Duce Staley

Panthers To Hire Duce Staley, Request OC Interview With Jim Bob Cooter

The Lions will lose a key assistant to Frank Reich‘s new Panthers staff. Detroit running backs coach Duce Staley will rejoin Reich in Carolina, Dan Graziano of ESPN.com tweets.

Reich and Staley worked together with the Eagles from 2016-17, and while Staley was under contract with the Lions, they chose not to block the maneuver. The Lions will let Staley out of his contract, Justin Rogers of the Detroit News reports, so he can move closer to his mother. Staley’s mother, whom Rogers adds is battling health issues, lives in South Carolina. Staley grew up in Columbia, S.C.

Staley, 47, had been on Dan Campbell‘s staff for the past two years, moving to Michigan after 10 seasons in Philly, his primary team during his playing career. The former Eagles running back worked as their running backs coach from 2013-20. Staley has interviewed for the Eagles and Giants’ OC positions during the late 2010s and took over as Philly’s HC temporarily in 2020, during a Doug Pederson COVID-19 spell, but it does not appear Staley is joining Reich’s staff in a coordinator role.

Staley’s role is uncertain, but he stands to be one of Reich’s top assistants. The Lions made a surprise playoff push during the season’s second half, and Jamaal Williams provided an equally stunning performance to help drive it. Williams finished with the league lead in rushing touchdowns (17) and smashed his previous career yardage high with 1,066.

The Panthers are moving forward on their OC search, requesting to interview Jaguars passing-game coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, Ian Rapoport of NFL.com tweets. As he was with Tampa Bay, Cooter is believed to be Carolina’s first interview request for this job.

Reich has not committed to calling plays just yet. Despite David Tepper coming out against CEO-type coaches, Reich noted a recent trend of HCs not calling plays in indicating (via ESPN.com’s David Newton) he has not made that decision. The Cowboys, Eagles and Giants represent recent examples of offense-oriented HCs ceding play-calling duties to lieutenants, though Mike McCarthy will go the other way — intending to call plays after dismissing Kellen Moore — in 2023. It will be interesting if Reich, the Colts’ play-caller throughout his tenure, follows suit. That will make the OC position a more prominent role in Carolina.

Cooter, 38, also has experience in Detroit; his Lions stay doubles as his most relevant NFL work. The Lions promoted their then-31-year-old staffer to OC during the 2015 season. Cooter stayed in that role through the 2018 slate, keeping the gig for a year despite the Lions firing Jim Caldwell. Cooter and Reich were each on the Colts’ staff from 2009-11, with Reich coaching Indy’s QBs and wideouts and Cooter starting out as an offensive assistant. Cooter’s past with Pederson, who hired Reich as Eagles OC in 2016, also could check a box here.

Given Trevor Lawrence‘s second-year production, teams have wanted to speak with Cooter. The Buccaneers have not made a decision about their OC yet, so Cooter is now in play for two positions. He has not been a coordinator since the Lions let him go four years ago.

Duce Staley Joins Lions

Duce Staley got his wish. The Eagles granted the assistant coach’s request for release, paving the way for him to join the Lions’ staff (Twitter link via NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero).

[RELATED: Lions To Add John Dorsey To Front Office]

Staley will now serve as the Lions’ assistant head coach/running backs coach under Dan Campbell. The ex-Eagles running back joined the Birds’ coaching staff all the way back in 2013, but he got frustrated after being passed over twice for the head coaching job. In 2016, the Eagles chose Doug Pederson instead. This year, the Eagles went with Nick Sirianni, who opted against promoting Staley to offensive coordinator.

Staley, who will turn 46 next month, also drew interest from the Bears. Instead, he’ll face Chicago a couple times per year. With ex-RBs Staley and Anthony Lynn (offensive coordinator) in the fold, you can expect the Lions to focus on the run game in 2021. That might be for the best, since the Lions will probably be moving forward without quarterback Matthew Stafford.

