Making sense of the Eagles’ new offensive coaching staff | Jeff McLane
The hirings and changes have not been made official yet, but several of the new faces have already been working in the building for some time, team sources said.
The Eagles made their coaching changes official Thursday. They had been waiting for Doug Pederson’s staff to be finalized before the announcement, but several of the new faces have already been working in the building for some time, team sources said.
The defensive coaching room will look relatively the same, with Matt Burke going from special assistant to defensive run game coordinator/line coach, Dino Vasso getting a promotion from assistant secondary coach to assistant coordinator/defense and Marquand Manuel joining the staff to head the defensive backs.
But there’s a lot to unpack on offense. The Eagles have added two new coaches who won’t have traditional titles or roles but will have significant input into scheme. Pederson will continue to oversee the entire offense and call plays, which is one reason the team decided that an “offensive coordinator” position was unnecessary.
The 49ers and a few other teams with a play-calling head coach don’t have coordinators.
There will also be some shifting of responsibilities with other assistants and likely some fluidity, at least early on, in how it will all shake out. It’s on Pederson to make sense of it.
Here’s a position-by-position breakdown of what we know about the offensive staff, according to sources inside the NovaCare Complex.
Rich Scangarello, senior offensive assistant
Scangarello, who spent last year with the Broncos as their offensive coordinator, has already been a part of early meetings as the Eagles begin to reconstruct their offense. While the Eagles’ other offensive assistants won’t necessarily report to him, Scangarello will work closely with Pederson to scheme and game-plan both the pass and run game.
He was hired, in part, to bring new ideas to Pederson — an imperative from owner Jeffrey Lurie. The West Coast offense and its terminology will remain the base system, but there is always room for change, as evidenced by the offense’s evolution here and elsewhere.
Scangarello, 47, ran the Shanahan scheme, as in Mike and Kyle, in Denver. He was Kyle’s quarterbacks coach with the 49ers from 2017 to ’18 and an assistant under him with the Falcons in 2015. Shanahan’s system isn’t “run-based,” as many assume, but his run schemes are diverse and, when executed, effective. Its gap blocking is intricate, as is its use of pre-snap motions and multiple personnel groupings.
The run can set up play-action, but that thinking is archaic. You don’t need to establish the ground game for play-action to work. The run was established long ago. But Shanahan’s play-action passes are often designed to air the ball out deep. The Eagles were lacking in outside speed, but some of their downfield concepts had become predictable.
Scangarello, who has obvious experience working with quarterbacks, will also factor into the pass game.
Press Taylor, passing game coordinator, quarterbacks coach
Taylor will continue to run the quarterbacks room. The Eagles don’t want to disrupt his relationship with starter Carson Wentz. They have become very close.
But Pederson also wanted to recognize Taylor’s knowledge of passing models. While he doesn’t necessarily bring an outsider’s perspective to the offense, Taylor has a vast knowledge of other schemes and has already been instrumental in the Eagles’ adopting new concepts and plays.
He will, in essence, replace former offensive coordinator Mike Groh, who was primarily responsible for the pass game, although he won’t necessarily have his authority.
Jeff Stoutland, offensive line coach and running game coordinator
Stoutland’s title and role don’t change, but he will work closely with Scangarello as the Eagles rework their run package.
Andrew Breiner, pass game analyst
His role is a little more ambiguous than Scangarello’s, but his hiring goes back to Lurie’s mandate to add new philosophies to the offense. Breiner has worked with former Mississippi State and Penn State offensive coordinator Joe Moorhead off and on for a decade dating back to their time at Connecticut.
Breiner followed him to Fordham, and when Moorhead left for State College, Breiner took over as head coach. He then became Moorhead’s pass-game coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Mississippi State for two years.
Moorhead was fired last month and moved on to Oregon. His offense was very effective at Penn State, not as much with the Bulldogs. It utilizes spread concepts, tempo, and a heavy usage of 11- personnel — one running back, one tight end, three receivers. Nearly every play has a read option for the quarterback. His run-pass option plays are expansive.
The 35-year-old Breiner was brought in to add some college element to the Eagles offense. How that will ultimately unfold remains to be seen.
Aaron Moorehead, wide receivers coach
Moorehead, who played five seasons in the NFL with the Colts, was previously the receivers coach at Vanderbilt, and before that he worked at Texas A&M and Virginia Tech. It’s unclear how much Moorehead’s playing experience factored into his hiring, but some receivers have a harder time relating to coaches who haven’t played the position.
The next receivers coach will be the Eagles’ fifth in five seasons. Greg Lewis was Pederson’s first, but he was fired after a year. He is now with the Chiefs. Groh was his replacement and did so well that he was promoted to offensive coordinator. The Eagles would have loved to have to kept him in that role, but in-house coaching demotions rarely occur. Former Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich hired Groh to be his receivers coach in Indianapolis.
Gunter Brewer was next after Groh, but he lasted only one season as well. Carson Walch, who was Brewer’s assistant, followed, but he was fired last month. It’s hard to discern exactly how much coaching has factored into the Eagles’ problems at receiver, but the team clearly hasn’t been satisfied.
Duce Staley, running backs and assistant head coach
While some Eagles fans had hoped that Staley would finally get his opportunity as a coordinator, it was again not to be. With Stoutland in place, Pederson wasn’t going to give him a bump in responsibility.
It’s unclear how much Staley knows about passing concepts, but it would seem his lack of experience in that regard has something to do with his stationary position with the team.
T.J. Paganetti, assistant run game coordinator/assistant running backs coach
It’s unclear if Staley was passed over for the assistant run game coordinator role. Paganetti gets the additional title. He may have already been involved in helping Stoutland with the run game. He’s been with the Eagles since 2017 when he joined the staff as an offensive quality control coach focused on the offensive line.
Justin Peelle, tight ends
Peelle returns for his eighth season in this role for the Birds.