Eagles

Doug Pederson vague regarding Jim Schwartz's future with Eagles

Doug Pederson vague regarding Jim Schwartz's future with Eagles

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday offensive coordinator Mike Groh and wide receivers coach Carson Walch will be back on his staff next year.

“Both those guys will be back,” Pederson said.

Minutes later, Pederson failed to give defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz the same vote of confidence. 

And a little bit later he backed off his original comment about Groh and Walch.

Welcome to the Eagles’ offseason!

Schwartz and Groh have been on Pederson’s staff since he became head coach in 2016, Schwartz all four years as defensive coordinator and Groh as wide receivers coach for two years and offensive coordinator the last two.

Schwartz interviewed Wednesday for the Browns’ head coaching job, but he’s considered a longshot for the position.

Does Doug want him back? 

Given several opportunities to say Schwartz will return, Pederson declined.

“Jim’s done an outstanding job with our defense and the improvement that we saw throughout the course of the season, so I’m excited for him and his opportunity,” Pederson said. “I wish him the best.”

So is he coming back?

“He’ll be on a plane back here at some point after the interview.”

Funny, Doug. 

But if he doesn’t get the Browns job, will he be back on your staff?

“I would assume, yes. He’s currently my D.C., yes.”

It sure seemed Pederson was being intentionally vague about Schwartz’s future.

Asked directly why he was so specific about Groh coming back but not about Schwartz, Pederson said this:

“With all my staff I’m in that process right now of evaluating,” he said. “I’d love to have them all back, obviously. We know what this league is about and any time an assistant coach can get a promotion, whether it’s here or someone else, I encourage that. But as I evaluate and look, we’re only three days removed from the season, so everything’s still fresh in my mind, too, so we’re still evaluating and all my coaches are in that evaluation process as well.”

But … you just said Groh and Walch will definitely be back.

“I know what I said,” Pederson said. “Yes. But at the same time I’m still evaluating the whole process, right? They are still currently here. And I’m going to continue to evaluate and assemble the best staff moving forward. But yes, they are still here.”

Later in the day, the Eagles clarified Pederson's comments, emphasizing that Pederson and Schwartz have a strong relationship and that Pederson does want Schwartz back if he doesn't get Cleveland job, he was just trying to express his support for Schwartz as a potential head coach.

Pederson and executive vice president and general manager Howie Roseman met with the media Wednesday for the first time since the Eagles’ season ended with a home wild-card loss to the Seahawks.

Pederson did say he’s not averse to bringing in an outside offensive coach to serve as a consultant without coaching a specific position, much the same way the Eagles brought in Matt Burke this past offseason as a defensive special assistant. Burke had served five years under Schwartz with the Titans when Schwartz was their defensive coordinator.

“Everything’s on the table,” Pederson said. “I’m not opposed to doing something like that. I actually thought, even thought my first year, as a rookie head coach, to maybe bring in someone who has a different perspective, different eyes. Those are things I continue to look at.”

It's tricky trying to make sense of what Pederson said, but it sure sounds like Groh will be back. 

Schwartz? His future doesn't seem so clear at all.

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Former Eagles kicker Tom Dempsey dies after battle with coronavirus

Former Eagles kicker Tom Dempsey dies after battle with coronavirus

Former Eagles kicker Tom Dempsey died on Saturday of complications from the coronavirus. Dempsey was 73.

Dempsey contracted the coronavirus in March at the Lambeth House, a retirement home in New Orleans, and is one of at least 15 residents to die from the virus, according to The Times-Picayune.

Dempsey was an Eagle from 1971-1974, but also played for the Saints, Rams, Oilers and Bills.

Born without fingers on his right hand and toes on his right foot, Dempsey was known for his small flat kicking shoe. That shoe now resides in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.

“Tom's life spoke directly to the power of the human spirit and exemplified his resolute determination to not allow setbacks to impede following his dreams and aspirations,” Saints owner Gayle Benson said in a statement. “He exemplified the same fight and fortitude in recent years as he battled valiantly against illnesses but never wavered and kept his trademark sense of humor. He holds a special place in the hearts and minds of the Saints family."

The year before he joined the Eagles, Dempsey gained fame by kicking a 63-yard field goal to give the Saints a last-second 19-17 win over the Lions at Tulane Stadium in 1970. It broke the previous NFL record for longest field goal by 7 yards.

That was the NFL record for 43 years until Matt Prater hit a 64-yarder in 2013. Others had tied the record but it took over four decades to beat it.

In his four seasons with the Eagles, for whom he played the longest, Dempsey kicked in 47 games and made 66 of 108 field goals (61.1%). He also made 84 of 90 point-after attempts. Dempsey is 18th on the Eagles’ list of all-time scorers with 282 points.

Dempsey retired to New Orleans where he began his NFL career as an undrafted free agent in 1969. He had been battling dementia since 2012. 

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Darius Slay explains why he’s wearing 24 to honor Kobe Bryant

Darius Slay explains why he’s wearing 24 to honor Kobe Bryant

You can still hear the giddiness in Darius Slay’s voice when he talks about Dec. 6, 2015. 

That was a special day for the Eagles’ new cornerback. 

That was the day he met the Kobe Bryant. 

The meeting between the late NBA superstar and the then-third-year NFL pro came after a Lakers-Pistons game at The Palace of Auburn Hills during the 2015 season. It’s a day and a moment Slay will never forget, getting the chance to meet his favorite basketball player and a personal idol. 

And now with the Eagles, Slay will honor Bryant, who died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 26, by wearing the No. 24 for the football team Bryant loved. 

“I was surprised that he even knew me,” Slay said. “I don’t know if the people told him, ‘You got Darius Slay out there waiting on you from the Detroit Lions’ or gave him a pre-talk about me or something. I don’t know. 

“But the fact that he came around the corner and (there) was like 20 to 30 reporters waiting on him, he kind of walked past all the reporters, everybody and came directly to me, like, ‘What’s up Slay? I love your game, man.’ He was talking about my style of play and we just chopped it up for a minute.”

Slay said he was so in shock that day he barely had any words to speak but he was able to hold a short conversation. Then Slay got Kobe’s autograph and they took a few photos together, including this one: 

Slay previously wore No. 23 in Detroit but that number is occupied by Rodney McLeod with the Eagles. And Jordan Howard, who wore 24 last year, left for Miami as a free agent. So things lined up perfectly for Slay to take the second of Kobe’s two retired numbers. 

When Bryant died in January, it became even more apparent how much he meant to his fellow athletes. When Bryant visited the Eagles in LA during the 2017 season, there was a similar giddiness with them. There’s a really good chance that Bryant was your favorite athlete’s favorite athlete. 

“I just love how much he competed,” Slay said. “He was a true competitor. He worked on his craft. I believe the work you put in is [what] you get out of it.” 

Slay said he also really admired that Bryant was always willing to seek out answers from others, most notably Michael Jordan. Even though Bryant was constantly being compared to Jordan, he was never hesitant to pick Jordan’s brain. 

Similarly, Slay said he loves talking to other cornerbacks and asking advice. He doesn’t care who that cornerback is; if he has a question about their technique or facing a particular receiver, he’s going to ask. 

“It’s just the part about doing anything and be willing to do anything to be good and be great,” Slay said. “That’s why I took out a lot of stuff that he did and that’s what I’ll continue to keep doing.”

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