Mike Groh

All three of Doug Pederson’s coordinators returning for 2019

All three of Doug Pederson’s coordinators returning for 2019

Doug Pederson on Tuesday afternoon confirmed all three of his coordinators will be retained this offseason. 

That means defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, offensive coordinator Mike Groh and special teams coordinator Dave Fipp will return for the 2019 season. 

“Yeah, my three coordinators will be back,” Pederson said.  

Let’s take a look at each guy individually: 

Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz

Even though injuries devastated the secondary, Schwartz’s unit finished the season as the NFL’s 12th-best defense, giving up 21.8 points per game in the regular season. They gave up an average of 17.5 in their two playoff games. He’ll be back for his fourth season as defensive coordinator in 2019. 

Plenty of folks hated how little Schwartz blitzed this year, but it’s hard to blame him when guys who haven’t been on the roster all season are starting in the secondary. Only Malcolm Jenkins remained as a starting DB from the beginning of the year. Schwartz felt like he needed to give his inexperienced defensive backs as much help as they could get, which meant not sending blitzes. And that’s really been the foundation of his defense. He wants his front four to generate most of the pressure. At times is he too passive when that doesn’t happen? Yeah, probably. But the defense played fairly well all season. Those who want to pin the loss to the Saints on the defense, are misguided. They gave up just 20 points on the road to Drew Brees in the Superdome. That’s pretty good. 

The one are where Schwartz’s unit really struggled was on 3rd- and 4th-and-long situations. They Eagles gave up 19 first downs on those situations this season. That was the second-most in the NFL. 

It would make sense if Schwartz would like to one day return to a head-coaching post, but there aren’t a lot of NFL teams in a hurry to hire defensive coaches to run their teams. Most NFL owners are looking for innovative offensive minds, who are masters at the quarterback position. Maybe that will change, but until it does, Schwartz’s options will be limited. 

Offensive coordinator Mike Groh 

For a long time this season, it looked like Groh was a prime candidate to be a scapegoat for the offense’s struggles and the struggles of the team as a whole. It didn’t help in the public perception that he regularly didn’t inspire much confidence in his weekly news conferences. For much of the season, he was compared against former OC Frank Reich, whose legend grew much more after he left Philadelphia and became a successful head coach in Indianapolis. 

The Eagles’ offense looked stale and inconsistent early this season, but it was hard to figure out just how much to put on Groh. After all, he was an offensive coordinator under a head coach who runs the offense. Really, Pederson probably deserved more of the blame, but he was the constant and Groh was the new face after he was promoted from his post as wide receivers coach. 

Luckily for Groh, the offense started to play better toward the end of the season once Nick Foles got into the lineup, even though they scored just 30 points in their two playoff games. Groh will have a second season as offensive coordinator to help try to get the Eagles back to the high-flying offense they were during their Super Bowl year. 

Special teams coordinator Dave Fipp 

As much as the injuries hurt Schwartz this year, you can argue they hurt Fipp even more. Because for every starter that goes down, a backup gets promoted. And those backups are Fipp’s starters on special teams. So every little injury that happens across the board leads to a juggling act from Fipp. 

He’ll be back for his seventh season as special teams coordinator in 2019. 

Were the Eagles as dominant on special teams this year as they have been in the past? Probably not. They didn’t seem to have those big plays we’ve seen from them in years past. But they were still pretty good. Jake Elliott had a good season and it looks like they have something in young punter Cameron Johnston. Fipp has consistently kept his unit playing well for the last six years. 

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Wendell Smallwood, Nelson Agholor played huge part in Eagles' win over Rams

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Wendell Smallwood, Nelson Agholor played huge part in Eagles' win over Rams

A couple takeaways from Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh’s meeting with the media on Tuesday, two days after the Eagles upset the NFC West champions 30-23 at L.A. Coliseum.

Wendell Smallwood was one of the Eagles’ unsung heroes Sunday night in Los Angeles, carrying the football 10 times for 48 yards and two touchdowns with Josh Adams limited by a back injury.

Smallwood had barely played the last month. Going into the Rams game, he had just four carries and three catches in five games since the bye week, and he had played just 11 snaps in the Eagles’ last four games.

When he got his chance Sunday night, he was ready, and that’s not an easy thing to do.

