There was an overwhelming sense that no one was safe on the Eagles’ roster or coaching staff. On Thursday, the first two dominoes fell.
One day prior, Doug Pederson openly gave his top two offensive assistants — Mike Groh and Carson Walch — votes of confidence that they would be retained. Now the head coach is looking for a new offensive coordinator and wide receivers coach after the team announced both men had been relieved of their duties.
There could be more changes on the way, too. In a statement issued by the Eagles, Pederson commented that staff evaluations are ongoing and he’ll “consider all possibilities to improve our football team.”
The biggest question mark remains Jim Schwartz. The Eagles defensive coordinator interviewed for the head-coaching gig in Cleveland on Wednesday and has been drawing interest as a serious candidate there.
There had been some ambiguity around Pederson’s oddly-worded remarks regarding Schwartz and whether he would be back on the Eagles’ sidelines in 2020. For now, he remains on the coaching staff and Pederson apologized for any confusion.
“I apologize for any confusion that I created during yesterday’s press conference, including my comments on Coach Schwartz who has done a great job as our defensive coordinator,” Pederson said in a statement. “It was my intent not to comment on any of my staff during the ongoing evaluations because I wanted to be able to go through the process and communicate my decision directly with the individuals.”
Did Decision to Fire Offensive Coaches Come from Owner?
There had been a growing unhappiness with Mike Groh and Carson Walch from the Eagles’ fan base. Was that enough to force their dismissal? Probably not.
The sudden change of direction, one day after the organization had given both coaches verbal guarantees they would be retained, may have come from atop the organization.
According to The Inquirer’s Jeff McLane, the decision to fire Groh and Walch was made by Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie back in December. It appears the head coach fought to keep his assistants but may have lost a power struggle with top brass.
“Yes, both those guys will be back,” Doug Pederson told reporters on Wednesday. “I think both of those guys did an outstanding job for me this year. There were a lot of things we faced on offense as you know, through adversity, through injury, through many different facets of trying to get the pieces together.”
Eagles Begin Searching for Replacement Coaches
The Eagles will need to scour the coaching ranks to replace their fired assistants on offense.
The team could decide to hire from within the organization by promoting Duce Staley to offensive coordinator. He already coaches the running backs and has input on the play-calling. That would be the most logical.
However, Philadelphia seems primed for a shake-up and GM Howie Roseman hinted that some major moves were coming down the pipeline when he addressed reporters on Wednesday.
“We are going to make some additions here in the next couple days which we’ll announce, too, that we’re excited about, and we try to have different perspectives,” Roseman said.
Roseman also cited how much he values Tom Donahoe, the former NFL GM who has been the Eagles’ senior football advisor since 2012. Donahoe had previously served as Buffalo Bills GM from 2001 to 2005 and as the director of football operations for the Pittsburgh Steelers from 1991 to 1999. He’s an old-school sounding board.
Finding a new offensive coordinator will be a top priority, especially as they look to groom Carson Wentz in his prime. In November, we presented a few viable options in this space. Guys like Jason Garrett, Hue Jackson, Mike Kafka, James Urban and even Josh McCown.
All five coaches could still be in the mix. Their top choice should be Urban but they will have to wait for the Ravens to lose in the playoffs before they can reach out to him. Stay tuned.
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