I love the movie “Miller’s Crossing”. The dialogue is nothing short of brilliant. There is a scene where the police chief offers his opinion and he’s quickly told to shut his yap by someone more powerful than him. The chief responds: ” I was just speculatin’ about a hypothesis. I know I don’t know nothin’.” Well, keep that phrase in mind as you read this. Lots of speculation. And I know I don’t know nothin.
Gus Bradley is going to Jacksonville to talk to the Jaguars about being their head coach. For the Gus Bradley fans, this is not a good sign.
Bradley met with the Eagles yesterday for 6 or 7 hours. The meeting was initially billed as a formality, but sources quickly put it out there that this was in fact an interview first and foremost. The Eagles had only met with Gus for 2 hours in Atlanta. They liked what they heard, but a good first date doesn’t mean you’re ready to get married. The Eagles wanted more information from Gus.
I don’t know what was covered on Saturday and what on Tuesday, but something happened or was said last night that led to a breakdown. If the Eagles made an offer to Gus, he wouldn’t be headed to Jacksonville. I do not for one second buy the notion that he wanted to look around and have multiple interviews. I might buy that if it wasn’t the Jaguars. There is nothing appealing about that team right now.
I don’t know if the Eagles didn’t like something Gus said or if possibly he didn’t like something the team said. Some fans immediately want to make this a Howie Roseman issue. Is that possible? I guess. I sure don’t think so. Gus isn’t a former HC. He’s never had full control over personnel with a team. Gus isn’t a guy that has ever shown any desire for power. He wasn’t pushing Monte Kiffin in Tampa to move up the ladder. He wasn’t fighting with Jim Mora or Pete Carroll for more control of the defense. Gus is a “Do your job” guy. And he’d have no reason to be anti-Howie. Seattle is a team the Eagles have had a solid relationship with over the years.
My best guess is that the Eagles didn’t like something they heard about staff, scheme, or the offense. I do not know what happened, but let’s speculate so you could have an idea of what could be the kind of issues.
* Maybe Gus told the Eagles he wanted his buddy and Seattle DL coach Todd Wash to be the DC. I could see Gus wanting that. I could see the Eagles saying no. Wash was a DC at Missouri Southern State. He’s been a DL coach in the NFL and at NDSU with Gus. After going through the last 4 years, the Eagles might feel a veteran DC is an absolute must.
* Maybe Gus told the Eagles he wanted to run the Tampa 2. Maybe they were set on him bringing over the current Seattle system. Or maybe that’s reversed. Either way, it could be that type of a disagreement.
* Maybe Gus told the Eagles he wanted a run heavy offense and believed in a limited passing game.
* Maybe Gus told the Eagles that he wanted to find a Russell Wilson type of QB and to replicate the Seattle offense. He could have then thrown out some names of draft prospects and maybe the names were terrible suggestions.
* Maybe Gus was pushing for an oddball OC that scared the Eagles. This could be another situation where he was pushing for a young guy and they wanted a veteran.
* Maybe Gus simply seemed in over his head when it came to discussing staff issues. This is a critical area for new coaches, and even veteran coaches. The candidate must give the sense that he’s got a good plan.
Again…this is pure speculation.
I do think there was some type of breakdown. The Eagles aggressively brought in Gus for the second interview. I realize that the first one was short and they knew the least about him, but the way they did this made it feel as if he was the guy they wanted. If the Eagles loved everything they heard on Tuesday, I guarantee you they’d have made him a strong offer and he’d be the coach.
Does Gus leaving mean he’s done as a candidate? That’s a tough question. I think it would all boil down to whether there was a dispute with the Eagles or whether he simply gave answers they didn’t like. A dispute can be settled. If he scared them off because he gave bad answers, that is something that probably can’t be fixed. Who knows, though. Maybe Howie and Lurie will step back and discuss the situation and still feel that he’s the best guy, even with whatever flaw they’re worried about.
It is possible that Howie/Lurie said something to Gus that made him uneasy. I don’t know what this would be. Maybe they were pushing assistant coaches on him. Maybe they were pushing schemes on him. That type of thing. If so, Gus might have reacted badly to them doing this and that could have caused the breakdown.
Something must be considered about Howie. He’s desperate for success. Howie is very competitive, but also needs some good things to happen to help his job security. I get the feeling that if Howie believes in a coach, he’ll do whatever it takes to make that relationship work. GMs that get fired have trouble getting a second job. Tom Heckert is unemployed right now, but helped put together a Super Bowl team and drafted some really good players. Howie wants to stay Eagles GM. I think he’ll bend over backwards to win, knowing that helps with his future.
I’ve covered Lurie before. He hired Ray Rhodes in 1995. That didn’t end well, but Ray had 2 playoff appearances in 4 years and was NFL Coach of the Year in 1995. His tenure was hurt by the lack of a cohesive front office. Ray was a good hire. Not great, but good. I do think Andy Reid was a great hire. He never did bring home the title, but did everything else you would want.
I trust Jeff Lurie when it comes to hiring coaches.
Some people pick on that statement due to the recent struggles, but I think that is mixing arguments. Lurie had little to do with the day-to-day football operations. If you want to argue that he was too patient with Reid, that’s a different discussion. But that also has nothing to do with the ability to hire a good coach.
Where do the Eagles go from here?
Tim McManus had a very interesting blurb yesterday.
The Eagles met with Jay Gruden and Ken Whisenhunt on Monday. Whisenhunt made a strong case for himself by focusing on his accomplishments, which includes a Super Bowl win as offensive coordinator of the Steelers and Super Bowl appearance as head coach of the Cardinals in less than ideal circumstances. He is now considered ahead of Brian Billick in terms of desirable candidates.
Bruce Arians, meanwhile, is no longer part of the equation. There was a report that the Colts offensive coordinator would interview with the Eagles Tuesday, but the team came out Monday night and said nothing was scheduled. Moments later, the second interview with Bradley was announced for that day. Arians is now considered “off the radar.”
Let’s say for argument’s sake that Bradley is still a candidate. We’ve got him, Whiz (by the sound of the info above), and Jay Gruden as potential finalists. The team also met with Lovie Smith and Billick. So the group is:
Gus Bradley – hot name, but talking to the Jags
Ken Whisenhunt – former ARZ coach…took team to SB…also had horrible problems with QB, OL
Jay Gruden – Cincy OC…no word on his interview
Lovie Smith – former CHI coach…took team to SB…terrible with his offense
Brian Billick – the man nobody wants
Let’s see if the Eagles bring any of them back for another meeting. That’ll be the next clue as to who really is at the top of the list now.
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The Bears hired Marc Trestman to be their new HC. I think that is great for him. I met Marc last year down at the Senior Bowl. We rode in the elevator together and had a quick conversation. He’s the guy who initiated the talk and was very friendly. Some NFL guys can be very arrogant, but Marc won me over in that short elevator ride. Good things happen to good people. I’ll be pulling for him and the Bears to do well.