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NFL Unfiltered Week 17: Do Philly Connections Mean Philly Success?

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Here we go again!

As the last week of the NFL’s less than stellar regular season wound down, the annual merry-go-round of head coaches began.  

Now, media and fans in at least five pro football cities think the next head coach is the answer to their Super Bowl prayers.  

He isn’t.  

More likely, he knows as much about the game as the man he replaced, and is merely taking his turn on the coaching carousel.  

But first things first.  The Rooney Rule.  

Each team looking to fill a vacancy must find a minority, ANY minority, and grant him an interview.  Whether that candidate has a real chance to get the job does not matter.  The point is to get a dark face in front of ownership.  It is mostly a waste of time for guys like running backs coach Duce Staley, the Eagles resident darker-skinned interviewee.  However, it is still necessary in 2016, despite what many think.

With Staley out of the way, the birds can search for a coach without being forced to meet any more qualified minorities.  

Consequently, let’s look at some truths about three men who would be king. If some media folks and fans have their druthers, one of these native sons and adopted brothers will wear the big headset in 2016.  

Sean McDermott – Defensive Coordinator, Carolina Panthers

Seems like Sean McDermott has been in the NFL since birth with 17 years of experience under his belt, despite being only 41 years of age.  This season, the Panthers allowed just under 20 points per game and 5,167 yards ranking 6th in both categories. That is certainly good, but keep in mind their Former Eagles Defensive Coordinator Sean McDermott.opponents scored at least 20 points in half their games and at least 23 in six of those eight.  In other words, McDermott’s Panthers were not a dominant defense by any measure.  

Furthermore, in his five seasons as Panthers defensive coordinator, his charge finished outside the top-17 in points allowed THREE times.  

Of course, McDermott is a local guy, which plays on our collective insecurities, since we always fall in love with those who speak reverently about Philly. But based on their talent since 2011, has the Panthers defense underachieved, overachieved or met your expectations?  In my view, they’ve underachieved.  

Add that to the fact he works for a defensive-minded head coach in Ron Rivera, who likely has more influence than a coach with an offensive background might, and the excitement surrounding McDermott is almost laughable.  

Pat Shurmur – Offensive Coordinator, Philadelphia Eagles

Having coached here in one capacity or another for 13 years, Pat Shurmur is an adopted son of Philadelphia. That makes analyzing his résumé a matter of inconvenience for some.  

It is far easier to wallow in the warmth of Shurmur’s Philly embrace than to acknowledge that from 2009-2012 (two seasons as St Louis offensive coordinator, and two seasons as Cleveland’s head coach), Shurmur’s crew finished as high as 18th in points scored once.  

Naturally, you could make excuses for him, since Cleveland seems as dysfunctional as any NFL organization and he only coached quarterback Sam Bradford one season.  However, it is important to note Shurmur left Bradford to become head coach of the Browns, so hubris and ambition are at least partly responsible for his failures.  

Steve Spagnuolo – Defensive Coordinator, New York Giants

Even if you dismiss his awful record as St. Louis’ head coach (though, it is fruitless to try) you cannot ignore the fact “Spags,” as he is affectionately known in Philly, has not distinguished himself as a great coordinator.  Steve Spagnuolo

In four years orchestrating defenses in New York (3) and New Orleans (1), Steve Spagnuolo’s teams ranked in the top-5 in points allowed once, 13th once and the bottom third two other seasons.  Yet, it seems Giants co-owner John Mara thinks enough of Spagnuolo to grant him an interview.  

In truth, all three of these men know football. The things they could show you on a white board from and X’ and O’s perspective, might make your head spin.  But EVERY coaching candidate knows strategy and scheme.  

Still, it has not made nearly as much difference throughout the NFL as how well the quarterback plays, or who acquires talent.  

And if owner Jeffrey Lurie chooses one of those three, it will not make much difference in Philly either.  

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THINGS THE PUNDITS CAN’T OR WON’T SAY: Week 17

-If there is a plausible reason why the NFL is not swooning at the feet of Stanford’s David Shaw, please share it.  In 2011, San Francisco gave Jim Harbaugh $5-million per year. In 2012, the Eagles gave Chip Kelly $6-million per year.  And before you say, “Shaw wants to stay in college,” remember, he must say that until he actually leaves for recruiting purposes.  Let’s see if we hear any rumors of him saying no to a 5-year, $25-million dollar contract from an NFL team before believing he prefers Stanford.  

By the way, Shaw has nine years of NFL experience. That is a little over four times more than Harbaugh and Kelly combined at the time they were wooed away from college football.  

-If you have the luxury of coaching a future Hall of Fame quarterback, you should not lose more than 8 games i Photo: sportsworldreport.comn a season.  That is a feat New Orleans’ Sean Payton failed to carry out the last two years.  He is obviously a good football coach, but he has strayed too far from the principles of running the football and playing good defense.  

-Conversely, Pittsburgh’s Mike Tomlin, who gets mentioned in ‘Unfiltered as much as any coach or player in the NFL (not for good reasons) has not been worse than 8-8 in his nine years at the helm.   

Speaking of Tomlin, if Pittsburgh wins another title, his entry into the Hall of Fame is all but a certainty. Ah, the randomness of today’s NFL.  

-Congratulations to Seattle’s Russell Wilson for becoming the first player in NFL history to throw 30 touchdown passes, throw for 4,000 yards and rush for 500 yards in a single season.  His salary grew and the Seahawks became weaker defensively, so his improvement is the single biggest reason Seattle is vying for another championship.

-The notion the Minnesota Vikings should have lost to the Green Bay Packers so they could avoid Seattle, is silly. You always want a home playoff game if you can get one.  Let’s see if Seattle is ready for a Minnesota winter at the always challenging 1:00 pm kickoff.   

 

Earl Myers is a freelance writer from the Philadelphia area.  He closely follows North America's four major sports leagues but just about any sporting event gets his attention.  His goal is to provoke a little thought in his readers.

Contact Earl at emyersiii@hotmail.com

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Spagnuolo photo: phillysportscentral.com

Russell Wilson photo: sportsworldreport.com