Making sense of silence on Eagles' coaching front

Making sense of silence on Eagles' coaching front

It’s been six days now since the Eagles fired offensive coordinator Mike Groh, and while numerous other NFL teams in the market for offensive coordinators have filled their openings, things have been mum over at 1 NovaCare Way.

Not a peep.
There’s no rule that says the Eagles needed to move quickly on this, but nearly a week after the team cut ties with Groh, several candidates are off the board, including highly regarded LSU passing coordinator Joe Brady and former Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur.
Ten teams had offensive coordinator openings, and six of them have already been filed. 
In addition to the Eagles, new Giants coach Joe Judge hasn’t named an offensive coordinator, the Jaguars haven’t hired a replacement for former Eagles QBs coach John DiFilippo, and the Vikings haven’t filled Kevin Stefanski’s opening.
No candidates for the Eagles’ OC vacancy have even been identified, which is unusual. 
All of this could mean one of four things:
1) Maybe the Eagles aren’t interviewing anybody because the guy they have their heart set on is still in the playoffs. That would point to Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka, a 2011 Eagles draft pick who’s spent the last two years as Pat Mahomes’ position coach and has a long history with Doug Pederson. 
2) Perhaps the Eagles have been interviewing candidates over the past week but have been doing it quietly. This is possible but would be unusual. Almost always, this sort of info gets out either through agents, other coaches or front office officials. For no official candidates to even be identified yet is surprising. 
3) Perhaps Pederson and the Eagles’ brain trust are simply waiting for the Senior Bowl practices, which begin Tuesday in Mobile, Ala. Senior Bowl week is like a huge convention for out-of-work coaches, and it’s where teams with coaching openings are able to meet numerous candidates in a short period of time. 
4) Then there’s the conspiracy theory: What if Pederson was telling the truth when he said Groh (and Carson Walch) would be back? And not until after that presser was the actual decision to make a change at OC made. If that were the case that means the Eagles wouldn’t have even begun the information-gathering process and start studying candidates until late last Wednesday or even Thursday. That would have put them well behind other teams looking for OCs and could explain why no candidates have even been identified while other teams have been making hires. 
Of the seven coordinators who have been hired so far, four of them were hired within 24 hours of the job opening up.
You would think if the Eagles had an ideal candidate in mind when they got rid of Groh he would be here by now. Unless it’s Kafka or conceivably someone else with one of the Final 4 teams.
The good news is there are still numerous qualified candidates out there. 
In fact, seven of the eight candidates that Dave Zangaro identified the day Groh got fired are still available: Duce Staley and Press Taylor from Pederson’s current staff, Kafka, forner Redskins head coach Jay Gruden, long-time Reid assistant Marty Mornhinweg, Shurmur assistant Mike Shula and Ravens quarterbacks coach James Urban.
The fact that it’s been nearly a week doesn’t seem like a good sign for internal candidates like Staley and Taylor.
DiFilippo, the Eagles’ QBs coach during the 2017 Super Bowl season, remains the most logical choice. He did such a terrific job with Wentz and Nick Foles during the Super Bowl season  it earned him a coordinator job with the Vikings. And he’s got an obvious comfort level with Pederson and his schemes. 
But he’s been fired twice in the last 15 months, and he might not as much of a no-brainer as it initially seemed.
As the days go by, we really don’t have any more of an idea who the Eagles will hire. But the list of people they can’t hire keeps getting longer.
Here’s a look at the offensive coordinator activity league-wide this offseason: 
Dec. 30 … Fired Chad O’Shea
Dec. 31 … Hired Chan Gailey
Jan. 13 … Fired John DiFilippo
Position still vacant
Dec. 31 … Fired Mark Helfrich
Jan. 13 … Hired Bill Lazor
Jan. 7 … Fired Kevin O’Connell
Jan. 7 … Hired Scott Turner
Jan. 9 … Fired Mike Groh
Position still vacant
Dec. 30 … Fired HC Pat Shurmur  
Incumbent OC Mike Shula a candidate to keep job
Jan. 12 … Kevin Stefanski named head coach of Browns
Position still vacant
Dec. 3 … Fired HC Ron Rivera and OC Norv Turner
Jan. 14 … Hired Joe Brady 
Rams did not have official offensive coordinator in 2019
Jan. 10 … Hired Kevin O’Connell
Jan. 12 … Fired Rich Scangarello
Jan. 12 … Hired Pat Shurmur

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10 unfiltered thoughts on NFL’s impending quarterback carousel

10 unfiltered thoughts on NFL’s impending quarterback carousel

With all the quarterbacks who are free agents or potential cap casualties, the 2020 offseason is setting up to dramatically shift the landscape of the entire NFL. 

Tom Brady to Las Vegas? Philip Rivers to New England? Dak Prescott making $40 million per year in Dallas? Drew Brees to retire? A bidding war for the No. 1 draft pick? Merely a sampling of what could transpire in the months ahead. 

Fortunately, the Eagles are largely spared from it all. Carson Wentz is under contract and back to looking like somebody the franchise can build around for the next decade. And though the team might be in the market for a backup, that's small potatoes compared the game of musical chairs some of the league's biggest names will be playing. 

As has been the case of the last two decades, it all starts with Brady. 

1. Though I doubt the market for Tom Brady is as large as what's being speculated. He'll be 43 and is coming off one of the worst seasons of his 20-year career. You have to wonder how much and for how long the Patriots have been hiding his decline -- I'd venture since 2018 at least -- and to what extent Bill Belichick is responsible for Brady's unprecedented success in the first place.

Brady is still good enough that he wouldn't be an abject failure in a different uniform, but there aren't many places besides New England where he's gonna win a Super Bowl being a game manager, either. Any team willing to roll the dice to squeeze 1-2 more years out of him needs to be a contender — there aren't many lacking a QB — or have an ulterior motive, like the Raiders trying to promote their move to Las Vegas. 

2. Does anybody believe for one second the Cowboys won't work something out with Dak Prescott? Yes, Prescott's reported contract demands are totally unreasonable. Of course, Jerry Jones is probably behind the Brady-to-Dallas rumors. This is the way high-level negotiations work in the NFL. Things may even get worse before they get better, but whether it's on a long-term deal, short-term deal or the franchise tag, Prescott will have a star on his helmet in 2020. Put another way, the Cowboys aren't replacing their 27-year-old franchise QB with a 43-year-old. 

3. Speaking of incredibly transparent negotiating ploys, the Taysom Hill hype machine in New Orleans is out of control. The Saints' coaching staff and front office keep insisting he's a franchise QB, yet are simultaneously hoping Drew Brees doesn't retire. And when the team actually needed a backup last season, Teddy Bridgewater made all five starts. Hill is about to turn 30 and has attempted all of 15 passes in the NFL, including playoffs, so forgive me, I find it hard to read those headlines without interpreting them as "Please don't go, Drew -- but take less money." 

4. I'm much more interested to see where Philip Rivers lands than Brady. While the timing felt right for the Chargers to go in a different direction, that's more so because their team is a mess than the person under center. Yes, Rivers threw 20 interceptions last season. He also completed 66% of his passes for 4,615 yards with a 7.8 average and 23 touchdowns while playing behind one of the worst offensive lines in football. 

Rivers is 38 and admits he only has a year or two left. He also just moved his family across the country to the east coast, the geography of which likely cut his options in half. Put his production on a middle-of-the-pack team like the Colts or Buccaneers though, and poof, they're contenders. Heck, he might even be an option for the Patriots. 

5. As much as I hate to keep bringing up Brady, I'm perplexed as to why anybody thinks the Titans would want to go that route and mess up a good thing with Ryan Tannehill. He just led the league in passer rating and helped guide the team to a conference championship game. Sure, Tannehill's resume warns his breakout could be a fluke, and he is an unrestricted free agent. So franchise tag him then. Don't throw away a potential future for a guy who's best days are definitely behind him. 

