Bill Musgrave intriguing hire as QB coach

January, 21, 2014
Jan 21
2:45
PM ET
PHILADELPHIA -- It’s easy to understand why Eagles coach Chip Kelly would be impressed with Bill Musgrave.

A month ago, Musgrave was calling the plays for the Minnesota Vikings when Matt Cassel threw for 382 yards and two touchdowns in a 48-30 blowout. Without Adrian Peterson or backup Toby Gerhart, Musgrave helped deal Kelly and the Eagles their only loss in the second half of the regular season.

[+] EnlargeBill Musgrave
Brace Hemmelgarn/USA TODAY SportsBill Musgrave's work as the Vikings' playcaller likely impressed Eagles coach Chip Kelly during their December meeting.
Kelly hired Musgrave, the former Minnesota offensive coordinator, as his new quarterbacks coach on Tuesday. Musgrave, 46, replaces Bill Lazor, who left the Eagles after one season to become offensive coordinator of the Miami Dolphins. The hiring was first reported by Alex Marvez of Fox Sports.

Musgrave’s history is intriguing for three very different reasons.

Most important, he has deep roots in the West Coast offense, as does Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur. Musgrave spent most of his playing career as a backup in San Francisco, where he played under Mike Holmgren, Mike Shanahan and Gary Kubiak. He followed Shanahan to Denver, where he backed up John Elway for a couple of years.

Kelly, of course, is not a West Coast offense guy. He dubbed the Eagles' offense the “See Coast” offense, because he and his staff borrow from things they see and like. Kelly stressed that the Eagles' offense is the product of his entire staff, not an attempt to replicate what he ran at Oregon.

After the season, rookie quarterback Matt Barkley said the Eagles’ running game was very similar to the one Barkley saw while playing for USC against Oregon. But the passing game had West Coast influences thanks to the presence of Shurmur and Lazor.

In that sense, then, Musgrave represents continuity.

Musgrave also has a history with Michael Vick, having served as quarterbacks coach for Vick’s final season in Atlanta. It isn’t clear whether that’s good or bad for Vick’s potential return to the Eagles, since the Falcons went 7-9 that year and took Matt Ryan in the first round of the 2008 draft. Musgrave worked with Ryan for two seasons.

The other interesting thing about Musgrave’s coaching career is the odd way that it began. He was hired immediately after his playing career as the quarterbacks coach for the Oakland Raiders, serving on the staff of a first-year head coach named Jon Gruden.

That job lasted for only the 1997 season.

Meanwhile, the Eagles were in utter disarray after losing Gruden, their offensive coordinator, to the Raiders. Head coach Ray Rhodes hired Dana Bible to replace Gruden, but by the end of training camp was already regretting the decision. Rhodes hired Musgrave as an offensive consultant.

By mid-October, Musgrave had unofficially taken over offensive coordinator duties. He was just 30 years old, a year younger than starting quarterback Rodney Peete. Bible remained on the staff. So did the quarterbacks coach, a young up-and-comer named Sean Payton.

The whole staff was fired at the end of that 3-13 season. Andy Reid and his crew came in as replacements.

Musgrave rebounded, coaching quarterbacks in Carolina, Jacksonville, Washington and Atlanta before becoming the Vikings' offensive coordinator in 2011. He returns to Philadelphia under much better circumstances this time around. Musgrave will work with Nick Foles, Barkley and possibly an as-yet unknown third quarterback.

One other change: Eric Chinander, the Eagles’ assistant defensive line coach, returned to the University of Oregon as a linebackers coach. Chinander followed Kelly to Philadelphia last year. Jerry Azzinaro remains the defensive line coach.

Phil Sheridan

ESPN Philadelphia Eagles reporter

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