It's Time to Think About Duce Staley as a Possible Offensive Coordinator

It's time to start thinking differently about Duce Staley.

Staley, three times a 1,000-yard rusher for the Eagles, enters his seventh year as an Eagles assistant coach and his fifth year as running backs coach.

He's served as an assistant under three head coaches - Andy Reid, Chip Kelly and former teammate Doug Pederson - and he's put together a stellar resume.

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But with another productive year in 2017, it'll be time to start thinking about Staley as a top candidate for offensive coordinator positions around the league.

He's ready.

"Yeah, definitely," Staley said recently. "You never know how that works for you. I do know that you wait on those opportunities and hopefully those chances will come. If not, I love what I'm doing. Can't say anything bad about what I'm doing. I love it. That's when you know it's not a job.

"I live vicariously through my players, still, to this day. I catch them out there running and making moves and I catch my knees shaking a little bit, I'm making the move with them. You can't replace that feeling."

Since Staley became the Eagles' running backs coach in 2013, the Eagles have the fifth-most rushing yards in the NFL (8,114), seventh-highest rushing average (4.4 yards per carry) and fourth-most rushing touchdowns (66).

And that's with three different lead running backs - LeSean McCoy in 2013 and 2014, DeMarco Murray in 2015 and Ryan Mathews last year.

And a head coach, at least this past year in Pederson, who tended to get away from the running game on occasion.

Staley retired from the NFL after the 2006 season. He ran for nearly 6,000 yards, caught nearly 300 passes, scored 34 touchdowns and won a Super Bowl in 10 NFL seasons.

After four years away from the game, he returned to the Eagles in 2011 as a quality control coach.

When Reid was fired after the 2012 season, Chip Kelly not only kept Staley, he promoted him to running backs coach. And Pederson kept him in that role when he replaced Kelly last year.

That makes Staley the only assistant coach to serve under Reid, Kelly and Pederson.

That speaks volumes about Staley as a coach. Asked why he thinks Kelly and Pederson both kept him around, Staley just laughed.

"I don't know, I can't answer that," he said. "Hopefully it's the job I do. I'm glad to be here and I'm thankful under these new coaches that have come through the door, they look at me and say, 'Hey, we want you to be part of our coaching staff.'"

There are currently only three African American offensive coordinators league-wide - Edgar Bennett of the Packers, Harold Goodwin of the Cards and Terry Robiskie of the Titans

Staley's body of work says he's ready to take the next step.

This past January, Staley had the opportunity to serve as offensive coordinator for the East team at the East-West Shrine Game, a college all-star game in St. Petersburg, Florida. 

It was a great way to get his name out there and to call plays for the first time in addition to seeing top college players up close.

"It was awesome. It was awesome to be able to be put in that situation," Staley said. "It was awesome to be a coordinator for a week.

"Around here, all the offensive coaches would tell you, we get together and we plot and we plan and we come up with different plays, and you can't wait to have the opportunity to call them. That's what you dream about. You dream about being in a position to call a game.

"We all know how tough it is. It's all about match-ups, and we all know how tough it is to get those matchups, but every coach on every level, if they're not calling plays, they dream about calling plays, so it's definitely a dream."

Frank Reich is currently the Eagles' offensive coordinator, but if he gets a head coaching opportunity you'd think Staley would be a top candidate to replace him.

Eagles owner Jeff Lurie did interview Staley before hiring Pederson, although there was a perception that the interview was just to satisfy the NFL's Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview at least one minority candidate for head coaching openings.

"It was awesome to have that experience," said Staley, who's going into his 14th year with the Eagles as either a player or coach.

"I thank Mr. Lurie of course just being able to go through that. A lot of coaches don't get a chance to have that experience and I'm thankful for it."

What about the future? Does Duce fear being stuck in his current position with little chance to advance?

"I don't worry about that," he said. "You can't really worry about things you can't control. The chips are going to fall where they may. You just gotta be ready."

The biggest positive, Staley said, is that he's part of an offensive coaching staff where every voice is heard.

Although Pederson calls the plays and Reich runs the offense, Staley said both are open to all the offensive coaches making suggestions and submitting plays.

"We've got voices in the room now, that's not a problem," Staley said. "That's one thing about Doug that's so good. He listens to all of us. It's an open forum.

"We all get up and we speak on the team that we're playing and we all have ideas. The good thing about Doug, he's open to those ideas and he'll call those plays."

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