Eagles

A few thoughts on each of the NFC East coaching hires

A few thoughts on each of the NFC East coaching hires

Doug Pederson isn’t just the longest-tenured head coach in the NFC East. When the 2020 season begins, he’ll be the only guy who has coached a single game for their respective teams. 

All three other NFC East teams have moved on from their previous head coaches and as of Tuesday afternoon, all three have found their new guy. 

Here are some thoughts on all the hires. 

Giants: Joe Judge 

The Giants were reportedly finalizing a deal with Judge on Tuesday morning, ruining the fantasy of the Giants’ hiring Jason Garrett and keeping him in the NFC East. 

So who is Judge? 

Let’s face it, I’m saving you a Google search right now. Judge, 38, is a local guy. He’s from Philly and went to Lansdale Catholic. 

While Schefter called Judge the Patriots’ receivers coach, that’s not exactly true. Because Judge had been New England’s special teams coordinator since 2015 and simply added the wide receivers coach hat this season. That means he basically held two full-time jobs this season, which is impressive. 

The best example of a head coach with a special teams background is John Harbaugh, who coached special teams and defensive backs with the Eagles before the Ravens hired him as a head coach in 2008. It’s rare for special teams coaches to get head coaching opportunities but there are some reasons to think it can work. One main one is that aside from the head coach, the only other coach who addresses the entire team (offensive and defensive players) is the special teams coordinator. 

It appeared that the Giants didn’t get their first choice, though. Former Baylor and Temple head coach Matt Rhule never made it to his interview in New York, taking the head coaching job in Carolina. But it’s not always a bad thing to miss your first choice. Heck, not many people think Pederson was the Eagles’ top choice back in 2016 and that has worked out pretty well. 

The problem for the Giants might be that they allowed general manager Dave Gettleman to make this hire. We’ll see how long this marriage lasts. 

Cowboys: Mike McCarthy 

The Cowboys officially announced McCarthy as their head coach on Tuesday afternoon after a wild couple weeks where it seemed like they were keeping Garrett around just in case. 

It made sense for the Cowboys to hire a coach with some experience because they have a decently talented roster. If the new coach can get a lot out of his guys, the Cowboys could theoretically compete next season. 

McCarthy, 56, was the Packers head coach from 2006-18 and compiled a 125-77-2 record during his time in Green Bay. He led the Packers to the playoffs in nine of 13 years and won Super Bowl XLV in 2010. It is worth noting no head coach has ever won Super Bowls in two cities. 

It sounds like McCarthy is bringing in veteran defensive coordinator Mike Nolan to his staff. 

This isn’t exactly the sexiest pick for a head coach but the Cowboys hired a guy who they hope can turn things around this upcoming season and maximize their window. 

Redskins: Ron Rivera 

This is the one we’ve known about for a while now. The Redskins fired Jay Gruden during the season so they had a little bit of a head start hiring Rivera, who was fired by the Panthers before the end of their season. 

Rivera, 58, had a 76-63-1 record during his nine years in Carolina and led them to the playoffs four times, losing the Super Bowl in 2015. 

During his short time on the job, Rivera has already begun making some changes in Washington. This was a culture-change hire from the Redskins and Rivera has already started changing the culture, banishing those pesky ping pong tables from the locker room. 

As a defensive-minded head coach, it appears Rivera is going to hire 37-year-old Scott Turner as his offensive coordinator. Turner was with Rivera in Carolina as a quarterbacks coach and was promoted during the 2019 season to offensive coordinator, replacing his father Norv. With Dwayne Haskins entering his second year, the Turner hire is a pretty big one too. 

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What landmark contracts for George Kittle, Travis Kelce mean for Zach Ertz

What landmark contracts for George Kittle, Travis Kelce mean for Zach Ertz

Updated: 4 p.m.

George Kittle and Travis Kelce didn’t just reset the tight end market on Thursday. They obliterated it. 

And you can bet Zach Ertz is taking note. 

The 49ers and Kittle agreed to a groundbreaking contract for the All-Pro tight end that comes with an average of $15 million per season. And then the Chiefs and Kelce agreed on a deal that came in a little under that. 

Ertz, 29, is still under contract through the 2021 season but is also in line for a contract extension of his own. And while you might not think he deserves as much money as Kittle or Kelce, Ertz might think so. 

