How Andre Dillard grew up playing in the Andy Reid offense

How Andre Dillard grew up playing in the Andy Reid offense

During the summer of 2011, when Mike Leach was in between coaching jobs at Texas Tech and Washington State, he spent a couple days at Eagles training camp with his close friend Marty Mornhinweg.

Leach was up at Lehigh to visit Mornhinweg, then the Eagles' offensive coordinator, but also to learn about the Andy Reid offense, a pass-happy system in an increasingly pass-happy league. The Eagles’ quarterback coach back then? A guy named Doug Pederson. You've probably heard of him.

Two years later, Leach became head coach at Washington State and installed an offense that Eagles fans might recognize.

The Cougars throw. A lot. Like a record-setting amount.

There are certainly differences in Washington State’s offense and the Eagles’, but check this out: Since 2012, when Leach became Washington State’s head coach, the Cougars have thrown 727 more passes than any other Division I program.

Last year, the Cougars netted 4,859 passing yards and 1,096 rushing yards.

And who was blocking Washington State quarterback Gardner Minshew’s blindside when he threw 51 passes per game this year, most in college football?

Andre Dillard.

See how this all fits together?

The Eagles moved up three spots from 25 to 22 Thursday night to draft Dillard out of Washington State, and when you talk about fit, it’s hard to imagine a better one.

More and more each year, the NFL is a passing league, and the Eagles are certainly near the forefront of that trend. They’ve thrown the ball the sixth most in the NFL in three years under Pederson, and that’s not going to change.

That’s how you win in today’s NFL.

And in Dillard, the Eagles have a guy who grew up not only playing under the coach who’s historically thrown the ball more than any coach in major college football history, but also grew up playing in a system designed by a guy who studied Pederson’s mentor.

So the Eagles just drafted a guy who’s been playing in a pretty close approximation of the Eagles’ offense for the last four years.

Offensive linemen are boring, but can you imagine where the Eagles would have been over the last two decades without Tra Thomas and Jason Peters?

Over the last 21 years, Thomas and Peters started 293 of a possible 336 games at left tackle for the Eagles. They are both all-time Eagles, and now the Eagles have the heir apparent.

Dillard is big and strong and NFL-ready. He’s got a lot to learn, and he’s got a Hall of Famer to learn it from. But at some point — some point soon — he’ll carry on that left tackle tradition that No. 72 and No. 71 have built.

It’s hard to imagine anybody coming into this offense more prepared than a guy who pass blocked more than 2,000 times over the last four years. Over 50 times per game.

The Eagles have an elite quarterback they have to keep healthy if they’re going to have a chance to continue as an elite team. Peters is 37 and heading into his 16th season. He’s a Hall of Famer, but he’s nearing the end.

Jordan Mailata is an intriguing prospect, but he’s never played a snap in the NFL, he’s been playing organized football for only a year, and as big and strong and powerful as he is, when you have a chance to snag an Andre Dillard, you have to do it.

The Eagles have been building along the lines for nearly three decades, and although there have been missteps along the way — we’ll save you the agony by not mentioning Jon Harris, Danny Watkins, Bernard Williams, Leonard Renfro, etc. — it’s a philosophy that’s proven to be wise.

The Eagles build out from the trenches, and they win a lot of football games because of it.

Dillard will show up here for OTAs next month looking like a guy who’s already played in this offense. Because for all intents and purposes, he has.

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Learning more about Rich Scangarello’s role in Eagles’ offense

Learning more about Rich Scangarello’s role in Eagles’ offense

INDIANAPOLIS — It’s a pretty ambiguous title.

The Eagles earlier this month hired former Broncos offensive coordinator Rich Scangarello as a senior offensive assistant. But if Doug Pederson is the play-caller, Press Taylor is the passing game coordinator and Jeff Stoutland is the run game coordinator, it begs a pretty obvious question:

What the heck is Scangarello going to do?

At the NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday, Pederson finally answered that question with at least a little bit more depth than we previously heard.

“He’s going to be able to bridge the gap,” Pederson said Tuesday. “He’s going to be able to bring together the run division and the pass division. With a blend of formations and plays and things that really tie everything together. He’s going to have his hands all over the game plan as well. A lot of communication. A lot of film study. Yeah, he’ll work with the quarterbacks, just like I do. He’ll have a chance to have some input there."

OK, so we don’t exactly know how Scangarello will fill every minute of his work days but we’re starting to get a clearer picture.

Pederson said he and Scangarello bonded over their early backgrounds in the West Coast offense but it’s Scangarello’s close ties to 49ers head coach Kyle Shanahan that the Eagles found most intriguing. Scangarello worked under Shanahan in both Atlanta and San Francisco and the Eagles are hoping to blend some of those concepts with the offense Pederson is already running.

