The Philadelphia Eagles have yet to make the hiring of Nick Sirianni official, but it’s probably safe to assume Adam Schefter’s word is golden at this point. The Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator will become the 24th head coach in franchise history. Now the hard work begins.
Sirianni, who has zero head-coaching experience, will have to fill out his coaching staff in Philly. The toughest choices will be naming an offensive coordinator and defensive coordinator while making sure not to offend anyone (Duce Staley?) currently in place. The 39-year-old new coach has worked with and for some very talented people over the years so he should have a tight network to pull from. It all comes down to right fits, with (dysfunctional?) approval from his bosses.
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Predicting the New Eagles Coaching Staff
Sirianni does have 16 years worth of coaching experience, including 11 recent ones in the NFL. He got his first big break in 2009 when Todd Haley hired him as a quality control assistant in Kansas City. From there, his career took off.
Let’s take a look at a few intriguing candidates, either already with the organization or outside of it, for his Eagles coaching staff:
Defensive Coordinator, In-House Candidates
Matt Burke: The most logical choice would be the 44-year-old defensive line coach who watched his unit record 49 sack, third-best in the NFL. Dubbed the “most interesting coach in the world,” Burke has been a rising star in Philly and brings legitimate experience to the role. He served as defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins for two seasons (2017-18). They finished 16th in 2017 and 29th in 2018.
Marquand Manuel: The Eagles’ secondary coach saw his unit finish 15th in passing defense in 2020 after allowing 237.4 yards through the air. Injuries put a damper on his first year in Philly as he was forced to start practice-squad cornerbacks and undrafted rookie safeties down the stretch. Manuel, a former safety and eight-year NFL veteran is considered a player’s coach who served as the defensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons from 2017-18.
Defensive Coordinator, Outside Candidates
Jonathan Gannon: The Indianapolis Colts defensive backs coach is garnering steam due to his Ohio roots where Sirianni attended Division III Mount Union. Gannon helped breathe life back into Xavier Rhodes in 2020 while developing guys like Kenny Moore and Julian Blackmon. He has already interviewed for the vacant Los Angeles Chargers defensive coordinator position, but he’s an East Coast guy. He started his career as a scout for the Rams in 2009 under Steve Spagnuolo.
Seth Joyner: Want to really shake things up? Place a call to Sports Illustrated‘s 1991 Player of the Year. Joyner, who often criticizes the team on the post-game show, knows X’s and O’s better than anybody having learned under some legendary coaches like Buddy Ryan, Bud Carson, Jeff Fisher, Fritz Shurmur, Wade Phillips. The former All-Pro linebacker has openly talked about wanting to coach in the NFL despite no experience. He also could bring the “hard coaching” this team needs.
Other Candidates: John Pagano (former Chargers defensive coordinator and linebackers coach who overlapped Sirianni in San Diego/Los Angeles), Romeo Crennel (interim head coach during Sirianni’s final year in Kansas City), Dave Borgonzi (Colts linebackers coach where Sirianni coached from 2018-20).
Offensive Coordinator, In-House Candidates
Duce Staley: The current running backs/assistant head coach has been passed over for the head-coaching job twice in the past five years. Staley was the leading candidate among the players on the team, too. It’s difficult to envision the franchise’s most loyal subject coming back in 2021. He’s probably sick of the runaround. That being said, the Eagles should offer the 45-year-old the opportunity. Let Staley call the plays.
Press Taylor: Carson Wentz’s rumored best friend on the coaching staff hasn’t been dismissed yet. He’s the guy Doug Pederson wanted to promote to offensive coordinator, per the Philadelphia Inquirer, and remains highly regarded within the organization. But Taylor was unimpressive in 2020 after being promoted to pass-game coordinator. The Eagles’ aerial attack dipped from 11th to 15th in the league (237.4 yards per game).
Offensive Coordinator, Outside Candidates
Marcus Brady: The Indianapolis Colts quarterbacks coach has been credited for turning Jacoby Brissett into a solid starter in 2019: 2,942 passing yards, 18 touchdowns, six interceptions, 60.9% completion percentage. Prior to that, Brady spent five years in the Canadian Football League (CFL) as an offensive coordinator and won a championship with Toronto in 2017. He set a slew of school records while playing quarterback at Cal State Northridge.
Todd Haley: This would be an outside-the-box selection due to his combative nature and “wild child” ways. However, there is no denying Haley’s success as an offensive guru during his 23 years. Sirianni worked under him for two years in Kansas City (2010-11) and spoke highly of the experience. Haley’s offenses have consistently ranked in the Top-10 — remember that 2007 Cardinals team that beat the Eagles in the NFC Championship Game? — and he’s only three years removed from running the third-best offense in football with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Other Candidates: Adam Gase (Sirianni coached against him in the AFC West when Gase was Broncos offensive coordinator), Ken Whisenhunt (Chargers offensive coordinator for two seperate stints while Sirianni was out there), Jim Zorn (Chiefs quarterbacks coach and a guy Sirianni looked up to when he was there).
Quarterbacks Coach, In-House Candidates
Andrew Breiner: The Eagles brought Breiner in last year as their pass-game analyst and Doug Pederson often name-dropped his influence on the gameplan. Yes, Pederson is gone but the organization remains high on him due to his work with analytics. Plus, the 36-year-old has experience as a quarterbacks coach at Mississippi State.
Press Taylor: Assuming he gets passed over for the offensive coordinator position, Taylor gets a slight demotion and keeps his job. It’s a move that might keep Wentz happy since he doesn’t appear to be leaving.
Quarterbacks Coach, Outside Candidates
Andrew Luck: Don’t laugh. There are already rumors about Luck possibly coming back as a player and taking over for Philip Rivers in Indianapolis. The transition from retired player to quarterbacks coach in Philly makes much more sense. Sirianni worked with him in 2018 and listen to what the coach said about Luck: “He’s like another coach. You get around coaches, and you’re able to talk ball back and forth with him, shoot ideas back and forth with him.” Hired.
Mike McCoy: The Arizona Cardinals fired him in 2018 as offensive coordinator, but his track record speaks for itself. Not that long ago, McCoy was one of the best offensive minds in the game after turning Jake Delhomme into a Super Bowl quarterback and then working similar magic with Kyle Orton and Tim Tebow in Denver. He interviewed for the Eagles’ job in 2012 after Andy Reid left. The Chargers hired him instead and Sirianni was McCoy’s quarterbacks coach for two years.
Rounding Out Rest of the Coaching Staff
Defensive Line Coach: Jeremiah Washburn (Eagles current assistant defensive line coach, players love him)
Linebackers Coach: Connor Barwin (Eagles current jack-of-all-trades coach and assistant to the general manager)
Secondary Coach: Otis Smith (worked as defensive quality control coach with Sirianni in Kansas City)
Offensive Line Coach: Jeff Stoutland (it appears the reports of Stout leaving for Alabama were wrong)
Wide Receivers Coach: Antonio Gates (Sirianni coached the Chargers wide receivers and overlapped with Gates)
Special Teams Coordinator: Dave Fipp (Eagles blocked him from interviewing with the Lions)