When the 2010 season ended the same way as it has for countless teams in the Andy Reid era, the team made an extreme amount of coaching changes.
In fact, the team will feature new coaches at an incredible 12 of the 16 top coaching positions next season. The only four coaches who will remain at the same position are head coach Andy Reid, assistant head coach/offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, running backs coach Ted Williams, and tight ends coach Tom Melvin.
The other 12 coaches, including all six defensive coaches, will fill new roles.
The extreme amount of changes made by the Eagles’ coaching staff clearly shows the lengths that the team will be going to win next year.
Even though the season hasn’t been played, I can’t help but wonder… Is this the best coaching staff that the Eagles have had during Andy Reid’s 12 seasons as head coach?
In my opinion, the Eagles have four coaches who rank among the absolute cream of the crop in the National Football League.
The first is head coach Andy Reid, who is probably a top five coach in the league. He is the longest tenured NFL head coach. In his 12 seasons, he’s led the Eagles to nine postseason appearances, six division titles, five NFC championship game appearances, and one conference championship.
The second is offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. Mornhinweg had a brief failed stint as the Detroit Lions head coach but he’s clearly one of the brightest offensive masterminds in the league. He has helped develop Brett Favre, Steve Young, and with the Eagles, he has revived the careers of both Jeff Garcia (in 2006), and Michael Vick (last season).
Offensive line coach Howard Mudd is arguably the best individual coach on the Eagles. Lured out of retirement a few months ago, Mudd has earned a reputation as the league’s top offensive line coach. His presence has all but guaranteed a significant improvement for the Eagles’ offensive line in 2011.
Defensive line coach Jim Washburn brings 12 years of experience from the Tennessee Titans, where he helped develop players such as Jevon Kearse, Albert Haynesworth, Kyle Vanden Bosch, and Jason Babin. He is one of the top defensive line coaches in the NFL.
The rest of the coaching staff is just as solid. Williams and Melvin have a combined 28 seasons with the Eagles, including 24 at their respective positions. And most of the other coaches have been promoted from a lower role during the offseason.
The only exception is defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, who was the team’s offensive line coach for over a decade before he was shockingly named the new defensive coordinator. He has no experience coaching a defense at any level other than high school, and that was more than two decades ago. While Castillo will likely be an upgrade over Sean McDermott at defensive coordinator, he remains a complete unknown at this point.
As great as the Eagles’ current coaching staff looks (on paper) for the 2011 season, it cannot be labeled as the best coaching staff during the Andy Reid era.
That honor goes to the 2002 Philadelphia Eagles, whose coaching staff was nothing short of phenomenal.
Andy Reid was in his fourth season as head coach.
The offensive coordinator was Brad Childress, who later became the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings. Childress helped the Eagles set a single-season franchise record with 415 points.
At quarterbacks coach was Pat Shurmur. Shurmur helped the Eagles survive–and even thrive–with the injuries to both Donovan McNabb and Koy Detmer. He moved on to the St. Louis Rams as the team’s offensive coordinator, where he helped develop rookie Sam Bradford. He is currently the newest head coach for the Cleveland Browns.
Williams, David Culley, and Melvin were still anchoring their respective positions (running backs, wide receivers, and tight ends).
Juan Castillo was the team’s offensive line coach. The 2002 season was probably his most successful, as left tackle Tra Thomas, right guard Jermane Mayberry, and right tackle Jon Runyan earned Pro Bowl selections.
The defensive coaches included an incredible three men who are currently head coaches in the NFL, as well as another who easily could have become a head coach if he had desired.
At defensive coordinator was Jim Johnson, who established himself as one of the best defensive coordinators in the National Football League for more than a decade. He never became a head coach but he easily could have if he had wanted to do so.
Linebackers coach Ron Rivera enjoyed successful stints in Chicago and San Diego and is currently the head coach of the Carolina Panthers.
Defensive backs coach Leslie Frazier helped three of the Eagles’ four starting defensive backs reach the Pro Bowl in 2002. He later enjoyed success with the Cincinnati Bengals, Indianapolis Colts, and San Diego Chargers. He is currently the newest head coach for the Minnesota Vikings.
The team’s other defensive backs coach was Steve Spagnuolo, who helped the lead the New York Giants to a shocking upset over the undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. He is currently the head coach of the St. Louis Rams, where he has helped lead the team to the brink of the postseason in just his second year as head coach.
Defensive assistant/quality control coach Sean McDermott later became the defensive coordinator for the Eagles, and although his two-year stint was very unsuccessful, he has an opportunity to revive his career with the Carolina Panthers.
Rounding out the impressive plethora of coaches is special teams coach John Harbaugh, who has quietly established himself as one of the best head coaches in the NFL with the Baltimore Ravens.
The coaching staff for the 2002 Eagles includes an incredible SIX men who later became head coaches: Childress, Shurmur, Rivera, Frazier, Spagnulo, and Harbaugh. Johnson could have been the seventh. McDermott will likely one day be the eighth. And Castillo has a chance to make it nine.
As great as the Eagles’ coaching staff will be in 2011–and it’s good enough that FOXSports’ Adam Schein ranks it as the best coaching staff in the league–it pales in comparison to the 2002 Philadelphia Eagles’ coaching staff, which is one of the best of the decade for any NFL team.