Perhaps Eagles defensive coordinator not coming from Ravens or 49ers

Posted: February 06, 2013

NEW ORLEANS - For those of us journeying to the Super Bowl from the land of midnight green, one of the perennial questions afterward is, "What does this game mean for those Philadelphia Eagles?"

The first thing on everyone's mind this year is the defensive coordinator situation. It seemed likely over the past few weeks that new coach Chip Kelly's long delay in naming someone to run his defense had to do with waiting for a Super Bowl assistant to come available.

But we have no real evidence of that. Kelly could just as easily be waiting for national college signing day on Wednesday. (How ticked would you be if your son signed someplace, and the coach who recruited him was just waiting to get that name on paper to announce he's leaving for the NFL? It could happen, though.)

The Eagles, who throughout their head-coach search process confirmed when they had requested permission to talk to someone from another NFL organization, said they had no information on such matters Monday. Maybe they aren't asking to speak with anyone from Baltimore or San Francisco, or maybe this lack of confirmation is another early hallmark of the Kelly era, along with refusing to confirm any staff hires until the whole group is set.

Certainly, the Super Bowl was not a great platform for some of the defensive assistants. In fact, the two guys most often mentioned in connection with the Eagles - 49ers secondary coach Ed Donatell and Ravens linebackers coach Ted Monachino - weathered particularly unfortunate evenings. Pass coverage was a challenge for the 49ers' defensive backs and the Ravens' linebackers.

Coaching vacancies aside, from an Eagles perspective, some people will discern that an offense that runs some Kellyesque read-option stuff lost to an offense with a classic, old-school drop-back passer. That's true as far as it goes, which isn't real far. It seemed pertinent at halftime, when the 49ers' Colin Kaepernick was looking befuddled and Baltimore's Joe Flacco was shooting out the lights (maybe literally), but Kaepernick rallied the 49ers for 23 points in the second half (I'm not giving him credit for the final safety). Kaepernick was one better play call - or a very plausible pass-interference penalty - at the end from turning the whole debate on its head, ushering in a new era of NFL offense with the Lombardi in his hands.

If you want to say that Flacco's success underlines the danger of discarding another tall, poised, laconic dude, Nick Foles, just because he might not be suited to running read-option, that might be a point worth making. Accurate passing is still the coin of the NFL realm.

The stat sheet shows Kaepernick and the 49ers with 468 total yards, way more than Baltimore (367). The Ravens got a kickoff-return touchdown, which really didn't have a whole lot to do with their offense. Kaepernick threw for 302 yards, ran for 62 more. He made some bad decisions, threw a terrible pick, but all of that seemed to have more to do with inexperience than with the style of offense he was running. A lot of the second-guessing in the Bay Area has to do with that final sequence of downs, from first and goal at the Ravens' 7: Why 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh didn't give Kaepernick some read-option flexibility, instead of one handoff to LeMichael James and three pass plays that didn't work.

"Their offense is incredible," Ravens coach John Harbaugh said after the game. "There's so many problems that they pose. Trying to find a defense to call is extremely difficult. I thought [defensive coordinator] Dean Pees did a tremendous job, I thought our players did a tremendous job, playing with discipline. You make one mistake - you don't cover exactly right, you don't close exactly right, they make a big play. That's why they're so incredibly dangerous. This team is going to be around for many years to come."

Of course, during the week the 49ers repeatedly made the point that the pistol formation, zone-read stuff is only a relatively small part of what they do. It would be a mistake to infer that their offense is akin to what we will see from Kelly and the Eagles.


On Twitter: @LesBowen

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