Call it a rebuild, a reset, or whatever you want, but if the upcoming offseason won’t be anything else for Philadelphia Eagles fans, it will definitely be an emotional experience. Think about it. In one fell swoop (pun intended), the Birds could move on from Carson Wentz (or Jalen Hurts). They may also say goodbye to Super Bowl heroes like Zach Ertz and Alshon Jeffery as well as a few team legends.
DeSean Jackson and Jason Peters are probably out of here. Jason Kelce might retire. You can’t forget about that detail.
The Philadelphia Eagles will look very different in 2021.
As heavy as all of that is, it’s only a fraction of the story. Before we could even get really specific about player movement, things shifted early with the ‘parting of ways’ with Philly’s defensive coordinator and head coach of the past five seasons (Jim Schwartz and Doug Pederson). Both have stated that they may take a year off.
Dave Fipp is also gone. He’s been with the team since 2013. Philly retained offensive line coach Jeff Stoutland, but they didn’t retain quarterbacks coach Press Taylor.
There were other moves that were quieter in volume, like Justin Pelle. He’s with the Atlanta Falcons now. Oh, and Philly lost a fan favorite. This one was hard to ignore.
They lost a man who played with the team, coached on three different coaching staffs, and quite honestly, might be the only coach that we know every player in the locker room respected, even though that quarterback seemingly doesn’t have much respect for anyone that he’s supposed to be listening to.
Duce Staley offers a fond farewell to Philadelphia Eagles fans.
In seven NFL seasons, Duce Staley won the hearts of Eagles fans. We’ll never forget that ‘DUUUCE’ cheer crescendoing through Veterans Stadium or Lincoln Finacial Field, but after seven years with this team as a player and eleven more as a coach, Duce, following Philly’s decision to name Nick Sirianni as its head coach, asked for his release.
On January 28th, three days after accepting the title of assistant head coach and running backs coach with the Detroit Lions, the same one he carried here he penned a thank-you letter to the fans in the City of Brotherly Love, as well as the millions of Birds fans everywhere.
Here’s a little of what he had to say.
"I want to thank all of you for welcoming me and allowing me to be part of your family for seven years as a player and 11 years as a coach. Playing for and working for the Philadelphia Eagles and our fans has been the honor of my lifetime. I still remember like it was yesterday getting drafted and coming here in 1997 and playing for Ray Rhodes and then Andy Reid…"
Duce eloquently details some of his memories as a player, both good and bad, before stating the following.
"I am very sad to leave this great organization and city and fans, but I am looking forward to the growth opportunities that lie ahead despite the uncertainties. The way you embraced me, gave me the best nickname I’ve ever heard (Duuuuucccceeee), the way you expect the best from your athletes, the fact you deserve our best given what you’ve invested in us. All of this motivated me to reach heights I never thought possible growing up as a country boy in South Carolina that loved playing football more than I was necessarily good at it."
In 105 games as an Eagle (including seven postseason starts), Staley notched 1,293 rushing attempts, 5,191 rushing yards, 2,761 receiving yards on 310 snags, and 37 total touchdowns. Frankly, any time anyone else wears the number 22, it doesn’t feel the same. We all think of Duce, don’t we?
This is a minor hiccup in the Eagles timeline because Duce is family. He’s one of the greatest Eagles of all time. He’s an Eagle through and through. He’s a shoo-in for the Eagles Hall of Fame. Oh, and he can expect an ovation the next time he walks into Lincoln Finacial Field. Had Andy Reid had eleven guys who were built like Duce Staley on offense (and we aren’t just talking physically), he probably would have won a Super Bowl here.