Is James Urban the right man to fill Eagles OC vacancy?

It was reported on Thursday that the Eagles are interested in Ravens quarterbacks coach James Urban for the vacant offensive coordinator position:

Urban is very familiar with Philadelphia, as he was with the team from 2004-2010 in different roles. In 2004, he was assistant to the head coach (Dwight Schrute?) and stayed in that position until 2006. From 2007-2008 he was offensive assistant and quality control coach. His tenure ended in 2011 when he left to become wide receivers coach for the Bengals after two years as quarterbacks coach in 2009 and 2010.

He was with the Bengals as wide receivers coach from 2011-2017 and helped the team get to the playoffs five straight years. During that time frame, A.J. Green was fourth in the NFL in receiving yards, fifth in receptions, and sixth in touchdowns.

Let’s break down why he’d be a fit.

Former Eagle

As stated previously, Urban knows Philadelphia. He worked with Pederson on Andy Reid’s staff in 2009 and 2010 and was with Reid the five years prior to Pederson’s arrival. Under the two minds, with also Marty Mornhinweg (current Ravens offensive coordinator) as offensive coordinator and obviously Reid as head coach, the Eagles ranked 10th in passing and fifth in scoring in 2009 and ninth in passing and third in scoring in 2010.

Quarterback development

Staying on the subject of the 2009 and 2010 Eagles, Urban helped the quarterbacks reach the Pro Bowl in both years. However, they were two different quarterbacks. In 14 games in 2009, Donovan McNabb had 3,553 yards and 22 touchdowns. The Eagles went 10-4 in his starts. In 2010, Michael Vick threw for 3,018 yards, 21 touchdowns, rushed for 676 yards, and had nine rushing touchdowns. Vick also won the Comeback Player of the Year that year.

During his time with the Bengals, albeit as wide receivers coach, Andy Dalton was tenth in the league in passing yards. Andy Dalton. He was also ninth in touchdown passes.

Since 2018, Urban has been tasked with the development of Lamar Jackson. In 2018, Jackson went 6-1 but only averaged 75.1 passing yards per game to go along with 695 rushing yards. This season, Jackson exploded with 3,127 yards, a league leading 36 passing touchdowns, only six interceptions, and 1,206 rushing yards with seven touchdowns.

Very impressive resume

Wide receiver development

I talked about A.J. Green’s development under Urban in Cincinnati, now how about the star receiver in Philadelphia before Urban left? DeSean Jackson was with Urban for three seasons prior to his departure to the Bengals. During those three seasons, 2008-2010, Jackson was ninth in receiving yards. He was also tenth in yards per game and second in yards per reception.

With Jackson’s development in Baltimore, John Brown was able to produce big numbers as a result in 2018. This past season, rookie Marquise Brown showed flashes of a dynamic receiver when he was healthy.

Running game

A very intriguing aspect of this potential hire is how the Ravens run game has been with Urban on their staff. He’s only the quarterbacks coach, but his influence on Jackson’s running has turned the Ravens rush attack from decent to devastating. With Urban on the staff, the Ravens had the second most rushing yards in 2018 and the most in 2019. The year prior saw the Ravens have the 11th best and the 26th best in 2016. It’s no secret that Urban has had a large influence across the offense. Pairing him with Duce Staley could be a match made in running back heaven.

High praise

When Michael Vick prepared for his first start in 2010 since coming back from jail, Urban was there to calm his nerves:

“I went to [Urban’s] office on Tuesday early to get a look at the defense, and I remember him vividly telling me, ‘Mike, this is going to be one of the weeks where you have to work as hard as you’ve ever worked in your life because this is a really, really good defense,’ ”

He added that Urban was the biggest key in his career:

“He really instilled confidence in me that I really had a lot of time left to do some great things. The details of the game plans, just him making sure I understood it, really helped me blossom into the quarterback that I had become that season.”

Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green refers to Urban as family.

Prior to the 2019 season, former Eagles head coach, and Urban’s former boss, Andy Reid praised Urban’s work with Lamar Jackson in 2018:

“I thought he did a great job with Lamar last year — I mean, a phenomenal job,” said Reid, the Chiefs’ head coach and Urban’s former boss with the Eagles. “I don’t think that’ll change.”

Turns out Reid was right. After helping groom Jackson to become the (probable) MVP in 2019, it looks like he may have the chance to do the same with Carson Wentz in 2020 and beyond.

Mandatory Photo Credit: AP Photo/Gail Burton

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