Who are the best candidates to replace Eagles OC Mike Groh?

The Eagles made the most surprising unsurprising move possible today, by announcing that they’re parting ways with both offensive coordinator Mike Groh, and wide receiver’s coach Carson Walch. Doug Pederson had seemingly cemented that they will stay in yesterday’s press conference before a complete U-turn and a statement detailing what he actually meant.

That leaves two vacancies, but with the NFL coaching carousel already in full-motion, it’s time to look at some potential replacements for the offensive coordinator role.

For this list, we’re going to focus on candidates currently outside of the organization, since hiring within hasn’t exactly gone down too well.

What makes this so unique is that the Eagles employ a very specific kind of coordinator. Doug Pederson calls the plays, and Duce Staley coordinates the run-game. Aside from scripting the first fifteen plays of a game, the offensive coordinator is largely responsible for designing plays and assisting Pederson, as opposed to creating his own actual offense. This can make it quite tough for young candidates to want to jump into. With more responsibility, comes more opportunity to shine and accelerate down the road to an eventual Head Coach role. With that in mind, here are some candidates to note.

Joe Brady

I don’t think Carson Wentz needs ‘too much’ in the way of nurturing at this point, but bringing on the man responsible for transforming Joe Burrow into a Heisman winning quarterback can’t exactly be a bad move…right?

What’s interesting is that prior to joining LSU, Brady worked under Sean Payton on the Saints as an offensive assistant for two years. He also worked with some guy named Drew Brees, and offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael.

Brady seems destined to make the NFL leap and with so much hype around college coaches right now, he’s among the top candidates.

Brady won the Broyles Award in 2019, which is given to the country’s top assistant coach each season. What I really like here is that he’s already used to sharing the spotlight. Steve Ensminger has been the man drawing a lot of internal praise, showing that Brady, who joined as a passing game coordinator/WR coach, has no problem specializing in a certain area.

LSU had the best offense in the nation from both a yards and scoring viewpoint and their average of 48.9 points per game were the most in a single season since 2013.

This may be a pipe-dream, but Brady seems like he’d tick every box the Eagles could possibly list.

Pat Shurmur

He’s undefeated as an Eagles Head Coach…so there’s that? Shurmur was Chip Kelly’s offensive coordinator before one game as an interim Head coach and from there, he went on to Minnesota where he climbed the ranks rapidly, before leaping to New York to try the Head Coaching hat on. It didn’t fit quite as snugly as many thought.

After going 5–11 in his first season, the drafting of Danny Dimes happened. One 4-12 season later and he was tossed to the curb.

But, Shurmur coached under Andy Reid for an entire decade and clearly can hold his weight as an offensive coordinator. You could do a lot worse than Pat Shurmur…

Mike Kafka

If there’s one thing Pederson loves in a coordinator, it’s former quarterbacking experience. Kafka was actually drafted by the Eagles back in 2010, playing in four games for the Birds one year later. This means that he did actually overlap with Pederson during his rise through the coaching ranks under Andy Reid.

This will come as a shock to you, but Kafka is currently working in Kansas City with ‘Big Red’ as a QB coach, helping to chisel a prototypical game-changing quarterback in the way of Patrick Mahomes.

It may be a big jump up, but Kafka has been around that system long enough to know the intricacies and has played a hand in the Chiefs’ offensive explosion. Reid runs a similar system to Pederson, but there are some differences and seeing the emergence of names like Tyreek Hill could bring a positive influence to a coordinator position if afforded the opportunity.

Kevin O’Connell

O’Connell has already been pegged to be the next talented young mind to come out of a machine that has produced Sean McVay and Matt LeFleur. He’d joined the team in 2017 but spent most of his time working with Dwayne Haskins, with whom he’d built a trusting rapport.

When Washington hit the kill-switch and fired their team president, Haskins was vocal in wanting O’Connell, who by this point had taken over playcalling duties from the canned Jay Gruden, to stay.

The Redskins decided to go in a different direction and while I would love to list Jay Gruden, I can’t see him joining a team and not calling plays…he’s too prestigious. But enticing O’Connell into a role where the pressure isn’t as great and he can bond with his quarterback? I’m in.

Carson Wentz never got that easy transition with Groh. When he was appointed as offensive coordinator, the team had just won a Super Bowl and Nick Foles was still technically QB1 while Wentz rehabbed. The OC-QB partnership is among the most important on the team and it took a bumpy first few steps last time around.

O’Connell would make a lot of sense here and while it doesn’t often make sense for a budding Head Coach to move laterally, this fit may be one of the few exceptions given the type of reputation he can continue to carve.

James Urban

This is more of a dream scenario, but the Ravens QB coach would bring so many new ideas to the table, as well as having experience in this system before. Urban was the QB coach under Andy Reid during Michael Vick’s iconic 2010 campaign and fast-forward nine years…there’s a team called Baltimore making a whole lot of noise offensively with concepts and ideas that other teams just haven’t dared to try.

Having an MVP candidate doesn’t hurt, but Urban has played a key role in developing Lamar Jackson, who ended his year with 1,206 rushing yards and 3,127 passing yards. Unreal.

Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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