More proof that the NFL is far and away America's Game, the national pastime and the most powerful sport and entertainment business in our country: Super Bowl XLIX with a record Nielsen rating of 49.7 and a 72 share in the United States with 114.4 million viewers. Wow ...
We all watched. We all enjoyed. And now that it's over, we're talking Eagles, Eagles and more Eagles here during the very s-l-o-w period between now and free agency on March 10.
Eagles Finalize Coaching Staff
The Eagles completed their coaching staff on Tuesday by naming Stephen Thomas the team's defensive quality control coach, making Matthew Harper, a special teams assistant coach in 2014, the new assistant defensive backs coach, and promoting Michael Clay from defensive quality control coach in 2014 to assistant special teams coach.
If you missed the moves made within head coach Chip Kelly's staff, here are the bullet points:
- Assistant defensive backs coach Todd Lyght was hired at Vanderbilt as cornerbacks coach. Lyght worked with the safeties in his two seasons with the Eagles.
- Tight ends coach Ted Williams and defensive backs coach John Lovett (cornerbacks) left the coaching staff and are now working with the pro personnel department.
- Justin Peelle, assistant tight ends coach since 2013, is now the tight ends coach.
- Cory Undlin, a coach in the NFL since 2004 and for the most recent three seasons in Denver with the Broncos, was hired as the Eagles' defensive backs coach.
- Bill Musgrave, the quarterback coach in 2014, left to become offensive coordinator with the Oakland Raiders.
- In as quarterbacks coach is Ryan Day, a coach since 2006 who in 2013-2014 was the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at Boston College.
- Harper impressed a lot of players and those within the team working with Dave Fipp on special teams the last two years and now works with Undlin in the defensive backfield, an area the Eagles want to improve after giving up so many "X" plays in the passing game last season.
- Clay, a former player at Oregon, replaces Harper working with Fipp and special teams after a season of working as a quality control coach on the defense.
- Thomas spent the last three seasons at Princeton as the inside linebackers coach after previously coaching at Cortland, the University of Delaware, and Southern Mississippi.
The question many ask is this: What does a quality control coach do? The answer: A lot, actually. And it's a great place to start a coaching career in the NFL. Mike Holmgren is credited with initiating the role of quality control coach in 1990 when he was the offensive coordinator with the 49ers. His first quality control coach? Jon Gruden, who used the job as a springboard to a great coaching career and, now, broadcasting career.
A quality control coach is a true multitasking coach. He breaks down film, analyzes data, sometimes prepares the Scout team in training sessions, charts plays in games and in the training sessions, among other things. The hours are long and the reward is a great working knowledge of how a coaching staff works and the nuances of what it takes to coach in the NFL.
Some notable coaches who coached with the Eagles as quality-control coaches: Steve Spagnuolo, who went on to become a head coach and who is now the defensive coordinator with the Giants, Mike Caldwell, now the assistant head coach/inside linebackers with the Jets, Sean McDermott, the Panthers' defensive coordinator, Doug Pederson, the offensive coordinator in Kansas City, Duce Staley, the current Eagles' running backs coach and Dave Toub, the special teams coordinator in Kansas City.
A Quick Peek At The Draft, Free Agency
The Eagles have eight draft picks in April, including the 20th overall, 52nd overall (second round) and 84th overall pick (third round). The Eagles also own San Francisco's fourth-round draft pick, acquired through Buffalo in exchange for running back Bryce Brown last spring.
Big draft for the Eagles. Huge opportunity to address some needs. If the money in free rises to around $146 million as many analysts believe, teams will have a lot of dollars to keep their own. The pickings in free agency could be slim. How much should teams rely on free agency, anyway?
Teams build through the draft. The Eagles need to strike here and come up big in late April. Add a strong draft to this roster and the Eagles have a chance to play deep into the 2015 postseason.
Some Encouraging Stats On Defense
The defense forced 23 fumbles (first in NFL), recovered 16 (first), had league-most 123 opponent negative plays and tied for second in quarterback sacks (49) in 2014. The Eagles were eighth in three-and-out percentage (23.6 percent). A lot went well for the defense in 2014, most of it at the line of scrimmage. Coordinator Bill Davis knows that he has a deep and talented group up front -- watch for Taylor Hart's development in his second season -- and that the defense needs to address the back end and the inside linebacker position, where injuries ravaged Rick Minter's group last season.
I think the Eagles have one of the deepest and most talented groups of young defensive linemen in the league. It's a fine place to build around defensively. Don't take lightly how much the Eagles have up front, and how much that's going to benefit the rest of the defense as the team looks to advance this defense to the next level. Let's talk soon ...