If you’re partial to the Eagles, and if you assume they’re destined for dynasty, don’t overlook the attrition boosted upon them from the Northeast. Think about it, and get your hackles up and, in your most sarcastic inner voice, say:
Thanks a lot, Patriots.
Especially you, Josh McDaniels.
When McDaniels reneged on his agreement to coach the Colts so he could remain as New England’s offensive coordinator, he unwittingly destabilized the foundation of the Eagles franchise. The Birds reached Super Bowl LII and beat the Patriots thanks to astoundingly efficient offensive execution, fruits of the labor of offensive coordinator Frank Reich and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo.
If McDaniels had kept his word, or if the Patriots had promised him the sun and the moon before he committed to the Colts, the Eagles likely would have kept either Reich, now the head coach in Indianapolis, or DeFilippo, now the offensive coordinator in Minnesota.
Reich is, by far, the bigger loss. It is he who identified Wentz as a Day 1 starter the first time he saw Wentz’s college tape. It is he who tailored the game plan to Wentz’s strengths, then to Foles’. It is he who served as the real-time sounding board for a season of genius play-calling from head coach Doug Pederson.
DeFilippo was there, too. He refined Wentz’s rawness. He polished Foles’ footwork and throwing motion after Foles was sidelined with an injured elbow in training camp.
Both are valuable, but both are gone, thanks to McDaniels. He back-stabbed the Colts franchise, and he back-stabbed the assistant coaches he’d agreed to hire, but the Eagles are collateral damage, too.
They have a window to make runs at Super Bowls. They would have retained at least one consistent voice in Wentz’s ear. They would have retained at least one of the coaches who made Nick Foles so comfortable that he won all five meaningful games after Wentz got hurt, and did it in such a fashion that he was named Super Bowl MVP.
They might have kept one. Instead, they have neither.
Pederson should have spent Monday watching film to prepare for the NFL scouting combine, which will be held in Indianapolis next week. Instead, according to ESPN.com, he interviewed two in-house candidates to replace Reich. Pederson’s first choice would have been DeFilippo.
Running backs coach Duce Staley has the better pedigree. Receivers coach Mike Groh, son of former Jets coach Al Groh, has lineage on his side. Either would be acceptable.
Neither will be what Reich was; or what DeFilippo would have been. At least, not on paper. Reich spent 14 years as an NFL quarterback and was an NFL offensive coordinator for the last five seasons. DeFilippo spent nine years as an NFL quarterbacks coach or offensive coordinator. They were groomed for the job Pederson now has to fill. Maybe Staley or Groh will be a natural. Who knows? As it turns out, Pederson was.
Here’s how it happened.
McDaniels accepted the Colts’ offer on the morning of Feb. 5, the day after the Super Bowl. He backed out the evening of Feb. 6. DeFilippo accepted the Vikings’ offer on the evening of Feb. 7, two days before Reich was interviewed by the Colts. Reich was the second candidate the Colts interviewed over a three-day period. He was hired Feb. 11.
If McDaniels hadn’t backed out, Reich would still be the Eagles’ OC.
If the Patriots had pitched McDaniels harder on staying earlier in the process — they apparently offered him Belichick’s throne, a front-office education and lifetime membership in the Bilderberg Group — the Colts might have moved onto Reich earlier. That would have cleared DeFilippo’s path to being the Eagles’ OC.
Which raises an intriguing question:
Would DeFilippo have been content to toil in Pederson’s shadow? He will run the offensive show in Minnesota. Pederson calls the plays in Philadelphia.
Then again, in Philly, DeFilippo would have been working with Wentz and Foles, two quarterbacks clearly capable of winning a Super Bowl. In Minneapolis, he would have been working with none. Because, at this moment, that’s how many starting quarterbacks the Vikings have under contract for next season. None.
Maybe DeFilippo would have seen the Eagles as a better platform to continue his quest for an NFL head-coaching job. So what if he didn’t call plays? Neither did Andy Reid, as an assistant. Neither did Frank Reich for the past two seasons.
Or, maybe DeFilippo would have just wanted to stay with a better team.
It doesn’t matter, except as fuel for a fire. McDaniels’ continued lack of character — he was a two-year disaster in Denver, and he was with the Patriots for both Spygate and Deflategate — kept DeFilippo from having to make that decision. McDaniels’ lack of character also makes him the perfect fit to inherit football’s Evil Empire, which makes McDaniels the perfect antagonist going forward.
Tom Brady is 40. His days are numbered. Belichick is 65. He’ll be gone soon, too. They’ve been the central Sith Lords in the Patriots’ saga.
McDaniels? He’s just 41. He’ll be around for a long time, and the force is strong in him.
A few teams already love to hate him. Now, he’s added another. By accident.
And no town hates like Philly.