Check out what Ertz said about the comparisons to Kittle and Kelce last week: 

I do consider myself in that upper echelon of guys, in that same tier with all those guys,” Ertz said last Friday. “I don’t mean any disrespect, but I think a lot of guys in this building feel the same way about me. I’m never in the business of comparing people. I think all three of us are at the top of our games, and I think we’re all perfect in the offense that we play in, honestly. I think we all have unique skill sets. We’re all very different, with some similarities. But overall I don’t think my game is any less than any of their games.

We’ll eventually find out if the front office agrees with him. Because the Eagles are going to face a really critical decision soon regarding Ertz. And the existence of Dallas Goedert only adds more layers to this situation. 

Ertz, 29, signed an extension in 2016 that gave him an average per year of $8.5 million. While he might not get to the $15 APY that Kittle just got, he’s going to aim to be in that area. That’s the natural progression of contracts in the NFL. My guess is he gets in the $11-13 million per season range, which is still a really big investment on a player who will likely be over 30 when that deal happens. 

For a long time, the market for tight ends has been really stagnant. The Jimmy Graham $10 million APY had been the benchmark until Austin Hooper passed that with a $10.5 APY this offseason. Now, Kittle and Kelce have demolished that. 

It’s also worth noting that NFL Network’s Mike Silver reported earlier this offseason that Ertz actually turned down a deal during the 2019 season that was more lucrative than the deal Hooper signed. That should give you an idea of Ertz’s mindset. (But it was the right decision; let Kittle or Kelce reset the market.) 

There’s no questioning what Ertz has meant to the Eagles offense. He’s been their leading receiver in each of the last four seasons and this is the guy who caught the game-winning touchdown in the Super Bowl! He’s in the middle of an absolutely tremendous career. 

Ertz last week emphasized his desire to play for the Eagles for his entire career. But it’s never that simple. 

Remember, Goedert is still just 25, he has two more years left on his rookie contract and is already a top 10 tight end in the NFL. And while Ertz has put up incredible — like Hall of Fame — receiving numbers, Goedert is definitely a more well-rounded player. Heck, ProFootballFocus actually ranked Goedert ahead of Ertz for the 2020 season.

The one thing that seems clear is that it’s going to be really hard to keep both talented tight ends long-term. 

If the Eagles want to keep Ertz, they’re going to have to give him a huge contract. These new tight end deals just created some framework and a potential obstacle. 

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Doug Pederson hints at big role for Greg Ward Jr. with Eagles this season  

Doug Pederson hints at big role for Greg Ward Jr. with Eagles this season  

Greg Ward Jr. became a great story for the Eagles last season, when he began the year on the practice squad and ended up being their best receiver down the stretch. 

But is he more than a good story? 

Doug Pederson seems to think so. 

The one thing now as he goes into this season, he's in that rotation, in that starting mix for us,” Pederson said on a Zoom call with reporters Wednesday. “It's just a matter of him embracing every day, getting better. Being a former quarterback, he understands our offense. Being in our offense, he knows the concepts and the routes. He and Carson (Wentz) have a really good feel for one another.

“I think for him now it's just a matter of continuing to get better each and every day and putting in the work. We expect some really big things from Greg. He can also be a leader. He can be a leader of that group. Him and DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, these guys, they can be leaders now and mentors to these young players.

In one year’s time, Ward has gone from practice squad player to being a leader in a wide receiver room that includes three draft picks, an undrafted rookie and a second-year draft pick. 

Ward, 25, is technically in Year 4 of his NFL career but he didn’t get a chance to play until the 2019 season and even then he didn’t play until November. 

Ward finished last season with 28 catches for 254 yards and a game-winning touchdown in a huge contest against Washington. 

Maybe Ward will never become a star player in the NFL, but he’s sure-handed, dependable and earned the trust of his quarterback and coaching staff last season. 

If you look at the Eagles’ group of receivers, Ward is probably the top candidate to win the slot job. DeSean Jackson is going to be the starting Z receiver and at the X the Eagles have Alshon Jeffery and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Rookie 1st-round pick Jalen Reagor is learning both outside spots. 

Eventually, could Reagor play in the slot? Absolutely. In fact, I’d love to see him in there because he’d bring an explosiveness to the position that Ward probably can’t offer. 

But Ward is going to play a lot in 2020. He’s going to have a chance to become more than a great story. 

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