Eagles

What exactly are Eagles losing in Frank Reich?

What exactly are Eagles losing in Frank Reich?

On Saturday night before Super Bowl LII, Doug Pederson and Frank Reich presumably met in the team hotel, the Radisson Blu, for about an hour and a half for a last game-planning meeting. 

This had become the ritual for the head coach and offensive coordinator during their two years together in Philadelphia. 

The duo would sit in a room together with a call sheet and the first 15 scripted plays. "How good are the first 15?" became a little running joke between them. 

Reich explained the ritual in late January: "Those are the little side meetings that if you don't enjoy working with each other and going through the ups and downs of a season — we'll sit in there and talk about the first 15, and he'll say, like he said to me the other night, 'Here's the 15, but I might insert this here or this there.'"

In the specific meeting Reich talked about, Pederson told him his whole philosophy was to be aggressive. Then the two talked about the importance of being aggressive without being reckless. 

For the last two years, Reich, one of the most genuine people in the NFL, kept Pederson grounded. He was a sounding board and a trusted confidant to a budding offensive mad scientist. For two years, that relationship worked. But now it's gone. 

Reich, 56, is the new head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. Pederson is happy for him, but it's also a loss. This is an examination of what made their relationship so special and the importance of replacing it. 

What would you say you do here? 

At first glance, Reich's influence with the Eagles' offense might be pretty hard to pick up. After all, he's an offensive coordinator on a team with an offensive head coach who also calls the plays. But Reich did have a pretty important role with the team. When Pederson first hired Reich, he cited Reich's knowledge of the downfield passing game as a reason why. While both men said they shared a pretty similar offensive philosophy, Pederson thought Reich's knowledge of downfield passing would be a great complement to his base in the West Coast offense. 

“He did an outstanding job there of really taking advantage of what our players did best, I think in the passing game especially," former Chargers head coach Mike McCoy said about Reich in 2016 after Reich was fired in San Diego as the Chargers tried to find more offensive balance. 

Together, Pederson and Reich formed the Eagles' offensive scheme and over the next two years the two men fine-tuned it, obviously, with Pederson taking the reins.

Just a few weeks ago, Reich was asked about his role in weekly game-planning and offered this: 

"You know what, Coach has literally put together the best staff that you can possibly imagine and that's how we work. We work as a staff together," Reich said. "It's fun to do it that way. It's fun when it's ‘we.’ It's fun when we've got a head coach who shares that responsibility and who is — and as the role of offensive coordinator that's what you do: you coordinate. You take all the great resources that you have as far as the staff and our head coach, and you pile your ideas together and then you've got to narrow them down and that's what we do. And we get a lot of good input from a lot of different ways, and that's fun. I mean, it's fun to work with the guys we work with and have the players that run those plays."

Reich is a nice guy, genuine. That might not seem like a requirement to be an NFL coach — and it isn't — but that quality allowed him to coordinate ideas while with the Eagles. Plenty of coaches in the NFL have egos that don't fit in stadiums, but Reich doesn't. That's a helpful quality, especially for a coach around other smart and opinionated coaches. 

Reich's mild-mannered personality served him well in his role as offensive coordinator and made his players love playing for him. Jeff Lurie made the term "emotional intelligence" and Reich, like Pederson, certainly has it. It's not a surprise these two grew so close and were able to work together. 

Now, it's about finding that type of relationship again. Pederson might need to have that Reich-like voice to keep him grounded and he might need that type of sounding board. Can that be Duce Staley? Maybe. Can it be Mike Groh? Maybe. But that has to be a key. 

Because what we learned about Reich's role over the last two years was that it became an incredibly important piece, not just to the offense, but specifically to the head coach, who grew into one of the best in the NFL.

How close were the Eagles to keeping Raheem Mostert?

How close were the Eagles to keeping Raheem Mostert?

Several years before his monster game for the 49ers over the Packers, Raheem Mostert was just another undrafted rookie trying to make the Eagles' roster. Mostert on Sunday became the first player in NFL history with 200 rushing yards and four touchdowns in a playoff game.

Four years ago, he was an Eagle. Here's a story NBC Sports Philadelphia's Reuben Frank wrote on about Mostert's preseason back in August of 2015.

•••

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Just when we were all set to concede a roster spot to Kenjon Barner, Raheem Mostert does this.