Duce Staley Requests Release From Contract

Longtime Eagles assistant Duce Staley has requested a release from his contract, as John Clark of NBC Sports Philadelphia was first to report (Twitter link). As Eliot Shorr-Parks of 94 WIP writes, it’s unclear if the team will honor the request, but it seems likely that Staley will be permitted to move on.

Staley, a former running back, was selected by the Eagles in the third round of the 1997 draft. He spent the first seven seasons of his playing career in Philly, cracking the 1,000-yard barrier three times. He rejoined the club as a coaching intern in 2010 and has served as the running backs coach since 2013. However, it appears as though his career trajectory has hit its peak in Philadelphia.

Staley, who will turn 46 next month, has been passed over for promotion multiple times in recent years. He interviewed for the team’s head coaching gig in 2016, a job that ultimately went to Doug Pederson, and he interviewed for the HC post again this year, after Pederson’s dismissal. The Eagles elected to hire Nick Sirianni instead, and it does not appear that Sirianni is interested in promoting Staley to offensive coordinator.

Staley was also passed over for the OC post in 2018, when Pederson promoted Mike Groh. Staley was given the additional title of assistant head coach that year, but his frustration is understandable. He obviously believes he will get another job elsewhere, one that comes with an immediate promotion or at least a better opportunity at advancement.

We heard recently that the Bears are interested in adding Staley to their staff, and Mike Garafolo of the NFL Network says the Lions have interest as well (Twitter link). He would be a good get for either club, as he has done a terrific job with the Eagles’ RBs and is a popular locker room figure.

Bears Interested In Eagles’ Duce Staley

Duce Staley has been an Eagles assistant for 10 seasons, but the franchise’s longtime running backs coach has landed on the Bears’ radar.

The Bears are interested in the former NFL starter-turned-HC candidate, Adam Jahns of The Athletic tweets. While Staley arrived in Philly before Doug Pederson, he worked with Matt Nagy‘s former Chiefs coworker for five seasons.

The Eagles will likely bring in a host of new assistants after hiring Colts OC Nick Sirianni as their Pederson replacement. Staley was on the radar for the job Sirianni landed but did not seem to gain much traction during Philadelphia’s search. He was also passed over for Philly’s OC position when the team promoted Mike Groh in 2018.

Nagy has seen two of his offensive assistants — QBs coach Dave Ragone and running backs coach Charles London — defect to the Falcons this week. London will be Atlanta’s new QBs coach, working under new Falcons OC Ragone. Nagy will need to replace these staffers, and Staley has extensive experience as an offensive staffer.

Philadelphia’s RBs coach since 2013, Staley began his career at the quality control level two years prior. He worked under Pederson, Chip Kelly and Andy Reid. The Eagles tabbed him as their acting head coach during Pederson’s bout with COVID-19 last summer. But with Sirianni coming in, it is unclear if Staley remains in the Eagles’ plans or if he would want to continue working as a position coach with another new Eagles HC.

2021 NFL Head Coaching Search Tracker

Exiting the regular season, six teams are searching for new head coaches. That number is up from last season but not quite as high as 2019, though there may well be more vacancies that emerge during the playoffs.

Listed below are the head coaching candidates that have been linked to each of the teams with vacancies, along with their current status. If and when other teams decide to make head coaching changes, they’ll be added to this list. Here is the current breakdown:

Updated 1-27-21 (7:05pm CT)

Atlanta Falcons

Detroit Lions

Houston Texans

Jacksonville Jaguars

Los Angeles Chargers

New York Jets

Philadelphia Eagles

Fallout From Doug Pederson Firing: Eagles, Wentz, Staff

Monday was a pivotal day in Eagles franchise history, as the team fired Super Bowl winning coach Doug Pederson. There’s been a lot trickling out since then, and we’re here to bring you all the fallout from the decision:

