Eagles training camp observations, Day 15: Zach Ertz comes up big in red zone

Eagles training camp observations, Day 15: Zach Ertz comes up big in red zone

Training camp is over … even though it doesn’t really feel like it. 

Technically, today was the final day of training camp, but it all sort of runs together ever since the team moved back from Lehigh. And next week the Ravens are in town, so we’ll be able to watch those practices in full too. 

But the official end of training camp came on a gloomy and cool day in South Philly. It even rained a bit. 

Let’s get to it: 

1. The best play of the day came in 7-on-7s when Carson Wentz fired the ball into the arms of Zach Ertz, who somehow got two feet in bounds in the back of the end zone. When it was ruled a touchdown, the defense and defensive backs coach Cory Undlin took exception as Duce Staley, the instigator, began yelling “touchdown!” Undlin lovingly gave him the ol’ one-finger salute. 

Ertz, who has 16 touchdown catches over the last two seasons, is a tough matchup in the red zone. Earlier in 11-on-11s Tuesday, he caught a ball in front of Malcolm Jenkins, who couldn’t navigate around the big body of the Eagles’ Pro Bowl tight end. 

2. I thought Wentz was a little sharper today than the past few days. He began practice with a deep ball to DeSean Jackson and then had a great throw on the run to Alshon Jeffery. As I’ve noted before, Wentz hasn’t done a lot of rolling out of the pocket this training camp. I asked him about it after practice today and he said that will still be a part of their game this season. 

3. I want to see more of Miles Sanders in the second preseason game because he’s just so shifty. He made a few guys miss on one play today. He might not be the Eagles’ best running back right now, but I think he might be their most talented. 

4. During a red zone drill, Cody Kessler identified a mismatch at the snap as JJ Arcega-Whiteside was iso’d against Josh Hawkins. He threw up a fade and JJAW went up to get it and brought in a touchdown pass. The Eagles’ rookie receiver had a somewhat slow start to his camp, but those signature plays have become pretty frequent over the last week and a half. 

5. In one of the red zone periods today, rookie linebacker T.J. Edwards got reps as the only linebacker with the starting dime package. That’s good for him as he tries to make the team. 

6. The Eagles have done a ton of red zone work this summer, but for just the second time during training camp, they did a backed up period. The highlight of this period of practice was a ball that Malik Jackson tipped at the line of scrimmage. He didn’t get enough to bat it down, but he really changed the trajectory. In a game, that could lead to an interception. 

7. Nelson Agholor made a great touchdown catch in the end zone during 7-on-7s, leaping up to snag a ball high out of the air. It was the play after Ertz’s touchdown, so Duce ribbed Undlin again, asking if that one was a touchdown. 

8. Veteran cornerback Orlando Scandrick made an impressive diving interception on a quick out from Kessler to Marken Michel. Scandrick has looked a lot better than I expected him to. 

9. After missing a few practices with a shoulder injury, Daeshon Hall was back for today’s session. So were Jason Kelce and Rodney McLeod after getting veteran days on Monday. 

The Eagles also re-signed DT Aziz Shittu, who has been with them in previous camps. He first got here as an undrafted player in 2016. He is wearing No. 67. The Eagles waived Blake Countess with an injury settlement to make room. 

10. I was watching 7-on-7s when it happened, but apparently Andre Dillard was involved in his third scrap in two days. This one happened in OL vs. DL drills. 

After yesterday’s scuffles, Dillard had a long chat with Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman following practice. Today, he had a long chat with OL coach Jeff Stoutland.  

Stupid Observation of the Day: Because I’m a crazy person, I tracked which visor Pederson wore all 15 days of training camp. He wore a black visor over 50 percent of the time (8 of out 15 days). He wore the army green one on Military Night at the stadium. But here’s a full breakdown:  

Day 1: Black
Day 2: Black 
Day 3: White 
Day 4. Black 
Day 5. Green
Day 6. Green 
Day 7. Black
Day 8. Gray (pink trim) 
Day 9. Army green 
Day 10. Black 
Day 11. Black 
Day 12. Black 
Day 13. Gray (pink trim) 
Day 14. White 
Day 15. Black 

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Ranking every coach in the Andy Reid coaching tree, from 1 to 10

Ranking every coach in the Andy Reid coaching tree, from 1 to 10

I came across an NFL Coach of the Year list the other day and noticed a few familiar names.

Ron Rivera. John Harbaugh. Matt Nagy. 

Doug Pederson’s name was notably missing. But he’s got a Lombardi Trophy, which kind of makes up for the ridiculous Sean McVay snub in 2017.

But seeing all those names got me thinking about the Andy Reid coaching tree.

Who’s been the most successful of his former assistant coaches?  Who’s been the least successful?

Reid has seen 10 of his former Eagles assistants go on to become assistant coaches, and five of them are currently head coaches. It’s a remarkable part of his legacy.

Here’s a look at all 10, from best to worst:

1. John Harbaugh

With Eagles: Special teams coach 1998-2006; Secondary coach 2007
Head coach of Ravens: 2008-2020: 118-74 career record, 10-7 playoffs, 1-0 Super Bowl

Accomplishments: Ravens have reached the playoffs eight of his 12 years and had just one losing season under Harbaugh. His .615 winning percentage is 6th-highest among active head coaches, and his 10 postseason wins are tied for 14th-most in NFL history. Named NFL Coach of the Year for the first time last year.

Interesting Andy Reid connection: Harbaugh’s quarterbacks coach since 2018 is James Urban, who Reid hired in 2004 as an entry-level coaching assistant.

Where is he now? Beginning 13th year as head coach of the Ravens.

2. Doug Pederson

With Eagles: Offensive quality control 2009-2010; Quarterbacks coach 2011-2012
Head coach of Eagles 2016-2020: 38-26, 4-2 playoffs, 1-0 Super Bowl

Accomplishments: Won Super Bowl in second season and has had Eagle in playoffs in each of last three seasons. Won NFC East in 2017 and 2019. His .594 career winning percentage is highest in franchise history, just ahead of Greasy Neale’s .590 and Reid’s .583.

Interesting Andy Reid connection: Pederson this year hired Marty Mornhinweg, who coached under Reid from 2003 to 2012 with the Eagles

Where is he now? Beginning 5th year as head coach of the Eagles.

3. Ron Rivera 

With Eagles: Linebackers coach 1999-2003
Head coach of Panthers 2011-2019: 76-63-1, 3-4 playoffs, 0-1 Super Bowl
Head coach of Washington 2020: 0-0

Accomplishments: Got Panthers to playoffs in four of his nine seasons and was named Coach of the Year in 2015, when Panthers went 15-1 and beat Cards in NFC Championship Game before losing to Broncos in Super Bowl 50 in Santa Clara, Calif. Named NFL Coach of the Year in 2013 and 2015.

Interesting Andy Reid connection: Rivera’s defensive coordinator his first six years with the Panthers was Sean McDermott, who he coached with from 1999 through 2003 under Reid.

Where is he now? Beginning 1st year as head coach of the Washington NFL Team. 

4. Sean McDermott

With Eagles: Scouting coordinator 1999-2000; Assistant to the head coach 2001; Defensive quality control 2002-2003; Assistant secondary coach 2004-2006; Secondary coach 2007; Linebackers coach 2008; Defensive coordinator 2009-2010
Head coach of Bills 2017-2020: 25-23, 0-2 playoffs

Accomplishments: Took over a franchise that hadn’t reached the postseason in 17 years and in his first season went 9-7, losing a wild-card game 10-3 to Jaguars. This past year, he guided the Bills to their first 10-win season since 1999 and became the first Bills coach to reach the playoffs twice since Wade Phillips in the 1990s.

Interesting Andy Reid connection: McDermott’s wide receivers coach is Chad Hall, who played for Reid with the Eagles from 2010 through 2012.

Where is he now? McDermott is beginning 4th year as head coach of the Bills.

5. Brad Childress

With Eagles: Quarterbacks coach 1999-2001; Offensive coordinator 2002-2005
Head coach of the the Vikings 2006-2010: 39-35, 1-2 playoffs

Accomplishments: Won NFC North in 2008 and 2009, the first time the Vikings won their division in consecutive years since 1977 and 1978. The 2009 team beat the Cowboys 34-3 to reach the NFC Championship Game, where they lost 31-28 to the Saints in overtime. 

Interesting Andy Reid connection: Childress’s running backs coach his entire stay in Minnesota was Eric Bienemy, who played for the Eagles in 1999, the first year for Reid and Childress with the Eagles, and is now Reid’s offensive coordinator.

Where is he now? Childress retired after spending 2019 as Matt Nagy’s senior offensive assistant with the Bears.

6. Matt Nagy  

With Eagles: Coaching intern 2008-2009; Coaching assistant 2010; Offensive quality control 2011-12
Head coach of Bears 2018-2020: 20-12, 0-1 in playoffs

Accomplishments: The 2018 Bears finished with a 9-1 run to win NFC North at 12-4 in Nagy’s first season and he became the first Bears playoff team to reach the postseason in eight years. Became the first Bears coach to reach the postseason in his first year since Paddy Driscoll in 1956 and was named NFL Coach of the Year. The Bears lost 16-15 to the Eagles in a home wild-card game. Started 2019 3-1 before going 4-7 the rest of the way. 

Interesting Andy Reid connection: Nagy’s offensive line coach is Juan Castillo, who was Reid’s offensive line coach and defensive coordinator (and has also worked under Harbaugh and McDermott).

Where is he now? Beginning 3rd year as head coach of the Bears. 

7. Leslie Frazier 

With Eagles: Secondary coach 1999-2002
Head coach of Vikings 2010-2013: 21-32-1, 0-1 playoffs

Accomplishments: Replaced Childress when he was fired 10 games into the 2010 season. The Vikings reached the playoffs once in his three full seasons, going 10-6 in 2012 and finishing second in NFC North before losing to the Packers 24-10 in a wild-card game at Lambeau.

Interesting Andy Reid connection: Childress hired Frazier, who he had worked with under Reid for four years, as his defensive coordinator with the Vikings in 2007. Frazier eventually replaced Childress 10 weeks into the 2010 season.

