Keep an Eye Out For Duce

12 January 2021 Opinion Philadelphia Eagles

Yesterday afternoon, the Philadelphia Eagles fired Head Coach Doug Pederson. Coming off an ugly 4-11-1 season, owner Jeffrey Lurie felt it was necessary to meet with Doug to discuss their views on the future of the team going forward. After 2 meetings with Pederson, it was clear he and Lurie were not on the same page, ultimately resulting in the termination of the super bowl winning head coach.

When asked about the possibility of hiring a minority coach, Lurie took no time getting to assistant head coach and running backs coach Duce Staley saying that he would expect Duce to be a candidate, also stating that “he’s a great representative of the Eagles and knows our values.”

In the third round of the 1997 NFL Draft, the Eagles used the 71st overall pick on running back Duce Staley. He went on to play 10 years in the NFL. 7 of those years being in Philadelphia where he became a fan favorite, accumulating 4,807 rushing yards, 2,498 receiving yards, 8,451 all purpose yards and 32 touchdowns for the midnight green. Staley joined Philadelphia’s coaching staff in 2010 as an intern, he went on to work as a special team’s quality control coach in 2011 and 2012 and was then promoted to the running backs coach in 2013. During the 2018 off-season Duce was promoted once again, this time to his current role as an assistant head coach while maintaining to serve as the teams running backs coach. Duce has been the only unvarying piece of the birds coaching staff for the past decade working under the previous three Eagles Head coaches (Andy Reid, Chip Kelly, and Doug Pederson.). Over that time Staley has proven to be one of the few coaches on the Eagles’ coaching staff that can continuously develop talent at a high rate. So, could Duce finally get his opportunity?

Now, don’t get me wrong here… Everyone would love to go out and get an Eric Bieniemy, Brian Daboll or a Lincoln Riley, but my question here is would they even want to come here? There are currently 7 teams in the NFL looking for a new Head Coach and you could honestly make the argument that the Eagles vacancy is the least attractive job opening out of all of them. Anyone the Eagles do hire will have their hands full right away, mainly with these 3 underlying factors.

  • A major QB controversy:
    There is no doubt that after signing a 4-year $128 million extension in 2019, Carson Wentz has regressed as a quarterback by NFL standards. Many believe that this is a direct result of a relationship gone south with Doug Pederson. With the Eagles firing the now former head coach, it might be safe to say that they will stick with Wentz in 2021 for at least another season, but there really is no definitive answer on who will be QB1. So, what does this mean for Jalen Hurts?  From a financial standpoint you would obviously rather your quarterback who is making $32 million next season on the field over your quarterback going into his sophomore season. From a production standpoint though you could make the case for Hurts over Wentz. Realistically, these answers will not come out until at least training camp, but it will be up to the new Head Coach to figure this whole situation out.
  • Cap full of aging veteran players:
    Howie Roseman built the second most expensive roster in the NFL this season which amounted to an overall record of 4-11-1. Very underwhelming to say the least. According to OverTheCap, Philadelphia has 2 of the top 10 worst contracts in the NFL and the 2nd worst cap situation in the NFL.  Roseman currently has the team $51.6 million over the cap and that number is projected to rise to $74 Million. With a roster full of aging veterans, upcoming cuts, little to no young talent and no room for Free agent acquisitions it might not be crazy to think that the Eagles will have to hit on almost every one of their upcoming draft picks, which will be hard considering the Eagles have had the second worst draft return since 2015 (per Football Outsiders.).
  • The power struggle:
    A trend Philadelphia Eagles Head Coaches are getting to know oh so well. A power struggle with GM Howie Roseman. Andy Reid went through it; Chip Kelly went through it and we just saw Doug Pederson go through it.

 Doesn’t sound so appealing anymore now does it? Probably won’t to the other head coaching candidates either. That is with one exception. Duce Staley. He has been waiting for this opportunity for 10 years now proving how loyal he is to this franchise. The players not only respect the hell out of him but listen and most importantly learn from him, “Whenever he has something to say, people listen.” Said Boston Scott. A main concern for most is that Duce has never called plays in the NFL before, something tells me he would like to give it a shot but if not, he could take the role of a “CEO” style head coach leaving all the play calling duties to the offensive and defensive coordinators giving Duce more time for what we already know he is good at, developing talent. However, you want to spin it Duce Staley has been nothing but loyal to this organization and maybe its about time that Jeffrey Lurie returned the favor.

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