The Philadelphia Eagles offense has been sporadic during the first 8 games of the season. Carson Wentz has struggled mightily and the offense as a whole has been a task to watch week in and week out. On the surface, there may not appear to be a visible fix to the offensive quandaries this season, but the solution may actually come from within the organization.
Rich Scangarello joined the Eagles staff during the 2020 offseason. Scangarello was one of many hires on the the Eagles offensive side of the ball, but it was Scangarello who was reported to have the biggest role of all the hires.
Scangarello was hired under the title of, “senior offensive assistant”. Scangarello was hired to (in his own words), “help be a part of a staff that is already a veteran group that will work together. (I just want to) incorporate myself to help the offense be the best version it can be in whatever way I can help Doug and the entire group in planning.”
But with an erratic offense and quarterback, might it be time to increase Scangarello’s workload from just game-planning, to a more hands-on gameday, offensive coordinator like role?
I think the answer to this question is an unequivocal yes. Here are 4 reasons why:
1 – His Body of Work
“He knows what he’s doing. He’s a very good coach, he’s been in a lot of systems, knows a lot of football.”
That’s Kyle Shanahan speaking on Rich Scangarello after Scangarello was announced as the Broncos offensive coordinator in 2019.
Rich Scangarello has coached for 4 other NFL teams. He was an offensive quality control coach with the Raiders (2009) and Falcons (2015). Although the genesis of his coaching philosophy likely began in Atlanta under Kyle Shanahan, his biggest recognition comes from his time in San Francisco (2017-2018) and Denver (2019).
In San Francisco, Scangarello was the quarterbacks coach. In 2017, Scangarello was instrumental in Jimmy Garoppolo’s transition from New England to San Francisco.
Under Scangarello’s tutelage, Garoppolo guided the 49ers to a 6-2 record as a starter and went 5-0 in the team’s last 5 games.
But along with Garoppolo, Scangarello was also lauded for his work with Nick Mullens in 2018. Mullens was forced into action after Garoppolo and backup QB, C.J. Beathard both went down with injuries. Mullens was called up from the practice squad and under Scangarello’s guiding hand, completed 64.2% of his passes, for 2,277 yards, 13 touchdowns and 10 interceptions over an 8 game stretch. That 8 game stretch included an overtime win over the Seattle Seahawks, in which Mullens completed 69% of his passes for 275 yards and a touchdown.
It was the coaching ability with the 49ers that got him his next job.
The Denver Broncos hired Rich Scangarello as their offensive coordinator on January 16, 2019.
Scangarello had never called plays on the NFL level, but his acumen for quarterback development and play design, that was refined under Kyle Shanahan, was enough for John Elway to give Scangarello the job.
After Joe Flacco went down with an injury, after starting the first 8 games of the season for the Broncos and Drew Lock wasn’t ready to play, also due to injury, Brandon Allen was forced to start.
Allen was a 6th round pick in the 2016 draft and was claimed by Denver after being cut by the Jaguars and Rams.
Allen made his first career start against the Cleveland Browns, completing 12-of-20 passes for 193 yards and 2 touchdowns.
The ability to be able to get a former 6th round pick, who was claimed during September of that season, to be ready to suit up and start 3 games, cannot go understated. Scangarello called plays such as this one, which routinely allowed Allen to play to his strengths.
2 – Ability as an Offensive Coordinator
Admittedly so, Scangarello’s offense in Denver didn’t rank near the top of the league any categories, but his ability play designer, in both the running game and passing game, was on full display for most of the season:
Along with Scangarello’s ability as a play designer was his ability as a game scripter. This is an area the Eagles have struggled in since the departure of Frank Reich and John Defillippo.
According to Football Database, the 2019 Broncos offense in first quarters of games in the 2019 season, had a passer rating of 115.2, which ranked 5th in the league. Along with that, the offense was tied for 3rd in the league in touchdown passes in the 1st quarter with 7.
An example of Scangarello’s ability as a game scripter is shown in wide receiver, Courtland Sutton’s situational splits. According to stathead.com, Sutton caught 17 of 30 targets for 340 yards and 4 touchdowns in the first quarter of games for the 2019 season. Scangarello was able to develop game scripts that routinely got the ball into his number one receiver’s hands and Sutton was effective.
3 – Putting Players in Positions to Succeed
Another element that proves why Rich Scangarello should garner a bigger role within the Eagles offensive room is his ability to place players in positions to be successful.
Courtesy of Next Gen Stats, pictured above, we are able to see routes ran by Broncos wide receiver, Courtland Sutton over 2 separate games.
