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.
Starting cornerback Ronald Darby popped up on the Eagles’ injury report Friday with a hip flexor strain and is questionable for the Eagles’ game Sunday against the Redskins.
Darby wasn’t on the injury report Wednesday or Thursday and was a full participant in practice. He’s listed as a limited participant on Friday, which likely means he either got hurt during practice or an injury he suffered Monday night against the Giants got worse.
In either case, it’s yet another injury for an injury-riddled team. The only defensive players to start all 13 games are Malcolm Jenkins, Fletcher Cox, Brandon Graham and Rodney McLeod.
The Eagles do have some depth at cornerback, since they’re carrying seven corners on the 53-man roster.
Jalen Mills is expected to be OK for Sunday after hurting his elbow in the Giants game. He was a full participant on Friday after being limited on Thursday.
Rasul Douglas would likely be the starter opposite Mills if Darby can’t play. Douglas has started 17 games in his three-year career, including five earlier this year.
Avonte Maddox can play outside but has been in the slot for the nine games he’s been healthy, averaging 46 snaps per game. Sidney Jones, who started four games earlier this year, is also available. Cre’Von LeBlanc is being brought back slowly after being on IR most of the year, and Craig James hasn’t played a defensive snap in nearly two months.
Darby missed half of the 2017 season with an ankle injury, half of last year with a torn ACL and four games earlier this year with a hamstring injury. He’s played only 29 of a possible 50 games since he got here in the summer of 2017.
The Eagles have don’t have a cornerback who’s played defense in every game this year. They’ve used eight different combinations of starting corners in 13 games.
The Eagles signed the 25-year-old Darby to a one-year contract worth $6.5 million. He has two interceptions in nine starts.
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The Eagles (6-7) are visiting the Redskins (3-10) at FedEx Field on Sunday afternoon.
Here’s everything you need to know:
•12 p.m.: Eagles Pregame Live on NBCSP
•1 p.m.: Eagles at Redskins on FOX
•4 p.m.: Eagles Postgame Live on NBCSP
•10 p.m.: Birds Outsiders on NBCSP
The FOX broadcast crew for this game is Thom Brennaman (play by play), Chris Spielman (analyst) and Shannon Spake (sideline). You can also stream the game on FuboTV.
Merrill Reese, Mike Quick and Howard Eskin will have the call on 94WIP.
The Eagles opened as 6-point favorites in some places but that has slipped to around 4 1/2 points. The over/under is 39.
The referee for Eagles-Redskins is second-year referee Shawn Smith. This is his first game reffing an Eagles game. The Eagles were 2-1 with him as an umpire in 2016 and 2017.
Keep it going
The Eagles got off to a terrible start against the Giants last week before they turned it around, scoring the last 20 points of the game and getting a huge overtime win. So which team shows up on Sunday? The team that fell behind 17-3 to the Giants or the team that rallied to a win?
It’ll be key for the Eagles to find what works for Carson Wentz in this game a little earlier. They got him into rhythm last week, but that didn’t happen until the third drive of the third quarter.
No receivers left
The Eagles began the season with DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor. That was nice for that one game. Going into Week 15, with Agholor’s status uncertain, the Eagles’ top three receivers might be J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward and Rob Davis. Not exactly what the Eagles had in mind this offseason.
A rookie QB
The last time the Eagles faced Washington, in the opener, Case Keenum was the starter. So this will be their first time facing rookie quarterback Dwayne Haskins. While the Redskins have won two of three, they’re still a mess of an organization, so who knows what the future holds for Haskins. They have an interim coach and it’s possible the next head coach will want to pick his quarterback, which could leave Haskins in limbo. But there’s also a possibly Haskins is still their long-term QB. It’ll be interesting to see what happens down there.
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