Press Taylor

A meeting with Chip Kelly brought Press Taylor to Eagles

A meeting with Chip Kelly brought Press Taylor to Eagles

This is a story about how Chip Kelly helped the Eagles win the Super Bowl. 

Really. 

So in the summer of 2012, when Kelly was still the head coach at the University of Oregon, he was in Miami visiting some friends on the Dolphins’ coaching staff. He was hanging around the facility waiting for one of those friends to get out of a meeting, when he stopped in the office of the Dolphins’ new quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor. 

On that exact day, Taylor had a visitor of his own. His younger brother Press, then a graduate assistant at Tulsa, happened to be on his summer break and was visiting Miami. 

So the three — Zac, Press and Chip — sat in a room at Miami and talked football for a couple of hours. Then they went their separate ways. 

Until Kelly was hired as the Eagles’ head coach and was looking for a quality control coach. 

That’s when another tie came into play. Greg Austin, who was Kelly’s graduate assistant at Oregon and became the Eagles’ assistant offensive line coach on that original staff, happened to be a college teammate of Zac’s at Nebraska. In fact, Austin was a part of the offensive line that protected Zac, the quarterback. So Austin suggested the name Press Taylor and Kelly remembered that long chat in Miami. 

“So when they got here, they had an idea for what the position looked like and they called me,” Press Taylor said last week. “It didn’t take much longer for me to say yes and show up here.” 

Five years later, Taylor is still just 30 years old, but he’s risen to the level of quarterbacks coach, replacing John DeFilippo, who is now the Vikings’ offensive coordinator. Last year, Taylor was responsible for mining the "Philly Special" from a Bears-Vikings game in 2016. He then watched that play help the Eagles win Super Bowl LII (see story)

And it all wouldn’t have happened without that chance meeting in Miami. 

Taylor never expected that day in Miami to lead to all of this. 

“No, I did not,” Taylor said. “At the time, Coach Kelly is at the University of Oregon, I’m at the University of Tulsa. I was just grateful to sit and talk football with anybody. It was just fun. I didn’t anticipate it being this.” 

Kelly brought Taylor to Philly, but Doug Pederson had just the right amount of missing ego to keep him. Taylor was one of several coaches Pederson kept on his original staff. Not only did Pederson keep Taylor, but he promoted him to assistant quarterbacks coach, a title he held until getting promoted this spring. 

During the 2016 offseason, after Kelly was fired and while the Eagles were looking for a replacement, Taylor was back at home in Oklahoma with his wife, mining information about possible new bosses with the same zeal with which he mined the "Philly Special."

“Trying to find connections I had with that person because, ideally, I wanted to stay,” Taylor remembered. “I really liked my time here in Philadelphia for the first three years, knew what kind of talent we had on our roster and really enjoyed coaching in the NFL. I was hoping to stay and really followed it all throughout that.”

Press Taylor was right choice for Eagles' QBs coach

Press Taylor was right choice for Eagles' QBs coach

The Eagles were just a few days away from the Super Bowl and there was a clear indication of just how loose the team really was. 

On Feb. 1, Carson Wentz tweeted out a photo proving it. 

So, what’s the point of this? Why show a photo that Wentz sent out from an escape room well over four months ago?

Well, because it was a little glimpse into the future. Because the five guys in that photo are going to be the five guys in the Eagles’ quarterback room this season. 

Along with Wentz, Nick Foles and Nate Sudfeld, the other two are Press Taylor (sitting) and Spencer Phillips. This offseason, after John DeFilippo left Philadelphia to take the offensive coordinator job in Minnesota, the Eagles promoted Taylor to take his position as quarterbacks coach and then promoted Phillips to take Taylor’s spot as the assistant quarterbacks coach. 

It was probably a no-brainer. 

And it’s crazy to think, but just a year after the Eagles blocked DeFilippo from leaving the organization, DeFilippo has left … and the Eagles are going to be just fine. 

At the time, before the 2017 season, it made sense to block DeFilippo. He was seemingly integral to the development of a young Wentz and he certainly deserves plenty of credit for the big jump in Wentz’s play last season. But now, without him, the Eagles are going to keep a finely-tuned machine running. And they’re going to do it with a very young and very promising coach. 

Taylor is just 30 years old, which seems incredibly young for a coach who is supposed to lead the most important position room for the Eagles and possibly the most important position room in the entire league. He’s just one year older than Foles. 

