UPDATE: The Eagles will reportedly interview Brandon Staley on Monday evening now that the Rams’ season is over.
ORIGINAL STORY BELOW.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler put an article together on the latest head coaching rumors around the NFL and it included some interesting information about the Philadelphia Eagles. There are some key notes on Los Angeles Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley, Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady, Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, and Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley.
Staley’s name has been connected to other teams with head coaching vacancies but it hadn’t been linked to the Eagles. Until now:
Sources say Brady and Rams defensive coordinator Brandon Staley are both on the Eagles’ list. And while many believe it might be too soon for those first-time offensive coordinators to ascend to head-coaching jobs, the Eagles are of the mind that it’s better to grab a guy a year too early than a year too late if you believe in him.
The Eagles haven’t been able to request an interview with the 38-year-old since the Rams are currently still in the 2021 NFL playoffs. With Los Angeles entering Lambeau Field as 6.5-point underdogs, Philly might soon get their chance to speak with him. UPDATE: As I was writing this article, Adam Schefter reported the Eagles have requested an interview with Staley.
Then again, Staley might have a top-notch game plan cooked up for Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers’ offense. Not so unthinkable given how successful the Rams’ defense has been this season.
Staley’s unit allowed just 16.8 offensive points per game during the 2020 season, which was the best mark in the NFL. The Rams also finished with the No. 1 overall defense ranked by weighted DVOA. Those marks improved from 14th and ninth, respectively, when Wade Phillips was leading the defense in 2019.
Staley’s defense has obviously been great in part because he has elite talent to work with. Aaron Donald is a downright beast and that Jalen Ramsey guy is pretty good, too.
But there’s ample reason to believe Staley deserves a lot of credit for the Rams’ success. Each of these profiles warrants a click:
Further proof of the parallel philosophies between McVay and Staley? The Rams have Cooper Kupp, who is one of their best offensive players, play inside because it allows him to use his versatility blocking, catching, and even running the ball sometimes. Now, they are doing the same with Ramsey, who is much more involved in the action as the Star. He can still bump outside when the matchup dictates it. He’s still just scratching the surface of the impact he could make there.
Staley’s NFL resume might be short — one season as coordinator, three as outside linebackers coach — but it doesn’t feel that way to him. “I felt like I was having this double education,” Staley said. “I was coaching in college, but I felt like I was coaching the pros at the same time because I was studying.” “Selfishly, I would love to have Coach Staley for obviously the rest of this year and next year and my career here,” Jalen Ramsey said. “But, I mean, he would be a great head coach, and there’s a lot of teams in the league right now who could use him.”
Staley did not completely upend the Rams’ defensive system, which finished 2019 ninth in DVOA under Phillips. But he has made smart changes. He has utilized a 3-4 base defense similar to Phillips’s alignment, but he employs much lighter boxes, which invites opposing offenses to run the ball.
When he asked me, philosophically, as you’re getting into an interview, ‘OK, what’s important to you on defense,’ just from a schematic standpoint, my big belief system is 1-on-1s in the run game and 2-on-1s in the passing game,” Staley told me earlier this month. “It all starts there.” That may seem like a simplistic way of thinking about the game, but Staley’s core belief in building a numbers advantage on defense whenever possible perfectly aligned with McVay’s own philosophy on offense. “(Football is) 11 on 11, but the best teams week in or week and week out — where it’s offensively or defensively — do a great job of changing up the math and the numbers,” McVay told me earlier this season.
Staley’s résumé is relatively light on NFL experience. An overview:
But, hey, perhaps experience is hardly the only qualifying factor. There’s real intrigue to be had with Staley given his success so far.
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The Eagles reportedly interviewed Brady earlier this week. He’s only 31 but, as Fowler wrote, the Eagles are looking at this like it’s better to take a risk early as opposed to waiting too late.
Is Brady truly in the cards, though? Derrick Gunn tweeted “No” to two different people asking about Brady being Philly’s next head coach. He didn’t offer much more context, though, so hard to fully know what to make of that.
Fowler says Bieniemy is poised to get shut out of the hiring cycle for the second year in a row. He’s obviously a popular name amongst fans but he hasn’t actually been linked to the Eagles thus far. There are some reports about Bieniemy interviewing poorly. There’s also his “uncomfortable past” to consider. Fowler says the Eagles are “eyeing other candidates.”
Fowler had the following to say about Riley, whom the Eagles reportedly reached out to shortly after firing Doug Pederson:
Don’t ignore the Lincoln Riley chatter. We have been told that team owner Jeffrey Lurie is a big fan of Riley’s and remains very interested in trying to lure him away from Oklahoma into the pros. What we don’t know is whether Riley is seriously interested.
I don’t think anyone doubts that the Eagles have interest in Riley. But it would probably take a huge financial commitment and a potential power structure change to lure him away from Norman. There’s no good reason for Riley to be desperate to jump at the Eagles’ job; he should only take it if he’s getting it on his terms. Riley is reportedly happy at Oklahoma.
Here’s a recap of where things stand with the Eagles’ coaching search:
49ers DC Robert Saleh Titans OC Arthur Smith
Buccaneers DC Todd Bowles
Patriots ILB coach Jerod Mayo
Eagles assistant head coach/RB coach Duce Staley
Panthers OC Joe Brady
Cowboys OC Kellen Moore
Rams DC Brandon Staley
So, that leaves the Eagles and the Houston Texans as the two teams with uncertainty at the head coach spot.