MOBILE, Ala. — After speculation for weeks about the possibility that one of the Eagles’ coordinators could end up leaving for a head coaching job, it looks like the team will have just one change from last year’s staff.
The Eagles fired Greg Lewis after one season and hired Mike Groh as the new receivers coach.
On Wednesday during Senior Bowl week at Ladd-Peebles Stadium, Eagles vice president of football operations Howie Roseman didn’t want to talk about the reasons for the switch at receivers coach. He said those questions would be better answered by head coach Doug Pederson (who was not available to the media on Wednesday), because the decision was the head coach’s.
“[Pederson] decides who the coaches are,” Roseman said. “He’s in charge of the staff. That’s how we roll.”
Recently, the Eagles blocked quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo from interviewing to be the Jets’ next offensive coordinator. While ESPN reported that decision came from owner Jeff Lurie, when asked if the decision to block DeFilippo from interviewing was Pederson’s, Roseman repeated himself: “Doug decides who’s on the staff.”
Speaking of staff, there aren’t nearly as many coaches in Mobile this week as there were last year. Just Pederson and the coordinators are representing the coaching staff during practices this week. Roseman said Pederson wanted his coaches to stay at home and work on scheme.
Roles in pre-draft process
While Pederson and Lurie weren’t spotted during the first day of Senior Bowl practices on Tuesday, there they were on Wednesday afternoon, standing next to Roseman as the North team got going.
As the practice broke down into individual drills, the trio walked to the complete other side of the field to watch the receivers work for an extended period of time. Among the North receivers is Eastern Washington’s Cooper Kupp, who has a connection to Carson Wentz (see story).
While a recent ESPN story detailed Lurie’s growing involvement in football matters, Roseman on Wednesday downplayed the owner’s role. Roseman said Lurie isn’t giving his input on players, instead, he’s asking questions.
“It’s our responsibility to make these decisions,” Roseman said. “He just loves being around football. He loves being around the people in the organization. He has a good time, he gets energy from it. It’s kind of a dead time of year where there’s not a lot going on for all of us, where you don’t see action, where you don’t get a practice. It’s a beautiful day.”
Last year when the Eagles arrived at Senior Bowl week, Pederson’s coaching staff wasn’t even fully assembled. He was still interviewing candidates while in Mobile – the team hired Chris Wilson as the defensive line coach and Joe D’Orazio as a quality control/assistant receivers coach.
On top of that, Pederson was still learning how to be a head coach and was still implementing his scheme.
Things are a little different this year as the second-year head coach is able to be a little more involved during this pre-draft process.
“Now we’re at a point where we have that stability,” Roseman said. “And we’re able to kind of talk about what fits best for our coaches and our coaching staff and ideally when we make decisions, we’re trying to find guys who fit the Philadelphia Eagles.”
Thinking of trading down?
Eagles vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas seemed to be pleased with the depth in this year’s draft. And on top of that, Roseman listed several positions of strength in this year’s class, including running backs, receivers and defensive backs.
So the strengths of this year’s class and the Eagles’ biggest needs seem to coincide. It would be logical to think maybe that coincidence might allow the Eagles to trade back in the first round to acquire some additional draft picks.
But Roseman seemed wary of that idea on Wednesday.
“We’ve had some good success 20 and higher,” he said. “I think that there is a line where you don’t get a difference maker and this is your opportunity in the first round of the draft to find a difference-making player. That’s our first priority is to bring a difference-maker to the Philadelphia Eagles. By trading back and getting extra picks but not having someone who can affect the game. You’re watching the games and you’re watching the championship games, and you’re seeing that there are difference makers making big plays in these games, so we gotta make sure that we come out of that. If there’s an opportunity to get that and get an extra pick, that would be great.”
The last time the Eagles traded back in the first round was in 2014. They went from the 22nd pick to 26th and ended up with Marcus Smith.
“One of the lessons I learned there was that you’re not trying to win the draft,” Roseman said. “You’re just trying to get good players who fit the Philadelphia Eagles.”