The Philadelphia Eagles will be without coach Doug Pederson for a minimum of five days due to his confirmed positive case of COVID-19. Since Pederson is asymptomatic, he can return 10 days after his positive test or five days if he tests negative twice. In the meantime, the Eagles will still need a head coach to oversee day-to-day operations while Pederson is out, but the franchise already has a plan in place. Assistant head coach/running backs coach Duce Staley will take over the reins in place of Pederson.
Staley's rise to one of the top running back coaches in the NFL came from his seven seasons as a running back on the Eagles. During his Eagles tenure (1997 to 2003), Staley combined for 7,305 yards from scrimmage (4,807 rushing, 2,498 receiving) and 32 touchdowns. He had three 1,000-yard seasons with the franchise, tied for second-most on the Eagles since a 16-game season was implemented in 1978.
Since Staley was hired as Eagles' running backs coach in 2013, the Eagles have the seventh-most rushing yards in the NFL despite not having a 1,000-yard rusher since LeSean McCoy in 2014. Philadelphia has had a different rushing leader in every season since 2014 and hasn't had its rushing leader from the previous season return to the roster the following year until the streak ended with Miles Sanders in 2020.
Staley was promoted to assistant head coach in the 2018 offseason and is more than qualified for the role, even though his only head coaching interview was with the Eagles in 2016 (the year the franchise hired Pederson). While Staley has moved up the coaching ranks since joining the staff in 2011, he has been passed over for offensive coordinator twice in three years -- the first in 2018 for Mike Groh and the Eagles deciding in 2020 to do away with the offensive coordinator title.
Of course, Staley wants the opportunity to be a head coach in the NFL but enjoys the benefits of being a member of the Eagles coaching staff.
"It's a little different here with the Eagles and what I mean by that is we all get a chance to game plan, so that's what's unique about our staff," Staley said last week. "We're able to go into a room, we all have input, and we all game plan together.
"We're not about titles, we're just about getting the job done, and that's what we've been doing around here for a while. "
Staley has proved he's more than qualified to lead the Eagles for an extensive period of time. This brief stint in charge may eventually lead to the head coaching job he has long coveted.