PHILADELPHIA - When you fire the head coach, significant changes to the staff tend to be baked in and the shoe may have dropped on one of the biggest Thursday with the news that Jeff Stoutland plans to return to Alabama.
Per The Athletic, Doug Pederson’s offensive line coach/run-game coordinator is expected to replace Kyle Flood as the Crimson Tide’s OL coach, the same position Stoutland held in 2011-12 before Chip Kelly brought him to Philadelphia for the 2013 season.
Flood left for the University of Texas which recently named former Alabama offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian as the head coach.
It should be noted that Stoutland is still under contract with the Eagles.
Probably the most highly-regarded position coach the Eagles had in the Pederson era Stoutland is revered by his players in Philadelphia and did an unbelievable job under very difficult circumstances in 2020 being forced to use 14 different OL groups over 16 games in a disappointing 4-11-1 season.
That attrition, which included major injuries to projected starters Brandon Brooks (Achilles’), Andre Dillard (torn biceps), and Lane Johnson (ankle surgery), as well as significant lost time for a fourth starter, Isaac Seumalo (knee surgery), turned a typical strength in the Stoutland era into a grave concern for Philadelphia.
Starting quarterback Carson Wentz was under siege for most of the season before being benched for Jalen Hurts and things weren’t much better for the rookie.
Wentz was sacked an NFL-high 50 times in 2020 despite sitting for the final four-plus games, edging out Houston’s Deshaun Watson, who was caught 49 times in 16 games per StatMuse.
That said, there were still silver linings, particularly the development of left tackle Jordan Mailata, the former Australian rugby player who was a seventh-round pick in 2018 despite never playing a down of organized football growing up, and former undrafted rookie Nate Herbig, who finished 2020 as the 13th best offensive guard in the NFL during his second season, according to ProFootballFocus.com.
Herbig made that leap after playing just three offensive snaps during his rookie campaign.
Perhaps the undercurrent to this is Pederson, who was very, very loyal to his assistants, something that got the Super Bowl-winning coach fired. That kind of respect tends to run both ways.
For the Eagles’ brass that obviously doesn't matter with the coaches, they have no interest in retaining but it’s hard to imagine the Eagles don't want to keep Stoutland.
Stoutland, meanwhile, has tremendous reverence for legendary Alabama coach Nick Saban, who just won his sixth national championship with the Crimson Tide after a 52-24 drubbing of Ohio State earlier this week.
While Scotland is expected to return to the college ranks the Eagles seem to be working hard behind the scenes in an effort to save the relationship.
John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Tuesday and Thursday on "The Middle" with Eytan Shander, Harry Mayes, and Barrett Brooks on SportsMap Radio and PhillyVoice.com. He’s also the host of Extending the Play on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen
Ed Kracz is the publisher of EagleMaven. Check out anything you may have missed pertaining to the Eagles by going to www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.