PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Eagles interviewed Duce Staley for their vacant head coaching position, the team confirmed Saturday. Staley’s interview was first reported by ESPN’s Ed Werder.
Staley, 40, has coached the Eagles’ running backs for the past three seasons. Before that he served as a special teams quality control coach for two seasons under Andy Reid.
Staley had a 10-year career as an NFL running back. The first seven were spent with the Eagles, who drafted him out of South Carolina in the third round of the 1997 NFL draft. Staley finished his career with a three-year stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
During his career, Staley played for such offensive coaches as Reid, Jon Gruden, Ken Whisenhunt, Sean Payton and Bruce Arians.
The challenge for Staley will be convincing Eagles owner Jeff Lurie that he is ready to be a head coach without having worked at the level of offensive coordinator. Ideally Staley would get more experience running an offense before taking the next step to being a head coach.
But Staley has the advantage of meeting many of the criteria Lurie mentioned this week when he explained the dismissal of head coach Chip Kelly. Staley knows Philadelphia and was revered by fans for his hard-nosed running style and dedication.
Staley also knows the Eagles organization, which could be very important to the team’s next head coach. Lurie has chosen to make former general manager Howie Roseman a major part of the team’s football operation again. Staley has known Roseman since he was a low-level assistant to team president Joe Banner.
Interviewing Staley satisfies the NFL’s Rooney Rule, which requires teams to interview minority candidates for head coaching jobs. That was likely not the primary reason for the interview. In Staley, Lurie sees a former player who has made the transition to coaching successfully and a smart, experienced football man who had a unique vantage point at what went well and what went wrong during Kelly’s tenure.
Lurie can learn a lot about his own football team from talking with Staley. And in doing so, Staley gets an opportunity to make a case for himself as a viable head coaching candidate.
The timing of the interview -- on the Friday before the final regular-season game against the New York Giants -- is consistent with Lurie’s explanation for Kelly’s Tuesday firing. The owner wanted to get started on the search process before other teams that will wait until the season is over to make coaching changes.
During his career with the Eagles, Staley rushed for 4,807 yards, the fifth most in franchise history. He earned a Super Bowl ring with the Steelers in 2005.