The Philadelphia Eagles didn’t formally hire an offensive coordinator, no, but they did add a former one to their coaching staff last week by hiring 2019 Denver Broncos OC Rich Scangarello as a “senior offensive assistant.”
Scangarello was notably listed at the very top of the Eagles’ official announcement and PhiladelphiaEagles.com’s Dave Spadaro wrote the following about his role:
Here is how it has worked for the Eagles in the past, in terms of preparing the game plan: [Press] Taylor has put together the red zone package, the wide receivers coach has put together the third-down plays, tight ends coach Justin Peelle has his hand in short-yardage and goal line, assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley designs the quarterback movement plays and screens, offensive line coach/run game coordinator Jeff Stoutland handles the run game, and will get some assistance from T.J. Paganetti, the assistant run game coordinator/assistant running backs coach – and then everything funnels through the [offensive] coordinator. In this scenario, all of those packages funnel through Scangarello and then, ultimately, funnel through Pederson.
So, it seems like Scangarello is the de facto offensive coordinator.
There are some red flags that come with this hire. To begin, the Broncos were the only NFL team last year to finish bottom five in points, yards, third down percentage, and red zone percentage. Scangarello’s conservatism doesn't inspire the utmost confidence, as The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia highlighted:
Joe Flacco uncharacteristically criticized Scangarello at times last season for being too conservative. The Denver Post reported head coach Vic Fangio wanted Scangarello to take more shots downfield and keep his foot on the gas when the Broncos had leads. In a December game against the Chargers, Scangarello wanted to take a knee with the score tied and seconds left in the fourth quarter, but Fangio overruled him. The Broncos drew a 37-yard pass interference penalty and kicked the winning field goal. Last year, Flacco produced a downfield completion on just 3.1 percent of his dropbacks, which ranked 31st out of 34 quarterbacks. In the offseason, Fangio fired Scangarello in favor of Pat Shurmur. One thing I harped on last year was the Eagles coaches need to build on Wentz’s aggressive nature rather than just urge him to take what the defense gives him. Frank Reich consistently preached to Pederson to be more aggressive. It’ll be interesting to see what Scangarello’s approach is.
Still, there are things to like about Scangarello’s background. That much is apparent after reading through an exchange I had with Jeff Essary (@JeffreyEssay) of Mile High Report. In an attempt to better get to know the Eagles’ new senior offensive assistant, I thought it’d benefit BGN readers to get a Broncos perspective on Scangarello.
Here’s what Jeff had to say in response to my questions.
1 - I know you’ve already [written] and [tweeted] a lot about why you liked Scangarello as the Broncos’ offensive coordinator but can you sum it up again here?
To me Scangarello brought/brings three main things to the table that I really liked in a young OC.
- Experience in Kyle Shanahan’s offensive system. We saw over the last two years the “Sean McVay effect” where all the guys who coached under him or served him coffee one time were being snatched up for offensive coaching roles, or head coaching jobs, but there really hasn’t been that much of a rush on Shanahan’s position coaches that I have seen, outside of Denver bringing in Scangarello and T.C. McCartney. Which is interesting, because Shanahan’s offense to me is one of the most creative and well-designed offenses in the NFL. So I was thrilled that Denver was going to get that kind of play design and experience in his system on their team.
- Quarterback development experience. Watching what Shanahan and Scangarello did with the limited Nick Mullens [2017 undrafted rookie free agent] in the 2018 season after Jimmy G. went down with injury was really impressive and gave Denver hope that he could translate some of that over to Drew Lock as well.
- Recent experience in the college coaching ranks. This could obviously be seen as a negative given his limited NFL experience, but I like the fact that he worked his way through the ranks of smaller college programs and incorporated some of Shanahan’s stuff he learned while with the Falcons in 2015, into his offense at Wagner. I think with the way the NFL is moving offensively, having a coach that has been recently tapped in to what they’re doing at the lower levels can only help you innovate in the pros.
2 - What was the reaction to Scangarello getting fired by the Broncos after just one season? Why wasn’t he retained? Did he deserve more time?
