep him if he doesn't get a head coaching job, they'd probably have to make him offensive coordinator or assistant head coach and give him an enormous raise.

Where would that leave Reich? Would they fire or reassign Reich in order to keep Flip? It's possible. If the Eagles continue to struggle with Nick Foles at quarterback, Reich could be made the scapegoat for the offense's late-season struggles to clear the way for DeFilippo.

If the Eagles do lose DeFilippo and keep Reich, I could see wide receivers coach Mike Groh seamlessly becoming quarterbacks coach. Groh was a star quarterback at Virginia and has served as a big-time college quarterbacks coach and the passing game coordinator last year with the Rams under Jeff Fisher.

Another viable candidate would be current assistant QBs coach Press Taylor, a college quarterback himself at Marshall and originally a Chip Kelly hire back in 2013.

As for Schwartz, I'm not sure there's a clear heir apparent internally, although another Kelly hire, Cory Undlin, has done wonders with the defensive backs over the last three years and would certainly make sense.

Then there's Spagnuolo, who is expected to be let go with the Giants' purge. Spags was a quality control coach with the Eagles in 1999, when Pederson played here, so there is a connection there.

Whatever is next, it's clear that some of the most important decisions Pederson has to make won't come until after the season ends.

5 Minutes with Roob: Beau Allen getting better and better

5 Minutes with Roob: Beau Allen getting better and better

Beau Allen is definitely one of the unsung performers on this Eagles' roster.

Now in his fourth year as an undrafted free-agent defensive tackle out of Wisconsin, Allen played a career-high 28 snaps per game this year in the Eagles' D-line rotation and is a valued enough player that he was on the field when the Eagles stopped the Falcons on 4th-and-2 with the game on the line Saturday.

Allen joined us for this week's 5 Minutes with Roob.

Roob: We've got to start with the most important thing. Tell us about Seven-Layer Jello.

Beau: "Oh yeah, that is by far the most important thing. Seven-layer jello is a dish that my mom makes, and it's pretty self-explanatory. It's seven layers of jello. It's kind of a visual spectacle, too. It's different flavors of jello kind of stacked on top of each other. Usually, you have a clear bowl and it's a main dish at basically any Allen holiday event. It's pretty good. My mom's a great cook. She hates when I talk about it, but it's really an amazing dish."

Roob: The nucleus of this defensive line — Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham, Vinny Curry and you — has been together a long time. All you guys have been together since at least 2014. How big is that for this group?

Beau: "I think we are a pretty well-seasoned group. We have spent a lot of time together and we all really like each other too. One thing that we're all pretty experienced, we've all gotten a lot of reps, and we all bring kind of a something different to the table. Fletcher is a different player than I am and Timmy (Jernigan) is different from Destiny (Vaeao), and the same thing with the defensive ends, and I think that makes it tough for offensive lines."

Roob: You played 17 percent of the snaps as a rookie, then almost 30 percent in your second year under Bill Davis, then up to 40 percent last year and 41 percent this year. How hard have you worked to go from an undrafted rookie free agent to a key part of this defensive line rotation?

Beau: "I don't really like to talk too much about how hard I'm working. I feel like if you're talking about how you're working hard you're probably not working that hard. But yeah, whenever you get to this time of year you kind of look back a little bit. It's been a heck of a journey for me. I tore my pec last offseason and it seems like it was a really long time ago, but it was just seven months ago or something like that. But battled back from that and to end up where we are now, playing for the NFC Championship against the Minnesota Vikings, it's really cool. It's always fun to look back and kind of see how far you've come."

Roob: What was your first career playoff game like?

Beau: "It was amazing. It was really cool. I was fortunate to be on the field there at the end of the game, and anytime you get a 4th-and-2 stop for your season, it was pretty electric. I kind of blacked out, but celebrating after that play was a lot of fun."

Roob: On that play and really the whole game, you guys seemed to approach it like any other game, despite what was at stake. How big was that?

Beau: "When you come to playoff football, what it really comes down to is just doing your job, just doing what you've done to get to that point. Not really trying to do anything above and beyond your role. That's one thing we all try to do, just perfect the little details of each play, and I think that gets even more elevated in the playoffs."

Roob: Chris Maragos is always talking about the crazy atmosphere at Wisconsin home games at Camp Randall Stadium. How did Saturday at the Linc compare to football on Saturday afternoons in Madison?

