Inside The Birds: Veteran Coach Needed, Wanted For Sirianni's Staff
While his first press conference as Eagles head coach looms, new Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni has been busy at work assembling his staff.
In the latest Inside the Birds podcast, Geoff Mosher and Adam Caplan view the new coaching hires under a microscope while identifying potential causes for concern.
Adam Caplan: “I don’t know there’s really been a guy that’s been around for several years that’s really developed a quarterback. I know [Shane] Steichen, who’s gonna be the offensive coordinator, did a great job with Justin Herbert, but it was really Pep Hamilton that was the day-to-day, in-the-room guy. You make a great point – and quite frankly – that ought to be one of the first guys he hires this week because we know he had the other guys done over the weekend. But how about getting that veteran coach on here?”
Geoff Mosher: “When you look at, like, Sean McVay – when he got the Rams job – his first defensive coordinator was Wade Phillips – a guy who had been a head coach, who had been a defensive coordinator, been through a lot of battles. Kevin Stefanski – young, up-and-coming head coach – his defensive coordinator this year was a guy who had been a defensive coordinator (Joe Woods).”
Caplan: “What Stefanski told me, is, he hired [senior offensive assistant] Kevin Rogers – I guess out of retirement, I don’t know what he was doing – but Kevin Rogers was with him for years in Minnesota, and he wanted someone who could be a resource for him. It’s very important, I think, for a young head coach who was not even interviewed by other teams, and is on that fast-track, to have someone to lean on.”
Caplan: “Just checking into it, I believe [Sirianni] may hire a senior offensive assistant. They don’t have that on the staff right now because Mornhinweg was not brought back. I was told that he’s considering it, I don’t know if he’ll do it. It really would behoove him to have a veteran guy, like a Tom Clements – who was brought in by [Cardinals head coach] Kliff Kingbury; he’s no longer with them, he left. Or Ken Wisenhunt, someone like that who’s out there, who Sirianni knows.”
Caplan: “This is … it’s kind of a strong statement and I might wind up eating my words in two years if the guy sucks … as one person said to me and I thought it was terrific so I stole the line, he goes, ‘This is the next Brandon Staley of defensive coordinators.’”
“[Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker's deal] is done; I was told that that one is done. I mean, I don’t know if he signed a contract, but I just know he agreed to come in. The funny thing is, if you check his bio, he’s had three D-line jobs in two years.
"Gannon and Rocker coached with the Titans. Rocker was their d-line coach for two or three years with the Titans. Gannon and Rocker know each other. What happens is, coaches always tell me, ‘Hey man, if I ever get this job, I wanna bring you in.’ I’m speculating a little here that that’s what happened with Gannon and Rocker, because why else would Rocker come in? "As we’ve said before on this show, these college coaches get paid sometimes better than they do in the pros. But, I guess they’re tight and that’s why he came in.”
Mosher: “I’m actually surprised, of all the coaching openings and voids, that this one wasn’t done pretty quickly. Now, I don’t know – Matt and Jim Schwartz were really close, so maybe Jim Schwartz’s departure made Matt kind of want to go somewhere else, or look for a job, maybe he wanted to be a D-coordinator again, I don’t know. At this point, I don’t know what’s open that Matt would want around the league, but linebacker coach is his pedigree; he never was a d-line coach until last year, he only did it because of Jim Schwartz’s presence anyway.”
Caplan: “Actually, he was gonna go to the Lions. Cory Undlin was gonna hire him, I’m told, as his … I think it was linebackers coach, and they knew it, so they had to promote him; because remember, he was a special assistant before the 2020 season.”
Mosher: “I was told once Jim was gone, he didn’t want to coach D-line again.”
Caplan: “This is the guy [Sirianni] wanted, this is the guy he got. Let me tell you how badly he wanted this guy – the guy was on the flight over! He was on his flight Monday morning. I had a very good Colts source tell me this is his guy. He explained, look, every head coach has a right-hand man. It doesn’t mean that – I mean, his role was passing game specialist last season, he was the receiver’s coach in 18-19 before Mike Groh got there. But this is a guy he feels great about and he wanted him on his staff. He did coach quarterbacks in 15-16 for the Jets under Todd Bowles.”
Caplan: "Sirianni’s got a lot of work to do, I just don’t know what his thought process is. The biggest challenge for him is, coaching a quarterback that you don’t know, you’ve never worked with before – none of these coaches have. That’s gonna be the challenge for this guy, with Press Taylor gone and Doug Pederson gone – how are you gonna coach this quarterback? That to me is the No. 1 issue for this staff."
Mosher: "When we say, ‘Coach the quarterback,’ I don’t think you and I are assuming we know who the quarterback is. They still have the Carson Wentz thing kind of hovering over them."
Caplan: “I can just tell you what I was told; the gist of the coaches that interviewed – they were asked about Wentz. They were never told he was definitely staying but their sense was, ‘Boy, the Eagles sound like they want to keep him,’ but they didn’t know for sure. But I could tell you that Arthur Smith, in his interview, presented a really detailed plan – which wasn’t just 30 seconds to a minute, it was actually really detailed on what his plan to coach Wentz would be. Arthur Smith did very well.”
Mosher: “I heard that wide receivers coach Aaron Moorehead, who just completed his first year, has talked to Nick Sirianni. It took a while, but he finally did have a conversation with Sirianni. I was told that it went well, but right now, he’s like a couple of these other coaches on the staff, where they're are all just kind of waiting to find out if they’re gonna be the guy, or if there’s somebody Sirianni is looking to bring in. I do feel like the longer it goes – this is just my speculation – the longer it goes, it almost favors guys who are holdovers.”
Caplan: “I can tell you as a fact, and I’ve confirmed, that he was absolutely in play for the Bears’ running backs job. [The Bears] lost their running backs coach Charles Lennon to the Falcons – I think he’s gonna be their quarterbacks coach if I’m not mistaken.”
Mosher: “What do you make of Dave Fipp? I just don’t know what to make of it, because he was good – I don’t think he just got bad. If you go back to last year, the Eagles were starting so many players who should have been core special teamers, that Fipp was literally getting whatever was underneath the bottom of the barrel. When Grayland Arnold and Kevon Seymour are playing significant snaps, and Michael Jacquet, imagine what that means for [Fipp] and what he has to work with on special teams – there’s not much there.”
Caplan: “No and look – the return game was a joke. Why Reagor was not on punts is beyond me. He was probably the best returner last year in college … That should not happen, I’m sorry; I know he had the two injuries, but he got over it. When he’s out there playing, he’s gotta return punts – he’s special in that area. He looked like a running back back there, he was so good last year. Coverage units were not normally as good, and then obviously the kicker – the kicker had a tough year.”
– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com. Listen to the latest "Inside The Birds" podcast from Geoff Mosher and Adam Caplan here: