When Doug Pederson and his coaching staff begin scouting their division rivals next season, they will be forced to get more creative than they’ve been in years.
There are three new head coaches building their staffs in the NFC East, meaning the studying will require some extra effort. Here are the changes the Eagles should expect to see next year:
McCarthy was last the head coach for the Green Bay Packers from 2006-18 before being fired last year and taking some time off. He is now in charge of the Cowboys coaching staff, with the organization hoping he can develop Dak Prescott in the same way he helped develop Aaron Rodgers.
McCarthy is a bit of a departure from Jason Garrett, whom the Cowboys fired one day before officially bringing in McCarthy. From 2014-18, Garrett called passing plays 57.3% of the time. Over that same period, McCarthy’s Packers dropped back to pass 66.2% of the time. Part of that is likely to do with personnel, but it is indicative of the way the two coaches view offensive schemes. But McCarthy’s passing scheme, which relied on receivers beating one-on-one matchups instead of scheming players open, was part of his downfall.
“His offense got stale at the end of his time in Green Bay,” said Ross Tucker, a former NFL player and the host of the Ross Tucker Football Podcast. “It was a lot of isolation routes for the wide receivers. Most teams now are doing more things to manufacture their receivers getting open rather than the receivers having to be able to win on their own."
The Cowboys, who were one of the most efficient offenses in the NFL last season, are keeping offensive coordinator Kellen Moore, which might mean McCarthy is willing to change.
“I don’t think he would retain Kellen Moore as the OC and then make him do something totally different than what he was doing," Tucker said.
On defense, McCarthy is bringing in Saints linebackers coach Mike Nolan to run things. Nolan was the head coach for the San Francisco 49ers from 2005-08. The Cowboys used a 4-3 defensive front last season and ran a lot of zone coverages, primarily Cover 3 and Cover 1. Nolan has coached both 4-3 and 3-4 fronts, and Dallas is reportedly interested in retaining defensive backs coach Kris Richard, meaning the defense also could look very similar.
Rivera’s staff is coming into form after Washington named him head coach on Dec. 31. The former Carolina Panthers coach is bringing in Jack Del Rio as defensive coordinator, and Scott Turner, the son of Norv Turner, as leader of the offensive staff. Turner, 37, called plays for the Panthers after Rivera’s firing this season.
Tucker expects Washington to have a power run scheme that utilizes play action to make things easier for young quarterback Dwayne Haskins.
“We saw what he did a little bit last year in Carolina,” he said. “They do like the timing routes in the passing game, they have leaned heavily on the running back, but that’s also because they had Christian McCaffrey the last few years. ... Because he has a young quarterback, and based on the things I’ve heard about Haskins, I do think they will lean on the running game and they will try to get Haskins some easy completions.”
The biggest shift for Washington will be on the defensive front. Rivera and Del Rio have committed to running a four-man front even though Washington is set up with personnel for a 3-4 scheme. The change will allow edge rushers Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat to spend less time in coverage, but also will create a rotation of current defensive ends Matt Ioannidis, Jonathan Allen, and Da’Ron Payne, who all started recently while Sweat and Kerrigan lined up as linebackers.
“I think their defensive line is pretty awesome,” Tucker said. “I think Allen and Ioannidis could even play D-end in base defense and slide in and play D-tackle in sub [formations] at times. I think both of those guys are versatile enough.”
Judge is the most difficult to gauge. The former Patriots special teams coordinator and wide receivers coach was officially hired earlier this week, meaning he hasn’t hired coordinators yet. What’s more, the 38-year-old Philadelphia native hasn’t put much of a scheme on record yet since he hasn’t been an offensive or defensive coordinator.
“I think we’ll know more after we know for sure [about his coordinators],” Tucker said. “As soon as we know who his coordinator hires are, we’ll have a much better feel. Usually, you’re going to let a coordinator do what they do. Otherwise, why are you hiring them?”