Who Is Mike McCoy, and Why Are the Eagles Interviewing Him to be Their Head Coach?

Who Is Mike McCoy, and Why Are the Eagles Interviewing Him to be Their Head Coach?

Jeff Lurie and Howie Roseman will be one of a handful of
groups to sit down with Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy over the
weekend. Besides the obvious though – working with Peyton Manning this season –
how has McCoy’s star risen so fast in league circles?

It’s simple, really. What you have to like about McCoy is
how he has demonstrated the ability to work with – and more importantly win
with – any caliber of quarterback in the NFL.

Got a franchise quarterback and football mastermind in
Peyton Manning? Great, see you in the tournament. Have a passer of middling
talent and ability (to put it kindly) such as a Kyle Orton? No problem, that dude
can put up back-to-back 3,500-yard seasons. Want Tim Tebow under center even
though he can’t throw a football with any consistency whatsoever? Still going
to the playoffs and actually winning a game there.

It hasn’t mattered who was at the helm for the Broncos since
McCoy arrived as the offensive coordinator in 2009. He’s gotten the most out of
them all.

That success followed McCoy from Carolina, where as the
quarterbacks coach he helped transform Jake Delhomme into a reliable option.

McCoy had been an offensive in assistant for the Panthers
since 2000, gaining the title of quarterbacks coach in ’04, Delhomme’s second
season with the team. Delhomme had already helped led the team to a berth in
the Super Bowl, though his numbers left something to be desired. The next
season he would set career highs in yards (3,886) and touchdowns (29), and in ’05
he earned a trip to the Pro Bowl.

Just another average quarterback exceeding expectations with
McCoy standing somewhere in the picture.

But McCoy’s most famous and arguably greatest work of art
was last year with the Broncos, after they traded Orton mid-season. The team
essentially told him to rip up the playbook, and make the offense work with Tim
Tebow. Miraculously, he did.

Denver finished 8-8 that year, and 7-4 under Tebow despite
the fact that he was completing a pathetic 46.7% of his pass attempts. Then
they defeated the Pittsburgh Steelers in the postseason. Granted, a lot of the
credit falls on the Broncos’ defense for keeping in many of those games, but
just the fact that McCoy could retool the entire offense on the fly was

It might be tempting to attribute this season’s job entirely
to Manning, who is often described as being like the offensive coordinator is
actually on the field. For what it’s worth, Peyton thinks McCoy is worthy of a
head position.

“I think he's ready [for a head
coaching job], I think he's paid his dues,” Manning said of McCoy on Wednesday,
according to USA
Today. “He's a strong leader. In my opinion, he deserves a shot at one
of these head coaching gigs.”

“Mike has been a great resource for me,” Manning continued. “He's been
incredibly supportive and patient with me in kind of putting together this
hybrid offense. I tell you, he's a worker. We spend a lot of hours together —
early mornings, late nights — trying to get kind of our plan in place for what
kind of offense we were going to be. There's no substitute for a work ethic,
and Mike certainly has that.”

McCoy, 40, pitched the ball around a bit himself as a
quarterback at the University of Utah and has spent his entire coaching career between
Carolina and Denver. It’s a respectable resume.

What I think strikes people the most about McCoy though is
his ability to adapt within tight windows. Tebow couldn’t execute the offense Orton
ran, but Orton couldn’t execute the offense Manning is running, either. Anybody
who can work with such varying levels of talent to that extreme is going to be
successful in the NFL.

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FIlm Review: What led to Eagles' poor run defense against Washington?

FIlm Review: What led to Eagles' poor run defense against Washington?

The Eagles have vowed to get better. 

They desperately don't want to have a performance from their run defense like the one against Washington, when they gave up 230 yards on the ground. 

Head coach Doug Pederson said the run defense is "a pride thing" and the guys responsible for the performance, Jim Schwartz included, say things will get better. The defensive coordinator cited bad angles as a reason there were so many missed tackles on Sunday afternoon. 

In all, the Eagles missed 10 tackles and gave up 156 yards after contact — both more than they had given up in the first four games of the season. 

Washington's rushing yards came in some big chunks. Here's a look at some of the key running plays from Sunday as we try to figure out what went wrong: 

This is a key 3rd-and-7 from the Washington 13-yard line. On this drive, Washington ends up scoring a touchdown to go up 14-0, but it doesn't happen without this key third down conversion. 

The Eagles collapse the pocket and force Kirk Cousins to his left. That's exactly what Schwartz said he wants, to force the quarterback to his non-throwing side. Everything at this point is working out perfectly. 

Here's the angle that's really troublesome. At this point, Nigel Bradham (circled in green) has Cousins in his sights, while Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham (farther behind) are in pursuit. Curry and Graham seem to let up in their pursuit when it looks like Cousins will go out of bounds. But he doesn't. 

