DeFilippo Finds His Fast Track to Head Coaching
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - Before the Eagles' brilliant 2017 season when Mike Lombardi wasn't "a clown," there were more than a few who believed Doug Pederson's second season as the head coach in Philadelphia could be his last.
As laughable as that might seem now if the next coach was going to come from inside the NovaCare Complex, the betting line wasn't favoring Frank Reich or even Jim Schwartz.
Quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo was the rising star in South Philadelphia and just about everyone in the organization from Jeffrey Lurie on down regarded the local product from Radnor High School as a future head coach in the NFL.
The Eagles were so high on DeFilippo that they prevented him from taking the offensive coordinator job under Todd Bowles with the New York Jets last offseason, something they could do because DeFilippo still has one-year left on his contract with the organization and Howie Roseman felt comfortable enough in Flip's professionalism to realize even if he was a little angry about being denied the promotion, it wasn't going to affect the way he went about doing the job at hand.
That, of course, was developing Carson Wentz from significant prospect to franchise quarterback, something accomplished with a heavy emphasis on fundamentals, particularly footwork, and an attention to detail few other young coaches possess.
Plenty deserves credit for the rapid rise of Wentz to a superstar including Pederson and offensive coordinator Frank Reich but it was DeFilippo who worked with the quarterback on a day-to-day basis and both Wentz and later Super Bowl MVP Nick Foles raved about what their position coach did for them.
Every Friday DeFilippo would give his quarterbacks an extensive 20- to 30-page exam on that week's game plan to make sure they were all as sharp as possible for the upcoming game. His impact helped take the Eagles all the way to the Lombardi Trophy despite losing Wentz and having to turn to Foles late in the season.
On a personal level, though, DeFilippo remained a very ambitious man at 39 ready to take the next step. His work was so well-regarded that he got head-coaching interviews with Arizona and Chicago.
Meanwhile, in Philadelphia, Pederson has proven to be one of the best coaches in football, a "star" according to Reich and the best play-caller DeFilippo has ever encountered.
There was a chance DeFilippo could be elevated to OC in Philadelphia if Reich becomes the next head coach in Indianapolis but the Philadelphia offense is a Doug Pederson production and will remain so.
The Vikings, on the other hand, have a defensive-minded head coach in Mike Zimmer, meaning the offense will be DeFilippo's and there is plenty of talent to build around even with uncertainty at the quarterback position. Receivers Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs are stars, there is a Pro Bowl tight end in Kyle Rudolph, and Dalvin Cook projects as one of the more dynamic three-down backs in football.
“We are very excited to add John to our staff," Zimmer said in a statement on Friday. "We took our time with the search and made sure we left no stone unturned to get the right fit. He has a track record of success and has proven to be a great teacher. We feel John will have good chemistry with our team and we are all eager to get to work.”
So Flip will now be taking his two-year internship under Pederson to the same Bold North where the Eagles won Super Bowl LII.
And if all goes to plan DeFilippo's stay in Minneapolis could be a very short stop en route to becoming an NFL head coach by 2019.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen