Five What-If Questions for the Eagles
Implications from the COVID-19 could lead to a host of “what if?” questions, as could looking backward at a team’s history.
Here is our look at some of those what-if questions as it pertains to the Eagles, from myself and SI.com EagleMaven contributor John McMullen.
What if … Doug Pederson tests positive, who wears the head coach’s headset?
There is no shortage of candidates to put them on, starting with Marty Mornhinweg, who is on the staff as a senior offensive consultant. The 58-year-old has been coaching since 1985 at various levels and in various assistant roles and was even the head coach of the Detroit Lions in 2001 and 2002.
Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz could also handle the duty. He was a head coach for the Lions from 2009-13.
Then there’s Duce Staley, who has been passed over a couple of times to be the team’s offensive coordinator, but in light of the lack of minorities as NFL head coaches as well as offensive coordinators and defensive coordinators, it would be nice to see Staley get the nod here.
Currently the running backs coach/assistant coach, Staley would have an opportunity to prove that he could lead a team, and perhaps this potentially part-time promotion should Pederson be sidelined would allow him to skip the coordinator step and go right into another team’s head coaching slot.
- By Ed Kracz
What if … Oregon was about to be sanctioned and Chip Kelly stayed in Eugene?
Back in 2013, Kelly originally turned down the Eagles - and the Cleveland Browns - with the intent of remaining in the college ranks as the head coach at the University Of Oregon. Only after it became clear that Oregon was going to face significant sanctions from the NCAA for its use of football scouting services under Kelly did the coach revisit his thought process and decide the NFL was the way to go.
Philadelphia shifted from Gus Bradley back to Kelly and the rest is history with owner Jeffrey Lurie ultimately lamenting the fact he chose Kelly over his most-trusted advisor Howie Roseman in a power struggle stemming from Kelly’s desire to gain personnel power.
The Eagles quickly rebounded by going back to their Andy Reid-inspired roots with Doug Pederson, but Lurie has called his missteps during the Kelly era his biggest mistake during over a quarter-century of ownership.
As for Bradley, well, his coaching stint didn’t last long in Jacksonville, either.
- By John McMullen
What if … Adam Gase or Ben McAdoo were hired instead of Doug Pederson?
It seems silly now after Doug Pederson delivered what even Andy Reid couldn’t, the first Super Bowl win in Eagles franchise history.
Back in 2016 after Chip Kelly’s lust for power went off the rails, Jeffrey Lurie was back in the market for a head coach and he wanted the hottest name available at the time which happened to be Adam Gase, now the embattled mentor of the New York Jets.
The Eagles got the first interview with Gase and wouldn’t have let him leave the NovaCare Complex if negotiations went smoothly, but Gase was pushing for 53-man roster control, a non-starter after what just went down with Kelly.
Gase ultimately left and turned his attention toward the better weather (and tax situation) in Miami while the Eagles turned to Ben McAdoo, the then-offensive coordinator of the New York Giants. Philadelphia was ready to pull the trigger and had a welcome basket for McAdoo at the ready when the Giants convinced McAdoo to turn around on the New Jersey Turnpike for their top job.
Plan C for the Eagles was calling up Reid and taking his advice by hiring Pederson.
Sometimes it’s better to be lucky than good.
- By John McMullen
What if … an entire position group needs to be quarantined, for instance, the Eagles’ offensive line or defensive lines?
That would be problematic for any team, let alone the Eagles, but these two groups are the strongest part of the team. There just doesn’t seem to be enough to depth to survive a potential two- to three-week absence of the starters.
It doesn’t feel like a total quarantine would be an option for any team. If there is a chance that would be necessary, then maybe the team splits up its units and doesn’t practice them together.
The Eagles backup O-line might look something like this:
C: Luke Juriga/Keegan Render
RG: Nate Herbig
LG: Sua Opeta
RT: Prince Tega Wanogho/Jack Driscoll
LT: Jordan Mailata
- By Ed Kracz
What if … something happens to Carson Wentz and Jalen Hurts wins five in a row as his replacement?
There’s no quarterback controversy in Philadelphia but it’s easy to envision the path to one after the Eagles shocked the NFL world back in April by taking Heisman runner-up Jalen Hurts with the 53rd overall pick in the draft should a scenario like this arise.
If the Wentz absence is even longer and Hurts puts together two or three months of successful play the questions get more legitimate, especially considering the monetary outlay to Wentz versus the cost-effective nature of a starting QB on his rookie deal.
If you are able to peddle Wentz for significant draft capital, keeping Hurts around would make it easier to build the back end of a championship-level roster.
COVID-19 makes all of that far less likely as Doug Pederson has already admitted that this will be a season teams will likely need to lean on veteran players even more than usual because rookies have been hindered with no on-field work in the offseason.
That means Nate Sudfeld is set to start the process as the backup QB, but the mere presence of Hurts highlights a path to a controversy that simply wouldn’t have existed if the Eagles took one of the other two players they were considering at 53, Southern Illinois safety Jeremy Chinn and Ohio State running back J.K. Dobbins.
- By John McMullen