For the remainder of his time on Planet Earth (and long after he’s gone), Chip Kelly’s era as Philadelphia Eagles head coach will mostly be remembered as a dark cloud that hung over the franchise for three seasons. We can thank him for a few things. Jeff Stoutland is one of them.
Prior to the 2013 NFL season, Chip raided the Alabama Crimson Tide’s coaching staff and brought Jeff with him to the City of Brotherly Love to be the team’s new offensive line coach. Kelly was eventually replaced with Doug Pederson. Doug left, and Nick Sirianni took over as head coach. Both determined that they’d be wise to maintain the previous regime’s O-line coach. It’s safe to say that decision worked out pretty well for them and for the organization.
The 2022-2023 NFL season will be Stoutland’s tenth in his current position. He also added the title of run game coordinator to his resume in 2018. Perhaps you’ve noticed. The Birds are still benefiting from having the NFL’s best offensive line. Last season, they featured pro football’s best rushing attack.
In short, when Jeff Stoutland speaks, we all listen, and ahead of the Eagles’ first game of the regular season, a date with the Detroit Lions in The Motor City, he participated in a rare sit-down with members of the media. As always, class was in session.
Here are a few takeaways from Jeff Stoutland’s recent presser, perhaps one of the best we’ve seen this summer.
Jeff Stoutland spent just under 11 minutes with the Philly media on Thursday. He discussed the nuances of player versatility to the high expectations that he’s set for Isaac Sumalo when he returns. He also touched on a few Xs and Os.
He’s thrilled about Jack Driscoll, stating “It’s time for Jack to start being like Isaac (Seumalo) used to be back in the day” (Isaac once played five positions in a game versus the Baltimore Ravens). He’s also thrilled about Josh Sills, an undrafted rookie that catapulted himself onto the 53-man roster. Coach Stoutland said the following about the new guy:
"Sills played center at West Virginia. He played tackle. He played guard. He played every position. I didn’t know he could play tackle. When we put him in there, I was like ‘Wow! This guy can get this done!’ From watching the technique and the way he takes coaching and understands what I’m teaching. When you can create value for yourself and the organization by being able to play multiple positions… You guys know. I think, two years ago, we had eight offensive linemen go on I.R. (injured reserve). That’s unbelievable, so in the back of my head, I’m like, well, we have to make sure we are prepared. We have plan A, plan b, plan C, and we’re ready to go."
On the subject of Philly’s second-round draft choice of the 2022 NFL Draft, Cam Jurgens, Stout had the following to say about the benefit of the rookie playing with the first team.
"To play with the first group? To see what he’s capable of doing against our first defense and to see how he can play against high-level players. That’s your only true test. That’s the only way you know. And, he handled himself unbelievably."
On the subject of Jurgens’ potential role in 2022, he was equally as candid.
"I wanted to really, to be honest with you, here’s what I wanted to do… I wanted him to play some guard, okay? I couldn’t do that because Kelce (got hurt), so that took that out (of the gameplan), but that’s not done yet. I think you have to play other positions if you’re not a starter. Now, we’re a little behind (schedule) in that process because my intention was to do some of that. Now I did some of that in a walkthrough in the indoor when you guys are not (around) in the preseason. I would jump him in at the guard, and he did some of that in the walkthrough but not (outdoors) live. I couldn’t move someone else in the center when you have that."
Coach wrapped his take on Jason Kelce’s future successor by saying the following.
"I do think that experience for him was irreplaceable. You couldn’t have a chance to see what a guy would be like, if he had to be the starter with the first group, (unless you have that opportunity). That was a good feeling."
Sure, as stated earlier, whenever we think of Chip, our stomachs still turn. There are several reasons for that being the case. Most of us still haven’t forgiven him for allowing DeSean Jackson to walk or his decision to trade LeSean McCoy to the Buffalo Bills in exchange for Kiko Alonso. There were other boneheaded moves as well.
If you’ll recall he also traded Nick Foles to the Saint Louis Rams in exchange for Sam Bradford, but there were good things that happened for this Eagles franchise during Kelly’s three years with the franchise.
Darren Sproles joined the nest. Zach Ertz was drafted. So was Lane Johnson, but as talented as Lane is, the reason he’s one of the best players to ever throw on an Eagles jersey is that Jeff Stoutland left Tuscaloosa and landed in Philly.
He’ll be here for as long as he wants to be. A spot in the Eagles Hall of Fame is assured once he finally determines he’s ready to step away from coaching. We hope that won’t be for a while.