‘Filtering’ Through the Eagles’ OC Problem
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - There are different brands of filters.
You can get the generic one that's cheap and does the job in a utilitarian fashion or you can ramp it up and spend the $20 to get the top of the line for your HVAC unit, something that's supposed to eliminate all your favorite toxins from those pesky dust mites.
Much has been made about the Eagles offensive coordinator search. How Frank Reich was so great and how Mike Groh was so overmatched by the position. The enormity of James Urban and Graham Harrell "turning down" the job and Andy Reid's salty promise to block Philadelphia from even talking to Mike Kafka, the supposed next branch in Big Red's towering oak tree.
All of the narratives are overblown at best but hand-wringing is what a fan base does when there isn't a game coming up on Sunday.
So let's start at the beginning.
The actual duties of the Eagles' OC as the right-hand man to the guy with all the actual power on that side of the football -- head coach Doug Pederson.
There are two spins there, those who insist no one really knows what the OC does in Philadelphia and the other side who is convinced they actually do know absence any empirical evidence at their disposal rooted in the singular Frank good [Super Bowl championship, head-coaching job], Mike bad [two postseason appearances but an underachiever] thought process.
The former isn't entirely true with Pederson, Reich, and Groh leaving plenty of bread crumbs over the past four years for reporters and other sources on the staff actually cementing the key details of the role.
Pederson's offense is set up with a passing-game coordinator [what had been Groh] and a run-game coordinator [Jeff Stoutland]. Pederson though has also preached a collaborative approach when it comes to building game plans when it comes to all of his assistants.
The best example of that is Press Taylor, who was a quality-control and assistant QB coach when he mined "The Philly Special" from a meaningless Week 17 Chicago tape during a loss to Minnesota in 2016. Taylor liked the concept, sent it on up the ladder, and the rest is history.
Groh, as was Reich before him, was essentially the filter between those assistants and their ideas getting to Pederson so you can argue he was the generic version to Reich's top-of-the-line filtering job. The job description hasn't changed, however.
Pederson keeps the final say on game-planning, scripts the first 15 [another wildly misunderstood concept that we will save for another day] and makes all decisions on what's installed for the week.
The biggest takeaway here should be that the offense isn’t changing in Philadelphia no matter who the new name at OC ultimately is.
Ownership has somewhat neutered Pederson's ability to choose his own coaches but hasn't taken that power away from him yet, a positive thing because Pederson has done an excellent job as a play-caller since he took over the Eagles.
Fans, and certain media members to be honest, don’t judge play-calling, they judge results.
It's always about execution in the NFL and the Eagles didn't get great results early in 2019 because of personnel mistakes and attrition. They got results late against bad competition and many deemed the offense as "more creative" as Pederson scoffed behind the scenes, pointing out he scaled things back late to integrate less-experienced players.
Those who thought it was the opposite were focused on results nor process.
When asked to give examples of "creative" offenses you get the standard answers like Kansas City and New Orleans, great offensive teams with really good players. Just once, you wish you would hear a lesser team, which is often the case by the way because of necessity.
A perfect example of that is the 2019 Eagles, who somehow finished near the top of the league in the situational football Pederson preaches -- like third downs and red-zone efficiency -- despite all those personnel gaffes, injuries and relying on so many practice-squad graduates along the way.
The only thing obscuring the fact that the Eagles overachieved offensively last season and that Pederson should have been allowed to keep Groh was the starting point. Too many overrated the team over the spring and summer and failed to recalibrate along the way.
Many of those same critics are clutching their pears as potential OC names drop out of the running. So maybe look to the wisdom of the man you've built up so much, Reich.
"Doug is a star man," Reich told 973espn.com after Super Bowl LII. "He's a star."
On the other hand, if you want to worry about that filter, have at it.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen