The Eagles' search for a new offensive coordinator should begin right inside their own building.
Offensive coordinator jobs usually go to hot quarterback coaches and former quarterbacks, but I can’t think of anybody more qualified to take this offense to the next level than Duce Staley.
Two years ago, Doug Pederson gave Duce the assistant head coach title, which speaks volumes about how much he values Staley.
These two go back 20 years, when they were teammates on the 1999 Eagles. When Pederson became head coach in 2016 he didn’t hesitate to keep Staley, who had been on Andy Reid’s staff in 2011 and 2012 and also on Chip Kelly’s staff.
Staley is one of the brightest offensive minds I’ve been around.
Obviously he knows the NFL running game. He ran for nearly 6,000 yards in his 10-year career with three 1,000-yard seasons, and in his seven years as running backs coach here, the Eagles have the 7th-most rushing yards in the NFL. And that’s with a constantly rotating cast of backs — Shady for a couple years and Miles Sanders this year but also guys like DeMarco Murray, Ryan Mathews, LeGarrette Blount, Josh Adams, Jay Ajayi, Darren Sproles and Wendell Smallwood.
Staley’s knowledge of the passing game is just as keen. Heck, he was one of the NFL’s best receiving backs in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
But this goes way beyond all that.
Staley isn’t just an innovative, knowledgeable offensive mind who has a long history with Pederson. He’s a master motivator. A terrific communicator. A positive force in the lives of all his players.
Look at the brilliant season Miles Sanders had and read his comments from last month about Duce.
You need someone to kick J.J. Arcega-Whiteside’s ass after another dropped pass? Duce won't hesitate.
You need someone to work endless hours into the night going over the gameplan with Carson Wentz? Duce is your guy.
You need someone to find new ways to deploy a unique talent like Boston Scott? I can’t think of anybody more qualified.
The NFL becomes more of a passing league every year, and that’s why these jobs generally go to quarterback coaches.
I just hope Staley’s history as a running back and a running backs coach doesn’t exclude him from this conversation.
Pederson won a Super Bowl with a long-time NFL quarterback, Frank Reich, in the offensive coordinator chair, and Mike Groh’s successor could very well be a QB.
Among the leading candidates are Mike Kafka, the Chiefs’ quarterbacks coach, who played here under Pederson and coached with him in Kansas City; current Eagles QBs coach Press Taylor; one-time Eagles QBs coach and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur; former Redskins coach Jay Gruden, a record-setting QB at Louisville; Shurmur’s former OC and QB coach Mike Shula; and Ravens QBs coach James Urban, a one-time Eagles QBs coach.
Quarterback coaches. All of 'em. And you can understand why.
Everything today revolves around finding a franchise quarterback and then surrounding him with the best talent and the best coaching minds you can find.
But the Ravens have one of the NFL’s most explosive and exciting offenses in the league, and their offensive coordinator is a former o-line coach, Greg Roman. Heck, the Vikings had one of the NFL’s best offenses this year, and their offensive coordinator, Kevin Stefanski, was a star defensive back at St. Joe’s Prep and Penn.
It’s not about what position you played, it’s about what you bring to the table, and few people have meant more to this organization as a player and a coach over the last generation than Staley.
Staley has a strong relationship with everybody on this roster. He has a very good and productive working relationship with Pederson. He has a mastery of this offense and understands personnel. He’s proven over and over he’ll get the most out of the players he works with.
He may not be a hot name, but he very well could be the best name.