Doug Pederson appeared at his day-after press conference about 15 minutes late, a rare bout of tardiness for the Eagles coach.
He immediately apologized for keeping the media throng waiting, of course. But the mere fact Pederson was late fueled rumors that maybe a big announcement was being delivered. Perhaps much-maligned offensive coordinator Mike Groh was on the chopping block. Groh’s name had been trending on both Twitter and Reddit for 24 hours — and not in a good way.
No one was fired, though. Groh remains the Eagles’ passing-game coordinator despite another dreadful performance from the offense. Pederson once again took the blame for a unit seemingly mired in the sand.
“It’s not about one guy, honestly,” Pederson told reporters. “Obviously, the quarterback and the head coach get either the credit or the blame and as a play-caller, rightfully so, and I’ll obviously take the heat for that.”
It’s fair to wonder how long Groh will be employed in Philadelphia. If he does get cut loose, what are the options to replace him? Let’s take a look at that situation. The names range from curiously intriguing to downright ridiculous.
This is the first phone call Doug Pederson should make if the Eagles decide to make a move. Hands down. Urban is Lamar Jackson’s quarterbacks coach in Baltimore — you know, the guy leading the NFL MVP conversation for the league’s second-best offense.
The dynamic Jackson has thrown for 2,258 yards and ran for 781 yards. It’s a script Urban has helped write before in his role as quarterbacks coach under Andy Reid in Philadelphia. He was largely responsible for Michael Vick’s resurgence in 2010 and took copious notes while learning from Reid.
The 45-year-old Urban will no doubt get some head-coaching looks, especially if the Ravens go on a lengthy playoff run. Or Baltimore could promote him to offensive coordinator should Greg Roman leave. Either way, the Eagles should make a play for Urban. If he’s available, there is no one better to break the bad habits Carson Wentz has picked up in the wake of Frank Reich’s departure.
Kafka is another guy growing fruit from the Andy Reid tree. He’s in his first season as Chiefs quarterbacks coach after serving as offensive quality control coach under Reid in 2017. Does that sound familiar? It should. Doug Pederson had the same role under Reid in Philadelphia.
Kafka, of course, helped unleash Patrick Mahomes on the NFL in 2018 and gets credited with turning Alex Smith into a 4,000-yard passer. A former quarterback at Northwestern University, Kafka was actually selected by the Eagles in the fourth round of the 2010 draft.
Again, this is a guy who should be getting an inbox full of offensive-coordinator offers. The Chiefs boast the third-best offense and Kafka could be in line to succeed current offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy in Kansas City. At 32, he is bound to be a hot commodity around the league for a long time. The Eagles should start knocking on his door right now. Scratch that, yesterday.
Sure, sure, no Cowboys allowed in the Eagles nest. Whatever. Once upon a time, Garrett was one of the most creative offensive minds in football and Jerry Jones’ golden boy. He guided the Cowboys to the second-best offense in 2007 and spurned head-coaching offers after Jones paid him $3 million to stay on as offensive coordinator.
While he’s recently fallen out of favor with Jones, his track record speaks for itself. Garrett has led the Cowboys to three NFC East titles while compiling a not-so-shabby 83-64 record. Yes, he has failed to capture the ultimate prize but winning Super Bowls is tough work. Ask Doug Pederson.
If Dallas were to fire Garrett — and it’s certainly trending in that direction — the Eagles could do far worse than an accomplished offensive mind (think: Norv Turner 2.0) to mentor Carson Wentz. He’s already been rumored to be on the Giants’ shortlist of candidates. Besides, Garrett and Pederson together — two former backup quarterbacks turned innovative coaches — could be a lethal one-two combo.
Try not to laugh for a minute. Jackson somehow has a sterling reputation in the coaching fraternity as a great motivator and excellent football coach. Remember, he was in some pretty bad situations in Washington, Cleveland, Cincinnati and Oakland — four franchises that aren’t exactly bastions for growth and success.
Jackson’s biggest claim to fame was developing receivers … interesting, right? It was under his tutelage that Chad Johnson and TJ Houshmandzadeh became house-hold names. That would bode well for the Eagles.
On the flip side, Jackson’s abysmal failures in Cleveland were vividly spotlighted on HBO’s “Hard Knocks” and the PR nightmare might be hard to justify to Philadelphia fans. That, and Jackson’s offenses have never finished higher than No. 15 in the league despite claims that he is an offensive mastermind. It wouldn’t be the splashiest move, but hiring Jackson might still be an upgrade over Mike Groh.
Say what? Look, McCown is already coaching high school football down in North Carolina so just fast-track him to the pros. The way current and former teammates gush about the 40-year-old journeyman quarterback’s football intelligence, it just makes sense. He literally learned the Eagles’ playbook in a weekend cram session after the Eagles signed him in late August. He knew it better than most of his receivers did. Probably still does.
In fact, McCown told Heavy.com that he would definitely consider a coaching gig in the NFL in the not-so-distant future. He referenced soaking up all he had learned from great mentors like Lovie Smith, Rod Marinelli and Doug Pederson. Why not McCown? Why not now? He would be an unexpected and promising pick to replace Mike Groh.
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