The Eagles began this week to restructure their offensive coaching staff and will move on from Rich Scangarello and Marty Mornhinweg.
That wasn’t much of a surprise.
And that won’t be the end of it.
In the 2020 season, the Eagles had an unusual offensive coaching structure after firing Mike Groh this time last year. Instead of a traditional offensive coordinator, the Eagles had a bunch of different voices and folks in roles without clear definition. It clearly didn’t work.
They are expected this offseason to hire a more traditional offensive coordinator, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, and that certainly makes sense. How could they justify running back the structure they had in 2020?
It’s pretty clear that this next offensive coordinator hire will tell us a lot about Doug Pederson.
Because despite the unusual structure in 2020, the Eagles’ offense was still Pederson’s. He still called most of the plays and while there were other voices, Pederson was still the de facto offensive coordinator. So this expectation that the Eagles will hire a guy who will have the title of “offensive coordinator” … what does that really mean?
The Eagles really have two options here:
1. Hire an offensive coordinator to work under Pederson and basically add his voice when Pederson sees fit.
2. Hire an offensive coordinator to take over that side of the ball and make Pederson more of a head coach and less of an OC.
It’s pretty clear which option Pederson would prefer. Remember what he said about the offensive structure just before the final game of the 2020 season:
“There's a lot of positive that comes out of those communications and those talks, those ideas. Really everybody has great ideas. That's part of putting plans together,” Pederson said on New Year’s Day.
“But at the end of the day I want to make sure there's one voice, and that's my voice, that's heard offensively and nobody else's. That's the part that I've got to get across to the staff, and I have done that.”
I wrote recently that the Eagles should avoid the middle ground. Either give Pederson back his offense or take it from him. But it seems like we might be heading for that middle ground. Really, the caliber of coach the Eagles hire might determine how much say that person has in the offense.
The Eagles always tell us that the coaching staff is completely up to Pederson but that’s a hard sell after what we saw last year. Pederson said Groh and Carson Walch were expected to be back and that was like the kiss of death. They were fired the next day. So will Pederson really be the guy deciding the next offensive coordinator? Yeah, probably not. At least not on his own.
It’s hard to imagine the Eagles’ grabbing a top coordinator to come and work under an offensive coach who will continue to call plays. And after watching the Eagles’ offense work in 2020, a top candidate might want to steer clear of this situation altogether.
But there are some good candidates available. Maybe if Jim Caldwell wants to return to coaching, they could try to bring him in. Or maybe the Eagles try again with a Kyle Shanahan disciple with Mike LaFleur or Mike McDaniel. Or maybe it’s time for Duce to get that promotion. Heck, maybe they finally lure Graham Harrell away from USC.
In any case, it was pretty clear the Eagles’ offensive coaching structure from 2020 needed work and they’ve already begun. The next steps they take will tell us a lot about what they think of Pederson and how much power he’ll have going forward.
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