Eagles reportedly interviewing new candidate with impressive resume for defensive backs coach

Eagles reportedly interviewing new candidate with impressive resume for defensive backs coach

The Eagles are interviewing Browns defensive backs coach DeWayne Walker today for the vacancy left by Cory Undlin, according to Cleveland.com.

CBS Sports first reported the expected interview.

Defensive backs coach is one of four openings — the others are offensive coordinator, wide receivers coach and defensive line coach — that the Eagles still need to fill this offseason. DBs coach became vacant when Cory Undlin left after five seasons to become the defensive coordinator under his buddy Matt Patricia in Detroit.

Walker, 59, has been with the Browns since 2017 and, according to Cleveland.com, was “under consideration,” to remain on new head coach Kevin Stefanski’s staff. It’s unclear if he’s still under consideration.

If Walker joins the Eagles, he would bring with him a lengthy resume. He has been a defensive backs coach for five different NFL teams (Browns, Jaguars, Redskins, Giants, Patriots), was once the DC at UCLA and the head coach at New Mexico State from 2009-12.

But let’s focus on his NFL coaching career. In his last two stops with the Jaguars and Browns, he’s helped develop first-round picks Jalen Ramsey and Denzel Ward, who have both been Pro Bowlers within their first two seasons. There’s a good chance the Eagles will draft a cornerback pretty high in April and it’ll be important to have a coach ready to develop that talent.

And if the Eagles go the free agency route to get corners, Walker has worked with plenty of veterans too. In previous stops, Walker has coached Shawn Springs, Lawyer Milloy and Hall of Famer Ty Law.

While the receivers coach and defensive line coach positions have had some turnover in recent years, this will be the first new DBs coach since Undlin was hired back in 2015.

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Doug Pederson explains why he no longer has an offensive coordinator

Doug Pederson explains why he no longer has an offensive coordinator

As Doug Pederson enters Year 5 as Eagles head coach, there’s a notable change to the structure of his coaching staff. 

He doesn’t have an offensive coordinator. And now we have a reason why. 

Earlier this offseason, Pederson fired offensive coordinator Mike Groh a day after he said Groh was safe and then shook up the structure of his coaching staff, electing to move forward sans an official OC. 

As the NFL world gets ready to take over Indianapolis this week for the annual NFL Scouting Combine, Pederson spoke the the Eagles Insider Podcast and finally explained his decision. 

It’s a great question because it’s a question I have really pondered about for quite some time, really for many years. You look around the league and there are teams who don’t have coordinators. There are teams that have coordinators. I’ve had a coordinator by title. I look at the structure of what we’re doing offensively and how collaborative we put our game plans together. It’s like players; it’s not about one guy. Same way on the coaching staff. It’s not about one coach who has to do everything. It’s a collaborative effort. 

“Bottom line, I’m the one calling plays on game day. So in some facets, you could consider me the offensive coordinator as well. The more I thought about it, I’m like, just again, I’m really excited about Press (Taylor). I think he’s got a bright future. Giving him the title of passing game coordinator, really again, gives him the opportunity to give more thought and input on our game plans. Having Rich (Scangarello) being as a senior offensive assistant, he can assist and help sort of bridge the gap with [Jeff Stoutland] and Press and putting all the pieces together, along with myself and Justin Peele and Duce Staley. Just bringing our game plans together. That’s what I want. That’s my vision for this season and really having a seamless transition that way. 

“When we win, we win as a team. Again, it’s not about one guy getting the credit. I feel like this is the best structure for us, for me as the play caller. Because there’s times when I get pulled in a lot of different directions and I gotta lean on Press. And I’m going to have to lean on Rich and Jeff Stoutland and the guys to really pull the game plans together and really give me the information that I need as we prepare for games.” 

While Pederson — and really everyone inside the NovaCare Complex — has always stressed a collaborative effort in all football manners, he didn’t really give any specifics about how the workload will be split and how Groh’s former responsibilities will be divided up in the new power structure. 

Hopefully, we’ll get some of those answers in Indianapolis this week. 

As a reminder, he’s an updated look at the new structure of the Eagles’ offensive coaching staff. 

