Not only will Michael Clay be back as the Philadelphia Eagles’ special teams coordinator in 2023. He will be back with a higher salary!
This much according to a report from Aaron Wilson, who says Clay is “[considered] a rising coach in NFL circles.”
A couple disclaimery things to get out of the way:
- Clay’s deal was likely set to expire since most assistant coaching contracts are two-year deals. And given that Nick Sirianni already said he would be back in 2023, the news of an extension is not unexpected.
- There is no salary cap for coaches. So, fans shouldn’t really care too much what an owner spends on their assistants ... as long as they’re not being cheap, of course.
Still, the optics are a bit odd here.
Sirianni was asked about Clay potentially getting fired during his press conference after the season ended. That was hardly a baseless question representing a minority opinion. It stemmed from the Eagles’ special teams unit being a glaring weakness — really, the ONLY weakness — for a good portion of the 2022 season.
Clay’s group improved towards the end of the year, as evidenced by a seventh-place finished in weighted special teams DVOA (which accounts more for recent performance). It ranked 15th in overall DVOA. Probably higher than you might expect.
That said, the Eagles’ special teams unit finished on a pretty low note (to say the least) by allowing the longest punt return in Super Bowl history. Kadarius Toney’s 65-yard scamper set the Kansas City Chiefs up with a five-yard touchdown drive to go up 35 to 27 with 9:22 remaining in the fourth quarter.
And getting back to the decent DVOA finish, it’s worth noting that the ranking was positive largely due to Jake Elliott’s performance on field goals and kickoffs. Elliott had already established himself as a good player before Clay arrived in 2021. One could point out that Elliott rebounded from a bad year in 2020 under Clay. But special teams quality control Tyler Brown, whose father is a longtime NFL kicking coach, probably deserves more credit in that area than a former NFL linebacker who became a special teams coordinator.
Further, the Eagles ranked very poorly by other special teams evaluations. Pro Football Focus graded Clay’s unit tied for 29th out of 32 teams. Rick Gosselin’s annual special teams rankings had the Eagles 31st.
Wilson’s report did say that the Eagles decided to “add another year” to Clay’s contract. If we’re right to assume Clay’s contract was up and they’re only extending him through 2023, that puts him on the hot seat to perform this season. Otherwise, the Eagles clearly think way more highly of him than outside observers do.
Are you happy Michael Clay is back for 2023?
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