Schwartz talked about bad angles, and this is the perfect example from Bradham. He overshoots it and when Cousins makes his cut back inside, all of Bradham's momentum is heading toward the sideline. Curry ends up making the tackle but tackles Cousins forward for a big first down. 

This next play was just a little counter draw that ended up going for a huge 45-yard gain. Rob Kelley takes the handoff, which looks to be going right. The entire Eagles' linebacking group bites hard. Still, right end Connor Barwin is free and has a chance to make the play. 

He doesn't. Just a missed tackle. 

Kelley finds some open field. Rodney McLeod is the next guy to beat and Kelley simply turns him around. You'll see Mychal Kendricks enter the frame. Kendricks showed great recovery speed to get back in the play and has a chance to finally bring the running back down. 

Nope. Can't do it. Eventually, McLeod recovers to bring him down. 

This last play ended the game on Sunday. The Eagles punted the ball away with the hope that their defense would stop Washington and give them the ball back. Instead, Matt Jones broke off a 57-yard run on 3rd-and-7. 

Jordan Hicks over pursues, probably thinking the run was going wide. But he loses his gap and Jones is off to the races. 

Once Jones gets past the first down, it doesn't really matter that it was a 57-yard run. It could have been an 8-yarder and the game was over. 

So what did we learn? 

Well, Schwartz was right. Angles absolutely killed the Eagles on Sunday. But when they have a guy wrapped up, they need to bring him down. Sure, that's not Earth-shattering, but they couldn't do it on Sunday and it led to a loss. 

Sixers to ease in Jahlil Okafor off bench, expect more from him on D

Sixers to ease in Jahlil Okafor off bench, expect more from him on D

The Sixers struggled to carve a clear role for Jahlil Okafor last season as he and Nerlens Noel split time out of position in the frontcourt. Brett Brown has a more clear picture of how to utilize Okafor in his second year, highlighted by goals and a shift to the bench. 

Okafor has been sidelined from preseason action because of his right knee. He underwent surgery to repair a meniscus tear in March and aggravated it during the final training camp scrimmage. 

Okafor said he felt “pretty sore” after scrimmaging Monday, his first since camp, and he was better after going through individualized training and work in the water on Tuesday. This setback has forced him to exercise patience. 

“I know I told you guys I wasn’t frustrated a few weeks ago, but at this point it has been frustrating because I’ve been doing all the right stuff and I want to see me back out there sooner,” Okafor said after practice Thursday. “But I can’t rush my body, I can’t rush my health. ... I would love to have the opportunity to be there for opening night and play in front of our fans. Right now it’s looking like that’s probable."

The Sixers plan to use Okafor in a reserve role to start the season. Okafor expects to be on a 12- to 15-minute restriction, similar to Joel Embiid, when he is cleared to play. 

“I think about it all the time, but I talk to him. We’ve talked about this for months,” Brown said of Okafor's coming off the bench. “It’s not anything that is going to surprise anybody. He’s been fantastic. ... I talked with Jahlil about a lot of things and that could be, to start the year it will be, a scenario.”

Okafor, the third overall pick in 2015, started 48 of his 53 games last season. He is approaching this year with realistic expectations given his restrictions and is not concerned about being out of the starting five. 

“I’ll be fine,” Okafor said. “That won’t be a tough adjustment for me. I came off the bench a couple of times last year.”

Brown’s focus is not necessarily on how Okafor starts the game, but how he finishes. He would like Okafor and Embiid to be able to play together at the end of games to give the team a fourth-quarter boost.

“If it ends up you’ve got Jahlil coming off the bench and he’s going against backup five men, you think you probably have an advantage there,” Brown said. “If he does anything, he scores the ball, he scores buckets, he gets points. You can see how that can be a really nice role for him and for us.”

Okafor led the Sixers in scoring last season with 17.5 points per game. Brown, though, is focusing on his defensive improvements. The Sixers are looking to play an uptempo system in which they will need Okafor to hustle on defense each possession. Okafor slimmed down and added muscle this summer to prepare for the season. 

“He has to be elite in two areas to me,” Brown said. “Transition defense first — A-plus-plus-plus, get back. If you’re tired, if you’ve got to conserve energy, it’s not that way. It’s running back on offense. We have to get him back on defense.

“Then he has to be better skilled, better drilled by me, [a] high level of accountability with pick-and-roll defense. ... You can go over to defensive rebounding (as) a close third, but those two things happen the most.”

Okafor expects to be more effective on the defensive end after getting adjusted to it as a rookie. 

“(I want) to be smarter on defense, knowing where to be,” Okafor said. “My first year playing in the NBA, it was just a lot going on. Everybody was so fast.” 

Brown sees a focused 20-year-old who is more disciplined and ready to embrace whatever role he is given this season. 

“I can’t wait to coach him this year," Brown said. "I think he’s going to come back and have a great year. His body tells me that, his attitude tells me that. He’s in a good place personally."