Sutton was repeatedly moved all over the formation in order to make and impact, and he did just that.
Does this remind you of someone? I’ll give you a hint down below.
(First name: Travis, Last name: Fulgham)
Fulgham and Sutton even have similar measurables.
-Height: Fulgham – 6’2, Sutton – 6’3
-Weight: both 216lbs
-Arm Length: Fulgham – 333/4″ , Sutton – 323/8″
-40 Yard Dash: Fulgham – 4.58, Sutton – 4.54
-Vertical Jump: Fulgham – 361/2″, Sutton – 351/2″
Elsewhere within the Denver Broncos offense, Philip Lindsay was able to find success in Scangarello’s variation of the West Coast zone-run offense. Lindsay rushed 224 times for 1,011 yards on 4.5 yards per carry and 7 touchdowns. Lindsay also caught 35 passes for 196 yards.
Scangarello was able to consistently place his top two weapons on offense in positions to be successful and now, with a loaded offense that consists of skill players like Miles Sanders, Jalen Reagor, Dallas Goedert, and the surprise of the season, Travis Fulgham, imagine what he could do with a bit more control.
4 – The Quarterback Whisperer
Scangarello’s 2 best examples of his ability as a sort of “quarterback whisperer” have been with Jimmy Garoppolo and Drew Lock.
Over the course of the 2019 season, as stated, there was a carousel of sorts with the Denver QBs. Joe Flacco started the first 8 games, but clashed with Scangarello over conservativeness of the offense. Once he got hurt, in came Brandon Allen who started 3 games. After him, Drew Lock finally made his debut in week 13.
With Lock at the helm, the passing offense shined. According to Sharp, the Denver passing offense, from weeks 13-17, had a success rate of 48% which was good enough for 10th in the league. Scangarello was able to consistently put Lock in positions to succeed, and he himself saw growth with a talented QB at the helm.
During the 5-0 stretch mentioned above, Jimmy Garoppolo set a record for passing yards in a quarterback’s first four starts with a team. Garoppolo also set a 49er franchise record for most passing yards in a quarterback’s first start with the team.
Garoppolo said on Scangarello,”He’s a smart coach and he makes it a lot easier for me to go through my reads when he explains things how I understand them.”
Lock said on Scangarello, “Coach Scangarello is 100 percent the man,” Lock said. “I love that guy. He teaches in such an awesome way.”
“Once we come back, dial it in, get into the meeting room and really teach on the board and teach on the film. It’s something he’s really good at, as well is being able to explain things on the board,” Lock continued.
It’s clear that when Scangarello has some legitimate form of talent at the quarterback position (Lock and Garoppolo), he can be successful. And with a quarterback who’s struggling like Carson Wentz is, it’d be wise of the Doug Pederson to give Scangarello a more direct line of communication with Wentz.
Carson Wentz leads the league in turnovers and as stated, has displayed some of the most erratic play at the quarterback position that many people have seen in a long time. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say the teachings of Press Taylor are falling on deaf ears with Wentz. It’s clear, because he’s making the same mistakes week after week and he wasn’t making those mistakes over and over when he had a veteran, like John Defilippo and/or Frank Reich in the room.
And that’s not to say that the injuries along the offensive line aren’t impacting Wentz, as he’s been sacked a league leading, 32 times, pressured the second most in the NFL, and hit the 3rd most in the NFL. However, when a quarterback keeps making the same mistakes such as, throwing into double and triple coverage and holding onto the ball relentlessly, and then comes into a press conference and then says, (paraphrasing) “I’m not changing,” it becomes a coaching issue because clearly the guy who is the teacher in the room isn’t getting through to the player.
That’s where Scangarello, with his ability as a teacher of the quarterback position, comes in.
Reportedly, Jeff Lurie wanted new ideas within the offense after the 2019 season. Rich Scangarello was hired to enhance the Eagles offense and provide a new perspective from the way Doug Pederson regularly did things, mainly because of his connections to Kyle Shanahan. Doug Pederson didn’t hire an offensive coordinator and instead choose to bring in 3 new faces to the offensive staff room, in addition to increasing Press Taylor’s workload. But was it too much?
Pederson opted to place the bulk of the offense on his shoulders and through 8 weeks of the season, it’s clear something is missing. That could be because of a bevy of reasons, (injuries, lack of off-season/pre-season, or lack of chemistry between players), but it’s clear that something is off. Maybe this is evidence that Pederson can’t do it on his own, which isn’t a bad thing (look at 2017 with Reich and Defilippo). And in that case, a solution can be found in giving Rich Scangarello a bigger piece of the pie within the offensive room.