You can check my Twitter timeline for in the moment reactions to his firing to see my raw feelings on the topic. I, along with most of Broncos Country was absolutely shocked when he was let go, and I hated the move. I have slowly come around to Pat Shurmur in Denver and get Fangio wanting to lean on someone with more experience, but I really didn’t think Scangarello deserved all the heat he got for the offensive production. People cited the offensive statistics getting worse in 2019 in most the major categories over 2018 as a reason for his firing, but to me that’s complete garbage. He was dealing with the combo of Joe Flacco, Brandon Allen, and then finally Drew Lock at QB so there was no continuity at QB, and the team lost it’s high priced free agent right tackle just a few snaps into the season.
What ultimately did him was the playcalling aspect of the game, and not making enough adjustments (or being able to coach up the players to execute those adjustments) after halftime. Denver’s splits from the first half to the second half were absolutely atrocious last year. I still think Scangarello deserved more time, but I get why they made the move, due to how lost he looked at times in-game.
3 - Scangarello has been able to get good production out of young quarterbacks (Jimmy G, Nick Mullens, Brandon Allen for one game, Drew Lock). Why do you think that is?
I think he was able to keep it simple for them, and what really helped all of the young QBs was being able to lean on the play action passing game. Scangarello, like Shanahan builds passing concepts directly on top of their staple run concepts to where two or three different plays will look identical for the first few seconds of the play, which clears out linebackers over the middle and gives the young QBs easy decisions with the ball. That’s what he was able to do especially for guys like Allen and Mullens, and then for Lock I think we saw him improve pretty quickly over the five-game stretch (not necessarily reflected in the numbers, but looked more solid on tape), so the coaching was sticking for him.
4 - From afar, it seems like the book on Scangarello is that he wasn’t a great play-caller but he was a good schemer. To what extent can you envision him having success as a senior offensive assistant in Philly where he won’t be calling plays?
Ya, that’s exactly it. I said early on last year there’s two components to being a great offensive coach, playcalling and play design and the great ones excel at both. Scangarello has significant growth opportunities on the playcalling side. I honestly think this is the perfect fit for him. Working with a guy like Doug Pederson, who can potentially even groom Scangarello with his playcalling experience (as it seems like he’s grown quite a bit in that area since dabbling with it under Andy Reid), while also leaning on the strength of Scangarello, which is his designs and gameplanning, I think is a perfect match.
5 - After studying his Denver offense, what can Eagles fans maybe expect Scangarello to bring to the table from a schematic and/or offensive philosophy standpoint?
I haven’t watched a ton of Philly tape, but I know I really liked Carson Wentz when he was coming out, and specifically liked him for an offense like Scangarello/Shanahan ran. He’ll bring some of the staple boot concepts from under center, that can utilize Wentz on the move. I also really liked his running game. Most people see that tree as primarily wide zone, but that’s one of the things I love about Shanahan and Scangarello is their run game is super diverse. The amount of counter, power, and zone windback runs was a lot of fun, and the play action concepts built off those were some of the best things he brought.
I also liked how he schemed wide receivers open, specifically Courtland Sutton. He did some interesting things out of 3x1 trips and bunch sets to create space for Sutton, particularly in the red zone. Also, go check out the triple option pitch to Lindsay in the Lions game on 4th and 1, or the wildcat run against the Browns to seal the game. Those were pretty fun.
Broncos rookie FB Andrew Beck pitches to Phillip Lindsay for the first down pic.twitter.com/B3BVpxiMYF— Fullback Watch (@FullbackWatch) December 22, 2019
2nd and 9...2:36 left. #Browns ever so wisely used all their timeouts before this Denver drive. Have to get a stop & use 2-min warning.— Jake Burns (@jake_burns18) November 6, 2019
Broncos take QB off the field. Obvious run. Lindsay at QB. Power or Read-option. Maintain outside. That's all you have to do if RB disappears. pic.twitter.com/mflrdELiFb
Bonus: What’s the proper nickname for this guy? “Scangs”?
That’s the best we landed on, lol!
Thanks again to Jeff for the great insight!
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