‘Leader of Men’: Ex-Eagles RB Sees Head NFL Job for Duce Staley

Doug Pederson

Getty Eagles head coach Doug Pederson, with his top assistant Duce Staley.

It’s more a question of if than when in talking about Duce Staley’s future as an NFL head coach. Many feel the long-time Eagles assistant is ready to take charge of his own locker room, putting his own unique stamp on an offense. Staley got valuable experience earlier this summer when Doug Pederson tested positive for COVID-19.

Staley, who started his coaching career in 2011 as Eagles quality control coach, ran practices and delivered Pederson’s message for 10 days during training camp. He joked about keeping a secret notebook and learning the three L’s: listen, learn and lead. Eagles players raved about Staley’s short time guiding the troops, including one former teammate who believes it’s time for the two-time Super Bowl champion to get a head-coaching job.

“I think he has the capability of being a fine coach in the NFL as long as he gets the opportunity,” ex-Eagles great Brian Westbrook told Heavy.com. “He knows how to be a leader of men. When I think of Duce, I think of Mike Tomlin, I think of Brian Flores, I think of those types of guys that can motivate, that have played the game, that can take your game to the next level and Duce Staley is just like all those guys.”

Staley interviewed for the Philly job back in 2016 but it eventually went to Pederson. He was also reportedly passed over for the offensive coordinator job twice. It underscores the NFL’s ongoing problem in regard to grooming and hiring minority coaches. There are only four black head coaches in the league: Brian Flores (Miami), Romeo Crennel (Houston), Anthony Lynn (Chargers), Mike Tomlin (Pittsburgh). While commissioner Roger Goodell continues to place an emphasis on diversity, the lack of color on NFL sidelines is alarming. Progress is moving at a snail’s pace.

“You’re talking about someone that knows the game inside and out,” Westbrook said of Staley who spent two years as his teammate (2002-03). “Knows defense in and out, knows offenses, schemes, run game, pass game, all those things.”

Westbrook remains hopeful and called out a few young black coaches who could usher in meaningful change. Staley might only have to look up the New Jersey Turnpike, too. The New York Jets are expected to can their head coach.

“I think the NFL is trying to put things in place so that minorities like Duce and Eric Bieniemy [Chiefs] and other coaches around the league, Byron Leftwich [Buccaneers], get the opportunity that they certainly deserve because their performances — of those offenses, particularly — dictate that they should get those opportunities. Hopefully, in the next couple of years, Duce gets that opportunity to be a head coach.”

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Credit Staley for Developing Practice-Squad Players

The Eagles’ bizarrely awesome way of cultivating young talent on the practice squad has been turning heads around the NFL. They have turned another team’s garbage into gold far too many times for it to be considered a fluke.

Look at what Travis Fulgham, Greg Ward, Boston Scott have done for the offense, plus the stellar play of undrafted rookie defensive backs Michael Jacquet and Grayland Arnold.

Something’s going on and it’s not electrolytes in the Gatorade. Pederson has leveled high praise on Staley numerous times for running the team’s developmental program, an accelerated acclimation for the young guys on the practice squad.

“When you look at the developmental program at some of these younger guys, the thought process hasn’t changed. You want to develop these guys,” Staley said. “You want to help these guys understand the NFL. We want to make sure they compete daily. And we just want to continue to show them how to study film, so it’s a couple of things that’s involved.”

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