Where is he now? Beginning 4th year as Bills’ defensive coordinator under McDermott.

8. Todd Bowles 

With Eagles: Secondary coach 2012 [Week 1 through Week 6]; Defensive coordinator 2012 [Week 7 through Week 17]
Head coach of the Jets 2015-2018: 26-41

Accomplishments: Jets’ 10 wins in 2015 matched most in franchise history by a first-year coach and ranked No. 4 in NFL in defense. But Jets then won just 14 games over the next three years, the first time they had won five or fewer games in three straight seasons since 1975 through 1977.

Interesting Andy Reid connection: When Bowles was hired as the Cards’ defensive coordinator in 2013, his linebackers coach was Mike Caldwell, who played for Reid from 1999 through 2001 and coached under Reid in 2011 and 2012.

Where is he now? Beginning 2nd year as Buccaneers’ defensive coordinator under Bruce Arians, who was his coach at Temple.

9. Pat Shurmur 

With Eagles: Tight ends / offensive assistant 1999-2001; Quarterbacks 2002-2008; Offensive coordinator 2013-2015; Interim head coach [Week 17 2013]
Head coach of the Browns 2011-2012: 9-23
Head coach of the Giants 2018-2019: 9-23

Accomplishments: Shurmur has the unique distinction of posting the exact same record as head coach of two different franchises. His .292 career winning percentage is 7th-worst in NFL history.

Interesting Andy Reid connection: Shurmur was hired in Cleveland by Mike Holmgren, who Reid coached under with the Packers.

Where is he now? Beginning 1st year as Broncos’ offensive coordinator under Vic Fangio.

10. Steve Spagnuolo

With Eagles: Defensive assistant quality control 1999-2000; Secondary coach 2001-2003; Linebackers coach 2004-2006
Head coach of the Rams 2009-2011: 11-41
Interim head coach of the Giants 2017: 1-3

Accomplishments: Spags went 1-15 in his first year with the Rams and 2-14 in his third year. In between the Rams were 7-9, giving him a career .212 winning percentage, 3rd-worst in NFL history. The Rams have been around 79 years, and Spags is responsible for two of their three-worst seasons.

Interesting Andy Reid connection: Spags’ offensive coordinator with the Rams was Shurmur.

Where is he now? Beginning 2nd year as Chiefs’ defensive coordinator under Reid.

Relationship between Jalen Reagor and WRs coach could pay off in long run

Relationship between Jalen Reagor and WRs coach could pay off in long run

Nelson Agholor spent five years as a Philadelphia Eagle and had five different position coaches. While it would be unfair to blame Agholor’s shortcoming or up-and-down Eagles career on the instability at the receivers coach position, it certainly didn’t help. 

The Eagles can’t let that happen with Jalen Reagor. 

Back in April, the Eagles used the 21st pick on the explosive receiver out of TCU and will lean on new receivers coach Aaron Moorehead to squeeze every last ounce of potential out of the 21-year-old receiver. 

If anyone can get through to Reagor and coach him up, it ought to be Moorehead, who has known the rookie since Reagor was a little kid. Moorehead played with Reagor’s father, Montae, with the Colts in the early 2000s and then tried to recruit Reagor to Texas A&M out of high school. Moorehead and Montae Reagor became teammates in 2003, when Jalen was just 4 years old. 

I’ve always liked Jalen,” Moorehead said. “He’s a humble kid that understands it but also has the swag of a big-time receiver.

It’s a tough year to be a rookie, especially a rookie with high expectations. But that’s where Reagor finds himself in 2020. The Eagles used a 1st-round pick on him and they’re going to need him to contribute this season, whether that’s at one of the outside positions or in the slot. 

Right now, his over/under for receiving yards on Draft Kings is 650.5. The Eagles haven’t had a rookie receiver hit that number since Jordan Matthews in 2014. And it’s happened just three times in this century. 

So expectations for Reagor are high. 

At least he has the raw ability. And things have gone well so far. 

“He’s doing really well,” Moorehead said. “We’re learning the playbook over the last couple months and getting a chance to run through it the last few weeks. It’s been really good. He’s a powerful guy, he’s fast, he’s got good hands. And we’re doing stuff on air. This is what it’s supposed to look like. To say what things he needs to work on, we haven’t gone against a defense. But he’s doing a really good job of picking up the offense, learning and so far, so good with Jalen.”

Of course, the real test will begin on Monday. That’s when the Eagles will finally have their first padded practice of the summer and when real training camp begins. Then he’ll face guys like Darius Slay, Avonte Maddox and Sidney Jones and we’ll get a better sense of just how well things are really going. 

Moorehead realizes it is tough for players to have revolving door position coaches. If he’s able to stick around for a few years, it could definitely help Reagor’s development. The Eagles hope these two will be together more than one season. 

“He’s 21 years old; he’s still just figuring this thing out,” Moorehead said. “Excited for what he’s done so far and excited to see him grow throughout this year. For the last few weeks, he’s really starting to put things together and it’s a good thing. And it’s only going to keep getting better.”

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