Change is inevitable, as the saying goes. But not every year.
Sometimes it makes sense to keep things the way they are, and for Nick Sirianni, it made sense to keep his coaching staff together for a second consecutive season.
And it’s rare.
It’s the first time in 17 years that the Eagles haven’t had significant changes to their coaching staff from year to year.
Andy Reid had the same staff in 2004 and 2005, and every offseason since then at least one position coach or coordinator has changed.
It’s not unusual for a Super Bowl team to keep the same personnel simply because when its season ended in early February, most league openings had been filled.
And in 2005, Brad Childress, Jim Johnson and John Harbaugh remained as coordinators, Marty Mornhinweg, Pat Shurmur, Ted Williams, David Culley and Juan Castillo remained in place on the offensive side with Tommy Brasher, Steve Spagnuolo, Trent Walters and Sean McDermott from the side defensive side.
Last offseason, three of Sirianni’s assistants were linked with possible promotions. Defensive coordinator Jonathan Gannon was in the running for head coaching positions with the Texans, Broncos and Vikings; quarterbacks coach Brian Johnson was interviewed for the Packers’ offensive coordinator job; and passing game coordinator Kevin Patullo has reportedly been on the Bears’ radar for their offensive coordinator job, though he’s never been interviewed as far as we know.
There’s a lot to be said for continuity, and a head coach bringing his entire coaching staff back for a second season is unusual but huge for returning players who don’t have to start over with a new coaching job. or coordinator. They don’t have to start from scratch to figure out what their coach is looking for in meetings and practice, they don’t have to learn new ways to communicate on game day, they don’t have to adapt to the teaching methods each new coach is going to have.
The whole band can just pick up where they left off at the end of last year.
And it is also important for the coaches. As much time as they spend together studying film, making game plans and teaching players, a second year together will only make that process smoother and more advanced.
It was clear late last year that Sirianni had assembled a strong teaching staff and a group whose positivity and energy matched his own.
Going 2-5 in late October in the playoffs speaks volumes not just about Sirianni but his assistants. The Eagles became only the ninth team in NFL history to reach the playoffs after a 2-5 start and only the sixth to reach the playoffs with a winning record. It’s a direct reflection of what the coaching staff has been able to build.
Now it is fair to question the work of some of the assistants.
Aaron Moorehead has actually been here since Doug Pederson’s last season, and the wide receiver’s performance hasn’t been great, despite DeVonta Smith’s rookie year. But it could be more of a talent issue than a coaching issue. We’ll get a better feel for him this year now that he apparently has a deep and talented cast to work with.
Defensive line coach Tracy Rocker’s unit appeared to underperform for much of the year, although Javon Hargrave and Josh Sweat eventually made the Pro Bowl as backups.
And Michael Clay’s special teams group struggled in just about every area last year – in the second leg, covering kicks and punts and obviously punts. He is also back for a second season.
But for the most part, it seems like a good staff, and if the Eagles have another successful year, it will be very difficult for Sirianni to continue to keep them together.
Gannon is a lock for a head coaching position in the next two years if the defense plays well, Johnson and Patullo are highly regarded offensive coaches who are likely to have co-ordinating opportunities in the future, the linebackers coach Nick Rallis, who is only 27, will be in the conversation for defensive coordinator jobs in the next few years if his group lives up to expectations.
But for now, Sirianni is returning with the same group, and given the success of the Eagles last year, that seems like a pretty good idea.
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