Eagles Director of Player Personnel to the Colts

Jonathan Tamari:

Grigson would take the GM job a team facing huge decisions, with the number one pick in April’s draft and a choice to make on franchise quarterback Peyton Manning.

Grigson, 39, was promoted to director of player personnel in 2010 after spending four years as the team’s director of college scouting. He helped scout top college players and NFL free agents. He previously worked with the Rams.

Tough to tell: will the Eagles drafting improve or get even worse?

Howard Mudd: O-Line Genius or Overrated?

Howard Mudd Offensive Line Coach Philadelphia Eagles

Last year, I questioned Bobby April’s track record as a genius special teams coach. His results were not quite as stellar, nor his turnarounds as quick as many people seemed to suggest at the time.

This offseason we have new darling, genius, best-in-the-NFL assistant coaches in Philadelphia. Most notable is offensive line coach Howard Mudd, whom Andy Reid was delighted to lure out of retirement.

Certainly he’s had a lot of success. Mudd’s tenure in Indianapolis from 1998 to 2009 was simply brilliant. In fact, if you’d gone through Football Outsiders offensive line rankings (I have), you would think there’s been a mistake. The Colts were either first or second in the NFL for Adjusted Sack Rate in ten of the twelve years he was their coach. And the only two years in which the Colts weren’t that high, their offensive line was still ranked in the top ten.

Mudd must be doing something right in order to orchestrate such great protection. Unless… it wasn’t actually the offensive line. Unless it was the quarterback. See, it just so happens that Mudd’s first year in Indianapolis corresponded with Peyton Manning’s arrival. And guess what? After Mudd retired following the 2009 season, the Manning-led Colts didn’t skip a beat. In 2010 they were ranked number one yet again in Adjusted Sack Rate.

Furthermore, while the Football Outsider numbers don’t cover years before 1996, we can still look at basic sack rates at Mudd’s previous job. From 1993 to 1997, Mudd was the offensive line coach for the Seattle Seahawks. Only in his final year did the team allow fewer sacks than the NFL average.

None of this is conclusive evidence that Mudd isn’t a great coach. But it does bring into question the evidence for Mudd’s ability to single-handedly mold the Eagles offensive line into a great unit. I hope he can upgrade the Eagles offensive line, but that’s a hope — certainly no guarantee.

Photo from Getty.

Odd Similarities: Are the Eagles the New Colts?

Michael Vick Peyton Manning Post Game Embrace Eagles Colts

There’s been one NFL team for most of the last decade that employed steady stars across the offensive skill positions, including a top five quarterback with special intangibles, two Pro Bowl-caliber wide receivers, and a cadre of complementary weapons for their pass-heavy system. This team had a speed-oriented but relatively simple 4-3 defense with lots of player turnover. And the overall system, touted for years by a steady veteran coach, was in place for season after season as the team won multiple division titles and always pushed closer to the Super Bowl — before finally making it over the hump.

I’d ask you readers what team I’m referring to, but my title probably gave it away. The Indianapolis Colts, with Peyton Manning, Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and others were one of the best teams of the 2000s. After 10 victories in Tony Dungy’s first year as coach in 2002, the Colts won 12 or more games for the next seven years.

Perhaps this is a stretch (and feel free to call me out on it if so), but in many ways haven’t the Eagles become a mirror image of those Colts teams?

Start on offense. Clearly, Michael Vick isn’t the same type of quarterback as Manning, but both are dominant stars at the position that make defenses adjust to them. DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin are the new Harrison and Wayne. LeSean McCoy can be Edgerrin James and Brent Celek can grow into Dallas Clark’s shoes. Along the offensive line the Eagles now have the same “genius” position coach in Howard Mudd — so presumably that unit will start looking similar.

On defense the Eagles are apparently moving away from the complex blitzes of Jim Johnson to the opposite read-and-react style that marked Dungy’s defenses for years. New defensive coordinator Juan Castillo has praised Lovie Smith’s work in Chicago, and the Bears defense is derived from Dungy’s Tampa Two. That new philosophy should fit the Eagles personnel fine since the Colts have cycled through young linebackers at almost the same rate.

NFL teams are built in all sorts of ways, and it would have been difficult in the past to characterize these two teams as particularly similar. Suddenly though, there are these similarities and coincidences. And I don’t think it’s a bad thing.

I’ve always admired the Colts from afar for their strategy, as well as for the consistency of their success. Part of that success comes from an adherence to one of Football Outsiders’ basic principles: “Offense is more consistent from year to year than defense, and offensive performance is easier to project than defensive performance.” Colts GM Bill Polian built a consistently above average offensive unit from Manning on down, and then allowed the defense to shift around and eventually luck into a few good games in a playoff run.

Intentionally or not, the Eagles front office seems to have replicated that formula. Over the last few years they’ve focused on building a formidable offense for the foreseeable future and then started searching for defensive solutions. While the past is written for those Colts, it remains to be seen what kind of future this team has going forward.

Photo from Getty. Originally published at NBC Philadelphia.

Michael Vick is Donovan McNabb 2.0

With the Eagles traveling to Washington to face the Donovan McNabb-led (for now) Redskins on Monday, it was ironic to see such a McNabb-esque performance yesterday from Michael Vick.

The quarterback threw almost 30 times, completing just below 60 percent of his passes, executing in the short game and launching deep bombs like few other players can. He took a few sacks, but also was masterful at evading the rush in the backfield to extend the play and find receivers downfield. He refused to make a big interception mistake, and even broke free of the containment a few times to get big first downs with his legs.

In a game where Andy Reid largely abandoned the Wildcat package and option running plays due to concerns about Vick re-injuring his ribs, we saw what a few years back would have been a typical great game from McNabb — only now we’re getting it from #7 rather than #5…