Eagles

Why you're wrong about Press Taylor

Eagles

Let’s talk about one of the top candidates for the Eagles’ offensive coordinator vacancy that will now remain a vacancy.

He’s just 32 and after quarterbacking his junior college to two national titles, he skyrocketed up the coaching ranks, from college graduate assistant in 2011 and 2012 to NFL quality control guy through 2015 to assistant QBs coach in 2016 and 2017 to NFL quarterbacks coach — all before his 30th birthday.

The quarterbacks he’s coached over the last two seasons have a composite 96.4 passer rating with 56 touchdowns and just 19 interceptions, and his teams reached the playoffs both years.

He’s coached in a Super Bowl and won a ring, with his team toppling one of the greatest coaches in NFL history. And he was credited for actually discovering the most historic play in that Super Bowl.

He's young, he's highly regarded around the league, he's worked under several brilliant offensive minds, and he comes from a big-time football family.

If this guy coached somewhere else, you’d be screaming for the Eagles to hire him.

But it’s Press Taylor, and he’s already here.  And that changes everything.

It’s the grass-is-always-greener-on-the-other-side dynamic.

If the tweets I read and the WIP callers I hear and the comments on stories I see are any indication, Eagles fans don't like Taylor and aren't in favor of his promotion to an increased role.

I’m not sure what’s in his resume or background to lead people to form a negative impression of him. But all indications are that he’s a capable coach who has a good feel for this offense.

 

Didn't Nick Foles look sharp when he had to play in 2018? Didn’t Josh McCown hang in there and play as well as you could expect in his first career playoff appearance? And most importantly, hasn't Carson Wentz looked prepared and capable the last couple seasons?

Maybe this is why a lot of fans look askance at Taylor. Because they're anti-Wentz and there's nothing he can do to change it without morphing into Foles.

The reality is that Wentz has been one of the NFL's better quarterbacks in his 27 games with Taylor as his position coach.

Let's measure this. Of those 27 games, Wentz has had four poor games, which we'll define as a passer rating under 80.

The only regular starting QB over the last two years with fewer games with a passer rating under 80 is Pat Mahomes (who's had two).

Dak Prescott had six. Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers seven, DeShaun Watson nine, Jared Goff 10.  

All of which speaks to Wentz's consistency.

We can nit-pick a throw here or a decision there, but when healthy, Wentz has been one of the NFL’s most consistent quarterbacks in his two seasons with Taylor as his position coach.

His play down the stretch this past season with a cast of practice squad receivers was remarkable. Really, only Drew Brees and Lamar Jackson outplayed Wentz the last month and a half of the season. Wentz got better and better as the season went on, and there's no better way to measure a position coach than by whether his guys improve.

Other than the Wentz bias, what other reasons could there be for the negative association with Taylor?

I thought of a couple possibilities.

His brother Zac went 2-14 as head coach of the Bengals, and I’m sure part of this is guilt by association: "Zac is terrible so Press must be terrible, too."

And second, Doug Pederson’s track record with assistant coaches lately hasn’t been great, so maybe there's a tendency to think, "He promoted Mike Groh and Carson Walch, so why should I think this is any different?"

Doug has actually hired and fired Chris Wilson, Greg Lewis and Eugene Chung, Phillip Daniels and Gunther Brewer, in addition to Groh and Walch.

But this is interesting:

Of the original Chip Kelly 7 – the seven Kelly assistants that Pederson kept (Jeff Stoutland, Duce Staley, Cory Undlin, Matthew Harper, Justin Peelle, Dave Fipp and Taylor), Pederson hasn’t fired any of them.

Chip knew how to find good coaches, and he hired Taylor out of Tulsa, where he was a grad assistant. Taylor has gradually risen through the ranks since.

None of this is any guarantee Taylor will be a rousing success here and this offense will suddenly take off to new heights.

You never know with these things. Remember, nobody had heard of Andy Reid when he was hired. Doug Pederson wasn't a popular choice four years ago. Frank Reich had been fired three times in five years when Pederson brought him in.

 

They all did OK, last time we checked.

It's not about how big your name is, it's about your understanding of the game, your ability to communicate, your teaching skill.

Anyway you break it down, Taylor is a bright, young, rising offensive mind who's worked well Wentz, and that’s something Pederson and this offense can certainly use.

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