It sounds like the Eagles are in danger of losing one of the best position coaches in their recent history.
According to The Athletic’s Bruce Feldman, Eagles offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland might be heading back to Alabama this offseason.
No way around it: This would be a massive loss for the Eagles.
But it doesn't sound like a done deal yet and Stoutland is still under contract in Philly.
Stoutland, 58, joined the Eagles coaching staff in 2013 and his work over the last eight years has been nothing short of amazing. He turned great players into legends, good players into great players and backups into viable starters.
Before joining the Eagles, Stoutland was with Nick Saban at Alabama from 2011-12, so this would be a reunion.
But it would also crush the Eagles, especially the players on the offensive line who absolutely love him.
In addition to his duties as the offensive line coach, Stoutland was also promoted to run game coordinator for the 2018 season.
He was one of several holdovers from the Chip Kelly staff to stick around for the Doug Pederson years and that was really a no-brainer.
The Eagles fired Pederson earlier this week and perhaps the new head coach would have come in and cleaned house anyway, but the Eagles would have probably wanted to keep Stout if they could have. Keeping him on the staff for the last coaching change was a tremendous decision.
Here’s what Pederson said about that decision as he looked back on it earlier this season:
“He has a lot of energy, very, very excited,” Pederson said. “For him, I can understand it was a little bit of an unknown time, right? New head coach coming in, you don't know if you're going to be here or somewhere else, but I just assured him that quite frankly, he was going to be my offensive line coach. But it was a great meeting. A lot of energy, and looking back, a great decision on my part.”
Stoutland’s greatest achievement was probably this year, when he somehow kept the Eagles’ offensive line held together with duct tape and sticky tack. The Eagles used 14 different offensive line combinations in 16 games, by far a new NFL record.
The only guy to start all 16 games was Jason Kelce. But the Eagles used multiple players at just about every other position.
Kelce earlier this year tried to explain how Stoutland was so successful getting all these backups ready to play:
“In terms of Jeff, I think Coach Stout from the fact that he was in college for such a long time in his career, where you’re forced to develop talent,” Kelce said. “There’s no free agent pool in college, you’re bringing in new guys every year. And those are the guys that are going to be your eventual juniors and seniors and guys that you’re relying on so you have to develop them.
“Stout, every single day you come in this building you better be ready to work, ready to answer questions, ready to be accountable to learning the new techniques, the new terminologies, everything every single day. Doesn’t matter if you’re the starter, which I think a lot of NFL coaches kind of get rolled into, is just coaching starters because those are the guys that you’re expecting to play. But I think that, that’s where Stout is always coaching everybody.”
In his eight years as the Eagles’ offensive line coach, his players combined for six All-Pros and 16 Pro Bowl bids.
The more impressive thing is that Evan Mathis (2 Pro Bowls, 1 All-Pros), Jason Kelce (4 Pro Bowls, 3 All-Pros) and Brandon Brooks (3 Pro Bowls) were in the league prior to playing for Stoutland but never made a single All-Pro team or Pro Bowl until he became their coach.
But perhaps Stoutland’s greatest success story is Jordan Mailata. It was Stoutland who flew to IMG Academy in February of 2018 to see a giant rugby player work out and it was Stoutland who thought he could make him an offensive tackle. That hard work paid off this season when Mailata played at a very high level. He might be the future left tackle of the team.
The Eagles have some big positions to fill this offseason, starting with head coach and defensive coordinator. But with Stoutland’s possible departure, it won’t be easy to replace him either.
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