When you think of the NFL offseason, you think of the Draft, free agency and those dream-worthy blockbuster trades. But one huge aspect that many overlook year in and year out, is the changes to coaching staffs throughout the league. Retaining talent is one thing, but keeping hold of the coaches to nurture the culture and bring the best out of said players is absolutely pivotal. The Eagles were able to survive an offseason as Super Bowl champions without much in the way of front office turnover, but this time around, it seems as though they’re preparing for the worst…and it’s only February.
Heres a quick look at the moves so far:
Wide receiver coach: Gunter Brewer leaves and signs with Louisville, Eagles promote Carson Walch.
Brewer was regarded as a very strong signing by the Eagles last offseason when he replaced Mike Groh. The former UNC Coach had a strong resume, working with Randy Moss and Dez Bryant in the past and it didn’t take long for him to make an impact. Receivers were instantly dropped into new drills, designed to get them more compact at the point of the catch. Brewer was allowed to leave to fill the same role at Louisville and the Eagles have promoted from within to replace him.
Carson Walch, the new WR coach in town, actually worked as an offensive quality control coach with the Bears, while Mike Groh was the team’s receivers coach in 2013-14. Outside of that, however, Walch has carved his reputation in the CFL.
Walch joined the Eagles last offseason, working alongside Brewer as an assistant wide receivers coach. Like many in the Eagles coaching staff, Walch was a former player prior to coaching, acting as an all-conference running back, receiver, and return specialist for Winona State.
Eagles assistant OL/TE/run game coach Eugene Chung: Eagles didn’t extend his contract and signed
This was highly surprising. Chung first joined the Eagles in 2010 and spent several seasons with the team before re-signing after the Chip Kelly era, following a three-year interval with the Kansas City Chiefs. Chung was sought after last offseason given the stunning success of the Eagles offensive line that continued over from a spell in KC that saw the Chiefs total 54 rushing touchdowns in that time.
Chung worked closely with names like Isaac Seumalo in the last two years and his impact in assisting the TE’s and running backs is evident. His replacement, Roy Istvan, has ties to prized OL coach, Jeff Stoutland. He played under Stoutland at Southern Connecticut before joining the team’s coaching staff after graduation.
Eagles hire a…defensive coordinator?
That’s right. Former Miami Dolphins DC, Matt Burke, has been hired as an ‘aide’ to Jim Schwartz. Prior to his rather shoddy tenure as a defensive coordinator, where his unit ranked near the bottom of the NFL in pretty much everything, he does have some interesting ties.
Way back when Jim Schwartz was the defensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans, the Super Bowl champion worked with Burke, who also signed with the team that season as a quality control coach. Burke remained with Tennessee throughout the reign of Jim Schwartz and eventually followed his coordinator to Detroit when he was hired as a Head Coach.
Burke was hired as a linebackers coach, helping names like Stephen Tulloch (for Eagles trivia purposes), DeAndre Levy, and Tahir Whitehead, harness their full potential.
So now, Burke reunites with Schwartz for the third time in his career. There’s clearly a strong relationship between the two and after Burke failed to leap into the role of a defensive coordinator successfully, perhaps some shadowing under Schwartz would be beneficial.
Eagles hire G.J Kinne as an offensive assistant
The Eagles hired a quarterback they’re very familiar with recently. Kinne, who signed with the Eagles during 2013, spent two season’s on the roster doing pretty much anything and everything. From special teams to receiving, playing defense, he pretty much became a fan favorite during the offseason. After his retirement in 2017, he became a graduate assistant at SMU and was allowed to call a game at the end of the season. One year later, he became the QB coach for Arkansas and now returns to Philadelphia as a coach.
Eagles let Chris Wilson walk…
This is a tough pill to swallow. Chris Wilson is one of the most respected DL coaches in the NFL and when you look at the success of the Eagles front four in recent years, it’s easy to see why. Wilson picked up where he left off after coaching Fletcher Cox at Mississippi and the production of the Eagles pass-rush speaks for itself.
In a year where there is set to be more than a few changes to the rotation, finding a new coach to run the show has to be a focus. Some have hinted that current defensive quality control coach, Phillip Daniels, will get the promotion.
So, what exactly is going on? The Eagles are letting key coaches walk, riding the assistant carousel and signing ‘aides’ to their defensive coordinator? It seems as though the team are bracing for a storm.
Every coach hired has an explicit link to a current coach or the Eagles franchise, carrying on the trend that has really been visible since Pederson’s arrival in an aim to retain the culture in the midst of turnover. The decision to let Wilson walk is a confusing one and it seems as though hiring ‘assistants’ is a way to almost groom the next generation of coaches from within.
On one side of the coin, the Eagles are seemingly trying to promote guys like Phillip Wilson and Carson Walch, bringing in names familiar with the team to take their ‘developmental’ place. By hiring talent already within the organization, the Eagles are able to retain some familiarity around the players both in terms of a face and a coaching style.
On the other, Philadelphia seem to be bringing in insurance policies. Why Jim Schwartz needs a birdie on his shoulder, I don’t know, especially someone who really struggled as a play-caller in Miami. But if the Eagles lose Schwartz after a projected rebound year, they’d have a coach presumably ready to step up after shadowing a man he has spent years of his life. working under.
These moves have gone under-the-radar for the most part, but make no mistake, they matter. The Eagles are striking while the Iron is hot in ensuring there’s a contingency plan in place…but there could be plenty more storms on the horizon.
Mandatory Credit: Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports