DeFilippo Emerges as Eagles’ Hottest Coaching Candidate
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - It should come as no surprise that in a copy-cat league, Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo has emerged as the hottest head-coaching candidate from a staff littered with them.
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has already been an NFL head coach and has interviews lined up this week with the New York Giants and Arizona Cardinals while his offensive counterpart, Frank Reich, could also pop up on some radars as the hiring cycle progresses.
Some have even speculated that special teams coordinator Dave Fipp could get some bites at the college level but if you were handicapping the assistant most likely to leave Philadelphia for the big chair, DeFilippo would be in the lead.
And "Flip," as he is affectionately called around the NovaCare Complex, has two names to thank for that. One is obvious, Carson Wentz, and the other is 3,000 miles away in Los Angeles.
Sean McVay has been an unqualified success during his rookie season as the coach of the NFC West-champion Los Angeles Rams and the youngest coach in NFL history has created the new template for those looking for an offensive mind, the young wunderkind who can build quarterbacks.
The two names best fitting that description aiming NFL decision-makers are DeFilippo and Houston Texans quarterbacks coach Sean Ryan. Neither are quite as young as McVay (DeFilippo is 39 and Ryan is 45) but both are considered rising stars in the profession due to their work in the day-to-day development of Wentz and Deshaun Watson, respectively.
Before arriving in Philadelphia as the QB coach on Doug Pederson's staff, DeFilippo had already garnered experience as a coordinator at both the college and professional levels with San Jose State and the Cleveland Browns. He also would have been the OC under Todd Bowles up the turnpike with the New York Jets this season had the Eagles not blocked him from leaving.
You can do that with position coaches under contract but no coach can be prevented from taking the top job in an organization and with DeFilippo's deal set to expire after the season, the worst-case scenario for him seems to be an OC job.
Both the Cardinals and the Chicago Bears are interviewing DeFilippo for their head-coaching positions this week and the latter seems tailor-made for him because the Bears are intent on building around Mitchell Trubisky, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft who looked extremely raw during his rookie campaign.
Asked what sets DeFilippo apart on Wednesday, Nick Foles immediately pointed to his work ethic.
"He grinds," Foles said after practice wrapped up on Wednesday. "He puts us through some stuff."
The veteran also gave his current position coach a ringing endorsement.
"He's a great coach," Foles claimed. "I know he's focused on us right now, but I also know he's going to be a great head coach someday, and I'm excited for his opportunity."
The key feather in DeFilippo's cap, however, is the rapid development of Wentz from promising rookie to MVP candidate in his sophomore season before a torn ACL short-circuited things during Week 14 against McVay and the Rams.
Wentz, Foles and Nate Sudfeld have all pointed toward DeFilippo's weekly quizzes as a key part to their understanding of the game plan as well as the upcoming opponent's defensive scheme.
"He's just really detailed," Wentz said earlier this season.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen