Eagles OC Mike Groh has familiarity with Bears DC Vic Fangio

January 1, 2019

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Mike Groh's transition from wide receivers coach to offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles has been bumpy.

His familiarity with Vic Fangio's defense could give the team a slight edge against the Chicago Bears.

Groh was the wide receivers coach on John Fox's staff in Chicago in 2015 when Fangio was defensive coordinator. He spent two seasons with the Bears, joined Jeff Fisher's staff on the Los Angeles Rams in 2016 and came to Philly in 2017. Fangio kept his job in Chicago after Fox was fired and replaced by Matt Nagy.

The Bears (12-4) host the defending Super Bowl champion Eagles (9-7) in an NFC wild-card game on Sunday. Fangio's dominant defense led by Khalil Mack is a big reason they went from last place to first in the NFC North.

Chicago allowed the fewest points (17.7 per game) in the NFL and had the third-ranked defense overall, including first against the run.

"Coach Fangio is as good a defensive coordinator as there is in the league," Groh said Tuesday. "His attention to the detail obviously in his scheme. He does a lot of things, a lot of different things the way he utilizes his personnel, mixes things up, does a good job week to week of not having tendencies or breaking tendencies."

Groh was promoted by coach Doug Pederson after Frank Reich left to become the head coach in Indianapolis. The Eagles struggled offensively much of the season until the final month and Groh received plenty of criticism. He's taken a lot of heat because wide receiver Golden Tate hasn't fit into the offensive scheme since he was acquired from Detroit in October.

But the offense found its rhythm when Nick Foles stepped in for an injured Carson Wentz last month. Nobody is questioning Groh anymore. Now he has to help Pederson devise a game plan to combat one of the toughest defenses in the league. Having worked with Fangio can only help Groh this week.

"I think that we all evolve, and certainly (Fangio) has different pieces to the puzzle that he didn't have when we were together," Groh said. "We just have to study what they're doing now, who they're doing it with, and try to put a really good plan together."

Mack has wreaked havoc since his arrival from Oakland shortly before the season. He's a game-changing player who had 12½ sacks in 14 games. Defensive tackle Akiem Hicks, cornerback Kyle Fuller and safety Eddie Jackson also were voted to the Pro Bowl.

"They'll move him around, he'll be on the right, be on the left, be inside," Groh said of Mack. "They'll do a lot of different things with him. Obviously, he's an elite pass rusher, which we faced a few of those guys this year. He certainly is excellent. You have to know where he is. That's a credit to Vic because he knows that by moving him around that makes it more challenging for offenses."

Stopping, or at least limiting, Mack will be a key to Philadelphia's success if the Eagles are going to pull off an upset and advance.