Philadelphia Eagles: Kevin O’Connell makes more sense than Jim Caldwell

(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images)
(Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images) /

With a pressing need to lock up a new offensive coordinator stat, the Philadelphia Eagles should value potential over experience and hire Kevin O’Connell over Jim Caldwell.

Well Philadelphia Eagles fans, it looks like you finally got your wish.

That’s right, not one day removed from publicly endorsing the returns of offensive coordinator Mike Groh and wide receivers coach Carson Walch, Jeffrey Lurie pulled a Vince McMahon and put Doug Pederson‘s coaching staff over the top rope.

Maybe one day, we’ll actually find out what happened over this pivotal 24 hour period – maybe – but until then, we’ll have to quietly speculate among ourselves while we turn a collective eye to who exactly will fill these newfound vacancies while a crop of talented coaches are still on the open market.

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Fortunately, we already have a few potential candidates rising to the top of the Eagles’ crop.

In addition to Duce Staley, who I profiled here in the pre-Groh-less world, ex-Detroit Lions head coach Jim Caldwell and 2019 Washington Redskins offensive coordinator Kevin O’Connell have been linked to the team according to ESPN’s Tim McManus, with the two targets bringing vastly different resumes to the table.

Let’s meet the duo, shall we?

Jim Caldwell, 64. Jim started his football career as a graduate assistant at Iowa in 1977, before steadily climbing up the ranks of the college game from a receivers coach at Southern Illinois, Colorado, Louisville, and Penn State, to a quarterbacks coach at Penn State, to a head coaching gig at Wake Forrest from 1993-2000. From there, Caldwell took his talents to the NFL, first as a quarterbacks coach for the Buccaneers, before becoming the assistant – and eventually non – head coach of the Indianapolis Colts from 2002-2011.

But that’s all. No, after being let go by the Colts, Caldwell joined up with Baltimore’s current football team, the Ravens, before accepting a head coaching role with the Detroit Lions from 2014-17, where he led the team to the playoffs twice after Jim Schwartz‘s up, but mostly down tenure as a head coach.

Since then, Caldwell spent the 2019 regular season as an assistant head coach/quarterbacks coach for the Miami Dolphins, where I guess he helped to coach up 37-year-old Ryan Fitzpatrick.

Boy talk about a loaded resume, I’d hate to be the other guy.

Kevin O’Connell, 34. O’Connell’s NFL career actually began as a player, when he was drafted in the third round by the New England Patriots out of San Diego State. He appeared in two games in 2008 before bouncing around the league for the next four years. From there, O’Connell was transitioned out of football before joining the Cleveland Browns as an assistant in 2015, the Chip Kelly-led San Francisco 49ers.

But don’t worry, we won’t hold that against you.

After the Kelly Experience fizzled out for the second time in as many seasons, O’Connell eventually settled in our nation’s capital, where he served as Jay Gruden‘s quarterbacks coach from 2017-18, before taking over offensive coordinatorship in 2019.

Ok, so for fans at home, we’re looking at a potential offensive coordinator with over 42-years of coaching experience, versus one with five. It seems like an obvious choice, right? I’d wage not.

You see, any team that plans on hiring Caldwell would surely do so in two capacities, both as a coordinator and as an assistant head coach. That’s well and good for a team with a first-time head coach like Joe Judge or our Twitter follower Matt Rhule, but the Eagles already have an assistant head coach in Duce Staley, and he deserves more power, not less.

Furthermore, Caldwell’s Lions never ranked higher than 28th in the league in rushing – including two seasons at 32. As we’ve all but established, the Eagles offense runs best when it runs a lot, as evidenced by their win-loss record when they rush for 100 or more yards (more on that here).

With Caldwell in Pederson’s ear, the Eagles would probably continue on with their current identity as a team that passes early, late, and often – albeit one with an experienced quarterback developer dating back to before Carson Wentz was born.

In a lot of ways, Caldwell exemplifies the NFL’s old guard, whereas O’Connell? Well, O’Connell represents the new.

A quarterback guru in his own right with much more recent first-hand experience, O’Connell accomplished the almost impossible task of making the Redskins’ offense look respectable in 2019, despite having a carousel of not-great options at quarterback, and a mid-season coaching change.

That’s pretty darn impressive.

O’Connell is also considered an ascending offensive talent, who could very well end up earning a head coaching job in the not too distant future a la Sean McVay, or Zac Taylor.

I don’t know about you, but I’d love to buy low on O’Connell before his blows up.

With a ton of experience in a run-heavy scheme, O’Connell looks like the perfect coach to come in and help Pederson craft a fresh offensive scheme around the screen-pass-heavy, zone RPO scheme the team used to perfection in 2017 with Nick Foles and 2019 with Wentz/Josh McCown.

And as for QB coach? I don’t know, just hire Josh McCown and call it a day.

dark. Next. The Philadelphia Eagles need to empower Duce Staley in 2020

With Kevin O’Connell in the fray alongside Doug Pederson and Duce Staley, the Philadelphia Eagles would have the closest appropriation of their 2017 ‘quarterback incubator’ – a guilded war room where iron sharpens iron. Hiring Jim Caldwell, by contrast, is just guaranteeing more of the same, and if the 2019 season’s results are of any indication, this team needs to shake things up.