6. While we're at it, why would the 49ers dump Jimmy Garoppolo? OK, he didn't have the greatest Super Bowl. Think how ridiculous that sentence is. He went to the Super Bowl! Garoppolo wasn't along for the ride, either, finishing top five in the league with a 69.1 completion percentage (4th), 8.4 yards per attempt (3rd) and 27 touchdown passes (5th). And keep in mind, he's made only 29 starts including playoffs -- less than two season's worth -- so there's room to improve. Pretty sure Belichick regrets giving up Garoppolo for Brady. No way the 49ers are considering the same. 

7. At first I thought the Bengals would be crazy to pass on Joe Burrow with the No. 1 pick -- and I still wouldn't take anybody else there. However, I am starting to believe they should warm up to the idea of a trade. If they draft Burrow, he'll have no choice but to play there for 5-7 years, and if Cincinnati starts winning some games, maybe everybody lives happily ever after. As of right now though, there seem to be a lot of subtle hints he doesn't want to go there, setting the franchise up for years of drama and, eventually, a heartbreaking divorce. 

The Dolphins, Chargers and Panthers (pick Nos. 5, 6 and 7) are all in the market for a QB, and each has motivation to make this a transformative offseason. Sure, the Bengals will probably wind up picking Akili Smith 2.0 instead, but maybe with a few extra firsts and seconds, they'll accidentally assemble a competitive team around him. 

8. Cam Newton could be a fascinating follow this offseason. The Panthers seemingly are distancing themselves from the former league MVP, which I don't get. Yeah, he's hurt and there's speculation he may miss the season. When Newton is healthy, there aren't many QBs with his pure physical abilities. He probably needs to tone down the running at 31 with his medical history, but the new regime in Carolina shouldn't be so quick to write him off, especially considering what the team was trotting out. Drop Newton in LA with the Chargers or even Cincinnati, and he could instantly turn those franchises into winners. 

9. The Jaguars have an interesting dilemma, but the smart move might be keeping Nick Foles. The only team I can envision being remotely interested in a trade is the Colts due to his connection to Frank Reich, and that would mean dealing Foles within the division. Plus, while Gardner Minshew had a promising rookie season, was it so good the franchise should pin its future on a sixth-round draft pick? Keep both, that way if the rest of the team is suddenly competitive -- however unlikely that may be -- at least there are options.

And no, the Eagles are not reopening that can of worms. 

10. Rapid-fire thoughts... Not sure what Matt Stafford's angle is in Detroit. With his cap hit, the Lions probably can't trade him even if they wanted... As is the case elsewhere, not sure Brady is really an upgrade over Derek Carr at this stage. On the other hand, it is very on brand of Jon Gruden to create his own roster instability, and the Raiders will sell a lot of jerseys... You can understand why the Bucs will shop around, but even if Jameis Winston cuts his interceptions from 30 to 20, that team might be unstoppable.

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Delco man who arm wrestled Jason Kelce over the weekend deserves some props

Delco man who arm wrestled Jason Kelce over the weekend deserves some props

Sports fans often like to muse about how they could've taken on pro athletes during their prime. Over the weekend, one Delco man got something similar: a chance to arm wrestle Eagles center Jason Kelce during a Sunday afternoon at the bar.

I'll be honest: I expected this to go way worse for the challenger, a man named Dave who lives in the Havertown area and was at the Brick & Brew on Darby Road at the same time as Kelce, according to his sister-in-law, who posted the video Sunday afternoon.

Dave takes the contest as seriously as you can while sitting across from an Eagles legend wearing a Delco shirt and a knit beanie, and he actually put up a solid fight... until Kelce took things into overdrive:

The list of pro football players you can beat in an arm-wrestling contest is very short. You're talking some - not all - of the league's kickers, maybe a few third-string quarterbacks... and that might be it.

A random dude certainly isn't going to defeat one of the best Eagles of the 2010s, but Dave tried his best, and I appreciate the effort. Look how angry he is at the end of the video, begrudingly admitting defeat. Look at that scowl. He thought he had a shot!

Maybe next time he'll run into Jake Elliott (sorry, Jake) and Dave will have a chance.

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