The Eagles have a new offensive coordinator, but it isn't expected to have much of an effect on their pass-oriented offensive philosophy or play-calling.
Coach Andy Reid named Marty Mornhinweg his new offensive coordinator immediately after Brad Childress left to become the Minnesota Vikings coach. Childress had been Reid's top offensive lieutenant since 2001. Mornhinweg joined the Eagles in 2003 as a senior assistant to Reid and has spent the last two seasons as the team's assistant head coach.
Mornhinweg already had considerable input into the offense even before Childress left. While Reid did most of the play-calling, Mornhinweg, a former offensive coordinator with the San Francisco 49ers and head coach with the Detroit Lions, helped Childress and quarterbacks coach Pat Shurmur put together the offensive game plan each week.
"It will be a little different as far as the organizational aspect of it, as far as directing meetings and some of the paperwork," Mornhinweg said. "It will be a little different that way."
What probably won't be much different is the offense's heavy emphasis on throwing the football. The Eagles averaged 22.8 rushing attempts and 38.7 passing attempts per game this season. Just two teams - Oakland and Arizona - ran the ball less than the Eagles.
That pass-to-run ratio would have been even more lopsided, but Reid turned the play-calling duties over to Childress in the second-half of the season.
When Mornhinweg was the 49ers' offensive coordinator from 1997 through 2000, they finished in the top ten in total offense three out of four years. They never threw the ball more than 58 percent of the time, even though Mornhinweg had two outstanding wideouts in Jerry Rice and Terrell Owens. When Rice missed the '97 season because of injury, the Niners actually ran the ball 91 more times than they threw it. Garrison Hearst rushed for 1,019 yards and the Niners went 13-3 that year.
Will that happen in Philadelphia?
"We'll see how it goes," Mornhinweg said. "Whatever it takes to win that particular game we are going to do. Certainly, you need to run the football in a physical manner in certain situations. Brian Westbrook is such a great running back and we do need to get the football to him. Donovan is such a great quarterback that he needs his shots too," emphasized Mornhinweg.
And, if McNabb suffers another injury, who will be his backup? Mornhinweg thinks Mike McMahon deserves consideration. "He (McMahon) can make great plays with both his arm and feet," Mornhinweg said. "He's proven that he is tough and durable. He's also proven that he can win a couple of games. Now, the thing that he has not proved is that he can lead the team to many wins. He's got to work on it and we have to put him in a little better position, so he does not make those one or two devastating mistakes nearly every game." In other words, Mornhinweg thinks McMahon is a viable option to serve immediately behind Donovan McNabb, even though McMahon's numbers were well off where they would need to be for the Eagles to be successful. "He sure is an exciting player, but he has to play at a higher level on a more consistent basis," said the new offensive boss. Keep in mind, that it was Mornhinweg that recommended the Eagles sign McMahon. Mornhinweg had McMahon when he was the head coach of the Lions and McMahon served as the backup quarterback there.
The rest of the Eagles coaching staff will be staying put for next season. Reid has forbidden Childress to take any of his assistants with him to Minnesota. Jim Johnson might have a shot at leaving the staff when the St. Louis Rams asked for permission to talk to the Eagles' defensive coordinator about their vacant head-coaching job. But the 64-year-old Johnson wasn't interested.