Thoughts On The Recent Developments In The Eagles’ Coaching SearchBREAKING NEWS, Eagles, News Tuesday, January 8th, 2013
Over the weekend, the Eagles crossed a couple of names off of their list when Chip Kelly announced that he would return to Oregon and an interview with Denver’s Mike McCoy ended after just three hours.
There were conflicting reports about the Eagles’ interest in Kelly, but I believe the Eagles clearly wanted him after spending nine hours with him over the weekend. I think Kelly did the Eagles a huge favor by returning to Oregon; I think of all the names that have been mentioned as possibilities for the job, he was by far the weakest.
Could Kelly be a successful NFL head coach? Maybe. But Philadelphia was not a good situation for him to step into. Right now the Eagles need a coach with some degree of proven success in the NFL, and a strong presence that can change the losing culture that has developed onto this team over the past two seasons.
Kelly wasn’t going to be that guy. By holding out for “the right situation”, it shows that Kelly isn’t confident that he can successfully make the transition to the NFL. If a head coach doesn’t have undeniable confidence in his own abilities, how can he make the jump into the highest level of professional competition and get the most out of 53 NFL personalities?
I never understood the Eagles’ high degree of interest in Kelly, and frankly I found it to be disturbing. Here you have a coach with a questionable upside that pales in comparison to that of other available names, and seemed like a high risk for a low reward. He wasn’t going to be the guy that turns the team’s dreadful defense around, and he runs an offensive scheme that isn’t built for success at the NFL level.
To me, the whole idea of hiring Kelly reeked of the “think outside of the box and outsmart everyone” mentality that the Eagles’ front office has had over the last decade. Why is this organization hellbent on trying to succeed with unconventional methods in hopes of making their own unique mark on this league?
This is same line of thinking that lead the Eagles to fooling themselves into devaluing wide receivers until 2004, devaluing the linebacker position for 14 years, building a defense around speedy undersized players instead of strong powerful ones, drafting Brandon Graham over Earl Thomas, drafting a 26-year old guard in the first-round of 2011, hiring a defensive line coach before a defensive coordinator, and hiring an unqualified offensive line coach to become a defensive coordinator.
In this case, the Eagles wanted to bring Kelly’s potentially revolutionary fast-paced offense to the NFL to overwhelm defenses, while ignoring the fact that his offense is untested in the NFL and that he would not have been the answer to the team’s defensive woes.
The fact that the Eagles did indeed make Kelly such a priority when it’s clear that he’s not the best man for this job doesn’t exactly give me more confidence than I had before in Howie Roseman and Jeffrey Lurie’s ability to guide this team back to NFL relevancy. Did anyone else notice that of all of the teams with available coaching positions, the only teams interested in Kelly were a couple of bottom-feeders (the Buffalo Bills and Cleveland Browns), and your Philadelphia Eagles.
Is that how far this team has fallen, that they’re on the same competency level as a couple of franchises that are perennially below .500?
On Mike McCoy
The Eagles also spent some time this weekend with Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.
McCoy interviewed with the Eagles on Sunday, but the meeting lasted just three hours, and the feeling after the meeting ended was that McCoy wasn’t interested in the job.
McCoy was an appealing option because of his proven track record of success with quarterbacks, and his ability to tailor an offense to best suit the talent he’s given to work with. I would have been OK with the idea of hiring McCoy, as I thought he certainly had some redeeming qualities that could benefit the team, but ultimately I think there are better options out there for this team.
On Jon Gruden And Lovie Smith
With the Eagles attempting to expand their coaching search to new horizons after the failures of Plan A (Bill O’Brien), Plan B (Chip Kelly), and Plan C (Mike McCoy), the team is now reaching out to at least one former NFL head coach by setting up an interview with former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith.
I have mixed feelings about the idea of Smith coaching the Eagles. He’s got a track record similar to that of Andy Reid, which is both a good thing and a bad thing. He had a strong run in Chicago, took a team to a Super Bowl (with Rex Grossman as his quarterback no less), but like Reid, his teams couldn’t get over the hump and left something to be desired.
However, unlike Reid, Smith is a strong defensive mind, and he’s certainly a guy capable of revitalizing the Philadelphia defense and turning it into a respectable unit again.
The problem with Smith was his failure to construct a reliable offense to support his great defenses. He ran through a number of offensive coordinators during his tenure in Chicago, and failed to harness the ability of Jay Cutler despite working with the talented quarterback for four seasons. (Though to be fair, Cutler isn’t exactly a joy to work with in terms of personality).
Smith has been a very successful head coach in this league, and he deserves another chance with another organization. The Eagles could do much worse than Smith, and of all of the options available, he’s the “safe” pick. I would be fine if the Eagles made Smith their man, because he would bring a positive change in philosophy to the team.
There have also been reports floating around that Jon Gruden would be interested in coaching the Eagles. While Gruden has the personality that would be easy for the city to embrace, I’m not too high on him. Gruden’s final years in Tampa Bay were reminiscent of Andy Reid’s final years in Philadelphia, and I’m not confident that he would be the guy to come in and develop a young quarterback for the future.
On Gus Bradley
If you watched the defense of the Seattle Seahawks play on Sunday and you aren’t in love with the idea of Gus Bradley coming to Philadelphia, then I question your sanity.
Everything I hear and read about Bradley makes me want the guy as the Eagles’ next head coach more and more. The reports are that he’s a phenomenal leader, and he’s responsible for building the Seattle defense into the top unit in the league. He’s done it with big, physical players (no gimmicky, wide-nine nonsense), and his unit gives up an average of just over 15 points a game, is solid against the run, excellent at creating turnovers, and lead the league in defensive scoring.
Sunday’s game against Washington didn’t start well, as the Seahawks allowed the Redskins to jump out to a quick 14-0 lead. But after that, the young defensive coordinator quickly made the appropriate in-game adjustments (something we rarely saw from the previous administration in 14 years), and shut RG III and the Redskins down for the rest of the day, not allowing a single point.
I think Bradley is easily the most intriguing name that the Eagles will be interviewing, and he’s easily my top choice for the job. Realistically though, I’d be very surprised if the Eagles hired him. It goes against the core belief of the front office that this is an offensive league, but the fact that they’re at least giving him an interview gives me some hope to cling to.
Days go by, and the end to the team’s search for a head coach doesn’t appear to be any closer to an end. No clear front-runner has yet to emerge, and the front office has been forced to expand their search as more names continue to pull themselves out of the running for one reason or another.
I like that the process has been long and drawn out so far. I like that the Eagles are being forced to interview guys who weren’t their first choice; guys like Lovie Smith and Gus Bradley that could really bring a strong positive change in philosophy to the organization.
Denny Basens is the editor of GCobb.com. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or follow him on Twitter.
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