How hard could coaching losses hit Eagles?


Andy Reid's original coaching staff in 1999 included names such as John Harbaugh, Brad Childress, Ron Rivera, Leslie Frazier, Pat Shurmur and Steve Spagnuolo.

Frazier left after the 2002 season, Rivera one year later. From 2005 through 2008, Childress, Spagnuolo, Harbaugh and Shurmur left. All either immediately or soon became NFL head coaches, most very successful ones.

Along with Rod Dowhower's retirement after the 2001 season and Jim Johnson's tragic death after the 2008 season, Reid's staff underwent a gradual and almost complete overhaul from 2002 through 2008.

Do the names Mike Reed, Bill Shuey, Ted Daisher, Pete Jenkins, Rory Segrest, James Urban and Mike Caldwell mean anything? 

They were among the replacements for that initial group of assistants. None ever became a head coach, and only Urban and Caldwell are even still coaching in the NFL — both as position coaches.

That's not the only reason for the team's gradual and almost complete decline over the second half of Reid's tenure with the Eagles, but it definitely had a lot to do with it.

Reid was never able to properly replace that original group. Whatever magic he had building from that original staff was gone. And after going 75-37 with eight playoff wins from 2000 through 2006, his last six years in Philly resulted in two postseason wins and a 50-45-1 record.

Which brings us to 2018, and Doug Pederson's staff, which I think is almost as strong as Big Red's initial staff two decades ago.

Quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz and offensive coordinator Frank Reich — in that order — all may have an opportunity in the next month to become head coaches.

DeFilippo already has interviews arranged with the Bears and Cardinals, and Schwartz is scheduled to meet with the Giants for their head coaching vacancy. We're likely to learn of more interviews in the coming days.

DeFilippo would be an enormous loss. His work developing Carson Wentz from a third-string rookie out of an unheralded football championship subdivision school into an MVP candidate in just 16 months was remarkable.

Really, it's hard to imagine Flip won't get a head coaching job. He's that hot of a candidate right now. A tremendous teacher, a terrific communicator and one of those guys who just carries himself like a head coach.

All Schwartz has done is lead the Eagles' defense to its first top-five ranking since 2008, Johnson's last year here, and its first No. 1 ranking against the run in 26 years.

He has head coaching experience — he went 29-51 with one playoff season in five years with the Lions from 2009 through 2013 — but his biggest selling point is the work he did this year with a defense that was ranked 28th just two years ago and has evolved into one of the NFL's elite units.

A couple things are working against Schwartz. Most teams are looking for offensive head coaches these days. They want a head coach who can help develop a young franchise quarterback. Schwartz also may not be the ideal front man for a franchise. He's great with the media but trends toward the sarcastic and acerbic, and some teams may not want that personality as the face of the franchise. And then there's that 29-51 record in Detroit.

As for Reich, I'd be surprised if he's seriously considered for a head coaching job, simply because most teams are going to credit DeFilippo and Pederson for Wentz's development. And at 56 with no head coaching experience, Reich's not going to be considered a "hot" candidate.

The Eagles are in an interesting position with DeFilippo and Reich. Flip's contract is up, so he can go wherever he wants once the season is over. He's a coaching free agent who's going to be in tremendous demand. If he doesn't get a head coaching offer, he's sure to get numerous offensive coordinator offers.

One thing is virtually certain: He won't be back with the Eagles as quarterbacks coach. If the Eagles want to keep him if he doesn't get a head coaching job, they'd probably have to make him offensive coordinator or assistant head coach and give him an enormous raise.

Where would that leave Reich? Would they fire or reassign Reich in order to keep Flip? It's possible. If the Eagles continue to struggle with Nick Foles at quarterback, Reich could be made the scapegoat for the offense's late-season struggles to clear the way for DeFilippo.

If the Eagles do lose DeFilippo and keep Reich, I could see wide receivers coach Mike Groh seamlessly becoming quarterbacks coach. Groh was a star quarterback at Virginia and has served as a big-time college quarterbacks coach and the passing game coordinator last year with the Rams under Jeff Fisher.

Another viable candidate would be current assistant QBs coach Press Taylor, a college quarterback himself at Marshall and originally a Chip Kelly hire back in 2013.

As for Schwartz, I'm not sure there's a clear heir apparent internally, although another Kelly hire, Cory Undlin, has done wonders with the defensive backs over the last three years and would certainly make sense.

Then there's Spagnuolo, who is expected to be let go with the Giants' purge. Spags was a quality control coach with the Eagles in 1999, when Pederson played here, so there is a connection there.

Whatever is next, it's clear that some of the most important decisions Pederson has to make won't come until after the season ends.

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