1 - Mike Groh has experience
Groh played quarterback in 33 games at Virginia from 1992 through 1995. He had a stint with the Baltimore Ravens in 1996 before joining the Rhein Fire in NFL Europe in 1997.
After Groh’s short-lived playing career ended, he became a coaching assistant on the New York Jets in 2000. His father, Al Groh, was the head coach at the time.
Groh then followed his dad to Virginia in 2001. He started out as the wide receivers coach in 2001 through 2002. Then the quarterbacks coach title was added to his current position in 2003. In 2004 and 2005, he was only the quarterbacks coach. He was then promoted to offensive coordinator from 2006 through 2008.
Groh left his dad for the first time in his coaching career in 2009, when he joined Alabama as a graduate assistant. He only spent one year there before becoming the quarterbacks coach in Louisville in 2010. Then it was back to Alabama as the wide receivers coach and recruiting coordinator from 2011 through 2012. The Crimson Tide won national championships in both of those seasons. (Clearly all thanks to Groh.)
Groh’s success at the college level landed him a job in the NFL ranks. He served as the Chicago Bears’ wide receivers coach from 2013 through 2015. During that span, Alshon Jeffery and Brandon Marshall made the Pro Bowl. Jeffery had the best receiving years of his career with 1,421 yards in 2013 and 1,113 yards in 2014.
In 2016, Groh was hired by the Los Angeles Rams to be their wide receivers coach and passing game coordinator. Groh managed to get a 1,002 yard season out of Kenny Britt, who was so bad in 2017 that the Cleveland Browns cut him.
Speaking of 2017, that’s obviously when the Eagles brought Groh to Philadelphia. He oversaw an Eagles wide receiver position group that was drastically improved from 2016’s abysmal performance.
2 - Mike Groh has received a lot of praise from Doug Pederson
While searching through Pederson’s press conference from last year, I realized he praised Groh often.
Pederson: Yeah, I think with that, we’ll find out who steps up in a leadership role. I think that room is very close. I think they have been very close. I think Jordan [Matthews] was definitely a leader in that room, but I think that he wasn’t the only leader. So it’s a good group. Coach Groh [Eagles wide receivers coach Mike Groh], his presence and leadership is felt in that group as well.
Pederson: I just think that it’s another year in the system, another year with [QB] Carson [Wentz]. Guys are really working hard before practice on jugs machines, so they’re staying after and throwing after [practice]. [They’re] throwing during practice. Once say the defense’s portion of the practice is up, they’re over there throwing on the side. And it’s just a constant work in progress. It’s just a focus and attention to detail. [Wide receivers coach] Mike Groh has done a great job with individual drills with focus and concentration on the ball, and I think that’s a big credit to why the guys are hanging on to the football.
IMPROVED WIDE RECEIVER PERFORMANCE
Pederson: Yeah, I would say that [it’s fair to credit Groh for the improved performance]. Mike is a great teacher, obviously, and I think, too, the other thing on that is they’re in the system for the second year. By the time we get to training camp, our players have repped these plays numerous and countless times. The information is very familiar to those guys. When I can rest a guy like Alshon or [WR] Torrey [Smith] for a day, these younger guys get a lot more reps, and it just helps.
IMPACT ON NELSON AGHOLOR
A lot of times it’s a personal … You’re going through a whole mental thought process and, ‘What can I do to get better?’ It’s just him going out there and just attacking the day, and [wide receivers coach] Mike Groh has done a great job with him, just preparing him. The addition of [WR] Torrey [Smith] and [WR] Alshon [Jeffery], and sort of him kind of taking that step back and not [having] that pressure of every day having to perform has really helped him. I’m excited to now get into camp and extend his role. Hopefully they are in the slot and outside, as well. It’s a multiple-position player that we can utilize on offense.
Listen, Nelson’s attitude has been great. He’s worked extremely hard this offseason. The addition of [wide receivers coach] Mike Groh has really sort of lit a fire with Nelson a little bit, and then the addition with [WRs] Alshon [Jeffery] and Torrey [Smith] and bringing these guys in. As I’ve said all along, competition, man, sharpens you. And that’s what I’ve seen from Nelson. He’s done a great job already this spring.
ATTENTION TO DETAIL
Pederson: Mike is an excellent coach. He’s really -- he pushes them hard. He coaches them hard. And he’s done a fantastic job with fundamentals and technique. You can’t underestimate that. I think it’s also been aided by -- we brought in some new -- you bring in [WR] Alshon [Jeffery], you bring in [WR] Torrey [Smith]. Those guys have made the room better. [There are] good leaders on and off the field with the guys that we had here who were already strong in that area. So it’s been a good dynamic.
3 - Mike Groh already had an involved role in the Eagles’ offense
As Peter King highlighted, Groh had a role in shaping the Eagles’ offense. He specialized in third down situations. The numbers bode well for him: Philadelphia’s 44.69% conversion rate on third down (including playoffs) ranked second best in the NFL last season.
Groh played a key part in the Eagles’ biggest third down conversion in franchise history. It was his idea to add the bunch formation you see below:
Groh also had a role in bringing the “Philly Special” — previously utilized by the Chicago Bears — to the Eagles.
So, yeah, Groh played a part in two of the biggest plays in Eagles history. Not bad!
4 - Mike Groh is stepping into a defined role
We know Groh won’t be calling the plays as offensive coordinator. That’s what Pederson likes to do.
So, what does the Eagles’ OC do exactly? Here’s some insight based on quotes from the 2017 season. (Note that Duce Staley is not mentioned anywhere below.)
Doug Pederson: Really, there’s three main aspects to a game plan. There’s your 1st-and-2nd down plan, which is [Wednesday]. Then you have your 3rd-down plan, which is [Thursday]. And then your red-zone plan, which is Friday. We spend -- and the way [Offensive coordinator] Frank Reich sort of assigns duties or responsibilities to that is with the assistant coaches. Frank and myself do the base. Frank, myself and [Wide receivers coach] Mike Groh will spend time on 3rd down. Then Frank, myself and [Quarterbacks coach John] DeFilippo will attack the red zone later on. Our guys are studying those areas during the week and have a really good plan.
Frank Reich: Yeah, I mean, the people upstairs, I talk to the people upstairs for the most part as far as that kind of thing. Coach [Pederson], he’s worried about calling the game, thinking about that, managing the defensive side of it, being over that side a little bit, listening to what’s going on over there. I’m gathering information in between series, and then from up top. And then I’ll talk to Stout [Offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland] on the sideline as far as the run game, hear what he’s talking to his guys about with the offensive line. I’ll talk to [Wide receivers coach] Mike Groh in the pass game, what are the receivers saying? Is there one corner that we think we can -- are we feeling anything down low, trying to get a hands-on approach. So we have a pretty thorough process that we go through after each series where I’m talking to the offensive line coach and I’m talking to the receiver coach and I’m talking to the guys upstairs for the stats. And then it’s my responsibility to filter that information and to kind of give Coach [Pederson] what I think is necessary for the next drive.
Translation: Groh will coordinate the Eagles’ offensive position groups (hence the ‘coordinator’ in his title) and filter information from them so that he can present it to Pederson.
Groh got to see first-hand how Reich served in the OC role. Now it’s his time to step up to the plate.