In Andy Reid Era Philadelphia Eagles Assistants Key to Success
In the last 10 years, under Andy Reid's tenure as head coach, the Philadelphia Eagles have made seven trips to the postseason that included five NFC Championship games, five NFC East titles, and one Super Bowl appearance.
Another sign of the Eagles success in the Reid era is that several of his coaches have moved on to other teams as head coaches or coordinators.
Three of Reid's former assistants led teams to the playoffs in 2008—Minnesota Vikings head coach Brad Childress (offensive coordinator), Baltimore Ravens head coach John Harbaugh (special teams coach), and Steve Spagnuolo, who is the new head coach of the St. Louis Rams, helped lead the New York Giants into the postseason as the defensive coordinator.
The key to the Eagles success over the years has been through Reid's coaching staff. The success of this group speaks for itself by the number of players that have done well under their tutelage. Additionally, these coaches have played a key role in shaping the team's play-calling.
Although he is on a medical leave of absence from the team, defensive coordinator Jim Johnson has made the Eagles defense into one of the best in the NFL. The numbers that Johnson's defenses have compiled over the years speak for themselves.
Since 2000, Johnson's blitzing, attack-the-quarterback defenses, have ranked second in sacks, fourth in fewest points allowed, and second in third down conversions and red zone touchdowns. When he was the Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator in 1998, his defense produced 10 touchdowns—eight came on interceptions—the second most in NFL history.
During his time as the Eagles head defensive guru, Johnson has produced 26 Pro Bowlers. Dating back to when he was the secondary coach with the Arizona Cardinals, he also guided perennial All-Pro Aeneis Williams to leading the NFL in interceptions as a rookie.
Johnson began his coaching career at the collegiate ranks and was the defensive coordinator at Notre Dame when the Fighting Irish won the national championship by beating a Texas team led by Heisman Trophy winner Earl Campbell.
Looking to fill Johnson's shoes during his absence is acting defensive coordinator Sean McDermott, who is currently serving as the Eagles secondary coach.
Like Johnson, McDermott's players have done well enough to make the Eagles into one of the league's best defensive units. As a secondary/safeties coordinator, McDermott guided both Brian Dawkins and Michael Lewis to the Pro Bowl.
McDermott, an all conference safety at William and Mary in the early 1990s, has been with the Eagles coaching staff since 1998 when he was a scout. He has successfully moved up through the ranks of the Eagles organization, and has learned his lessons well from the likes of people like Reid and Johnson.
On the offensive side of the football, offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg not only brings his experience in tutoring quarterbacks like Donovan McNabb, Brett Favre, Steve Young, and Jeff Garcia, but he also knows a little something about developing an offensive game plan.
Back in 2006 when the Eagles were struggling to score, with Donovan McNabb out for the season with a knee-injury, Mornhinweg took over the Eagles play-calling and came up with a no-huddle offense that included plenty of running plays, something that the Eagles don't like to do on a regular basis.
Mornhinweg's play-calling helped the Eagles win the NFC East and advance to the divisional playoffs where they eventually lost to the New Orleans Saints.
"We were in a rut offensively, and I call the plays," Reid said at the time. "It starts with me. You take a hard look at yourself in that situation, and we weren't moving the football. If I'm in a rut, I feel very comfortable turning to Marty. So that's what we did."
Last season, Mornhinweg's offense set a franchise record for the most points in a season. He also helped McNabb set career highs in completions and passing yards.
Mornhinweg, who was once the head coach of the Detroit Lions, has worked with Reid for a long time dating back to when they were in the collegiate ranks at Texas El-Paso and at Missouri. Both Mornhinweg and Reid have Super Bowl rings as assistant coaches with the Green Bay Packers under Mike Holmgren.
A successful offensive line is key to any team's play-calling. They key cog in the wheel for this unit is offensive line coach Juan Castillo. Under his guidance, the Birds have developed four Pro Bowl offensive lineman into Pro Bowlers. He has also helped undrafted rookie free agents, like current center Jamaal Jackson and Hank Fraley develop into NFL starters.
Under Castillo's tutelage last season, the Eagles allowed the fewest sacks per pass in team history. In 2007, the Birds were sixth in the NFL in total offense. His offensive line enabled running back Brian Westbrook to set a team record in total yards from scrimmage while finishing that season as the third-ranked rusher.
Castillo has been with the team for 15 years, and was one of the few coaches who worked under former Eagles head coach Ray Rhodes.
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