Carson Wentz recently signed a four-year extension with the Eagles. The talented young quarterback has high expectations for himself and the team. One of the reasons is that this is his fourth season and quarterback is a position where experience really matters.
Beyond just general experience, this will be Wentz's fourth season in the same scheme. It will be his fourth season playing for the same head coach. He knows the playbook, but also has a strong relationship with the man calling the plays. They are very much on the same page and that has helped Wentz to develop into the star player who he is.
Players need stability if they are to develop and reach their full potential. Teams need stability to win games.
The Eagles are a stable franchise and that gives them an advantage. Jeffrey Lurie has owned the team since 1994. That gives him a lot of experience to draw upon when making tough decisions. You're going to see just about everything over 25 years.
Howie Roseman has been with the Eagles since 2000. His title has changed a couple of times, as he is now the Executive Vice President/General Manager, but the point is still the same. Roseman is the one deciding which players to draft and which players to sign.
Lurie and Roseman offer leadership and vision for the organization. Don't underestimate how critical that is. They offer the right mixture of patience and aggression. The Eagles are not afraid to take chances. At the same time, players and coaches know they will be given a chance to do their jobs.
No one has to worry about critical comments after a tough game. Some owners and executives share their thoughts with the media, at times undermining their own players and coaches. Lurie and Roseman are supportive of their players and coaches. Things are done the right way.
Doug Pederson is entering his fourth year as head coach of the Eagles. He was an assistant for the team from 2009-12 and even played for the Eagles back in 1999. One of the reasons the Eagles were interested in Pederson as a head coach is that they thought so highly of him as a person. Compare that to most teams, who obsess on the résumé and not the person.
Pederson works well with Lurie and Roseman. They all share the same ideas for how things should be done. One of the first things many coaches do when they are hired is fill the organization with their guys, both players and coaches. Pederson couldn't be more different than that.
He actually kept multiple members from Chip Kelly's coaching staff. That rarely happens. Pederson reviewed the coaches and saw that some of them were outstanding. Why get rid of them to bring in friendly faces? That just adds an extra layer to the transition and makes it that much harder to win right away.
Pederson embraced the holdover coaches and the good players already on the roster. Again, change for the sake of change isn't a good thing. The Eagles still have eight starting players from when Pederson took over the team. Most coaches can't wait to purge the roster.
Roster change is natural in the NFL. Players come and go. That's just a fact of life. The Eagles' ability to retain key players has given them an edge.
I also think stability on the coaching staff has been huge for the Eagles. The team has been running the same offense and defense since Pederson arrived. There are adjustments on a weekly basis, but the basic schemes are the same. That is critical for players.
Coaches will tell you that the less players think, the faster they play. Coaches want players to be instinctive. If a player knows the scheme inside-out, he will make reads and decisions without stopping to think about it. Compare a kid who turns 16 and starts driving for the first time versus that same person five years later. They hop in the car and start driving without thinking about the actual process. Things come naturally based on experience.
Jim Schwartz was brought in as the defensive coordinator when Pederson was hired. Schwartz is a veteran coach with a definitive scheme and core beliefs. That helps his players, who know exactly what is expected of them, and the scouts, who know what to look for in draft prospects and free agents.
Think about last year's playoffs. Both of the Eagles' opponents finished in the top 10 in the league in scoring. The Eagles held them to 15 and 20 points, respectively, despite playing a patchwork secondary with only one starter from the beginning of the season. Backups were able to step in and perform well because they knew their roles and the overall scheme.
By having the same coach running the same scheme, you can change out assistants if you need to and it doesn't affect continuity as much. When the Eagles do make changes, they focus on promoting from within. Again, that kind of stability helps.
Pederson lost offensive coordinator Frank Reich and quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo after the 2017 season. Staff changes are one of the few downsides to winning the Super Bowl. The Eagles promoted Mike Groh to offensive coordinator and Press Taylor to quarterbacks coach. The offensive players knew both of them and those coaches already knew the scheme. Eagles quarterbacks still threw for 29 touchdowns and finished with a passer rating over 100 last season.
One of the reasons for success in recent years has been the play of the offensive line. Jeff Stoutland has been coaching the line since 2013 and has done an outstanding job. Outstanding. He's been able to keep veterans like Jason Peters and Jason Kelce playing at a high level. Stoutland developed Lane Johnson into one of the top tackles in football. Stoutland has maximized the talent of free agents like Brandon Brooks and Stefen Wisniewski as well as draft picks like Isaac Seumalo and Halapoulivaati Vaitai.
Dave Fipp has been coaching the Eagles' special teams since 2013. Fipp has done a brilliant job of developing young talent like Jake Elliott, Cameron Johnston, and Rick Lovato. Fipp is an outstanding teacher and gets a lot of new faces every year. Veteran special teamers are able to help the new guys fit right in because the basic schemes are the same as they have been for years.
Stability really does matter in the NFL. Change is inevitable, but the organizations that do the best job of keeping their front office, coaching staff, and core players together are going to have the best chance to win on a consistent basis.