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The Eagles' offseason change that had to happen

The Eagles' offseason change that had to happen originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

They’ve replaced two coordinators. Three, really, if you include Sean Desai and Matt Patricia. They’ve hired a new defensive line coach, two secondary coaches, a linebacker coach and a new quarterbacks coach.

So far.

The Eagles have only announced their new coordinators, so nothing else is official yet, but as far as we know, the only positions they haven’t changed yet are running backs, receivers, offensive line and tight ends. There will be turnover with the assistant position coaches and quality control guys, too.

We think passing game coordinator and assistant head coach Kevin Patullo is staying, because he’s Nick Sirianni’s most trusted assistant. Maybe with a different title. And Jeff Stoutland is staying because he’s Jeff Stoutland.

Other than that? We might see a complete turnover on the coaching staff. Heck, Doug Pederson kept nine of Chip Kelly’s assistants. Sirianni might only keep two or three of his own assistants.

It’s an astonishing amount of turnover. We still don’t know all the specifics, but it’s clear this will be an entirely new defensive staff and at least a significantly different offensive staff. And that’s incredibly rare and possibly unprecedented without a change at head coach. Especially for a playoff team, an 11-win team.

This doesn’t happen.

On the one hand, you wonder about this much turnover. Is it too much? Will there be too many new voices? Too much change on a coaching staff that had the Eagles sitting at 10-1 a couple months ago?

Sirianni always talks about the importance of stability on the coaching staff and now the Eagles will have virtually none. We’re looking at new voices, new schemes, new practice methods, new terminology.

Starting over.

But let’s be honest. This had to happen.

Major reconstructive surgery was necessary. The way last year ended was so horrific that anything less than wholesale changes wouldn’t have been enough.

And the Eagles needed to stop experimenting with the coaching staff and rookie coordinators and untested position coaches. It was time to bring in known quantities. Guys who’ve done it. Guys who’ve been there.

The one constant with all these new coaches is experience. They’ve been around, they’ve seen it all, they’ve worked under a number of different coaches and they’ve had success. The Eagles’ staff in 2023 had virtually no experience at a lot of key spots, and when things started going bad, nobody had any idea why it was happening or how to stop it.

Sean Desai was in his second year as an NFL defensive coordinator. Vic Fangio is in his 24th.

Brian Johnson was in his first year as an NFL offensive coordinator. Kellen Moore is in his sixth.

Alex Tanney was in his first year as a quarterbacks coach. Doug Nussmeier is in his seventh.

D.K. McDonald was in his first year as an NFL secondary coach. Christian Parker and Joe Kasper are in their fourth.

Tracy Rocker had coached four years in the NFL before he got here. Clintt Hurtt has 10 years on his resume, two as a defensive coordinator.

I get Sirianni’s desire to promote from within or give guys their first big opportunity. And it can work with the right guy. But with a whole bunch of the wrong guys, it will backfire. And that’s what we saw.

And it’s impossible not to ignore that DeSai and Patricia haven’t gotten hired anywhere and Johnson took a demotion in Washington. McDonald took a college job, Tanney was hired by the Colts, although not as quarterbacks coach. Rocker took a lateral job with the Titans.

Not one member of the Eagles’ 2023 coaching staff got a promotion and most had to take lesser jobs. Which says a lot about what the league thinks of Sirianni's coaching staff.

The tricky thing about all of this is that the staff the Eagles are getting rid of is the same staff that got them to 10-1. So they were doing something right for much of the season. Two months ago, it would have seemed far more likely that Sirianni’s staff would be at the Super Bowl last weekend than out of work.

But the collapse was so spectacular and so complete, and the staff had no answers for any of it. So this all really does make sense. By the playoffs, the Eagles were stale on offense – Sirianni’s own word – and lethargic on defense. They looked lost. They had no direction. They had no guidance. No chance.

That’s a direct reflection of their coaches. 

Other than maybe a few offensive linemen plus Fletcher Cox and Brandon Graham, nobody was playing well by the end of the year. Veterans regressed, young players hit the wall and a team that had been playing so well became non-competitive.

And the coaching staff couldn’t do a damn thing about it.

That’s why we’re here right now and that’s why tearing this thing up had to happen.

Unprecedented? Probably. Necessary? Definitely.

Sometimes a complete overhaul doesn’t make sense. This time it had to happen.

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