If Doug Pederson had tested positive for coronavirus five weeks from now, Duce Staley would have been the Eagles’ head coach heading into the season opener.
The Eagles are lucky it’s still early August.
Because Pederson did test positive for COVID-19 and is quarantining. While he’ll still lead virtual calls, Staley will take over any in-person head coaching duties, a source confirmed to NBC Sports Philadelphia.
Pederson’s contracting COVID-19 is just a reminder that the Eagles need to be ready for every scenario in 2020. Coaches always have contingency plans for players based on injury, but this year, the Eagles need to have backups ready for all their coaches too.
“I think there has to be a plan in place for any coach or any staff member that may miss a couple days or a couple weeks because of the virus,” Pederson said just last week.
“So those are all things that are running through my mind. Again, we are in a different environment and we all have to do our part to protect ourselves, protect our players and our families and hopefully we minimize any setbacks.”
With Pederson’s positive test dominating the news cycle, it’s probably a good time to get familiar with some of the Eagles’ lower-level assistant coaches, who could be thrust into bigger roles out of necessity this season:
Head coach: Doug Pederson
With Pederson out, we’re already seeing the Eagles’ backup plan. Duce Staley has taken over as interim head coach. During the 2018 offseason, Staley interviewed for the Eagles’ offensive coordinator position, but it went to Mike Groh instead, so Duce was given a promotion to assistant head coach/running backs coach. Staley has been the Eagles’ running backs coach since 2013 and is considered one of the best coaches on the staff. While he hasn’t moved up very quickly in the coaching world, Staley said recently he’s happy with his role.
Defensive coordinator: Jim Schwartz
If Schwartz were to miss any time, the Eagles have a couple options. The most obvious would be assistant coordinator/defense Dino Vasso. Vasso was just promoted to be the Eagles’ assistant DC after the 2019 season after spending the last four years as the team’s assistant defensive backs coach under Cory Undlin. Vasso is a Ridley High product who was a coaching assistant for three years (2013-15) with the Chiefs before Pederson brought him to Philadelphia. Vasso played defensive back at New Hampshire before beginning his coaching career as an intern at Temple in 2011.
The other choice for an interim DC would likely be run game coordinator/defensive line coach Matt Burke. Burke joined the Eagles’ staff in 2019 as a defensive special assistant but after the Eagles fired Phillip Daniels, they gave Burke the DL job. Burke was the Dolphins’ DC from 2017-18 and has a long history with Jim Schwartz. Burke worked under Schwartz in Tennessee and Detroit.
Special teams coordinator: Dave Fipp
Before last season, the Eagles hired Luke Thompson as their assistant special teams coach. This is his first NFL job after 20 years in college football. Most recently, he was the DC/linebackers coach at Lafayette College from 2017-18. Before that he worked at Georgetown and Army, holding defensive and special teams positions. There are other options too. Matthew Harper is now the assistant WRs coach but he previously held the title of assistant special teams coach.
Quarterbacks: Press Taylor
In addition to his role as QBs coach, Taylor was also promoted to passing game coordinator this offseason. But who would coach the quarterbacks if Taylor had to miss time? Well, in recent seasons the Eagles have had an assistant QBs coach but they don’t have one right now. With so many offensive coaches on staff, it wouldn’t be hard to find someone to take over. Heck, Pederson, Rich Scangarello or even Marty Mornhinweg would be more than capable.
Offensive line: Jeff Stoutland
In addition to being the OL coach, Stout is also the run game coordinator for the offense and he’s one of the best assistant coaches in franchise history. Roy Istvan was hired before the 2019 season as the assistant offensive line coach, a title previously held by Eugene Chung, whose contract ran out. Istvan was at Keiser University in 2018 but was the OC and OL coach at Cornell from 2014-16. From 2008-13, Istvan coached OL at the University of Rhode Island. Istvan actually played for Stout in Southern Connecticut State and later coached for him there.
Wide receivers: Aaron Moorehead
Moorehead is the fifth receivers coach in five years under Pederson and the Eagles are hoping he sticks. Matthew Harper, who we mentioned earlier, became the assistant WRs coach in 2019 after Carson Walch was promoted to the main gig. Harper has been with the Eagles since 2013 and has been the assistant special teams coach and assistant defensive backs coach as well. Harper played at Oregon when Chip Kelly was the OC. Kelly brought him to Philly. During training camp, Jason Avant will also be working with receivers.
Tight ends: Justin Peele
The Eagles hired former tight end and long snapper Mike Bartrum before last season. Bartrum holds the title of assistant tight ends coach. Before coming to the Eagles, Bartrum was the head coach at Meigs High School in Ohio. While his NFL coaching experience is limited, Bartrum played over a decade in the NFL with the Eagles and Patriots.
Running backs: Duce Staley
Duce is next up as head coach but who replaces Duce as running backs coach? Assistant run game coordinator/assistant running backs coach T.J. Paganetti has worked with the running backs since 2017. Before that, Paganetti was an offensive analyst for the Birds. Paganetti was an assistant coach at Oregon under Chip, who brought him to Philly in 2013. Pagantti went back to Oregon for 2015-16 but returned to Philly in 2017. Another option with the running backs is Darren Sproles, who was hired this offseason as a personnel consultant. But if he’s in the building, why wouldn’t the Eagles lean on Sproles?
Defensive line: Matt Burke
While there was a change at the defensive line coach this offseason, the Eagles left Nathan Ollie at his post as assistant defensive line coach. Ollie was hired before last season after one year coaching DL at Eastern Kentucky. Before that, from 2015-17, he was a graduate assistant at Tennessee, where he worked with Eagles’ 1st-round pick Derek Barnett. Ollie played DL at Ball State from 2010-13.
Linebackers: Ken Flajole
Since 2017, Ryan Paganetti (brother of T.J.) has been the Eagles’ assistant linebackers coach and had “game management” added to his title before the 2019 season. Paganetti has always been a big part of the Eagles’ analytics department. Paganetti played RB at Dartmouth and was a scouting intern for the Cowboys in 2013.
Defensive backs: Marquand Manuel
The Eagles hired Manuel this offseason after Undlin moved on to take the DC job in Detroit. The Eagles don’t have an assistant defensive backs coach anymore after they promoted Dino Vasso from that spot. But, obviously, Vasso could fill in if Manuel was out. Also, former Eagles safety Tim Hauck has been the Eagles’ safeties coach since 2016 and could probably take over the entire secondary if needed. Hauck worked at UNLV as DC and cornerbacks coach from 2013-14. He was previously an assistant secondary coach with the Titans.
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