Frank Reich

Eagles' new OC Groh hopes to recreate Reich's relationship with Pederson

USA Today Images

Eagles' new OC Groh hopes to recreate Reich's relationship with Pederson

Mike Groh was probably plenty busy coaching the Eagles’ wide receivers last season, but that doesn’t mean he didn’t have time to observe the dynamic among coaches. 

Namely, Groh got to watch the dynamic between head coach Doug Pederson and former offensive coordinator Frank Reich, who parlayed the Eagles’ Super Bowl success into a head-coaching job with the Colts. Groh got to watch their incredibly close relationship.  

Now, Groh is trying to replicate it. 

“Obviously, I’ve learned a significant amount from Coach Reich,” said Groh, who was promoted to replace Reich earlier this offseason. 

“He and I worked very closely together last season, and I was able to watch how he and Doug worked together. So, hopefully I was observing the right things. I obviously want to take a lot of what he did that helped us be successful. I know they're big shoes to fill, but try to fill those shoes.”

Groh, 46, thinks that year of observation is making the transition from receivers coach to offensive coordinator a little easier. He said every team operates slightly differently, so having a base knowledge of how the Eagles and Pederson operates is helpful. 

Pederson grew to rely on Reich over the past two seasons and their meetings on nights before games became customary. While Pederson and Reich were briefly teammates way back in the mid-90s, Groh had never worked with Pederson until last season, when he was hired as WRs coach. 

“One of the things that Mike benefitted from, really taking this role over, is being around Frank last year and being kind of tied in with Frank on how Frank thought and how Frank and I interacted and Mike's involvement with game plans and things like that,” Pederson said earlier this offseason.

“He's done a really good job filling in. He's leading the group offensively, the coaching staff, and he's on top of it. He's a sharp guy. Sharp guy. So I'm encouraged there.”

Reich certainly had influence on the Eagles’ offense, but he was sure to not overstep his boundaries. After all, it’s Pederson’s offense and Pederson who calls the plays. But going back to when Reich was hired, Pederson said they made the move because of Reich’s familiarity with a downfield passing attack. 

Groh is going to have some influence too. But he’s not looking to take over. 

“It's not my offense,” he said. “This is our offense. It all starts with Coach (Pederson). We got a tremendous coaching staff here. I'm really fortunate to be able to work with some of the best coaches in the league. So, it certainly is not Mike's offense. It's Coach Pederson's offense, it's the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense. Again, we're going to work collaboratively upstairs to try to continue to be as multiple and stay out in front of the defenses as we can.”

While Groh coached wide receivers in the NFL for the last five years, he said he still sees the game as a quarterback, the position he played in college and briefly as a professional. 

Groh began his coaching career on his father’s staff with the New York Jets as a quality control coach. From there, he went back to the University of Virginia, where he worked his way up to offensive coordinator, a title he had for the Cavaliers from 2006-08. That was the last time he was an offensive coordinator. 

“I’ve grown significantly,” Groh said. “I’d like to think I'm a lot better coach now than I was 10 years ago.” 

Doug Pederson reveling in afterglow of championship

Doug Pederson reveling in afterglow of championship

ORLANDO, Fla. — It seemed like Doug Pederson couldn’t turn in any direction this week at the lavish Ritz-Carlton Orlando without being greeted with a verbal pat on the back.

It was a tough climb to the top; you’ll forgive him if he enjoys the view.

“It’s freaking awesome!” Pederson said Monday night, amid a sea of more congratulations during the reception for the NFL’s annual league meetings. 

The Eagles head coach is certainly enjoying the afterglow of the first Super Bowl championship in franchise history and all the praise that comes along with it.

While Pederson and the rest of his coaches have already moved on, logging hours in the facility daily during the offseason, there are near-constant reminders of the success from 2017 — whether it be dozens of fans wearing Super Bowl gear on flights from Philadelphia to Central Florida or the constant flow of congratulatory messages coming from the NFL hierarchy.