Namely, the Eagles are hoping this hire really helps Carson Wentz. That’s the No. 1 reason Scangarello was hired.

In addition to the time Scangarello will spend actually coaching the quarterbacks, the idea of QB movement is key. For whatever reason, the Eagles seemed hesitant to move Wentz in and out of the pocket early last season but once they did, he thrived.

That movement, throughout Wentz’s career, has always seemed to get him in a rhythm. And the Eagles are finally ready to lean into that.

“It was important for me,” Pederson said. “I think when I look back at our season and how we kind of finished the season, the thing Carson excelled at was basically those two elements. The play action, the QB movement stuff, the screens were important. And the run game ties into all that.

“This was what was intriguing with Rich, the background, what he’s learned. He studies this game now. You’ll learn when you get to speak to him. This guy has spent a lot of time studying the game. Now helping us, helping our offense. That’s why he was so intriguing to me.”

Despite finding a relatively high level of success with rookie quarterback Drew Lock in Denver, Scangarello lasted just one year as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator.

After the season, head coach Vic Fangio fired Scangarello and replaced him with Pat Shurmur. There’s plenty of smoke around the idea that Fangio and Scangarello didn’t have the strongest of working relationships.

Check out this exchange I had with Fangio on Tuesday morning:

What were some of Scangarello’s strengths?

“Rich is a good football coach. He knew the system well that he came from, does a good job with quarterbacks. I think Rich has got a bright future.”

What specifically did you like about Scangarello as a coach?

“I think for the first year in there, he did a good job. We played with three quarterbacks, so that has some stress to it. He did a good job of handling that.”

So why didn’t it work?

“That’s a long answer to a short question. I’m not going to get into that.”

See? Plenty of smoke.

Fangio did say on Tuesday that he wanted his offense to be more aggressive in 2020, so perhaps that’s another reason they elected to make a switch.

The word out of Denver is the area where Scangarello struggled was on game day, calling plays. On the flip side, he seemed to excel in preparation and game-planning. The good news for the Eagles is that Pederson is probably never going to give up play-calling responsibilities, so they won’t need Scangarello to do much on game day anyway. They’ll be able to utilize his strengths without worrying about his weaknesses.

Only Pederson really knows the logistics of how this new offensive structure will really work. It’s rare for a team to not have someone with an offensive coordinator title but it’s not unheard of. And the Eagles even thought of deviating from the norm back in 2018 when they promoted Mike Groh.

If this structure doesn’t work in 2020, that failure will belong to Pederson. But if it does work, Scangarello will be a big reason why. 

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How Andy Reid’s life has changed since winning the Super Bowl

How Andy Reid’s life has changed since winning the Super Bowl

INDIANAPOLIS — If you were expecting Andy Reid to win his first Super Bowl and turn into a different guy, you don’t know Andy Reid.

At the NFL Scouting Combine on Tuesday, Reid spoke to a huge gathering of reporters at the first big NFL event since his Chiefs beat the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV.

And guess what?

Not much has changed for Big Red.

“I stay in the office, so I’m isolated a little bit that way. There’s not much change there. I’m sure the players, if you talk to them, they’re out there and being recognized as world champs. 

I have gotten a couple free meals. That was nice. But I’m not out there that much to where I’m affected by it too much.”

Gotta love when Andy plays the hits.

Reid said he and his staff enjoyed the Super Bowl for a few days. They had a parade and reveled briefly but then it was back to business as usual. The focus then had to immediately switch to free agency and the draft in what was now a suddenly short offseason.

“Maybe someday when we get a little older and we’re out of the game, you can sit back and go, hey, you know what, we did pretty good there,” Reid said. “But right now, it’s buckling down and making sure we take care of business."

During the Chiefs’ run to the Super Bowl, Reid was very aware of the support he was receiving from Philadelphia, where he spent 14 seasons as head coach. Not everyone was rooting for him but it seemed like a large portion of Philadelphians were happy to see Reid hoist the Lombardi Trophy.

On Tuesday, Reid was asked if he’s heard from folks in Philly since winning the big game.

"Yeah, I’ve talked to all those guys. I’ve stayed close to the organization,” Reid said before scanning the crowd in front of him. “Guys like Les (Philadelphia Inquirer reporter Les Bowen) I’ve stayed close with.”

Les gave a wave.

“There are a couple other guys here that are Philadelphia here,” Reid continued. “I spent 14 years there. I appreciated every bit of it. Jeff Lurie, I appreciated him being at the game and supporting me there, too."

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