The Philadelphia Eagles fired Mike Groh on Thursday and we’re already hearing about some potential replacements. ESPN’s Tim McManus reports Jim Caldwell and Kevin O’Connell are two candidates in the running.
Before even taking a closer look at these guys, I’d like to give the Eagles credit for at least considering external options. This is something they notably failed to do when they promoted Groh in 2018. Good to see they’ve learned from their mistake.
Now let’s take a closer look at these two options.
We previously mentioned Caldwell as a Frank Reich replacement in 2018. The allure is that quarterbacks have excelled when he’s worked with them.
Caldwell was the Indianapolis Colts’ assistant head coach and quarterbacks from 2002 through 2008. Peyton Manning’s accomplishments in that seven-year span: two-time NFL MVP, one-time Super Bowl MVP, four-time first-team All Pro, seven-time Pro Bowler. Pretty good. Caldwell was promoted to head coach and went 24-8 in his first two seasons before Manning missed the 2011 season with a neck injury and the Colts went 2-14.
Caldwell landed with the Baltimore Ravens, where he served as their offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach from 2012 through 2013. Joe Flacco went on an ELITE tear in the 2013 playoffs en route to a Super Bowl win. His numbers from that run : 14 TD, 0 INT, 117.2 passer rating. Just another mark in Caldwell’s favor.
Caldwell’s success in Baltimore inspired the Detroit Lions to give him a second chance as a head coach. The Lions went 36-28 over four years before firing him. Matthew Stafford made the only Pro Bowl of his career in Caldwell’s first year on the job and posted a 93.7 overall passer rating during the four years.
Caldwell spent two seasons out of the NFL before returning to the league as the Miami Dolphins’ assistant head coach and quarterbacks coach in 2019. Ryan Fitzpatrick went 5-8 as a starter, which was pretty good for working with a talent-depleted roster on a team that was aiming to tank.
I’m not perfectly sure what new schematic ideas the 64-year-old Caldwell would be bringing to the table in Philly but there’s no denying that quarterbacks have produced under his tutelage. I like the idea of pairing him with Carson Wentz.
It’s worth noting that Caldwell does have a Philly connection: he overlapped with current Eagles vice president of player personnel Andy Weidl in Baltimore.
O’Connell played quarterback in the NFL from 2008 through 2012 before joining the NFL coaching ranks as the Cleveland Browns’ quarterbacks coach in 2015. O’Connell spent a year in San Francisco before being hired to Jay Gruden’s staff in 2017. O’Connell most recently served as Washington’s offensive coordinator but new head coach Ron Rivera decided to replace him with Scott Turner.
The 34-year-old O’Connell is viewed as an up-and-comer. He might have some fresh news ideas to bring to the table in Philly.
Stay tuned for more candidates that emerge.