Head coach/play caller: Doug Pederson

Quarterbacks coach/passing game coordinator: Press Taylor 

Offensive line coach/run game coordinator: Jeff Stoutland 

Senior offensive assistant: Rich Scangarello 

Running backs coach/assistant head coach: Duce Staley 

Tight ends coach: Justin Peele 

Wide receivers coach: Aaron Moorehead 

Pass game analyst: Andrew Breiner 

It’s not unheard of for an NFL coach with a clear focus on one side of the ball — like Pederson on offense — to not have an official coordinator. But this is just the first time he has elected to have this setup. 

The optics weren’t great a month and a half ago when Pederson gave Groh a vote of confidence only to fire him a day later, but on the podcast claimed he was still going through his evaluation process at the time. 

At the time, one obvious theory was that Pederson wanted to keep Groh and the front office overruled him. But that’s a theory that has been shot down multiple times by the Eagles. And Pederson on this podcast said that he listened to input from his bosses but, ultimately, the coaching staff is up to him. 

“The coaching staff is my responsibility,” he said. “I’m the one that hires them and I’m obviously the one that has to do the dirty work and sometimes let coaches go. That’s my responsibility.”

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Doug Pederson: 'I know Duce is happy'

Doug Pederson: 'I know Duce is happy'

Doug Pederson said Duce Staley is happy in his current role with the Eagles and said he leans heavily on his former teammate throughout the year in a variety of ways.

I know Duce is happy to be here,” Pederson said. “He wants to be here. … Duce does a lot for me. He is the assistant head coach, let’s not forget that. He is my right-hand guy.

Pederson said he did consider Staley for the team’s offensive coordinator role, although he wound up not filling that position.

Pederson spoke on the Eagles Insider Podcast in an interview with team employee Dave Spadaro.

There was a lot of speculation about Staley when Pederson bypassed him during his offensive coordinator search, a search that eventually brought the Eagles several outside coaches with new titles but left Staley in the same position – running backs coach and assistant head coach.

Staley was bypassed when Pederson hired Mike Groh as offensive coordinator after the 2017 season. Staley was also an unsuccessful candidate for the head coaching vacancy when Chip Kelly was fired and Pederson was ultimately hired.

There was a published report last week in the Athletic that Staley had pursued the runnig backs coaching job at South Carolina, his alma mater, but a league source said that never happened.

Staley, a three-time 1,000-yard rusher for the Eagles, was Pederson’s teammate with the Eagles in 1999. He’s been on the team’s coaching staff since 2011, first with Andy Reid, then for three years with Kelly and now with Pederson.

He had the assistant head coach tag added to his official title after Groh was promoted from wide receivers coach to offensive coordinator after Frank Reich left for the Colts’ head coaching job after the Super Bowl.

Pederson explained in detail what makes Staley so important to him and so important to the team:

“Duce is very important to our offense, he’s very important to the running back room, obviously, and a lot of our success last year with some of the young players that played, the practice squad players that came up, is a direct result of what Duce Staley does (running) the developmental program, and that’s a lot on his plate throughout the course of the year, (and those are all) things that I evaluated as I went through this process. Duce is a valuable part to our offense and a valuable part to me and what he does for me and just at the time just decided to keep him in that role.”

Pederson brought in three new offensive coaches – Rich Scangarello is offensive assistant, Aaron Moorehead is wide receivers coach and Andrew Breiner is passing game analyst. Quarterbacks coach Press Taylor received the additional title of passing game coordinator.

It may seem on the outside that Staley is the odd man out, but Pederson made it clear he doesn’t feel that way.

“He does help run the football team if I have to step away," Pederson said. "He can take charge of the team. He runs that developmental program with the young players. He puts that all together. … Duce has his fingerprints all over that and that’s a big asset to me and obviously what he does with the running backs. You saw what Miles Sanders and Boston Scott did last year, what Jordan Howard did last year, being able to take young players and getting them to play at a high level is just a credit to what he does and also with game planning and things of that nature during the year.”

Despite not having the same leading rusher in back-to-back years since LeSean McCoy in 2013 and 2014, the Eagles have the 7th-most rushing yards in the NFL in Staley’s seven years as running backs coach. 

In a way, Staley is a prisoner of his own success. He’s so good in his current role that Pederson is always going to be reluctant to move him.

But he’s a heck of a coach, and it sure seems like Pederson understands that and recognizes it and appreciates it.

And that's important because this is a better football team with No. 22 on the sideline.

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