“It’s something that’s a little bit surreal,” Pederson said. “You’re walking amongst all your peers, you got all the owners and GMs and head coaches and presidents and everybody. When you’re outside of NovaCare, outside the building, that’s what makes it real special, what you’ve accomplished, and how hard it is to get there and win that football game. I appreciate everything that got us here, obviously, and to be congratulated, it’s pretty cool.”

This is Pederson’s third time at the NFL’s owners meetings and it’s a decidedly different experience being the only head coach in attendance who ended last season with a win.

Well, almost the only one.

Former Eagles offensive coordinator and new Colts head coach Frank Reich is enjoying the spoils of victory too.

“It’s been really neat,” Reich said. “That’s one of the cool things in this profession. It’s a close-knit profession. Guys know the ups and downs of this profession, and there are ups and downs. And so when you have a good streak and when things go right, I think the guys in this profession appreciate and know what that feels like. That’s been encouraging.”

Last year, when the event was held in Phoenix, Pederson’s Eagles were coming off a 7-9 campaign that landed them in the basement of the NFC East and his coaching counterparts weren’t very complimentary at all. What a difference a year makes.

Pederson said he didn’t grab any sort of souvenir from Super Bowl LII in Minnesota. He didn’t get a football, didn’t take anything out of the locker room. He does have one of those blue Super Bowl LII helmets and he’s thinking of maybe getting a replica Lombardi Trophy made for his house. If nothing else, he’s going to get a championship ring. 

Of all the texts and calls of congratulations Pederson has received over the last few months, one stood out. On Feb. 24, Moorestown, New Jersey, held “Coach Doug Pederson Day,” a “pretty special” honor for one of its most famous residents. Pederson estimates about 800 Eagles fans showed up at the Moorestown Community House on that Saturday.

Since the confetti rained at U.S. Bank Stadium, Pederson has watched a replay of the game. Even though he obviously knew the outcome, Pederson couldn’t help but tense up.

“I was nervous,” he said.

He didn’t need to be, of course. The Eagles won the game. If Pederson needs a reminder, he won’t go long before someone pats him on the back again.

Duce Staley would have been the easier choice

USA Today Images

Duce Staley would have been the easier choice

The right choice isn't always the easy one. Ultimately, we won't know for some time if the Eagles' tabbing Mike Groh for the job of offensive coordinator over Duce Staley was the correct call. But we know they didn't take the easy way out.

Staley has spent 14 seasons with the Eagles as a player and coach. He's been in charge of the Eagles' running backs since 2013 and even interviewed for the head coaching spot after Chip Kelly was fired following the 2015 season. He has the utmost respect of the guys who have played for him and from the organization. His time coaching in Philadelphia has spanned three head coaches (Andy Reid, Kelly, Doug Pederson). That tells you how the folks in the executive offices feel about him. He would have been the easier choice. He juggled egos and the Eagles' crowded backfield skillfully. He smoothly integrated Jay Ajayi into the Birds' system after a midseason trade.

Duce checked a lot of boxes. But Pederson and the Birds chose to go with Groh, who has been with the club for just one season. (They did, according to a league source, reward Staley with a new title: Assistant head coach/running backs.)

The 46-year-old Groh coached the Eagles' wide receivers last year and is credited with helping Nelson Agholor find his game and confidence. Groh has coached in college and the pros for 18 seasons, including a stint as the offensive coordinator at his alma mater, Virginia. Perhaps that gave him the edge in Pederson's and the team's eyes. 

Despite Pederson's calling the plays, the job of offensive coordinator is not just a title. Frank Reich played a huge role game-planning and acting as a sounding board. 

Can't imagine Staley is too happy about this development. It will be interesting to see if he chooses to stay or go elsewhere. But if the track record of Pederson and Roseman is any indication, they did a pretty good job putting together the staff that helped them win their first Super Bowl. So they've earned some trust on the hiring end.