According to ESPN‘s Ed Werder, Philadelphia running backs coach Duce Staley interviewed for the Eagle’s head coach vacancy this past Friday.
The team eventually confirmed the interview, which comes after their sudden firing of head coach Chip Kelly this past week.
Duce Staley played for 10 seasons in the NFL as running back, most notably with the Philadelphia Eagles where he had three 1,000-yard seasons from 1997-2003. Staley joined the Eagles coaching staff in 2010, and has spent the past three seasons as their running backs coach.
Staley’s resumé is highlighted by his work in developing some of the NFL’s greatest backs that include Philly’s all-time rush leader, LeSean McCoy and speedster, Darren Sproles. His experience as a player is also one that speaks volumes as he started for successful offensive coaches like Andy Reid, Jon Gruden, Sean Payton, and Bruce Arians.
The decision to give Staley a first shot at the candidacy echoes Eagles owner Jeff Lurie’s comments last week regarding “the importance of a coach that will establish a heart-to-heart connection with his players”.
It’s evident that, by granting Duce Staley an interview just three days after Chip Kelly’s firing, he has the backing of Eagles players.
Eagles’ owner Lurie made an emphasis in the press conference last week on the organizations plans to move forward from Kelly with an individual who can resonate with the players and encourage a sense of accountability while fostering a healthy locker room.
“I want to engage them and have them understand and what they felt was lacking, I need to understand,” he said. “Have them understand and take accountability but also at the same time be a sponge for what is leadership like in today’s football world. You’re dealing with 22 to 35 or more aged people and people who are elite athletes, trying to perform at the very peak of their profession and there’s a lot of issues. And what is leadership like in today’s world? It’s very, very different than it was 10, 15 years ago. I would like to think that we’re always gonna try and be on the progressive end of how to lead and that’s top-down, but it’s also through the head coach and people the head coach surrounds himself with. It’s a real opportunity and if I wait until Monday, there’d be so much less of that opportunity.”
That individual may very well be the 40-year-old Staley, who can offer a relationship with his players similar to that of Mike Tomlin with his Pittsburgh Steelers.
It’s also worth mentioning that by granting Duce Staley an interview, the Eagles have fulfilled the requirements of the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires National Football League teams to interview at least one minority candidate for every head-coaching vacancy.
The Eagles currently sit at 6-9 in the underachieving NFC East with one game left in a season where they will miss the postseason after sporting a 10-6 record in each of Chip Kelly’s previous two seasons, winning the division in his first season as head coach.
But the Chip Kelly project never took flight as the Eagles intended and has instead fallen out of favor with ownership and, most importantly, Eagles players after just three years.
Just last week, NFL.com reported that Eagles star running back DeMarco Murray admitted to Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie that he had no confidence in Kelly and his approach on offense. Murray was supposed to be Kelly’s missing ingredient to his up tempo scheme, coming off a season in which he (Murray) led the league in rushing and earned the honor of NFL Offensive Player of the Year with the Dallas Cowboys.
Instead, Murray has been anything but a premier back under Kelly’s scheme, averaging a mediocre 3.5 yards per carry and totaling 633 total rushing yards with one game left to play this season, 1,2o0 yards less than his total last year (1,845 yards).
With how poor the NFC East has been in recent seasons, should the Eagles find a right fit for head coach this off season and resolve their locker room issues, it shouldn’t take them long to compete for a spot atop the conference.
(AP Photo/Michael Perez)