Eagles

Which Eagles coaches are on the hot seat down the stretch?

Which Eagles coaches are on the hot seat down the stretch?

That loss in Miami is the kind of loss that gets an owner’s attention. And it’s the kind of loss that can sometimes get head coaches fired.

That’s not going to happen here.

Doug Pederson is less than two years removed from winning a Super Bowl and he’s not going anywhere. But that doesn’t mean there won’t be significant changes to his coaching staff for 2020.

They won’t come now, according to Pederson. On Monday, he said no coaching changes will happen this week with the Eagles sitting at 5-7.

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen on Monday said he expects “significant coaching changes” unless the Eagles make a playoff run. That was less of a report and seemingly more speculation. It certainly makes sense. This was a team with high expectations that will likely fall well short of them. Our own Reuben Frank pretty much wrote the same thing after the game.

So, now, the question becomes this: Who goes?

With that in mind, let’s take a look at each of the main assistant coaches on the staff. I stayed away from the assistant position coaches for brevity’s sake and because a major shakeup would include some bigger names. I’ll go through their histories, give a big of analysis on the job they’ve done and rank their seat temperature, as I see it, as either cool, warm or hot:

Offensive coordinator: Mike Groh

History: Groh was a college quarterback, who had a history with coaching QBs and receivers at the college and NFL level before his arrival in Philadelphia. He recently worked for the Rams and Bears. Groh’s first season with the Eagles was in 2017 as their wide receivers coach. He stayed in that position for just one year before a promotion. After Frank Reich left, Groh was promoted to offensive coordinator.

Analysis: First, Groh was a good receivers coach; perhaps the only good one they’ve had in the Pederson Era. But since his promotion, the Eagles are 18th in the league in points scored and in total yards. It’s hard to really evaluate how much of that is Groh’s fault. After all, this is Pederson’s offense and he’s the play caller. Still, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that the offense just hasn’t been as good since the departure of Reich. Not long ago, Pederson said his relationship with Groh has gotten a lot stronger in the last couple years and he has “a lot of trust and faith” in Groh. But it’s fair to wonder if some fresh ideas from outside the building would help.

Seat temp: Hot

Defensive coordinator: Jim Schwartz

History: Before coming to Philly in 2016, Schwartz had already logged 22 coaching years in the NFL and five of those came as a head coach. He hasn’t ranked lower than a defensive coordinator in the NFL since 2000, then the linebackers coach in Tennessee.

Analysis: Schwartz is the Eagles’ top-ranking assistant coach because he has a ton of autonomy over that defense. That’s his unit. The Eagles are coming off a terrible game, so opinions are going to be skewed. But, generally, I think Schwartz is a better coach than most fans seem to think. I think a lot of the frustration about Schwartz is the bend-but-don’t-break mentality. The Eagles have given up the 11th most yards in the NFL since 2016 but just six teams have given up fewer points. That can be frustrating to watch.

If we’re talking about a major shakeup, the Eagles at least owe it to themselves to question whether or not Schwartz is still the right guy for the job and to at least see if there would be an adequate replacement. I tend to think he’ll be back, but it’s worth a look.

Seat temp: Warm

Special teams coordinator: Dave Fipp

History: Fipp has been in charge of the Eagles’ special teams units since 2013, arriving for the start of the Chip Kelly Era. Before that he was an assistant special teams coach for the 49ers and Dolphins.

Analysis: The injuries in the last two years have hurt the offense and the defense, but they’ve really hurt Fipp’s units. The bottom of the roster is constantly getting churned and those are Fipp’s players coming and going. But the Eagles’ special teams units haven’t been as dominant in recent years.

Seat temp: Warm

Assistant head coach/running backs: Duce Staley

History: The former Eagles running back began his coaching career in 2011 as a quality control guy under Andy Reid and then Chip actually promoted him to running backs coach. He was interviewed for the head coaching position in 2016 and the offensive coordinator job in 2018 and didn’t get either. But in 2018, the Eagles tacked on the assistant head coach title to his name.

Analysis: His role hasn’t changed much as an assistant head coach, but Staley seems to be performing well in his role as running backs coach. He was getting a lot out of Jordan Howard before Howard’s injury and we’re watching rookie Miles Sanders overcome early season struggles to become one of the most dynamic weapons on the team.

