Remembering the miracle of the hapless 1999 Eagles season – NBC Sports
By any measure, the 1999 Eagles were not very good. In fact, they were awful. On opening day, they became the first team in NFL history to blow a 21-point 1st-quarter lead at home. They lost their first four games and 11 of their first 14, went 1-7 on the road, lost three games by at least 26 points and finished last in the NFC East. They ranked 30th in the NFL in offense and 24th in defense, the only time since 1972 the Eagles have ranked in the bottom 10 in both categories. They finished 5-11, and only four NFL teams had a worse record. MORE: Does Kelce belong among the all-time top 10 Eagles? The 1999 Eagles are also one of the most remarkable teams in NFL history. Because that team produced an astonishing 15 NFL coaches. Including some of the best in the business. When new Jaguars coach Doug Pederson hired Mike Caldwell last week as his defensive coordinator, that made three players on the 1999 Eagles who became NFL coordinators or head coaches along with seven position coaches who became head coaches, two other players who became NFL assistants and two other assistants who are currently head coaches. Along with a Hall of Fame head coach. And here’s the most incredible part of it: The head coach, quarterback and special teams coach from that team all won Super Bowls as head coaches. Three assistants on that team won Super Bowls as assistant coaches. And four other players on that team won a Super Bowl as assistant coaches. Of the four non Super Bowl winners, one is head coach of the team with the 3rd-best record in the NFL over the last three years, another won a Super Bowl as a player and reached another as a head coach and the last two were assistants on a team that lost a Super Bowl. Four of the last 10 Super Bowl champs have had at least one player or coach from the 1999 Eagles on the coaching staff. They call Miami of Ohio the Cradle of the Coaches because of the legendary coaches it’s produced over the last 70 years – Woody Hayes, Paul Brown, Ara Parseghian, Weeb Ewbank, Bo Schembechler, Jim Harbuagh (as well as long-time Dodgers manager Walter Alston). But the Eagles have ‘em beat. Because this group was all together at the same time. RELATED: When Kotite’s ultimatum to Lurie backfired hilariously Let’s take a look at the 15 coaches who were part of the 1999 Eagles: Eric Bieniemy: Bieniemy finished his nine-year career on the 1999 Eagle, and although he didn’t play much on offense – 12 carries for 75 yards and an 11-yard game-winning TD run in a win over Washington – he certainly made an impression on Eagles quarterbacks coach Brad Childress, who hired Bieniemy as running backs coach when he was named head coach of the Vikings in 2006. And when Andy Reid became Chiefs head coach in 2013, he hired Bieniemy in the same role, promoting him to offensive coordinator in 2018 to replace Matt Nagy (who had replaced Doug Pederson) when Nagy got the Bears head coaching job. Bieniemy won his Super Bowl ring with the Chiefs in 2019. Mike Caldwell: The Eagles signed Caldwell in 1998 and he immediately became one of John Harbaugh’s top special teamers. He spent four years and eventually began his coaching career as an entry-level quality control coach under Jim Johnson in 2008. When Reid and his staff got fired after 2012, Caldwell got a job coaching linebackers for Bruce Arians and Todd Bowles in Arizona. He went with Bowles to the Jets, and they rejoined Arians in Tampa in 2019, winning a Super Bowl in 2021. After interviewing with Harbs for the Ravens’ DC vacancy, Caldwell was hired last week by Pederson as the Jaguars’ defensive coordinator. Juan Castillo: Castillo joined the Eagles in 1995 and remained here nearly 17 years until Reid fired him (and promoted Bowles) six games into the 2012 season. Castillo quickly landed in Baltimore with Harbaugh, who he first coached with on Ray Rhodes’ staff in 1998. Castillo served the rest of the year as running game coordinator, and when the Ravens beat the 49ers in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans, Castillo had his first Super Bowl ring. He has since coached under Sean McDermott in Buffalo and the past two years under Nagy in Chicago. John Harbaugh: Like Castillo, Harbs was a holdover from Rhodes’ staff when Reid arrived here. After nine years with Reid, Harbaugh got the Ravens head coaching job and was the first of Reid’s coaching tree to win a Super Bowl, beating his brother in Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. Harbaugh, now going into his 15th season with the Ravens, ranks 10th in NFL history with 11 career postseason wins. Tim Hauck: Hauck spent the 1999 through 2001 seasons with the Eagles as a special teamer and occasional starting safety, and when Pederson was building his initial staff in 2016 he hired Hauck as safeties coach. When the Eagles won Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis, Hauck became one of three players on the 1999 team to win a Super Bowl ring 18 years later. Tom Melvin: Melvin and Andy Reid first coached together at San Francisco State in 1984 and 1985, and they also coached together at Northern Arizona in 1986. Reid hired Melvin as a member of his inaugural Eagles staff in 1999, and 22 years later they’re still together. Melvin won his first Super Bowl ring when the Chiefs beat the 49ers in Super Bowl LIV after the 2019 season. He’s the only assistant who’s been with Reid his entire head coaching career. His cousin Bob is manager of the Padres. Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast Apple Podcasts | Google Play | Spotify | Stitcher | Art19 | Watch on YouTube Doug Pederson: Reid’s first opening-day quarterback in 1999, and it was Reid that gave Pederson his first coaching opportunity as a quality control guy in 2009 when Doug had only coached at the high school level. Pederson moved up to QBs coach here in 2011 and then was Big Red’s first offensive coordinator in Kansas City before getting the Eagles head coaching job and leading the franchise to its first Super Bowl title four years ago. Andy Reid: He’s only 1-for-3 coaching Super Bowls and 3-for-8 in conference title games, but he does have the 5th-most coaching wins all-time and 3rd-most playoff wins, and he’ll be a 1st-ballot Hall of Famer. Big Red won his only Super Bowl in his 21st year as a head coach, and the coaches and players he developed into successful head coaches will go down as a huge part of his legacy. Steve Spagnuolo: Not much you can say about his head coaching career – Spags went 10-38 in three years with the Rams – but Spags, another of Reid’s initial 1999 staff, took over the Chiefs’ defense in 2019 a year after they were ranked 24th and helped win a Super Bowl the next year and has put together three straight top-10 units. Spags also coached in 2013 and 2014 under Harbaugh. Duce Staley: Staley, originally drafted by the Eagles in 1997, had his best NFL season in 1999, rushing for 1,273 yards, catching 41 passes and finishing in the NFL with 1,567 scrimmage yards, 10th-most in the league. His quarterback was Pederson. His backup was Bieniemy. He got his coaching start under Reid in 2010 and stuck around through Chip Kelly’s tenure and Pederson’s tenure, winning a Super Bowl ring as running backs coach in 2017. David Culley: After coaching WRs for Sam Wyche in Tampa and former Eagle Bill Cowher in Pittsburgh, Culley was a part of Reid’s staff for his entire 14-year stay here and then in K.C. for Reid’s first four years. But he left the Chiefs in 2017, so he was gone before the Super Bowl championship season. After coaching two years under McDermott in Buffalo and two under Harbaugh in Baltimore, he got his first shot at a head coaching job this past year in Houston, getting fired after going 4-13. Leslie Frazier: Frazier, another charter member of Reid’s staff, won a Super Bowl ring as part of Buddy Ryan’s defense with the Bears in 1985, but he has yet to win one as a coach. Frazier had stints with Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati and Childress in Minnesota before replacing Childress 10 games into the 2010 season. He went 21-32 as Vikings head coach, reaching the playoffs in 2012. He’s been McDermott’s defensive coordinator since 2017, with his units ranked No. 2 in 2019 and No. 1 this past year. READ: Eagles Stay or Go 2022: Time for a new punter? Sean McDermott: Worked his way up from quality control to defensive coordinator under Reid with the Eagles and then got the Bills job after six years as Ron Rivera’s DC in Carolina. Is 49-32 in five years in Buffalo and already has 2nd-most playoff wins in Bills history, behind Hall of Famer Marv Levy. Has been to two Super Bowls as a coach – 2004 with the Eagles and 2015 with the Panthers – without a win. Ron Rivera: Spent 1999-2003 as Reid’s linebackers coach before DC stints with the Bears and Chargers before replacing John Fox as Panthers head coach in 2011. Won a ring with Frazier on the 1985 Bears but has yet to win one as a coach. Has reached playoffs five times in 11 years coaching the Panthers and Washington Pat Shurmur: Another of Reid’s original staff, Shurmur started out as tight ends coach before becoming QBs coach in 2002. He left to become Spagnuolo’s offensive coordinator with the Rams in 2009 and after going 9-23 in two years as Browns’ head coach, he served as Chip Kelly’s OC for three years in his second stint with the Eagles before working under Mike Zimmer (and alongside Jonathan Gannon) with the Vikings. He went 9-23 again in his second stint as a head coach, with the Giants in 2018 and 2019, before spending the last two years as Vic Fangio’s OC in Denver.