03. January 2021
Former Falcons trainer Dan Quinn (center), his successor (and Falcons DC) Raheem Morris (left) and 49ers LB trainer (and former Eagle) DeMeco Ryans are all candidates to replace Jim Schwartz.
The Eagles season will officially end on Sunday evening, and whether the team is 4-11-1 or 5-10-1 doesn’t really matter – other than draft positioning. But when it comes to how the team will justify this ship going forward, it seems that the team’s self-assessment is mostly done more or less.
That’s why it has been reported in the past two days that both Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman will be back. But that doesn’t mean nothing will change, as Pederson reportedly has to redesign his offensive staff this off-season with the potential to finally hire an offensive coordinator to take over the game. On top of that, there was an additional report on Sunday morning that quarterback Carson Wentz wants out of Philly that will help facilitate a trade to make it happen. Whether or not the team will be able to work out a deal – let alone be ready to take its massive dead cap hit – remains to be seen.
The only person who, at least at this point, we can be pretty sure of not being on the sidelines again next season is defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz, who is reportedly set to drop out of the 2021 season and ultimately retire from football could withdraw. Of course, questions are raised about Schwartz’s exit and whether it was 100% his decision or whether he was politely asked to resign rather than be fired. After all, a Super Bowl earnings coordinator who has been essentially the defense’s head coach for the past half decade likely deserves just that, especially if it can be argued that his unit has been less guilty than the others this season.
The question now becomes where the eagles go from here. Are you striving for a big name – and is the team desirable enough to attract someone with a pedigree? Are you promoting someone in the house? Or are they scouring the market for an aspiring coach looking for their first shot as a coordinator?
The birds should have many options – and tough competition – when it comes to hiring a defensive coordinator. We’re going to investigate that in a special Sunday edition of What They Saying. . .
[Note: Like every January in the NFL, there are lots of opinions and sharp takes immediately after a season, so we’ll have more WTS posts than usual this week to keep you updated. ]
At The Athletic, Bo Wulf makes a compelling argument as to why the Eagles could replace Schwartz from within. And when they do, Matt Burke and Marquand Manuel are the two most obvious options given their experience as defensive coordinators.
The obvious in-house replacement for Schwartz is Burke, the defensive coach / running game coordinator who is a long-time Schwartz student and has experience as an NFL defensive coordinator. Defensive coach Marquand Manuel also has experience as a defensive coordinator.
Given the cap situation and the makeup of the squad, there really is no flexibility for the Eagles to pursue a wholesale system change that could make Burke the front runner. If the entire front office structure remains the same, a relative status quo also becomes more likely. For example, Howie Roseman paid Hargrave to break into Schwartz’s plan rather than two loopholes.
But there will be viable options outside of the organization. Trainers like Lovie Smith, Dan Quinn and Steve Wilks are already on the market. Others, like Gus Bradley or old friend Cory Undlin, could tear themselves away after shots across the league. The possibility I have in mind is John Fox, the former head coach of the Bears, Broncos and Panthers, who shares an agent with Pederson and who goes to the Eagles’ training camp that summer. [theathletic. com]
If the Eagles want to involve someone outside, they will face some competition in the job market. There are several teams that are expected to have openings, but if the Eagles are willing to give someone the same control of defense that they gave Schwartz, this could be an attractive opening for those who find themselves at some point want to earn an appearance as head coach.
Of course, if Howie Roseman and Co. . Don’t bring in the right players who could blast a candidate in the face. Here’s more from Mike Kaye from NJ. com. . .
The Eagles’ defensive coordinator has an unusual look, particularly given reports that Pederson will be retained next week. While the appeal of « the head coach on defense » is there, Pederson is clearly in a proof-it year when he’s back, meaning the job could be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity with an offense that struggles has to collect points. Keep in mind that the Eagles haven’t scored more than 30 points in any game this season, which put a lot of pressure on the Schwartz defense to hold their own.
