Why Duce Staley is happy in his current role with Eagles


It would be easy to understand if Duce Staley were growing impatient. Restless. Angry.

He’s proven himself year after year as one of the NFL’s top offensive assistant coaches, but his name never comes up for offensive coordinator jobs and other than a token Rooney Rule interview with the Eagles here when Chip Kelly was fired after the 2015 season, Staley has never been interviewed for an offensive coordinator or head coaching job. He's never interviewed for a job with a team other than the Eagles. 

Staley’s credentials are impeccable. 

Since he became the Eagles’ running backs coach under Kelly in 2013, the Eagles have the seventh-most rushing yards in the NFL, despite never having a full-time star running back during that span.

The job he did juggling LeGarrette Blount, Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement in 2017 was remarkable. Those three netted 255 scrimmage yards in the Super Bowl win over the Patriots and 556 yards in the three postseason wins.

Staley is bright, a tremendous communicator and motivator and a mentor to his players. Miles Sanders said at the end of last year he had already developed into a father figure for him.

The NFL has been looking at the Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview one minority candidate for head coaching openings, and trying to figure out better ways of spurring minority hires.

“The most important thing is having a conversation,” Staley said. “You have to have a starting point and I think the NFL has started with that by saying, ‘OK, we need to talk about it, we need to find out what’s best,’ and I’m pretty sure they will come up with something that fits both sides.”

Meanwhile, Staley — a three-time 1,000-yard rusher for the Eagles during his 10-year playing career — waits for the opportunity he so richly deserves.

The problem is most NFL head coaching hires these days are offensive coordinators. And most offensive coordinators are white.

The only Black offensive coordinators currently are Eric Bienemy — Staley’s teammate here in 1999 — with the Chiefs under Andy Reid and the Buccaneers’ Byron Leftwich under Bruce Arians.

The Chiefs have had one of the most electrifying offenses in the NFL the last two years, averaging 32 points per game and winning a Super Bowl, but Bienemy has interviewed for seven positions during those two year and is 0-for-7.

The only Black head coaches are the Steelers’ Mike Tomlin, the Chargers’ Anthony Lynn and the Dolphins’ Mike Flores.

Of the 19 Black head coaches in NFL history, only two — Hue Jackson and Jim Caldwell — were previously offensive coordinators. 

This is what Staley is up against.

Staley joined Andy Reid’s staff in 2011 as a special teams quality control coach and was promoted to running backs coach when Kelly replaced Reid in 2013. 

When the Eagles promoted Mike Groh from wide receivers coach instead of promoting Staley to replace offensive coordinator Frank Reich when Reich became Colts head coach after the Super Bowl, the Eagles gave Staley the additional title of “assistant head coach.”

When Groh was fired this past offseason, the Eagles again declined to promote Staley, instead replacing Groh by hiring Rich Scangarello, Andrew Breiner and Marty Mornhinweg and promoting Press Taylor. 

Staley is beginning his eighth year as running backs coach.

Staley wants to become a head coach one day, but he said he’s more than content doing what he’s doing.

“Not disappointed at all,” he said. “Don’t feel overlooked. … It’s a little different here with the Eagles and what I mean by that is we all get a chance to game plan, so that’s what’s unique about our staff. We’re able to go into a room, we all have input, and we all game plan together. We’re not about titles, we’re just about getting the job done, and that’s what we’ve been doing around here for a while. 

“Now, would I like to maybe later on down the road visit that? Yeah, of course. We all want to advance. You guys want to advance. That’s life. But right now, I’m super happy in my role, proud of my role, being assistant head coach, running backs coach, proud of that. Doug, he gives me things and he puts it on my plate, and I’m thankful to him for having those opportunities, so I’m excited about where I am and what I’m doing now.”

Well said. He just deserves to do so much more.

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