The Eagles got a late start replacing Shane Steichen and Jonathan Gannon last year thanks to the Super Bowl run and they ended up with two inexperienced coordinators.
That didn’t happen this time around.
After the disastrous end to the 2023 season, the Eagles fired Sean Desai and Brian Johnson and made quick moves to find their replacements. This time, they landed on two experienced and proven coaches with Vic Fangio and Kellen Moore.
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Going the experienced route this time around makes a ton of sense.
Desai and Johnson last season had a combined one season of coordinator experience in the NFL. Fangio and Moore have a combined 28 years of coordinator (or head coach) experience in the league. Twenty-three of those years belong to Fangio.
In the Eagles’ expected new model of coaching, with Nick Sirianni operating as a clear CEO-type, it was obvious the Eagles wanted to prioritize experience. And they have. With a roster ready to compete in 2024, that’s a wise decision. The Eagles simply didn’t get enough out of their talent this season.
Of course, coaching experience doesn’t necessarily equal future success but it’s easy to see why the Eagles valued it this time around. Their last two coordinators lacked experience and that showed up during the season, especially with Desai, who was demoted in December. The Eagles were so desperate to find experience during the season that they hastily promoted Matt Patricia.
On defense, Fangio’s profile checks a lot of boxes. Even if you’re not thinking about his defensive scheme — which the Eagles obviously like a lot — hiring a long-time NFL defensive coordinator was probably a good decision. It feels like it will at the very least significantly raise the floor on that side of the football.
The way the Eagles are currently built is by design. They want to have an elite offense and if that means cutting some corners on the other side of the football, it means the goal for Fangio simply has to be to make the Eagles’ defense average at worst. While the Eagles’ defense had some good moments under Desai, the wheels came off when they moved on to Patricia.
Heck, even into the playoffs the Eagles were still working on simplifying to line up correctly. It’s hard to imagine that will be a problem with Fangio running the defense. With Fangio, the Eagles will be using a lot of the staples we saw from Desai early in the season but the Eagles will be installing them with a coach who has done this for the last couple decades.
The model of having a head coach-type on defense isn’t new. Doug Pederson had that in Jim Schwartz and Andy Reid had it with Jim Johnson. And even if the Eagles are very successful, it’s hard to imagine another team giving the 65-year-old Fangio a chance to be a head coach again. If this works out, the Eagles will have a chance to keep Fangio around and perhaps even finish his coaching career in Philly.
And on offense, the hiring of Moore really satisfied two needs. On one hand, the Eagles wanted an offensive coordinator who would bring fresh and innovative ideas. On the other hand, this job requires calling plays and an experienced play-caller would really help after watching Johnson call plays for the first time in his career in 2023.
The problem with trying to land both of those requirements is that there’s a limited intersection on that Venn diagram. With Moore they got a guy who can do both. He has called plays for several years in the league and he’ll bring some fresh ideas to an offense that was clearly stale in 2023.
I kind of expected the Eagles to go through a long and exhaustive search for an offensive coordinator. Talk to a bunch of candidates. Gather a bunch of ideas. But going through that long interview process wasn't worth the possibility of losing Moore because he is a really strong candidate. I can't fault them for pouncing to get their guy.
We’ll see how involved Sirianni remains with the offense but Moore has a strong enough resume to take a lot of autonomy.
It’s clear that when Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie took a step back after the way the season ended, he didn’t want to fire Sirianni. He likes him and the Eagles think Sirianni can be a strong culture-builder. But Lurie also recognized that Sirianni needed help and the Eagles went out and got him some in a big way with these coordinator hires.
There’s no guarantee it works, by the way. If it doesn’t, that’s probably the end for Sirianni. But at least now he has a chance to be successful in 2024. And these hires are a big reason why.