Eagles coaching staff preparing to face an old friend and a new foe this weekend

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A band of brothers. The team who did the unthinkable just a few short months ago, ending a 52-year championship drought for a City who had spent that entire time salivating over that image, built bonds that could never be broken. Unfortunately, success often yield attention when it comes to the NFL and it didn’t take long for offensive coordinator Frank Reich to begin attracting plenty of it.

Reich decided to leave Philadelphia for his first Head Coaching role, inheriting another one of the most naturally talented quarterbacks in recent memory in Indianapolis. It’s been a bumpy start, but Reich will bring his Indianapolis Colts back to the City of Brotherly Love and stand on the other side of the field, looking across into the eyes of Doug Pederson, Jim Schwartz and Mike Groh, no longer as friends, but as rivals.

“I think it’s not uncommon to go against friends, and I will go on the record with Frank.” Schwartz opened in his weekly presser. “I think Frank is one of the best guys I’ve ever met in this business. I don’t know if you guys share that same opinion, but just an absolute gem of a man. I really admire him, and he did a great job for us here.

You’re used to that in this league going against teams. We turn over a significant amount of our defense on a yearly basis. He goes in, I’m sure he’s taken some parts of what we ran here, and he has a whole bunch of different coaches, people with different backgrounds that are bringing in different things, a completely different skill set for different players. So it’s not going to look like a training camp practice from last year. But there is going to be some familiarity. You can’t help but work around guys for a couple years. He would always bounce ideas off of me, I’d always bounce ideas off of him, ask, “Hey, what are you thinking in ‘this’ situation.” I would ask him to look at plays that we would run against the scout team and say, “Hey, is ‘this’ a legitimate bluff or a legitimate — did you believe that ‘this’ was a blitz, or did ‘this’ blitz fool you or whatever?” Input is – [QB] Nick Foles gave us a lot of good input last year. [Former Eagles QB and current Bears QB] Chase Daniel did, too. So I think all of those things go into it.”

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The difficulty for both parties is going to come in the form of familiarity. For two years, Reich, Pederson and Schwartz built an extremely strong relationship that helped lay the foundations for the eventual Super Bowl champions. From schematic intricacies, to play calling tendencies and simple game planning, it’s hard for either side to gain an advantage here.

“Yeah, it makes a difference. We’re aware of it.” Doug Pederson explained. “You watch them on offense and there is a lot of similarity, too. So, we kind of have an idea of some of the offensive structure that they have in place.

And defensively their coordinator came from Dallas. So, there is a little bit of the Dallas influence in this defense as well.

We feel like they know us and we know them, even though we don’t see each other every year. I’m excited to see Frank again obviously. But at the same time, yeah, we’re up on the things that he could make them aware of.”

When you accomplish something as miraculous as that team did, there’s a connection that won’t fade away simply because that success has led you to a promotion. Pederson even opened up about his current relationship with his former offensive coordinator.

“It’s funny, because — I don’t know if you’d say it’s funny, but during training camp we talked a lot actually. Whether it be asking me a question on how we ran a practice or a meeting or a schedule. Whatever it was, we were constantly talking.

I actually congratulated him after the game Sunday for his first win as a head coach. Reached out. And his dance and all that. It’ll be fun to see him again.”

If there’s anybody who can capitalize on the somewhat stumbling Eagles secondary, it’s Frank Reich and Andrew Luck’s laser arm that’s firing at a 71% completion rate. But on the inverse, if there’s anybody who knows how to stop one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the game against a scheme he’s practiced against week in and week out for two years, it’s Jim Schwartz. Matchups, statistics, analytics and predictions aside, what really stands true through it all is the respect shown by every member of the Eagles coaching staff to their opponent this weekend.

No bitterness, no hiding of cards, no resentment for leaving. Just a genuine, open connection and friendship that even in the most competitive arena of all, will stand the test of time. Rivals on Sunday, friends on Monday.

 

Mandatory Credit: Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports

 

 

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