I think it says a lot about Wendell. Wendell is a true pro and he is ready when his number is called, and he's really been that way throughout the entire season. He's been really effective when he's had the opportunity.

Smallwood had two third-quarter TDs Sunday, the first time an Eagle has had two rushing touchdowns in the same quarter since LeSean McCoy had 40- and 57-yard TDs in the snow vs. the Lions in 2013.

Smallwood is a solid if unspectacular back. He’s averaging a career-high 4.2 yards per carry despite no runs over 15 yards.

One interesting difference between Smallwood and Josh Adams: While Adams has six runs longer than 15 yards and Smallwood has none, Adams also has 25 carries of zero or fewer yards where Smallwood has just 10.

I thought he showed really good vision and patience in the running game. He was able to break some tackles. He has some speed, now, he just hasn't gotten all the way out there on the edge to break a long one, but you can see the speed through the hole. He's patient to it and you can see the burst through the hole. He's running behind his pads and pushing the pile. It was a really good night for him.

Quietly making a difference

Nelson Agholor only has eight catches in the last five games after catching 46 passes in the first nine games. Among those are a 39-yarder in the win over the Redskins and a 42-yarder against the Cowboys.

But despite a lack of catches, Agholor is as valuable as ever. He’s really become a terrific blocker and has a lot to do with the Eagles’ success running the ball lately.

Nelson is kind of an unsung hero in the offense right now,” Groh said. “Sometimes the ball finds you, sometimes it doesn't. But he's unselfish. He plays with a tremendous amount of toughness. He understands everything and what everybody else in the offense is supposed to be doing. So from that standpoint, he's comforting to guys out there in getting guys lined up or he's assignment sound and he's certainly willing to block. So he does a lot of things without the ball that might go unnoticed but not by people in this building.

I’d still like to see him get the ball more.

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Out in Minnesota, should Eagles bring back John DeFilippo?

Out in Minnesota, should Eagles bring back John DeFilippo?

The Vikings fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo Tuesday afternoon and we’re all thinking the same thing. 

Come on back, Flip. 

And it would obviously make some sense. The Eagles’ offense has struggled this year and we’ve sort of reasoned for weeks now that the Eagles have missed former OC Frank Reich and former QB coach DeFilippo. Now one of those guys is available. And the Eagles have always had a very high opinion of DeFilippo. 

So should the Eagles bring him back?

That seems like a totally reasonable course of action, but first, we have to figure out if he’ll be available to bring back. 

It isn’t exactly a surprise that Flip was fired in Minnesota; it didn’t seem like he and head coach Mike Zimmer had a great working relationship. I wonder how much damage Flip’s relatively short stay in Minnesota has done to the perception about him around the rest of the league. 

Because DeFilippo is still just 40 years old and had been seen as an up-and-coming offensive mind in the NFL. But his offense in Minnesota has floundered, especially recently, putting up just 17 points in the last two games after bringing in Kirk Cousins on a mega contract this offseason. 

The real question then circles around whether or not other teams are going to be calling for DeFilippo. As an offensive coach, it’s likely his desire is to continue to be a play caller. If he gets that opportunity elsewhere, he probably wouldn’t be too keen on returning to Philly to take a backseat to Doug Pederson. 

But if that opportunity to become an OC and play-caller doesn’t present itself, it would make sense for the Radnor High School product to be open to a return to Philadelphia in some capacity. Hey, maybe the Eagles could even bring him back this season in a Hue Jackson sort of role in Cincinnati. Although, that might not sit well with the guy currently in the OC chair. 

It is pretty telling that Eagles fans are calling for DeFilippo, a guy who has been running a meager offense that’s scored 21.7 points per game. That sort of shows how bad things have been in Philly this year with Groh as offensive coordinator.

While Doug Pederson deserves the brunt of criticism for the problems on offense this season, Groh is the OC and deserves his share too. Over these last three games, barring a huge offensive turnaround, there are going to be calls for Groh’s job. 

“I just come to work,” Groh said Tuesday afternoon. “I don’t really get involved with any of that stuff. Just trying to put a great plan together and try to win one game this week.”

Groh heard the news about DeFilippo’s getting fired shortly before his weekly press conference. Groh classified his former coworker as a good friend and said he feels for him, calling this an unfortunate part of the business. 

It might end up being unfortunate for Groh too. Because you have to think the Eagles would have at least some level of interest in bringing Flip back as a replacement.

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