It’s obviously way too early for the Eagles to be taking drastic measures (such as firing Super Bowl winning head coach Doug Pederson) but it’s not too soon to consider some changes at a smaller level. Here are some tweaks the Eagles can make in an effort to turn their season around.
Fire Mike Groh
Let’s be real, Mike Groh should’ve been fired after the 2018 season. Bleeding Green Nation’s Michael Kist made a strong case against the Eagles’ offensive coordinator last year:
One year removed from having a finely tuned machine that put up points in droves, the Eagles don’t have another year to waste. The coordinator that has never produced an average offense in four years at the position should have always been on a short leash. There will be a time to evaluate the rest of the offensive staffs’ performance, but for right now ... It’s time to fire Mike Groh.
I also made my case against Groh (and quarterbacks coach Press Taylor) last year.
Maybe we don’t talk enough about how Eagles OC Mike Groh was passing game coordinator for a 2016 Rams offense that ranked 31st in passing yards per game and 32nd in passing DVOA.— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) November 18, 2018
Doug Pederson is relatively inexperienced and the best solution is to surround him with more inexperience at OC and QB coach? #Eagles— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) December 9, 2018
Do we know for sure that Groh is the issue behind the Eagles’ slow starts? No, we don’t. It’s ultimately Doug Pederson’s offense.
And yet we do know that Groh isn’t helping to fix the Eagles’ offensive issues. Where’s the evidence to suggest he’s part of the solution?
I’m not counting on this to happen but the Eagles should fire Groh and hire an experienced assistant like Jay Gruden to take his place. Gruden wasn’t the issue in Washington. He’s a worthwhile offensive mind who could bring some fresh perspective and new ideas to the table in Philly. Gruden might not be jumping at a non-play-calling offensive coordinator job but there isn’t a salary cap when it comes to coaching hires. Jeffrey Lurie has the ability to pay Gruden whatever it takes to convince him.
The more realistic option might involve the Eagles canning Groh and promoting assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley. I don’t really know if that accomplishes much, though. Does Staley really have a bunch of great ideas that the team just isn’t using right now? I think the Eagles would be better served adding an outside voice to the equation.
First coach fired— BleedingGreenNation (@BleedingGreen) October 21, 2019
Fire Jim Schwartz
The Eagles’ defense sure is a problem! Schwartz’s unit has allowed the eighth most points in the league this year. The defense is entirely culpable when it come to the team’s slow starts; the Eagles are allowing the third most first quarter points in 2019. Only the Miami Dolphins (0-6) and New York Jets (1-5) are allowing more points in the first quarter. Even more context:
The Eagles are the only team in the NFL to allow 20+ points in the first half in 5 games.— Warren Sharp (@SharpFootball) October 21, 2019
First half points allowed by the Eagles defense, by week:
Week 1: 20
Week 2: 10
Week 3: 20
Week 4: 20
Week 5: 0*
Week 6: 24
Week 7: 27
*vs Luke Falk
BGN’s Benjamin Solak recently published a great breakdown on the issues with Schwartz’s defense. In short, Schwartz is way too focused on stopping the run at the cost of getting scorched through the air.
I’d be pretty surprised if the Eagles fired Schwartz during the season. For all his faults, he has a track record as a relatively successful defensive coordinator. He’s also had to deal with a lot of injuries this season: Fletcher Cox not 100%, Malik Jackson on IR, Timmy Jernigan hurt, starting corners Jalen Mills and Ronald Darby injured, etc.
Not to mention there’s no obvious replacement for Schwartz. Is defensive backs coach Cory Undlin really a better choice? Tough to make an external hire and implement a new defense mid-season.
The Eagles could look to replace Schwartz in the offseason if the defensive woes continue.
Fire some assistant coaches
The Eagles’ wide receiver production has been ABYSMAL.
Last four Eagles games— Brandon Lee Gowton (@BrandonGowton) October 21, 2019
Alshon Jeffery: 230 snaps, 21 recs, 204 yards (9.7 average), 2 TD
Nelson Agholor: 230 snaps, 7 recs, 86 yards (12.3 average), 0 TD, 1 fumble
Mack Hollins: 139 snaps, 1 recs, 13 yards, 0 TD
JJ Arcega-Whiteside: 25 snaps, 0 recs, 0 yards, 0 TD
The (lack of) talent is a big problem there but is position coach Carson Walch really helping out? Wide receiver coach has been a rotating door during the Pederson era and the team could easily have another new one in 2020, if not sooner.
The Eagles haven’t developed a good cornerback despite investing multiple Day 2 picks in the position. The aforementioned Cory Undlin needs to be evaluated.
Cut some veterans
The Eagles have already taken this route by cutting players like Zach Brown, Orlando Scandrick, and Akeem Spence. The latter two were especially expendable.
There are even more cuts worth considering, though, as friend of BGN Tommy Lawlor recently suggested:
I do think the Eagles ought to consider a youth movement. Put Darren Sproles on IR. Give his time to Boston Scott, who has flashed the last two weeks. Cut Vinny Curry. Play Josh Sweat and Daeshon Hall as your backup DEs. Sign a young DT to fill the spot. Cut Andrew Sendejo and give his spot to Avonte Maddox. Hopefully Cre’Von LeBlanc will return and he can replace Orlando Scandrick.
Cutting Curry could really send a message since he was a starter on the Super Bowl team and he’s well-liked in the locker room. Unlike cutting some fringe players, that would help to show the Eagles really aren’t messing around.
The Eagles still stand to gain a 2020 seventh-round compensatory pick (at least) by making sure Sendejo doesn’t spend 10 games on this year’s roster. The Eagles shouldn’t be willing to lose a draft pick at the expense of keeping him around.
Sign some practice squad players
The Eagles have the second oldest roster in the NFL and the worst under-25 talent as ranked by ESPN. Cut bait with dead-end veterans, such as Scandrick and Spence, and try to bring in some young guys with potential.
Make some trades
The Eagles shouldn’t delude themselves into thinking they’re one piece away. The Eagles shouldn’t be trading draft picks away for rental players (see: last year’s Golden Tate deal). If Roseman can swing a trade for a long-term piece ahead of the 2019 NFL trade deadline, sure, go for it. But the Eagles shouldn’t be going all in on this season. There are too many issues for one in-season trade to fix.
An example of a player who could help the Eagles in both the short-term and long-term is Jets wide receiver Robby Anderson. As DeSean Jackson’s injury lingers, Anderson’s presence would give the Eagles a deep threat once again. Anderson will be a free agent after 2019 but the Eagles could make the deal with the intent to sign the 26-year-old to a long-term contract.
I don’t think the Eagles will be sellers prior to the trade deadline, especially if they win this weekend. But Halapoulivaati Vaitai could be worth selling off if the Eagles feel like they can get a pick that’s higher than the compensatory pick Big V could bring them in the offseason. Same goes for Nelson Agholor.
Stay the course
The Eagles are only one game back from .500; they’ll be 4-4 if the beat the Bills. Perhaps the right path is to step away from the panic button and be patient. We’ve seen Pederson’s teams bounce back from bad losses in the past.
But if the Eagles’ struggles do continue, the calls for change will only grow louder. At some point, inaction won’t be acceptable.