Fifteen carries for 69 yards, eight catches for 93 yards and quite a statement that if the Eagles are going to keep a fourth running back, it should be him.

Barner, a third-year pro from Oregon, was terrific the first few games of the preseason, with two punt returns for touchdowns, a 50-yard gain on a screen pass and a rushing touchdown.

Mostert, a rookie from Purdue, has quietly been very good playing in Barner’s shadow, but with Barner getting just a couple touches Thursday night against the Jets, it was Mostert’s turn to shine.

He became the first Eagle in at least 15 years with 60 or more yards both rushing and receiving in the same preseason game.

For what it’s worth, only five Eagles in the last 50 years have had 60 rushing yards and 90 receiving yards in a regular-season game -- Brian Westbrook four times, Wilbert Montgomery three times and Timmy Brown, Ricky Watters and LeSean McCoy once each.

“I was just really trying to focus on the task at hand and trying to make a couple big plays out there and help the team out,” Mostert said at his locker.

“That was my main focus. I thought I did a pretty good job, but there’s always room for improvement. But I really tried my best and that’s all I can do.

“I came in with focus, My mentality was I’m going to stick it out, I’m not going to quit, I’m going to keep fighting, keep pushing, and at the end of the day that’s all anybody ever asks me to do in the NFL.”

Mostert finished the preseason with 351 yards from scrimmage, most by an Eagle in a preseason in at least 20 years.

That’s a ton of yards. Nearly 90 per game.

He averaged 4.0 yards on 39 carries and added 194 yards on 14 catches.

No back in the NFL had as many yards from scrimmage this preseason or as many total yards, including returns. He finished fourth in the NFL this preseason in receiving yards and fifth in rushing yards.

All of which guarantees Mostert absolutely nothing.

Barner’s numbers were impressive too. And with DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews and Darren Sproles -- three Pro Bowlers -- there may not even be a spot on the 53-man roster for a fourth running back.

Final cuts are due Saturday, but head coach Chip Kelly is expected to trim the Eagles’ roster on Friday afternoon.

“I’m not really too worried about it,” Mostert said. “Whatever happens happens. I’m just going to continue to push and just do my thing. Honestly. I’m not too worried about the cuts. I’m going to just work on what I’ve got to work on, regardless.”

Mostert was a two-time Big East sprint champ in college, but unlike most track guys that come to the NFL, he’s a physical runner, a capable blocker and a polished receiver.

“When you look at some of those track guys, you’re like, ‘OK, they’re fast and that’s about it. They can’t catch, they can’t block,’” Eagles running backs coach Duce Staley said. “He’s totally different. He brings a lot to the table. He’s aggressive, he can block, he can catch.”

There’s a school of thought that Barner, as a third-year pro who’s bounced around the league a bit, will be easier to sneak through waivers if he’s released. So you keep Mostert instead of leaving him unprotected and release Barner, hoping to add him to the practice squad.

The other school of thought says that Barner has done more than enough to warrant a roster spot and you keep him and let Mostert go, hoping nobody claims him, then bring him back on the practice squad.

The only certainty is that Mostert will be somewhere. Either on a 53 or on a practice squad.

Not that he wants to get released and start over somewhere else.

“I definitely think that [I’ll be somewhere], but I’m not going to be happy about it,” he said. “I know I can do a lot more and minimize the mistakes that I’ve had because I’ve had a lot of mistakes.

“It’s all on what I put on film, that’s what really matters. I’ve just got to continue to do the little things right in order to be special and be great for the team.

“Whatever the outcome is, I’m not too worried about it. I’ve just got to keep pushing, keep fighting. … Just to be the ultimate player.”

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Andy Reid’s former Eagles players are thrilled he’s going back to Super Bowl

Andy Reid’s former Eagles players are thrilled he’s going back to Super Bowl

One of Andy Reid’s biggest strengths — one he shares with Doug Pederson — is that his players love him. He connects with them.

That’s why it should come as no surprise that so many of his former players are really happy for him right now as Reid is heading back to the Super Bowl 15 years after he took the Eagles.

It seems like most of Philadelphia will be pulling for the Chiefs in two weeks.

But we also know a bunch of Reid’s former players and co-workers from Philadelphia, some who played in Super Bowl XXXIX, will be rooting hard for Big Red in Super Bowl LIV.

Here were a few of their reactions on Sunday night:

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