He might be young, but Taylor is uniquely positioned to handle this responsibility. And aside from his football acumen — which has been touted by his superiors — it’s his relationship with the players in the room that made him such a no-brainer replacement for DeFilippo. 

“I feel really close (to Wentz, Foles and Sudfeld),” Taylor said last week. “I know what makes them tick going into it. And then we all had our own relationships. Obviously, I wasn’t their quarterbacks coach at the time, but I was in the room, sat through those conversations, had my own conversations out on the practice field. I feel like I know the things they like, the things they didn’t like. And then was able to learn from the other guys, the other coaches in the room.”

After the Super Bowl, Taylor is probably best known in the city for bringing the Philly Special to the Eagles. In his position last year, it was his job to mine gadget plays from around the league and found that play being used by the Bears the season before (see story). And that’s great. But all the stuff we don’t know about last year is what’s going to make the most difference for the Eagles this season. 

Taylor has been with the Eagles since 2013, when Chip Kelly brought him to town. And then Doug Pederson was smart enough (and without ego) to keep Taylor in 2016. The brother of Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, Press has quickly worked his way up the ladder. 

Last week, Wentz was asked if the team wanted his opinion before promoting Taylor. 

“I think it was pretty much known how we felt about Press beforehand,” Wentz said. “We’ve seen Press behind the scenes the last couple years and how hard he works. A lot of guys have a ton of respect for him as a person and as a coach. I know that’s where I sit. So far, it’s been great. He understands the game extremely well. We’re very like-minded, both on and off the field. The relationship I have with him personally and the relationship he has with all the quarterbacks has been tremendous so far.”

The relationship between Taylor and the QBs is so important. Relationships for this entire coaching staff are so important. Really, that’s what has made Pederson so special. He has that “emotional intelligence” and understands how to deal with his players. 

Taylor seems to have that too. And really, that’s why the Eagles’ QB room won’t miss a beat. 

More on the Eagles

Press Taylor breaks down how he brought 'Philly Special' to Eagles

Press Taylor breaks down how he brought 'Philly Special' to Eagles

You’re never going to forget the “Philly Special.” 

Never. 

Perhaps the gutsiest call in NFL history, the trick play the Eagles pulled off late in the second quarter of Super Bowl LII helped the franchise hold the Lombardi Trophy for the first time.

Go ahead and thank Press Taylor for that. 

Taylor is now the Eagles’ quarterbacks coach, but last season as an offensive quality control assistant, part of his job was to mine plays — often specifically gadget plays — from around the rest of the NFL and college. So it was actually a newly-turned 30-year-old who made a bunch of grown men cry tears of joy in February. 

But what was it like for Taylor to see the play he mined get used in the Super Bowl? 

“It was awesome,” Taylor said with a smile Monday morning, just over four months since the game. “I don’t think I ever could have imagined it being a 4th-and-2 call in the Super Bowl. I don’t think anybody would have.” 

During the Super Bowl, Taylor was upstairs in the coaching booth when he heard the play call come over his headset. Down on the field, it was Nick Foles who approached Doug Pederson with the suggestion “Philly Philly” in one of the most memorable moments from the incredible game. 

Taylor tried to downplay the credit he’s received from Pederson and former offensive coordinator Frank Reich for bringing the play to the Eagles. But there he was during the Super Bowl, watching the play he found, get used in an incredibly pivotal moment. 

“We were all just kind of holding on, hoping it turned out well,” Taylor said. “And it did. It was a great call. I think, for us, if you’re not the play-caller and you’re not on the field executing, you’re kind of just a fan that happens to know the play being called and knows what to look for when we line up.”

During last season, Taylor collected gadget plays in a folder until Reich came to him and asked for his five best ideas. It included the Philly Special. Taylor saw it from a Bears-Vikings game in the 2016 season. Then WRs coach Mike Groh and Alshon Jeffery, having both come from Chicago, were familiar with it and helped install it and help it fit with the Eagles. 

The Bears actually called the play “Clemson Special” because they found it from watching college tape. (See the tape breakdown and the play’s origins here.)

Taylor had seen the play at the college level before too, at Oklahoma, West Virginia, South Alabama, but said the play needs to be different in the NFL, where a quarterback can’t catch a pass after being lined up under center. So Foles had to be in the shotgun. 

After the Eagles called the play, Taylor watched it work to perfection, just as he envisioned. 

“Watching as Nick moves, how the defense reacts,” he said, “ you just get more and more excited as the play goes on.”