McMullen: Bypassing Staley is Dangerous for Eagles
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Anyone who knows Doug Pederson understands why he chose Mike Groh over Duce Staley as the team's new offensive coordinator.
The Super Bowl-winning coach simply believed Groh was the more qualified in-house candidate to replace Frank Reich, the new head coach in Indianapolis.
The problem begins with people who don't know Pederson and how he handles himself. To them this is just business as usual for a league that has lacked diversity with the tenured African-American candidate being bypassed for someone who has been in the Eagles' organization for just one year.
Staley, of course, not only has the history in Philadelphia as an excellent player but has developed into a solid assistant after starting as a special teams quality control coach under Andy Reid in 2011.
Groh, on the other hand, came to the NovaCare Complex in 2017 while Staley was already entrenched, getting his first deal in 2011, being promoted to RB coach in 2013 by Chip Kelly and having that deal rolled over in 2015 and again in 2017.
"I can’t say enough about Duce," LeGarrette Blount recently told the NFL Network. "Just for the simple fact that how I was coached there. How good he helped me understand things. I feel like Duce is one the best running back coaches — one of the best coaches I’ve ever had in my entire life."
The franchise's all-time leading rusher, LeSean McCoy also chimed in on Twitter earlier this week before the decision was made:
For a locker room filled with personalities who have made social-justice reform part of their lives how do you explain a well-respected coach that is legendary in the organization as both a player and had been grinding away as a coach since the Reid regime being lapped by a receivers coach that bounced around with two bad teams -- Chicago and the Los Angeles Rams -- before opening up some eyes by putting the talented Nelson Agholor on track in his third NFL season?
If Pederson didn't contemplate the optics here, he made a serious mistake because those lobbying for more diversity in the NFL have always pointed to the fact that African-Americans are consistently denied opportunities.
There is no doubt that if you play color blind that Groh's history of being the son of the well-respected Al Groh, as well as playing the quarterback position in college at Virginia, and also coaching it in college was the more traditional route as far as advancing to OC, however. He also was previously an offensive coordinator at Virginia from 2006-2008.
Furthermore, of all the current NFL offensive coordinators, only one -- Kansas City's Eric Bieniemy, who just replaced Matt Nagy -- was elevated with a resume that was heavy on mentoring running backs.
Pederson was contemplating going without an offensive coordinator because he calls the plays anyway and has proven to be one of the more instinctual ones in years. That would have been a mistake, however, because his job encompasses so much that there simply isn't enough time to engulf all the duties Reich performed when it came to game-planning.
One of those ancillary tasks Pederson must now engage in is explaining his decision-making to those who are automatically going to assume the Staley was bypassed because of the color of his skin.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen