It’s been three weeks since the Philadelphia Eagles hired Chip Kelly as their head coach, and finally the team has announced Kelly’s entire staff. The official press conference, Kelly’s second as head coach, will come this Monday.
Below is the full list with brief backgrounds:
Chip Kelly (Head Coach)
The big cahuna, Kelly is the one that brought this entire staff together. After several extremely successful seasons at Oregon, it will be interesting to see whether Kelly’s high-paced spread offense, or some variation of it, will work in Philadelphia. Expect him to be in charge of offensive game-planning and play-calling, much like Andy Reid was during his tenure.
Pat Shurmur (Offensive Coordinator)
When Shurmur’s hiring was announced, it became clear that Kelly was looking to balance his college-style offense with a veteran NFL mind. While Shurmur won’t be “in charge” of the offense, he’ll likely help Kelly acclimate to NFL and be the mentor for whoever Kelly chooses as his franchise quarterback. That is seeming to be Nick Foles, who is the kind of quarterback Shurmur has worked with in the past.
Speaking of the past, Shurmur spent two years as head coach of the Cleveland Browns and two years as the Rams offensive coordinator before that. Before all of that, however, he was Andy Reid’s quarterbacks coach for seven years.
Billy Davis (Defensive Coordinator)
The latest big signing, Davis spent two years as the Cleveland Browns linebackers coach before joining Kelly’s staff. He’s also been a defensive coordinator for four seasons, two with San Francisco and two with Arizona. His defenses ranked 29th and 20th with Arizona and 26th and 32nd with San Francisco. So, you can say that his track record as a DC hasn’t been very good.
An article will come later, but the big development surrounding Davis is his “4-3 under” scheme. His scheme, which is employed by teams like the Seattle Seahawks right now, would be as solid fit for the Eagles current personnel with a couple minor tweaks which is likely why Kelly went in that direction.
Dave Fipp (Special Teams Coordinator)
Fipp, a longtime college coach, spent the last five years as an assistant special teams coach in San Francisco and Miami. At 38, he’s another young member of Kelly’s staff.
The Dolphins special teams were stellar this year, ranked No. 2 in Rick Gosselin’s annual special teams rankings. The Eagles, on the other hand, were 28th under Bobby April. Philadelphia hasn’t been good special teams-wise since the days of John Harbaugh, so they’ll hope Fipp can turn things around for the ST unit.
Bill Lazor (Quarterbacks)
Lazor, who recently spent three years as Virginia’s offensive coordinator, is an interesting hiring. At Virginia his top passer had only 14 TDs in a season, and through his 3 years UVA’s QBs combined to throw only 60 touchdowns to 48 interceptions. Lazor also spent time as a quarterbacks coach with the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Redskins. The QBs he worked with in the NFL have been Matt Hasselbeck, Todd Brunell, Jason Campbell, and Seneca Wallace. The latter two fizzled out during Lazor’s tenure, which is a notable observation.
If the Eagles were looking for someone to come in and groom Nick Foles, this guy probably isn’t the best. That’s what Pat Shurmur is for, most likely. What Lazor is here to do perplexes me as much as it does any of you, so it’ll be interesting to see how things play out this season.
Jeff Stoutland (Offensive Line)
Stoutland has spent the last 20 years in the college ranks as an offensive line coach, with Cornell, Syracuse, Michigan State, Miami, and Alabama. He has coached a lot of solid guys over the years (Brandon Washington, Orlando Franklin, Jason Fox, and Barrett Jones).
Chip Kelly probably wants to keep the zone blocking scheme that Howard Mudd ran, but Stoutland relied on muscle, not athletic ability, at Alabama. There is a bit of both on the current roster, with guys like Jason Kelce, Evan Mathis, Jason Peters, and Todd Herremans coming back next year.
Greg Austin (Assistant Offensive Line)
Austin played offensive lineman for Nebraska in college and will be Stoutland’s assistant.
Bob Bicknell (Wide Receivers)
Bicknell, 43, played tight end at Boston College before becoming a coach. He’s spent the last six years in the NFL; from 2010-2012 he was the Buffalo Bills tight ends and wide receivers coach. He’s helped develop guys like Scott Chandler (TE) and Steve Johnson (WR), so it will be interesting to see what he can do in tandem with TE coach Ted Williams to give the QB targets to work with.
Duce Staley (Running Backs)
This is my favorite hiring of all. Staley spent the last two years on Andy Reid’s staff as a special teams quality control coach, but everyone knew he was in line for the RBs job. With Reid gone, Staley finally get the chance he deserves to coach the position he once dominated. You often saw him on the sidelines last year working with LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown anyway, and I’m sure the position will continue to be a bright spot with him in charge.
Ted Williams (Tight Ends)
No, this is not Baseball HOFer Ted Williams. This is Eagles tight ends coach Ted Williams, who spent the last 16 years as the Eagles’ running backs coach but moved to make way for Duce Staley. He’s done a good job with the RBs over the years, so let’s hope he can do the same thing with the tight end position.
