Eagles' Kotite to share offense Workload has coach looking for assistant PRO FOOTBALL

February 21, 1993|By Knight-Ridder News Service

PHILADELPHIA -- He began feeling himself being tugged in several directions, often away from his offense.

At times over the past two seasons, Eagles coach Rich Kotite must have felt like a juggler with one too many bowling pins to catch.

Scouting. Preparation. Practice. Personnel decisions. Game-planning. Meetings with management. Snap game-day decisions. Daily post-practice press conferences. Practice

preparation. Game preparation. Team meetings. Play-calling. Public relations. Psychologist. Baby sitter. Game-tape review. Draft homework. TV show tapings. More meetings. Constant distractions.

It grew to be too heavy a tray to balance on his tight end-sized shoulders, and it is why Kotite -- once opposed to the idea -- plans to step back and hire someone else to take the reins of the Eagles' offense next season.

Ray Sherman, the San Francisco 49ers' receivers coach, is the leading candidate for the job.

"There comes a time," Kotite said, "when, as a head coach, you have to realize that so much is going on and you can't spread yourself out too thin. It started to dawn on me this year that this would be the right thing to do. The timing is right for this.

"I'm a hands-on person by nature. That's my style and that won't change. But I just feel that, after two years of trying to do so much, the time is right for the offensive coordinator not also to be the head coach.

"It's something I thought of when I first was hired, but being the way I am, I thought it would not be anything different from what I'd done. But [the responsibility] just constantly pulls at you, pulls at you.

"I've never been caught up in the 'me' or the 'I' like some people. We've got top-notch people here and this will allow me to delegate while still working with the coordinators and position coaches as I have. It's a decision I'm very comfortable with. Bottom line? I'm doing what's best for this football team."

The decision was finalized and approved by Eagles owner Norman Braman in his recent postseason review/strategy meeting with Kotite and club president Harry Gamble. Sources said the decision to add a coordinator was not forced on Kotite by Braman, but rather mutually agreed upon by Kotite and Gamble before being presented to Braman.

"This was one of the things we discussed, certainly," Kotite said. "It's something I've wanted to do and we were in agreement on, and I think everyone realizes it's a good decision. We don't always agree on everything, but we come together, discuss it, and when we walk out of a room, we're all on the same page. This, we were in complete agreement with."

Sources did say that Braman strongly urged -- if not mandated -- that Kotite hire an African-American for the job, and Kotite appears to have proceeded in that direction in the interview process. The Eagles currently are without a minority assistant coach with the departure of tight ends coach Dave Atkins to the New England Patriots.

Kotite said the new coordinator will have a wealth of NFL coaching experience on offense. He does not appear interested in college coaches. Both Kotite and Gamble said it was decided to go outside the current staff in an effort to bring new ideas to the Eagles' offense, particularly the passing attack, which ranked 23rd in the NFL this past season.

"I've got great assistants here, but I wanted to bring somebody in from the outside," Kotite said. "I want some new things, new ideas to incorporate with what we already have and help us evolve. I want an outstanding teacher, a guy with experience in the league, a guy who has had success and who can get along with people and blend in with our staff and our players."

Despite the inconsistencies this past season, the Eagles finished third in the NFC and seventh in the NFL in total offense (311.3 yards per game), most of that coming from a successfully revamped running attack that topped the NFC (149.3 yards per game) and was second in the NFL. The offense also produced 39 of the team's 44 touchdowns (20 passing, 19 rushing).

"I don't think this decision [to hire a coordinator] is in any way a reflection on what we've done. Not at all," Kotite said. "We played five quarterbacks in '91 and we found a way to win 10 games. Our defense was phenomenal and they were the backbone, but the offense managed to do what it had to also. This year, I thought we ran the ball very well and made strides there. I'll be the first to tell you I wasn't real pleased with our pass production, but there were reasons for that and we'll address those. But I want to get everyone more excited about it and we're going to go out and do it. Now is the time."

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