Eagles’ Jeff Stoutland on why he returned under Nick Sirianni

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Why it’s a big deal that Jeff Stoutland returned to Eagles in 2021 originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Jordan Mailata arrived in the United States as a few years ago as a mammoth rugby player but has successfully transitioned into an NFL offensive tackle and will be competing for the Eagles’ starting left tackle job this summer.

So you can imagine his reaction when he heard rumors that the guy responsible for his transformation, offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, was leaving.

“Tell ya what,” Mailata said this spring. “I almost had a heart attack when those rumors came out.”

Of course, Stout didn’t leave. He’ll be back for the 2021 season, his ninth season as the Eagles’ offensive line coach, making him the longest tenured position coach in the organization.

Stoutland, 59, arrived in 2013 from Alabama. He was hired by Chip Kelly and is now the only coach who has continuously coached under the last three head coaches.

But there were some major rumors that Stoutland was set to return to Alabama this offseason, which made some sense. After all, it’s not uncommon for new head coaches to completely turn over their staffs. Ultimately, just Stoutland and receivers coach Aaron Moorehead remain among position coaches under Nick Sirianni.

While Stoutland downplayed that rumor about his returning to Alabama, he did say this spring that if he were to ever return to coach college, it would be for the Crimson Tide. He coached at Alabama from 2011-12 before taking the job under Kelly and enjoyed it. But he really likes being in the NFL.

“This is the highest level of football that a coach could be,” Stoutland said. “It’s like the ultimate position if you want to coach in the offensive line. There’s 32 coaches in the offensive line in the National Football League. That’s it. This is the highest level. I really love coaching in the National Football League but most importantly I love working for the Philadelphia Eagles and I mean that sincerely.”

Sirianni said Stout’s reputation preceded him. When Sirianni got to Indianapolis under Frank Reich in 2018, they spent a lot of time watching the Eagles’ offensive line. Sirianni was blown away by the success of the Eagles’ unit coming off the Super Bowl run but was even more impressed by how Reich spoke of Stoutland. Sirianni called the decision to keep Stout a “no-brainer.” His players would agree.

“I gave Coach Stoutland a call as soon as that article came out and he reassured us that he was coming back,” Mailata said. “When it was all official and pen to paper, I was just very relieved, man. That’s like my dad.”

And it’s not just Mailata. Throughout this spring, Eagles offensive linemen have all let it be known that they were thrilled to hear the news that Stoutland was returning.

“Well, I really do give of myself. I think it’s very important,” Stoutland said. “No. 1, I’m passionate about the game, I’m passionate about developing offensive lineament. I think that shows. I think players appreciate that and I appreciate the fact that a player sees the fact that I’m doing everything in my power to help them. Now, every guy might not feel that way, trust me. Because I’m not easy sometimes. But that’s OK. My heart is in the right place. I’m here to develop and help guys make a living.”

Stoutland is the latest in a string of very impressive offensive line coaches in Philadelphia, following Howard Mudd and before that Juan Castillo. Stoutland is going to leave behind a pretty incredible legacy.

During his eight seasons as the Eagles’ offensive line coach, Stoutland’s players have combined for six All-Pros and 16 Pro Bowl appearances. And Evan Mathis (2 Pro Bowls, 1 All-Pro), Jason Kelce (4 Pro Bowls, 3 All-Pros) and Brandon Brooks (3 Pro Bowls) all played in the league before being coached by Stout but never made one of those all-star teams before he coached them.

But perhaps Stoutland’s greatest accomplishments were on display last season. His biggest project, Mailata, proved to be a real NFL left tackle and he had to keep the ship afloat as the Eagles were forced to send out 14 different starting line combinations last season.

“I’ve done this for 38 years and I’ll be honest with you: I’ve never been a better coach than I am right now,” Stoutland said. “A lot of that is because of the fact that I’m still very passionate about it but I learned so many things along the way, I learned so many, so many things along the way about how to do things a little bit better. You have to consistently evolve as things go on.”

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