  • This all has been “boiling” since last offseason, when owner Jeffrey Lurie and GM Howie Roseman pressured Pederson to fire offensive coordinator Mike Groh, Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets. A source told McLane that Pederson actually threatened to quit over it, but Eagles brass didn’t take it seriously. We noted in our initial writeup yesterday a report that “Pederson was sick of people telling him what to do.”
  • To that end, Lurie was apparently “underwhelmed” by the staffing suggestions Pederson made for the 2021 season when they met last week, a source told McLane. Pederson apparently wanted to promote from within, as McLane reports he wanted to promote QBs coach Press Taylor to offensive coordinator and to “bump up defensive line coach Matt Burke to defensive coordinator.” Clearly Lurie was more inclined to bring in bigger names from outside the organization, and it sounds like this was a sticking point in the ultimate divorce.
  • Finally, McLane points out in another tweet that Roseman will now be on his fourth head coach (third that he’ll hire), after Andy Reid, Chip Kelly, and Pederson. McLane writes that “Pederson and Roseman had decreasingly seen eye to eye on personnel.” Roseman is turning into somewhat of a polarizing figure, but he clearly has a lot of power.
  • One of the biggest questions on everyone’s mind when the decision came down was what it meant for Carson Wentz. It might be good news for the former second overall pick, as a source told Jeremy Fowler of ESPN.com that the firing “significantly increases the chances” of Wentz staying in Philly next season (Twitter link). We had heard just before the end of the regular season that the relationship between Wentz and Pederson was fractured beyond repair, and this could be a sign that Lurie and Roseman believe Wentz should be the quarterback in 2021. The increased likelihood of Wentz returning was confirmed by Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, who added that had Pederson been retained Wentz would’ve wanted out (Twitter video link).
  • Lurie released a statement through the team explaining the decision and thanking Pederson, which you can read via this tweet. Not surprisingly, he said Pederson will be inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame.
  • The Eagles also tweeted a statement from Pederson, thanking the team, the city, and the fans.
  • We’ve already heard the team is interested in Oklahoma head coach Lincoln Riley, but Lurie also said at his press conference explaining the decision that assistant head coach and running backs coach Duce Staley would be a candidate for the job. Staley is very popular in the locker room and a number of former players immediately voiced support for him on social media, but that still seems like a pretty big long-shot.

Eagles’ Doug Pederson Tests Positive For COVID-19

Eagles head coach Doug Pederson will spend some time away from the team after testing positive for COVID-19 (Twitter link via Tim McManus of ESPN.com). In the interim, assistant head coach Duce Staley will assume HC duties at the team’s complex, as Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer tweets

[RELATED: 2020 NFL Opt Out Tracker]

Pederson, 52, has not experienced any symptoms, but he’ll quarantine to avoid spreading the virus, per the protocols. The league’s guidelines mandate multiple tests for Pederson before he can get back to work.

Person is the second head coach known to have contracted the coronavirus, following Sean Payton‘s positive test earlier this year. Payton’s recovery was relatively quick – he tested positive on March 16 and he was cleared before the end of the month.

You fatigue real easy,” Payton said of his experience with the virus. “I’d be up moving around, doing something, then you’d want to lay down again. That lasted three or four days. By the time I got the test results back I had begun feeling better. I had my appetite back.”

Pederson is set to enter his fifth year as the Eagles’ head coach. Staley, a longtime Eagles running back, joined the team as an assistant in 2011 and worked his way up to AHC in 2018.

Fritz Pollard Alliance Recommends HC Candidates

Every year, the Fritz Pollard Alliance releases a list of recommended minority head coaching candidates. This year’s edition is nearly double in size and features the likes of Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores and Cowboys defensive backs coach/defensive passing game coordinator Kris Richard, as Mike Jones of USA Today writes. 

