I watched Eagles Live today to get the latest from Adam Caplan on the search for a DC. Adam has a ton of league connections and usually has a good feel for what is happening. He did give an update, but the bad news is that the Eagles secrecy is working and no one seems to know exactly what will happen.
Adam seems to think Ed Donatell is no longer a serious candidate. He didn’t get into why that was, but obviously that’s what he’s hearing behind the scene. Jeff McLane offered a similar opinion yesterday.
We did find out the Eagles interviewed Billy Davis, the LBs coach for the Browns. That happened on Sunday. I don’t have a strong opinion of Davis. He was the DC for the Niners in 2005 & 2006. He was the DC for the Cardinals in 2009 & 2010. Those defenses posted bad numbers, but Davis wasn’t exactly working with great talent.
The best argument for Davis is his background. He worked for Dom Capers in Pittsburgh and Carolina. He worked for Wade Phillips in Atlanta. He worked for Mike Nolan in SF. Those are 3 of the best defensive gurus in the NFL.
Caplan offered the thought that the Eagles might have a top candidate in place and are interviewing some of these other guys as a fall-back plan. That actually would make some sense.
Who would the top candidate be?
Since there is a delay, the candidate has to be 1 of 2 things. He is either coaching on one of the Super Bowl teams or he is a college coach that is trying to do as much recruiting as possible before jumping to the NFL.
The college idea is interesting, but would be awkward. Would you want a coach out there selling kids on where to go, knowing he’s about to leave the program? Kelly was recruiting a couple of days before coming to Philly, but that was still far from a sure thing at that point.
So who would the SB coach be? Caplan said he doesn’t think it is Jim Tomsula, the Niners DL coach. We did hear Ted Monachino mentioned by McLane and some others. Monachino is a young coach on the rise, if that’s what Kelly is looking for. None of the Ravens other coaches are hot names. That doesn’t mean Kelly won’t choose one, but for now Monachino seems like the name to watch.
Aside from Donatell and Tomsula, there is still one name of interest on the SF side. Jim Leavitt is the LBs coach. He previously was the head coach at USF from 1997-2009. Before that he was the man who succeeded Bob Stoops as DC at Kansas State.
Leavitt is a fiery guy, to put it mildly. I’m not really sure who to compare him to. I’m a big fan of his as a coach in general, but I can’t speak strongly about him as a defensive mind. He’s only been a DC for a couple of years, but I’m sure as HC down at USF his hands were all over the defense. He built that program from the ground up and had them on the verge of becoming a national power.
I can’t find much in the way of direct connections from Chip Kelly to these guys. I’m sure Chip has friends who have worked with them and maybe these guys are friends from coaches conventions and things like that. I just can’t point to any kind of a strong relationship that is well known.
Right now, there’s just a lot we don’t know.
We do know that Chip has looked closely at or met with:
* Ed Donatell
* Jim Herrmann
* Billy Davis
* Ted Monachino
It is interesting that 3 of the 4 guys are LBs coaches. You wonder if Chip feels that is the place to find the best DC. 3 of the 4 guys are also 3-4 guys (try saying that fast). Donatell is the outside on both counts (4-3, DBs coach). Maybe this is why the buzz on him as a candidate has died down.
We know nothing officially about the defense, but it feels like a virtual certainty that the Eagles will switch to a 3-4. I’m taking medication to help me through this process. I might also seek counseling. I’m a 4-3 guy, but at this point I’m so desperate for a good defense that I’m open to anything.
We have heard nothing on Todd Grantham or Steve Spagnuolo recently. I’m not sure what that means. Grantham remains focused on recruiting and hasn’t told Georgia anything about meeting with NFL teams. He’s got to inform them before talking to clubs about moving back to the NFL. Spags seems like a longshot. He is a 4-3 guy. On the positive side, he was a LBs coach.
I really don’t have a candidate I’m dying for the Eagles to hire. Jim Leavitt interests me quite a bit, but I think most of his background is with the 4-3. Choosing between Monachino and Davis is tough. Monachino is unproven, but Davis doesn’t have great results.
I’ll trust Chip on this. He knows choosing a DC is critical to his success. He also knows he can’t just snap his fingers and make JJ, Bud Carson, or Buddy Ryan appear. The key for now is finding the right guy. Building a cohesive staff that can implement a system and teach it to the players is what will help us win games.
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The Niners assistants should all be under contract so that means we need permission from them to interview the candidates. Jim Harbaugh doesn’t have to give it.
Back in 2006 Andy Reid denied permission for Spags to interview for a DC job. That led to icy relations between them for a couple of years. Andy feared losing Jim Johnson to a HC job and wanted Spags here as his replacement if that happened. When Spags contract ran out, he was free to shop himself and went to the Giants.
I think Harbaugh would let his guys interview. He’s had them for 2 years. Systems are in place. There is a sense of stability. Also, Jim knows that if he denies them, it will lead to some friction. He kept Donatell from talking to the Bucs last year. I don’t blame Jim under the circumstances, but think he would be making an error to block him again.
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The Senior Bowl game was played on Saturday. I have begun re-watching it, but have a long way to go. That’s what happens when all 22 guys on the field are prospects.
I know QB E.J. Manuel is a hot name with many fans right now. I’m going to work on a post on him. There is plenty to like about him. He’s got excellent size (6-4, 237). He has a good arm. Athletic.
Be careful about getting to excited. I think people are going to be looking for the next Russell Wilson. By that I mean a QB taken outside the Top 50 picks who turns out to be a potential stud.
Russell is an anomaly. He led the nation in passing efficiency as a Senior. He threw for almost 12,000 career yards. He threw for 109 TDs and ran for 23. He was a top shelf prospect for the Colorado Rockies. If Russell was 6-2, he’d have been a 1st round pick. He might have been Top 10. He was durable. Productive. Very smart. High character. Athletic.
Manuel never became a great player at FSU. He threw 62 fewer TDs than Wilson, but almost the same number of INTs. Manuel didn’t have a strong week of practice in Mobile. He had good moments, but not an overall showing. He did play well in the game, but practices are more important than the game when it comes to the Senior Bowl.
I have no idea if Chip Kelly or the Eagles like Manuel. He is talented and has good NFL potential, but he’s also still a major project. I don’t expect him to do anything as a rookie. I have my doubts on him panning out at all, but I think he needs work and has to be looked at as someone to develop over time.