CSN writer Reuben Frank dropped somewhat of a bombshell on Sunday afternoon when he tweeted out that the Eagles had interviewed Brian Billick for the coaching gig back on Monday. Wow, I mean wow. I didn’t see that coming.
You can go here to read Roob’s full story.
Apparently Lurie, Howie, and Smolenski went down to Maryland and met with Billick for about 8 hours. They came away impressed and consider him a candidate. So let’s talk about Billick. I’ll be up front with this fact…if the Eagles did hire him, I’d be disappointed.
One huge point has to be discussed. Billick the announcer and Billick the coach are two very different people. Billick is an awful announcer. He made dumb statement after dumb statement on Sunday. The capper was when he noted after the Falcons winning FG that this win now validates Seattle as the #1 seed in the NFC. That was a very back and forth game, but getting the winner and loser confused is not good in such a dramatic moment.
If Lurie or anyone judged Billick off his TV work, the guy would have zero shot at anything. Heck, I’m shocked he keeps his TV job. He literally brings nothing to the table. I told Jimmy Bama once on a podcast that it is shocking that Billick coached Ray Lewis, Jamal Lewis, Tony Siragusa, Deion Sanders, Chris McAlister, etc. and yet never has a funny story to tell. How on Earth is that possible?
As a coach, Billick is still a complicated subject. He was the OC for Minnesota in 1998. They set the NFL record for points with 556. The team went 15-1 and if not for a missed chip shot FG would have gone to the Super Bowl. The Ravens hired Billick away after that season. In his second year Baltimore featured one of the greatest defenses in NFL history and won the Super Bowl.
The Ravens never did build a good offense. Billick drafted QB Kyle Boller in the 1st round, but wasn’t able to develop him into a good starter. Jamal Lewis did run for 2,000 yards and you have to give Billick credit for setting aside the passing game to focus on what worked. Billick had 2 very good seasons in Baltimore, 2000 and 2006. Set those years aside and his record is pedestrian (55-57). Include them and he’s 80-64 with a title. Billick was 5-3 in the playoffs, but 4 of the wins came in 2000.
It is hard to describe Billick. He should be an offensive guru because of his background. He played at BYU. He coached in college under Dennis Green, who had worked under Bill Walsh. Billick became friends with Walsh through Green and helped Walsh write his legendary book, Finding The Winning Edge. Billick had multiple Top 10 offenses in Minnesota. He’s not just a product of Randy Moss and jump balls 40 yards down the field. Billick knows how to design and run a good attack. The offense was a combination of Joe Gibbs and Bill Walsh. When it worked, it was a thing of beauty.
Billick’s failure to ever build a decent offense in Baltimore is hard to believe. They had some bad luck with players. Had they gotten Terrell Owens back in 2004, things might have been very different. Travis Taylor was a 1st round pick that didn’t pan out. QB Chris Redman didn’t pan out. Nor did RB Musa Smith. And so on. The Ravens are scout driven so these weren’t a bunch of Billick’s guys. He did fail to develop them, though. The only QB he ever did develop was Brad Johnson, who believe it or not was young once.
You can argue that Billick’s greatest strength was hiring coaches.
Jack Del Rio
Jeff FitzGerald (terrific LBs coach)
Dennis Thurman (good DBs coach)
I have no problem with the Eagles talking to Billick. He does have a good background and is a smart guy. As I said earlier, I will be disappointed if they hire him. I think Lurie knows this would be a tough sell to the fans and media so the only way they would make this move is if Billick had a truly great interview.
* * * * *
Many fans are getting nervous with the coaching search. The Billick story did not go over well, to put it mildly. Some think this shows that the Eagles are desperate. I can certainly see where you might get that feeling.
Here’s my take, which I’ve touched on before. There is no “must have” guy. There is no candidate that you just drool over. Since that is the case, why not talk to as many people as you can? What’s the down side?
The worst thing you can do is limit your options for no good reason. The goal is to hire the best possible coach. Talking to Billick only costs some gas money and a few hours. Even if he’s a longshot, there can be value in talking to him. Maybe Billick offers his thoughts on Greg Roman. Maybe he’s got some good ideas on staff members to pursue. Talking to him does not hurt you. Looking around does not hurt you.
It is important to realize that the Eagles aren’t trying to go cheap here. They hoped to get one of the stud college coaches. That didn’t work out. They’re looking for the right guy. They don’t want to settle on a hot coordinator just because that’s the trendy thing.
Back to the college guys for a second. The Eagles weren’t rejected by coaches that were hot to leave college. Chip Kelly has been HC at Oregon for just 4 years. Brian Kelly just finished his 3rd season at ND. Bill O’Brien just finished his first season at Penn State. None have won a national title. All of them have good situations at their school (in terms of money, power, and popularity). I think they were hesitant to leave their schools more than they were hesitant to come to the Eagles. These guys now make NFL type money and have much better job security. There isn’t the rush to jump to the NFL.
* * * * *
It will be interesting to see what word leaks on the Gus Bradley interview. That took place Saturday and then Seattle lost on Sunday. He’s now free to be hired, if the Eagles want him. I have no idea if they do.
Do not pay too much attention to the playoff games as any clue on who to hire. If you like a guy’s resume and he interviews well, then the results of his final game are irrelevant, unless they are so awful that they can’t be ignored (something like the Cardinals 58-0 loss from a few weeks back).
Seattle did give up 30 points today, but you have to give the Falcons a lot of credit. How many times did you see a guy tapping his toes along the sideline or in the back of the endzone? Not having Chris Clemons really hurt their pass rush. There certainly were problems for Seattle, but nothing that would concern me. This wasn’t like the stretch of games the Eagles had where receivers ran wide open down the middle of the field with regularity. That would be a red flag.