Here’s the complete list of suggested candidates:

  • Keith Armstrong (Falcons special teams coordinator)
  • Teryl Austin (Former Bengals defensive coordinator)
  • Eric Bieniemy (Chiefs offensive coordinator)
  • Jim Caldwell (former Lions and Colts head coach)
  • George Edwards (Vikings defensive coordinator)
  • Brian Flores (Patriots linebackers coach)
  • Leslie Frazier (Bills defensive coordinator)
  • Raheem Morris (Falcons assistant head coach/wide receivers coach)
  • Hue Jackson (special assistant to the head coach of the Bengals; former Browns head coach)
  • Kris Richard (Cowboys defensive backs coach/defensive passing game coordinator)
  • Duce Staley (Eagles assistant head coach/running backs coach)

Flores, the de facto defensive coordinator of the Patriots, figures to be a hot coaching candidate this year. The same goes for Bieniemy, who is helping to guide one of the league’s most dangerous offenses.

Others on this list, such as Jackson and Austin, seem unlikely to garner real consideration for head coaching positions this offseason. The Browns turned the corner after dumping Jackson and appointing Gregg Williams as the team’s interim head coach, which isn’t a great endorsement for the offensive guru. Meanwhile, the Bengals hired Austin in January but fired him earlier this month as his defense was one of the lowest ranked in the NFL.

Giants Interviewed Duce Staley For OC Job?

Despite being an Eagles coach for the past seven seasons, Duce Staley did not receive the promotion he sought this offseason. Philadelphia opted to name Mike Groh as Frank Reich‘s offensive coordinator replacement after interviewing both Groh and Staley.

However, Staley may well have participated in another key interview this offseason. The Eagles’ running backs coach met with the Giants about their offensive coordinator position, Marcus Hayes of the Philadelphia Inquirer reports.

This is the first report of Staley interviewing for that role, one Pat Shurmur initially sought Vikings QBs coach Kevin Stefanski for but was denied permission. Staley was mentioned as a candidate for Big Blue’s OC position earlier this offseason prior to the job going to former Panthers OC Mike Shula. Nevertheless, he’s back on as RBs coach, now with an assistant head coach title, for the defending Super Bowl champions. This will be his sixth season in that role.

I’m not worried about being a coordinator. I’m worried about being able to be out there and coach for another Super Bowl,” Staley said, via Hayes, changing his tune slightly from last year around this time. “That’s where I’m at right now. Everything else will handle itself.”

Hayes notes Staley wants to be a head coach and knows the OC route would be the easiest way for him to accomplish that goal, and the 43-year-old assistant did not dismiss a possible interest in going the college route to help get there.

But for now, the former Eagles running back is hoping his work leading their current backs will speak for itself and potentially land him a higher-profile job in the near future.

Crazy league. Crazy situations,” Staley said. “You talk about being at the right place at the right time. Sometimes things are slotted, and they may not be slotted for you. Sometimes something may just pop up on you.

Look at Anthony Lynn. Boom, next thing you know, head coach.”

Also an NFL running back in the ’90s, Lynn saw Greg Roman‘s ouster as Bills OC in 2016 lead to a promotion. And a few months later, the Chargers hired him as their head coach. A running backs coach since 2003, Lynn has several years of additional coaching experience compared to Staley. But with the Eagles losing both Reich and John DeFilippo this offseason, Staley could have a smoother path to an OC gig elsewhere if Philly’s offense continues to thrive.

NFC East Notes: Eagles, Jeffery, Cousins

Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery had surgery on Wednesday morning to fix a torn rotator cuff, sources tell Ian Rapoport of NFL.com (on Twitter). Jeffery first suffered the injury in training camp and played through the pain all the way to a Super Bowl championship.

Jeffery’s toughness is commendable, but rotator cuff tears come in various degrees and his wasn’t of the most severe variety. By getting the surgery in February, the receiver should be ready well in advance of training camp.

Last offseason, the Eagles signed Jeffery to a one-year prove-it deal when the open market didn’t yield the kind of contract offers he wanted. The contract paid big dividends for both sides. The Eagles saw Jeffery catch 57 passes for 789 yards and nine touchdowns during the regular season. Jeffery, meanwhile, was rewarded with a fat four-year, $52MM extension in December.

Here’s more from the NFC East: