This offseason was always going to be a crucial one for the Eagles, but as time passes and more holes on the coaching staff open up, its importance is amplified. It feels like there’s a new candidate interviewing for the Offensive Coordinator vacancy every few days, with a report citing their interview and withdrawal of interest shortly following. But why?
James Urban, Graham Harrell, Kevin O’Connell, and Jim Caldwell, are all names who have been linked with the Eagles, with the majority at least interviewing before picking up a role elsewhere or opting to stay in their current situation. Unfortunately, it’s hard to really blame any of them.
The problem with the Eagles offensive coordinator role in particular is that it’s shrouded in total mystery. Doug Pederson calls the plays, Doug Pederson runs the show. All we know for sure is that the OC scripts the opening 15 plays of the game and helps build the gameplan.
When this idea was first implemented, it made total sense. Doug Pederson was a rookie Head Coach riding a bike for the first time, and Frank Reich was the parent with both hands on the seat, keeping the bike upright until Pederson could pedal on his own.
Reich was basically a sounding board for Pederson. Someone with years of experience who understood how to get the most out of a franchise quarterback and develop a talent. A former quarterback who saw the game the same way. The dynamic was perfect and it obviously led the team to a Super Bowl. But when Reich left, the Eagles mt a crossroads.
They promoted Mike Groh, which as we all know, probably wasn’t the smartest decision, but it can be difficult to criticize the former wide receivers coach. Groh was dealt several tough hands and the final decision on whether or not he’d hit or stand, wasn’t even his. Sure, he said the worst thing at the worst time, but he wasn’t all bad…and did play a role in resuscitating an offense that many assumed to be dead in the water at the end of the season.
With Groh fired, the pressure is now building on Pederson. Not to find an offensive coordinator, but to go down one of two paths. Either promote internally or sign someone far deeper into the barrel than you would’ve liked, someone who is content with not calling plays. Or, change.
Even under Andy Reid, Doug Pederson was given opportunities to call plays. Most notably, Pederson called the entire second half in the Chiefs’ playoff loss to New England back in 2015. This came on the back of a run of games in the second half of the season where that responsibility was mirrored. Current offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy has that same role now, calling plays in the second half of games.
The one constant, of course, is Andy Reid. A man who has a coaching tree so large that it’s almost become mythical. Reid is a ‘coaches coach’. Someone that can act like a Gandalf of the playcalling world, helping to mold his assistants into future coordinators, sustaining success by passing his knowledge down through the line. Pederson hasn’t had to do that yet…until now.
Offensive coordinators want to call plays. They want to play a role in the offense. Sure, not every budding OC has earned their dream role by following this conventional path, but it certainly helps. If teams are offering you opportunities, you’re probably going to take the one with the highest ceiling…and that isn’t Philadelphia for many because of that roadblock.
Pederson is entering his fifth-year as a Head Coach and now firmly has his coaching identity in place. He knows the exact kind of offense he wants to run and how to get to that point.
Pederson is no longer a kid riding a bike for the first time. He’s a teenager, speeding down the streets without fear. But his younger brother is sat at home, staring out the window, watching Doug do bunny-hops off the sidewalk, wondering if he will ever get a chance to even sit on that shiny red bike.
If Pederson and the Eagles truly want stability at the offensive coordinator spot, they has to realize that Doug no longer needs a sounding board. He no longer needs that guidance (while extremely valuable) and he’s proved everything to everyone. It’s time to help the next generation in the hopes of finding a long-term partner that you can pass that knowledge down onto and grow the offense together.
The Doug Pederson coaching tree has to start now because if it doesn’t, there’s a long storm coming and there are no seeds to soak up that water.
Mandatory Credit: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports
Liam is a 24-year old sports journalist from the UK and founder of the Philly Sports Network. In just five years he turned a hobby into one of the fastest-growing Philadelphia sports sites in the world, amassing 7,000,000 views and writing over 3,000 articles. Drawing attention from the likes of CSN, NJ.Com and Bleacher Report in the process, Liam is set on changing the way Philadelphia sports teams are reported on forever.
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