It was a heckuva day Wednesday, one that kinda took Tankgate out of the headlines. I’m sure Eagles officials were relieved. (And to all the readers who asked on Twitter — no, the 25th Amendment does not provide a basis for removing Howie Roseman from the Eagles’ general manager position. Also, to Dallas reporter Matt Mosley, who tweeted that “even Doug Pederson thought the Capitol Police should have tried harder” — shame on you, Matt!)
Maybe you’re here because you want to get away from the reality of our democracy in crisis, and we’ll do our best, even if football seems a bit superfluous right now.
If you like what you’re reading, tell your friends it’s free to sign up here. I want to know what you think, what we should add, and what you want to read, so send me feedback on Twitter @lesbowen. My account, unlike some, has not been frozen.
— Les Bowen (email@example.com)
What are the Eagles looking for in a D coordinator?
Looks like the biggest staffing change for the Eagles this offseason will be the defensive coordinator position. A lot of fans were tired of Jim Schwartz, but frankly, the root of this team’s decline is its offense. We could see something happen with the quarterback coach/passing-game coordinator position that Press Taylor holds, but Pederson made it clear last week that this will remain his offense as long as he remains the head coach.
So, defensive coordinator. We know that changing systems, from a 4-3 front to a 3-4, requires personnel changes. The Eagles have a lot of needs aside from the defensive line, which was their strongest group in 2020. And they are way over the projected 2021 salary cap.
So even though we’ll see, say, Malik Jackson, Vinny Curry and maybe even Derek Barnett depart this offseason, it would be difficult to refocus the group around a 3-4. If you stick with the 4-3 setup, it immediately becomes relevant that the Eagles have two former NFL defensive coordinators on staff: defensive line coach Matt Burke, who ran Miami’s defense in 2017 and 2018, and defensive secondary coach Marquand Manuel, Atlanta’s defensive coordinator those same years. Both men were safeties, Burke at Dartmouth, Manuel at Florida and then for six NFL teams.
Burke, who will turn 45 in March, has been here a year longer. He is a Schwartz protégé who worked with Schwartz in Tennessee and Detroit. Whether Burke is a serious candidate might depend on whether Schwartz really stepped down on his own, as his contract neared expiration, or whether he’s gone because management really wants a different tone.
Marquand, 40, has cred from being a recent NFL player. His charges were impressed in training camp when he took the field in cleats, and demonstrated how he wanted things done.
Defensive end Brandon Graham was asked this week what makes a good defensive coordinator.
“I just want him to be real, like Schwartz,” Graham said. “He’s real, holds everybody accountable. ... Whoever you are, let that be you every day. You hate to see people that fake it, then you eventually find out the real them later on.”
Graham added that he has liked working with Burke as a position coach.
Safety Jalen Mills, who had to switch back and forth from cornerback this season, noted months ago that Manuel was “a guy who played not only corner, not only nickel, not only dime but free safety and strong safety, so he can relate to each and every player. Anybody can ask a question and he can tell you, ‘On this play, I would have done this.’ ”
The case for promoting from within might be boosted this year by the fact that job interviews must be conducted virtually. Is that really how you want to decide on a coordinator you don’t know? Roseman and Pederson can ask Eagles players about Burke and Manuel, and they ought to be able to get a pretty clear picture of who they are.
What you need to know about the Eagles
From the mailbag
What really happened with Will Parks being intentionally underutilized? — Brian P. Hickey, @BrianPHickey, via Twitter
It was a doomed match from the start, I think. Parks really wanted to get back to his hometown, from Denver. The Broncos let him go into free agency, and the offers weren’t what he’d hoped. So the Eagles stepped in with a one-year deal. To them it was kind of like, “Yeah, what the heck, we need experience at safety; the more the merrier.” Parks thought he was coming home to take over from Malcolm Jenkins.
Maybe the biggest problem I had with Jim Schwartz was that he played favorites. Schwartz really loved Jalen Mills’ makeup. Mills was always going to win the job. Parks was there to sub in and play a lot if someone got hurt. His training-camp injury put him way behind the learning curve; Schwartz always said linebacker and safety were the two toughest positions to learn in his defense.
Parks thought he should play more and made little secret of it on social media. When the season turned really bad, the Eagles released him, I think under the rationale of “well, we have to do something here, so ...”
Then, of course, Parks returned to Denver and played well, while Rodney McLeod went down with a season-ending knee injury. The whole thing was very 2020 Eagles.