It wasn’t until after the Super Bowl that the Eagles were dealt their first loss of 2018, though not long after. Less than six hours after the victory parade ended, in fact, when quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo bolted for an offensive coordinator job with the Vikings, as expected.
Up to the moment it became official, there was still hope the Eagles might convince DeFilippo to stay on as offensive coordinator if the organization could somehow pawn Frank Reich off as a head coach elsewhere. But that was a fantasy, and, at best, would’ve only delayed the inevitable.
DeFilippo was always a goner.
His job here was finished.
This is not intended to come off as smug and suggest the Eagles won’t need tremendous assistant coaches in their bid to repeat as world champions. DeFilippo’s shoes will be hard to fill and the organization knows it. That’s partially the reason why the club prevented him from interviewing for coordinator positions last offseason.
The other part of the equation was Carson Wentz. It wasn’t difficult to understand the Eagles’ rationale for holding on to DeFilippo despite a looming promotion with another team. Wentz was entering his second NFL season — a critical juncture for any pro athlete but especially a franchise quarterback.
Holding on to DeFilippo paid off. Wentz became a legitimate MVP candidate before a season-ending injury, averaging 7.5 yards per pass attempt with 33 touchdowns and seven interceptions.
Is there still room for improvement with Wentz? Yes. Is DeFilippo the best person to get that out of him? Quite possibly.
Can somebody else take over from here and help Wentz continue ascending and eventually reach his full potential? Definitely.
Of the coaches the Eagles could most afford to lose, DeFilippo arguably was at the top of the list. Wentz clearly has the tools to succeed, and the training wheels came off this season. He’s an established talent now. Surely, there is a competent quarterbacks coach out there who can help mold Wentz. (It may even be current Eagles wide receivers coach Mike Groh.)
DeFilippo’s return would have been ideal. At the very least, the continuity would be nice, and whether it was Wentz or Nick Foles under center, Eagles quarterbacks experienced success. The club also needs to continue developing young alternatives, be that Nate Sudfeld or somebody else.
But there was no blocking DeFilippo this time. His contract was up. And even if Reich winds up leaving too — he is set to interview with the Colts — it made sense to take on a new project.
DeFilippo is on a trajectory to becoming a head coach as early as next year. What’s better for his momentum: Staying in a safe job tutoring Wentz from offensive guru Doug Pederson’s shadow, or facing a new challenge head-on and running the entire offense in Minnesota?
Even if DeFilippo had remained with the Eagles, he would’ve been a hot commodity again next offseason and likely departed anyway.
This is the other side of winning. Nobody wants the Eagles to lose bright, young coaches, but it’s a fact of life for a great team.
At least in DeFilippo’s case, the Eagles’ quarterback situation is stable. Wentz and Foles are smart, driven men who will flourish no matter who is overseeing the room. They will be fine.
So will the Eagles. If DeFilippo winds up being the only assistant they lose the offseason, it could also wind up being their first win since the Super Bowl.