Beau: "It is pretty similar. One thing that I love about Madison and Camp Randle is 'Jump Around.' I think it's the coolest tradition in college football. But both are definitely rowdy fans that are really passionate about the game of football, so definitely similar in that aspect."

Roob: How important has it been to focus on the Vikings and not think about how the Super Bowl is just one win away?

Beau: "I'm definitely a one-day-at-a-time, a one-play-at-a-time kind of guy. You can't look too far ahead. We're just focused on this game Sunday and, like I said, doing all the little things. That's definitely how we've approached it this week and kind of how we've approached every game this season."

Roob: OK, you're from Minnesota. Can you please assure Eagles fans that you're not — and never were — a Vikings fan?

Beau: "I put an end to that narrative real quick. I grew up about 30 minutes west of Minneapolis. I was a Packers fan growing up. Not a Vikings fan. Nobody in my family is Vikings fans. They're all going to be out here cheering for us on Sunday. I made sure of it. I gave them lie detector tests and flashed a real bright light in everybody's face and made sure. They've all been vetted thoroughly."

These 4 Eagles want another serving or two

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AP Images

These 4 Eagles want another serving or two

It took Nigel Bradham six years in the NFL before he got a chance to play in his first playoff game. 

He's not taking any of this for granted. 

"It's funny, man, because you think, 'Damn, I've been playing in the league six years and this is my first appearance,'" Bradham said this week as the Eagles prepare for Sunday's NFC Championship Game. "You kind of be like, 'Dang, man, why'd it take so long?' It's more than just you, obviously. It's a team sport. I've been fortunate enough to be on a great team and to have the opportunity. 

"Right now, I'm 1-0 and I'm looking forward to having more success in the playoffs. It's definitely an amazing feeling."

Bradham isn't the only Eagles player in a similar situation. Stefen Wisniewski, in his seventh season, and Rodney McLeod and Alshon Jeffery, both in their sixth seasons, all played in their first playoff game last Saturday against the Falcons. 

The group, which had a combined 369 regular-season games without a playoff appearance, finally got a taste of the postseason. They're not ready for this ride to end. 

Because no one ever really knows how long it might take to get back. 

"The feeling was great," McLeod said. "To go out there, first playoff game, at home and come out with the win. Couldn't ask for a better story. 

"But now knowing that game is history and moving on to the Vikings, who are a great team and they've been like that all year. We're going to have to elevate our game even more than last week if we want to get to that next step. The road to the Super Bowl doesn't get easier."

All four definitely made their impact felt against the Falcons last Saturday. Bradham played well all game and came up huge on the final fourth down. McLeod was called for a personal foul, but it was a weak call and either way, it saved a touchdown. Jeffery caught four passes for 61 yards, including some that came in huge situations. And Wisniewski played his best game since joining the Eagles two years ago. 

Jeffery called the atmosphere at the Linc against the Falcons "electric" and expects the same type of level from fans this Sunday in the NFC Championship Game. 

"I just try to stay in the moment, stay locked in," Jeffery said about his first playoff run. "I'm not trying to reflect on anything right now. I think I'll do that after the season, when the season is officially over with. Right now, I'm just trying to do a great job trying to stay locked in one day at a time." 

It's pretty clear it meant a lot to Jeffery to finally make it to the playoffs, but he's also very clearly not happy with just getting there. He's always a calm guy during the week, but it's obvious he's working to keep his emotions in check. 

"Of course, we all know we're one game away from the Super Bowl," Jeffery said, "but you just have to be relaxed and try to not go out there and think about that." 

Of course, these four players aren't the only first-timers the Eagles have in the playoffs. They have many more. It's just that these four had to wait the longest. 

In the week leading into the Falcons game, head coach Doug Pederson admitted he of course wondered how his first-timers would perform under the bright lights of the playoffs. Based on one win, he got a pretty quick answer. 

One thing is for sure: the four guys who had to all wait at least six seasons for their first taste of the playoffs will do almost anything to keep this going. 

"This is what we worked for," Bradham said. "When you go back to OTAs and all your training and doing everything in the offseason with the guys, 7-on-7 and things like that. This is what it's all for. You put all that work in, man, and you know what's on the line. We all are excited. We're just ready to go out here and play."