Seat temp: Cool

Defensive line coach: Phillip Daniels

History: The long-time NFL defensive lineman, who last played in 2010, was hired by the Eagles in 2016 as the assistant DL coach. He took over as the DL coach this season after the Eagles parted ways with Chris Wilson.

Analysis: Daniels has dealt with some key injuries on that defensive line this season. They lost Malik Jackson and Hassan Ridgeway for the year. Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham are playing well, but those guys are veterans. How has Daniels done with the younger linemen? Well, Derek Barnett has been OK and the Eagles are starting to get more out of Josh Sweat, which is a good sign. Probably haven’t really seen enough either way on Daniels.

Seat temp: Warm

Linebackers coach: Ken Flajole

History: He joined the staff in 2016 as the linebackers coach and has a ton of NFL coaching experience. Flajole was the Rams’ DC from 2009-11.

Analysis: Is there a position the Eagles have neglected more in the last four years? Since Flajole took the job, the Eagles have drafted exactly two linebackers: Joe Walker in the seventh round in 2016 and Nate Gerry in the fifth round in 2017. I wonder about the evaluation of L.J. Fort, who left and found success in Baltimore. Instead, the Eagles were playing Zach Brown, whom they cut not long after. Still, I think the Eagles’ linebackers are playing above their talent level.

Seat temp: Cool

Tight ends coach: Justin Peelle

History: Another Chip holdover, Peelle was hired as the assistant tight ends coach in 2013 and got promoted to his current job in 2015.

Analysis: Zach Ertz has blossomed into one of the best tight ends in the NFL under the guidance of Peelle and Dallas Goedert certainly seems to have a ton of potential. But Year 2 for Goedert has probably been a little disappointing.

Seat temp: Warm

Offensive line coach/run game coordinator: Jeff Stoutland

History: Stout has been the OL coach in Philly since 2013 and became the run game coordinator in 2018. He didn’t have NFL coaching experience before getting hired by Chip.

Analysis: Stout might be the best coach on the staff. With Stout in place, Jason Peters, Jason Kelce, Brandon Brooks and Lane Johnson have all become Pro Bowlers. Just last week, after Johnson signed an extension, he went out of his way to praise Stoutland and credit him for his success. Even Isaac Seumalo has settled into his role as a decent starter after Stoutland showed faith in him earlier this season. There have been some missteps, like thinking Andre Dillard could play right tackle a couple weeks ago. But the overall body of work is very good.

Seat temp: Cool

Quarterbacks coach: Press Taylor

History: One of the youngest coaches on staff, Taylor came to the Eagles in 2013 as a quality control coach. He became the assistant QB coach when Pederson arrived and became the QB coach when John DeFilippo left after the Super Bowl. Another internal candidate rising through the ranks.

Analysis: Taylor’s job is to coach all the quarterbacks, but our evaluation of him really has to be about Carson Wentz. And, simply put, Wentz is healthy now and hasn’t gotten back to his near-MVP form of a couple years ago. Wentz is the most important player on the team and the Eagles need to make sure they’re getting the most out of him.

Seat temp: Hot

Defensive backs coach: Cory Undlin

History: Undlin arrived in 2015, coming over from the Denver Broncos. He’s been in the NFL in some capacity since 2004.

Analysis: It’s hard to fault Undlin for the shortcomings in the secondary after all the injuries they’ve faced over the last couple years. In fact, I’d argue Undlin has actually kept things afloat despite the injuries. The one question is about the development of young talent. Sure, Undlin helped turn seventh-rounder Jalen Mills into a starter, but Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas were drafted in the second and third rounds in 2017 and neither has become a starter. Is that on the evaluation or coaching?

Seat temp: Warm

Wide receivers coach: Carson Walch

History: Watch was hired in 2018 as the assistant receivers coach and took over the position this season after Gunter Brewer’s departure. He had been in the CFL, but was an assistant with Groh in Chicago. Walch became the fourth different receivers coach in Pederson’s four years.  

Analysis: The receivers, generally speaking, have been awful this season. They got one good game from DeSean Jackson and everyone else has either regressed or hasn’t gotten better. There’s a clear lack of talent at that position, but it’s hard to imagine Walch being back in 2020.