However, few coordinators have as much autonomy as the Eagles’ DC under Pederson. Schwartz was basically able to manage half of the roster on his own. There is an opportunity for an experienced defensive coordinator to shape the success / failure of the group. Those later looking for head coaching jobs could use this job as a stepping stone for advancement, even if the position is short-lived. [NJ. com]
Now let’s take a look at some of these outside candidates, starting with two former head coaches who were laid off earlier in the season and could find themselves in a new position as head coach next season as coordinators rather than head coaches. Martin Frank of the Delaware News Journal weighs in. . .
Quinn became the head coach of the Falcons in 2015 after serving as the Seattle Seahawks’ defensive coordinator in 2013-14. This was the culmination of Seattle’s dominant defense, nicknamed « The Legion of Boom ». «
Under Quinn, the Falcons reached the Super Bowl in the 2016 season. The following season, Atlanta ranked eighth in allowable points and ninth place in allowable yards. The Falcons also reached the playoffs in 2017 and lost in the divisional round 15-10 to the Eagles. The Eagles won the Super Bowl that season.
Quinn was sacked earlier this season after starting 5-0. Overall, his record as head coach was 43-42.
The Eagles could also pull from Bill Belichick’s coaching tree and chase after the recently sacked Detroit Lions head coach Matt Patricia.
The Lions went 13-29-1 in Patrick’s 2 1/2 seasons as head coach. He was fired after a humiliating defeat to the Houston Texans on Thanksgiving Day 41-25. The Lions were 4-7 at the time.
Before that, Patricia was the Patriots Defense Coordinator from 2012-17. During that time, the Patriots won two Super Bowls and New England allowed the fewest points in the NFL in 2016.
On the other hand, Nick Foles and the Eagles set Patrick’s defense on fire in Patrick’s last game against New England. Foles was named Super Bowl MVP after throwing 373 yards and 3 TDs in the Eagles’ 41-33 win. [delawareonline. com]
For these two contestants, the Eagles will have to wait and see if they’ll even be available this off-season or not, but the bet here is that they’ll both be looking for work soon. Here’s more from Dave Zangaro. . .
Gus Bradley: Everyone back on the Gus bus! Bradley is the DC of Chargers, but there are serious questions about the future of LA employees. Hence, it is a top name that may be available very soon. Bradley was a popular name in 2013 when the Eagles hired Chip Kelly as their head coach, but Bradley ended up with the Jaguars. That year he was a top contender who had an impressive four-year run as Seahawks’ DC.
Raheem Morris: At the moment, Morris is the DC and interim trainer for the Falcons. But if they don’t hire him as head coach, he’ll likely be available. Morris replaced Manuel as DC in 2020. Morris has DC and head coaching experience in the NFL. [nbcsports. com]
He also mentions Wade Phillips, but for the reason Mike Kaye (who doesn’t want to change the whole defense system and staff) described above, we’re leaving him out here. But there was one last name of Dave that Eagles fans might like, especially those looking for someone younger.
DeMeco Ryans: The former Eagles linebacker looks to have a bright future as a coach. He is the inside linebacker trainer for the 49ers and has held this position since 2018. But even during his playing days, there was no question that Ryans was destined to be a coach. If Robert Saleh gets a job as head coach and Ryans doesn’t get a promotion in San Francisco, getting him back in Philly could be an option. [nbcsports. com]
And finally, we come to a pair of guys who weren’t in the NFL in 2020, which means they might be a little easier for the birds to land. The Eagles Wire’s Glenn Erby has more about two guys who have coordinator experience and could end up in Philly next season. . .
Richard took a break from coaching this season and was previously the defensive coach in Dallas. Richard spent eight years with the Seahawks, the last three years as Defensive Coordinator 2015-17, where his defense ranked second, fifth and eleventh.
Wilk’s last appearance was in Cleveland as defensive coordinator before Kevin Stefanski left with Joe Woods.
In 2017, his only other season as defensive coordinator, Wilks’ Carolina Panthers finished third in rapid defense.
His positional competence also lies in the secondary area, which could help the Eagles in more than one area. [theeagleswire. USA today. com]
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