Eagles' road to NFC East title gets easier with Redskins injuries

Eagles' road to NFC East title gets easier with Redskins injuries

Anyone got any scotch tape? They could use some down in Washington. 

Sure, Washington is still in first place in the NFC East, but it got spanked by the Falcons this weekend and now has some injury to add to that insult. And this is all good news for the Eagles. 

Head coach Jay Gruden on Monday announced that three starters need surgery and are done for the season: 

• RG Brandon Scherff (torn pec)
• LG Shawn Lauvao (ACL)
• WR Paul Richardson (AC joint) 

On top of those injuries, Washington was already without Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Williams, who needed thumb surgery and missed the Falcons game. 

Without Scherff and Williams, it's without its two Pro Bowl offensive linemen and Lauvao, who had been playing at a pretty high level too. 

That means Washington is now down to just two healthy starters on the offensive line for at least a few more weeks. Yikes. All it has left are center Chase Roullier and right tackle Morgan Moses. And even Moses got hurt in the game. 

After announcing the injuries, Washington went out and signed three free agent offensive linemen: G Luke Bowanko, G John Cooper and T Austin Howard. Signing three linemen off the street in November isn’t exactly ideal. 

And then, in addition to Richardson, Washington is also without Jamison Crowder (ankle) and Chris Thompson (ribs). Both missed the Atlanta game. 

With a 5-3 record, Washington still has a nice lead over the Eagles (4-4) in the division, but its playoff chances certainly took a huge hit on Monday. 

Add that to the fact that the Eagles have a chance to get some of their injured players back — guys like Tim Jernigan, Darren Sproles and maybe even Mike Wallace — and it looks like things are starting to trend upward for the Eagles and downward for the the leaders of the division. 

With two head-to-head matchups between the two still left on the schedule, the Eagles ought to have a chance to get back in this race and win it. 

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8 candidates to replace Phillip Daniels as Eagles defensive line coach

8 candidates to replace Phillip Daniels as Eagles defensive line coach

The Eagles on Friday moved on from defensive line coach Phillip Daniels, so they now have four open coaching positions: OC, WR, DB, DL. 

It also means that in 2020 they will have their third defensive line coach in three years.

Here are several possible candidates who could fill the DL coach position: 

Brentson Buckner: Buckner will be a popular name thrown out there. Despite the Raiders’ improving from 13 sacks to 32 in Buckner’s one year on Jon Gruden’s staff, he was let go so they could bring in Rod Marinelli. That means the 48-year-old Buckner is available. A longtime player in the NFL, Buckner was the Cardinals’ DL coach in 2013-17 and held the same position with the Bucs in 2018.  

Brian Fleury: A lot of these coaching hires come down to connections, so how’s this one: Fleury is a defensive quality control coach in San Francisco, where the 49ers have used plenty of wide-9 this year under DL coach Kris Kocurek. Kocurek was Jim Schwartz’s DL coach in Detroit. And guess where Fleury worked before this season? With the Miami Dolphins under then-DC Matt Burke, who is on the Eagles’ staff and has a long-standing relationship with Schwartz. In Miami, Fleury was a football research analyst but helped on the defensive side of the ball, including on the DL. 

Connor Barwin: It’s been reported that Barwin is expected to be announced as a member of the personnel department and he was even spotted at the East-West Shrine Game. But would it be crazy to think about dipping his toes into the coaching world?  

Pepper Johnson: Because Schwartz prefers the wide-9, getting a DL coach who knows how to run it is pretty important. Familiarity at this position might be more important than the other defensive coaching positions. Johnson was his DL coach in Buffalo in 2014. The problem is that Johnson is the DC for the Los Angeles Wildcats of the XFL. Would he be able to leave that league before it even starts? 

Nathan Ollie: We have to mention the Eagles’ backup DL coach. Ollie came to the Eagles in 2019 to replace Daniels as the assistant DL coach after Daniels was promoted. The interesting thing about Ollie is that he was a grad assistant at Tennessee when Derek Barnett was there. Getting the most out of a former first-round pick should be important. Ollie was the DL coach at Eastern Kentucky in 2018 before coming to Philly. Maybe the Eagles always liked him for this job but wanted to give him a year to prepare. 

Matt Burke: Burke was on the Eagles’ staff as a defensive special assistant in 2019. He has a long history with Schwartz and was the Dolphins DC for two seasons.  

Ken Flajole: Right now, Flajole is the Eagles’ linebackers coach but he’s been a DC and a DBs coach before. If the Eagles want to get Burke into the linebackers coach role and don’t want to lose Flajole, they could reshuffle some of these jobs.  

Larry Johnson: I don’t think this would happen, but I want to throw his name out there. Johnson is Ohio State’s defensive line coach and associate head coach. Johnson has obviously produced some great pass rushers over the last few years. He was Penn State’s DL coach from 2000-13 before getting to Ohio State in 2014. He has a long resume but has never coached in the NFL. Johnson is up there in age but maybe he wants to get to the NFL before he steps away from coaching. 

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Looks like Eagles fired defensive line coach Phillip Daniels

Looks like Eagles fired defensive line coach Phillip Daniels

We keep waiting for the Eagles to hire some assistant coaches. Instead they keep losing them.

It appears that Phillip Daniels, promoted to defensive line coach a year ago, is the third coach to be fired by the team this offseason and the fourth to leave.

Daniels didn’t specifically say he was fired, but it sure looks that way in a tweet from his verified account in which he thanked owner Jeff Lurie for his four years with the organization.

"Thank you to the Eagles organization for four great years," he wrote. "I’m proud of what we accomplished as a DL and even prouder of what we accomplished this season against all odds."

Daniels, who played for the Seahawks, Bears and Redskins in a 15-year NFL career, was on Doug Pederson’s original 2016 coaching staff as a defensive quality control assistant and assistant defensive line coach.

He was promoted to defensive line coach when Chris Wilson was fired a year ago this week. Wilson spent this past year on Kliff Kingsbury’s staff in Arizona along with one-time Eagles defensive coordinator Bill Davis.

Last week, the Eagles fired two offensive coaches: offensive coordinator Mike Groh and wide receivers coach Carson Walch. They haven’t filled either opening.

The Eagles do have an assistant defensive line coach on the staff. Nathan Ollie joined the team a year ago after spending a year coaching at Eastern Kentucky. He has only one year of NFL coaching experience. 

With Daniels, Groh and Daniels out and Cory Undlin taking the Lions’ defensive coordinator job, there are currently 10 assistant coaches remaining from Pederson’s initial coaching staff: defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, Ken Flajole (linebacker), Tim Hauck (safeties), Justin Peelle (tight ends), Duce Staley (running backs), Jeff Stoutland (offensive line), Press Taylor (quarterbacks), Matthew Harper (assistant wide receivers), Dino Vasso (assistant secondary) and special teams coordinator Dave Fipp.

There was no comment from the Eagles about Daniels' tweet. They have not announced or confirmed his departure.

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