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January 14, 2017

A closer look at the Eagles' wide receiver coach candidates

After firing wide receiver coach Greg Lewis, the Philadelphia Eagles have reportedly interviewed at least two new candidates for the job. They are Sanjay Lal and Mike Groh. Let's take a look at both.

Sanjay Lal

Lal was previously a wide receivers coach for the Oakland Raiders (2009-2011), New York Jets (2012-2014), and the Buffalo Bills (2015-present). Here are the receivers with at least 500 yards in any one season under Lal's watch:

 YearPlayer Rec Yards TD 
 2009 RaidersLouis Murphy 34 251 
 2010 RaidersLouis Murphy 41 609 
 2011 Raiders Darrius Heyward-Bey64 975 
 2011 RaidersLouis Murphy 33 618 
 2012 JetsJeremy Kerley 56 827 
 2013 JetsJeremy Kerley 43 523 
 2014 JetsEric Decker 74 962 
 2015 BillsSammy Watkins 60 1047 
 2015 BillsRobert Woods 47 552 
 2016 BillsRobert Woods 51 613 

As you can see, in his eight-year career, Lal has only coached one player who amassed at least 1000 yards in one season. Like Greg Lewis, Lal didn't have much to work with until 2014 when the Jets signed Eric Decker.

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Perhaps the encouraging player example in Lal's career is Sammy Watkins, who topped 1000 yards as a second-year player in 2015, before seeing his numbers fall off in an injury-plagued 2016 season.

At the end of the 2016 season, after the Bills fired Rex Ryan, Watkins feared losing Lal as his positional coach, via Vic Carucci of The Buffalo News.

"That's one guy that I don't want to leave," Watkins said. "Probably if he leaves, then I don't know how my mindset will be, honestly. That's a guy that kind of groomed me in to running routes and doing everything the right way -- mental, physical -- and if he leaves, that'll hurt. Because that's a guy that kind of helped this whole (receiver) group form a mentality and shape us to professionals. He gave us the whole script of off the field, on the field, and it's helping this wide receiver group and helping the players."

Mike Groh

Groh was previously the wide receivers coach for the Chicago Bears (2013-2015) and the Los Angeles Rams (2016-present). He also had several jobs in college, with Alabama, Louisville, and Virginia. He is the son of former coach Al Groh, who had a long coaching career both in the NFL and at various colleges, most notably Virginia.

Unlike Lal, Groh had some players to work with in Chicago. Here are the receivers with at least 500 yards in any one season under Groh's watch:

Year Player Rec Yards TD 
2013 Bears Alshon Jeffery 89 1421 
 2013 BearsBrandon Marshall 100 1295 12 
 2014 BearsAlshon Jeffery 85 1133 10 
 2014 Bears Brandon Marshall61 721 
 2015 BearsAlshon Jeffery 54 807 
 2016 RamsKenny Britt 68 1002 
 2016 Rams Brian Quick41 564 
 2016 Rams Tavon Austin58 509 

As the wide receivers coach at Alabama from 2011-2012, Groh coached NFL draftees Amari Cooper and Kevin Norwood.

Groh also has experience coaching quarterbacks (Louisville 2010). Groh himself was a two-year starting quarterback at the University of Virginia before signing with the Baltimore Ravens in 1996 as an undrafted free agent. In a Q&A post, Chicago Tribune reporter Brad Biggs noted that when Groh left the Bears to join the Rams' staff, he did so partly because he had hoped to become the Bears' quarterbacks coach, but was passed over for the job.

Groh could view the Eagles as an opportunity for advancement, as current quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo got sniffs for offensive coordinator jobs this offseason.

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