Would the Eagles be Better Off with Duce Staley as Head Coach?

Posted on November 3, 2021

Some of the Eagles beat writers posted photos of team owner Jeff Lurie chatting on the field with Detroit’s Assistant Head Coach Duce Staley. Staley was part of the franchise for seven seasons as a player, made our Top 10 Running Backs list, and won a Super Bowl as a coach on Doug Pederson’s staff. 

Lurie called Staley “like a son to me” in January when the team cut ties with Pederson.

Many figured the former RB would be the new coach, after having spent over a decade with three different staffs in South Philly.

Why not Duce Staley?

So why is he working with Dan Campbell in the Motor City? We may never know. WHY EAGLES WHY?!

While the Eagles pulled their most lopsided win on Sunday since Staley called plays with Chip Kelly in a December 2013 rout of Chicago, the question will not go away:

Would the franchise be in better shape if Staley was holding the laminated sheet, not Nick Sirianni?

  • Short answer: Most likely, yes.Here’s why:

Mid-Term Report Card

We’ve reached the halfway point of the 2021 season. If the Eagles coaching staff were getting report cards, their teachers might want to call their parents in for a conference. 

Things have not looked good for the Philadelphia Eagles roster. We really didn’t know what to expect with a first-time head coach and first-time defensive coordinator in Jonathan Gannon. Honestly, the whole coaching roster looks like what might happen if a legacy name like Caterpillar or Kellogg’s hired a bunch of recent MBA grads to occupy their C-suite roles (CEO, COO, etc.)

Even Detroit has some recognizable names in Dom Capers, Anthony Lynn, and Dave Fipp. They even got former Eagles center Hank Fraley working with the offensive line.

Right now, there’s a lot of learning on the job at the NovaCare Complex. The most experienced name of the football side appears to be the man responsible for assembling this group, GM Howie Roseman (we’re not gonna make this about him, we promise).

Even the Raiders’ staff involved with one of the most controversial mid-season upheavals in recent years has some former HCs, which has helped them retain momentum as they lead the competitive AFC West. 

With the win in Detroit, 3-5 seems a fair record. The play has been alarmingly inconsistent. Sirianni has worked in NFL offenses for a few years but hasn’t quite gotten the hang of it. Having someone with 10 years of playing experience like Staley might be helpful to offer insight.

It might also help QB Jalen Hurts transition from Pederson’s terminology and paradigm, along with the general maturing and shifting to the NFL game from college football, which still appears to be happening. 


Sirianni enters gameplans with a wide receiver mentality. He played the position in college and has coached that in the pros. That’s part of why the Eagles throw a lot, despite a young QB and having lost multiple linemen already to injury.

Running the ball in the NFL is not sexy. It’s not cool, it’s not a sign of superior intellect, it’s usually not what gets position coaches noticed or front office personnel complimented. 

However, it usually works well. It wins games. It helped the Eagles continue rolling to their Super Bowl when the starting QB went down, just as it did nearly 30 years prior for the Giants when they had a similar situation and faced a high-powered offensive opponent in Buffalo.

Maybe Sirianni decided to be the Big Tuna for Halloween, or Bo Schembechler as a tribute to playing in Michigan. The Eagles ran the ball 46 times on Sunday, with each of three RBs getting at least 12 carries. The team earned 236 yards on the ground, controlled 35 minutes of clock, and got all four offensive TDs on the run. The win was the first in Detroit since 2010 and the most points ever in that city. 

Of course, the team would probably run the ball more if the head coach was a former running back… 

Looking Ahead

Duce Staley had to wish his former boss and team well after the game, as the Lions slipped to 0-8. He and the coaches have to figure out a way to avoid the first 0-17 season in league history. Seriously, that’s not a good team.

As for Sirianni, he’s earned a reprieve from the fans. The post-game locker room speech lauded the team for their intensity in preparation and attention to details. None of the gardening talk appeared until Jason Kelce (he’d make a good coach someday, wouldn’t he?) broke it down with “Roots”. 

The midterm report probably has more Incompletes than we’d like to see as fans. However, like Chip Kelly’s first year, the tests seem more favorable in the second half. The back half only features three opponents currently in playoff position (Los Angeles, New Orleans, and Dallas), which will all come to South Philly. Denver and the Jets seem winnable games on the road. Five of the last six will be divisional contests, so anything goes there. 

Could this work out? Sitting a game out of the wildcard, behind a few teams, could the Eagles sneak into the final wildcard spot? Could Sirianni reward the owner’s faith and make the postseason his rookie year as Kelly did? That would probably end the second-guessing about the former power back we let go.

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