Seat temp: Hot

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Doug Pederson hoping to mix new face Jay Ajayi into Eagles' running attack

Doug Pederson hoping to mix new face Jay Ajayi into Eagles' running attack

Doug Pederson said he hopes to get recently re-acquired running back Jay Ajayi more involved in the offense as the Eagles head into the stretch run.

Ajayi has eight carries for 25 yards and a 3.1 average in two games since returning to the Eagles following a year layoff. 

A Pro Bowler in 2016 with the Dolphins and a stud down the stretch during the Super Bowl season, Ajayi suffered a torn ACL in Week 5 last year and didn’t play from Oct. 7, 2018, until Nov. 24, 2019, when he made his 2019 debut against the Seahawks.

Ajayi didn't have OTAs or a training camp and didn't even practice until the Wednesday before the Seattle game. 

It's a process with him, but we understand who he is and the injury that he's coming off of, so we're careful with that,” Pederson said. “But at the same time, he's a bigger, powerful guy that we can use in spots.

With Jordan Howard missing the last three games with nerve damage in his shoulder, rookie Miles Sanders has essentially been the entire running attack. But the Eagles are so hesitant to increase his workload significantly that it’s created a situation in which the Eagles just haven’t run the ball very much during their three-game losing streak because they haven’t had a viable second option.

During these last three games, Sanders has 40 carries, Ajayi eight and Boston Scott seven.

This is the first time the Eagles have leaned this heavily on one back in a three-game stretch since 2012. 

During a late-season three-game stretch in which LeSean McCoy was hurt, Bryce Brown got 52 carries and Dion Lewis had four.

The Eagles ran 45 percent of the time in the nine games Howard played and 31 percent since he got hurt. They’re 0-3 without him.

Miles has done a great job,” Pederson said Saturday. “I’d love to get Jay a few more touches and get Boston in the mix so we're not obviously wearing Miles down here this last month of the season.

The current stretch is the first in franchise history that the Eagles have thrown at least 40 times and run the ball 23 or fewer times in three straight games.

Howard hasn’t played since before the bye week and is out for the Eagles’ game Monday night against the Giants. 

Pederson said earlier in the week he doesn’t expect this to be a season-ending injury, but will Howard be able to pick up where he left off after such a long layoff even if he does return?

The Eagles began the season with Howard, Sanders, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles in what looked to be a deep running back rotation. 

Sanders is the only one of that group left. Can Ajayi make a difference after such a long layoff? Sounds like Pederson wants to find out.

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Eagles Injury Update: Latest on Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Howard

Eagles Injury Update: Latest on Derek Barnett, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Howard

Updated: 3:39 p.m.

Derek Barnett and Nelson Agholor will likely be game-time decisions for Monday Night Football, Eagles head coach Doug Pederson said on Saturday morning. 

Barnett (ankle) and Agholor (knee) both missed all three days of practice this week and are listed as questionable.

Meanwhile, linebacker Kamu Grugier-Hill is still in the NFL’s concussion protocol. He was just placed in protocol on Thursday and won't play Monday night. 

And Jordan Howard (shoulder) has still not been cleared for contact; he can’t play until he is and that’s not happening before Monday. He's officially questionable. 

Lane Johnson also missed practice on Friday and Saturday for a non-injury reason but is expected to play on Monday. 

If Agholor is unable to play, the Eagles would be left with just three healthy receivers on the roster: Alshon Jeffery, JJ Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward. 

“We’re very comfortable, obviously, with the guys we have,” Pederson said. “So if it’s three, it’s three. We brought up [Josh Perkins] a week ago to help us there, so it’s an addition there. We go and we go play. We’ll discuss those over the next couple of days leading up to the game. If we have to make a decision we will. We feel good with the guys we have in that receiver role.” 

If the Eagles do decide to make a roster move, they have three wide receivers on their practice squad: Robert Davis, Marcus Green and Marken Michel. 

While Agholor had his knee injury before last week’s game, Barnett got hurt during the loss in Miami, but was still able to play through the injury and play 50 snaps. Barnett has played the third-most defensive snaps on the team this year, so losing him for this game wouldn’t be insignificant. 

If Barnett can’t play, expect Josh Sweat and Vinny Curry to get more reps. After that, Genard Avery, Daeshon Hall and even Shareef Miller could see a few snaps. 

For the Giants: 

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