Justin Peelle (Assistant Tight Ends)
Peelle made a quick transition this offseason going from a pro tight end to an assistant tight ends coach. He played 11 years in the league and recently was with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He racked up over 1000 yards and 12 touchdowns during his career.
Press Taylor (Offensive Quality Control)
This position, formerly held by Matt Nagy, is an obscure but important one. The quality control coach must break down film and help get his team prepared for what they’ll see on the upcoming Sunday. He usually runs the “scout” team and is responsible for making sure that the offense has practiced accurately against the kind of schemes and looks they will face that week.
Press Taylor only has two years of coaching experience, both at Tulsa, so it will be interesting to see whether he can get his team acclimated on gamedays and whether he is a great student of the game. Last year’s Eagles squad seemed simply unprepared at times, so it will be his job to make sure that does not happen this season.
Jerry Azzinaro (Defensive Line/Assistant Head Coach)
One of the most notable hirings, Azzinaro will be Kelly’s right-hand man on the staff. He is coming from Oregon as well, so Kelly obviously feels comfortable working with him. Azzinaro has coached football for 32 years but has no NFL experience.
The Ducks averaged 3 sacks per game and allowed only 3.44 yards per carry with Azzinaro in charge. Let’s hope those kind of stats can translate to the Eagles, who struggled in both departments this season. He will likely be forced to work under Davis’ 4-3 hybrid scheme; his most important job will be coaching up DE/DT Fletcher Cox in the new system where he can flourish.
Erik Chinander (Assistant Defensive Line)
Kelly brought his entire defensive line staff with him; Chinander was the assistant DL coach at Oregon.
John Lovett (Defensive Backs)
Lovett was the final piece of the puzzle, the last guy to be named to the Eagles staff. A longtime defensive backs coach, Lovett was on his way to join the Cincinnati Bearcats before deciding to join the Eagles’ staff instead.
Of almost any other assistant coach, Lovett has the most work cut out for him. The secondary play was downright awful last season, with the safeties missing assignments and the cornerbacks getting beat consistently. Personnel improvements (Matt Elam, Jairus Byrd, and Dee Milliner are all possibilities) will help, but perhaps Todd Bowles and this unit just didn’t click last season.
Todd Lyght (Assistant Defensive Backs)
Lyght is another former player, a cornerback, joining Kelly’s staff. He was also on his staff at Oregon and worked as the GA.
Bill McGovern (Outside Linebackers)
McGovern is an interesting name, having spent much of the last decade as the defensive coordinator and linebackers coach of the Eagles. The Boston College Eagles, that is. He’s done some good things, developing pro difference-makers like Luke Kuechly and Mark Herzlich.
He will be working with Brandon Graham and another hybrid defensive end (Vinny Curry?) most likely next year, the former of which will be primarily a pass rusher (the “Predator”). The defensive scheme will involve close coordination between the D-Line and outside LB coaches, so expect to see him working hand-in-hand with Jerry Azzinaro as the season progresses.
Rick Minter (Inside Linebackers)
Rick Minter is the coaching version of a journeyman, with this being his 7th job in 11 years. He’s coached at 12 different colleges but has no NFL experience. Most recently he was working under Joker Phillips at Kentucky as the team’s defensive coordinator.
Minter spent 10 years as Cincinnati’s head coach, going 54-63, but he did have guys like John Harbaugh, Mike Tomlin, and Rex Ryan on his staff at various points. He will be working with Mychal Kendricks and DeMeco Ryans, two guys who had a decent amount of success last year with the Eagles.
Mike Dawson (Defensive Quality Control)
Dawson, a former athletic director at North Middlesex Regional School, is acquainted with McGovern, Minter, and Azzinaro and that is likely why he got on the staff. It’s hard to find information about his resume so it’s hard to know if this was the right move or not.
Josh Hingst (Strength and Conditioning)
Josh Hingst recently got his first NFL job as the Jacksonville Jaguars assistant strength and conditioning coach, and will get a promotion with Kelly.
Shaun Huls (Sports Science Coordinator)
This has to be the most interesting position of them all. The “sports science coordinator” position has never existed on an NFL staff before, and Huls is the perfect guy to do it. He is a former strength, conditioning, and “combatives” coordinator for the Navy SEALS.
This will give Kelly’s strength program some legitimacy, and let’s hope he can whip the new-look (-ish) roster into shape before the start of the season.
Matt Harper (Assistant Special Teams)
Some interesting notes:
Half of this staff consists of guys whose most recent job was in college. That is the highest among any NFL staff.
Kelly brought three guys from Oregon. Whether that is too much or too little I don’t know, but personally I think it’s encouragingly low. It shows he’s looking for consistency but not trying to hold himself back by surrounding himself with guys who agree with him.
The oldest guy on the staff is 69 year old TE coach Ted Williams, who is also the longest tenured coach on the staff.