One hugely important thing to understand in the Eagles coaching search is that all of these guys are good candidates. You can make a strong case for each of them. No one here is a ridiculous reach.
It is also important to note that we’re judging these candidates from afar. We’re looking at their histories and track records and then making conclusions (mostly logical) about their ability to be a good coach for the Eagles. The X-factor here is the job interview. Andy Reid doesn’t get the job in 1999 without a great interview where he showed Joe Banner and Jeff Lurie that he was the man for the job.
While I might rank someone low on my list, he could have a great interview that would wildly change things. After all, you’re hiring the man, not the resume.
One of the huge selling points the coach will have is to explain his vision for a coaching staff. Who is he hoping to hire? Is he comfortable with hiring strong, veteran coaches around him? Will the staff be filled with NFL guys, college guys, or a mix? As Eagles fans have seen in recent years, a head coach is only as good as his overall coaching staff. The coach must have a strong plan in this area.
Those of us on the outside don’t know how this stuff will play out in the interviews so we have to focus on stats, records, interviews, and Youtube clips. We can make pretty informed opinions based on how much information is out there.
I’ve done my research. I’ve flipped coins. I’ve consulted Miss Cleo, seer into the future (for just $4.95 a minute). Based on all of that…here is order of preference for the next Eagles head coach.
1 – Chip Kelly
2 – Doug Marrone
3 – Jay Gruden
4 – Mike McCoy
5 – Gus Bradley
6 – Lovie Smith
7 – Pete Carmichael
8 – Bruce Arians
9 – Mike Zimmer
10 – Greg Roman
Kelly is a dynamic leader. He has elevated Oregon from a good program to a great program. He is an X’s and O’s guru, but also someone that understands how to run a program and get people to accomplish special things. I think he’s got the kind of forceful personality that the Eagles could use after the final years of the Reid era.
I think too many people are caught up in his offensive scheme and how that would work. Chip is incredibly smart and would find a way to make the Eagles offense work…not his offense. He is incredibly driven and already has the NFL work ethic. There is risk involved with this hire because he has no NFL experience, but that is less important now than in the past. Previously, the NFL influenced college football. In recent years, it is the other way around. The college game is changing pro football. If there was ever a time for someone to go from college to the NFL, this is it.
I don’t think Kelly is a slam dunk, must-have candidate. I think you have to meet with him and feel that he’s truly committed to the NFL and has the necessary plans to succeed in the NFL. Only after the meeting will you know if this is a guy you’re willing to sell your soul for. As an outsider, I want him. He has a chance to be great. I think you go for greatness when you have the chance.
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Doug Marrone is a coach that has grown on me the more that I’ve studied him. That’s always a great sign. I watched Syracuse in their bowl game recently and thought he did a very good job there. Marrone gets a check in basically every box: small college coaching experience, major college coaching experience. NFL assistant, NFL coordinator, head coach in college, can lead a team, can build a program, experience with a great NFL QB, developed a college QB, and so on. He literally has done it all.
The downside to Marrone is that you don’t know if there is anything great about him. While he was the OC with the Saints he was under Sean Payton and coaching Drew Brees. It is hard to know how much of the success goes to Marrone. He’s rebuilt Syracuse from rock bottom, but his record there is 25-25. He’s got the program on solid footing, but let’s not make it sound like they’re BCS material anytime soon.
Marrone knows offense. He’s a former O-lineman. He values the line of scrimmage and the run game. He would love a chance to coach LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown. He could help develop Nick Foles or find us a new QB to develop. It would be simpler if he could help us kidnap Drew Brees and convince him (some say brainwash) to play for the Eagles as Brew Drees. That plan requires a lot more beer.
As for building a staff, he’s got a couple of former NFL guys working for him at Syracuse. Seems like he knows how to put together a good coaching staff already. Marrone would not be a flashy choice, but in some ways he could be the best one.
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I’m going to cover Jay Gruden and Mike McCoy at the same time. Both guys are OCs right now, for Cincy and Denver respectively. I think both could be good head coaches, whether this year or in the future.
I like Jay better because of his background. He has been a HC in the Arena League and UFL. He has a winning record in both places. He built big time offenses in both places. The obvious knock is that he’s doing that with lesser competition, but when you can get Brooks Bollinger to lead the league in passing yards, I think you have to get a lot of credit for that. While you don’t want to make too much of Gruden’s lower level coaching, he was good at what he did and has run a team. That is a major plus in my book.
I also value the fact that Jay has developed Andy Dalton into a solid NFL QB. The Bengals have a ton of young players on offense, but Gruden is getting them to deliver. McCoy has the more dynamic offense this year, but has Peyton Manning running the show. How much credit does McCoy get for that?
McCoy is smart enough to let Peyton do his thing, but is keeping the offense balanced. Denver is 10th in passing attempts, but 9th in rushing attempts. I love the fact McCoy isn’t giving in and going pass happy. Would be easy to do that with a Hall of Fame QB running the offense. McCoy biggest strength is understanding his personnel and building around them. He’s done that for a few years.
My concern with McCoy is whether he’s ready to run a team. Apparently Brian Baldinger made similar comments. I didn’t get to hear them, but it is interesting to see we’re on the same page. I’m not anti-McCoy, but in the interview he would have to convince me that he is ready to lead an entire organization and not just run the offense. If McCoy has the right presentation and answers questions the way I want, he could be a coach I’d love to have.
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Gus Bradley is the first defensive guy on the list. I would go in with a very biased mindset. He would have to convince me that he can hire the right offensive coaches and help develop a young QB. You cant win in the NFL with just defense. This is a QB league. You have one or you don’t. And you won’t win a SB without one.
That said, I do like Bradley. He’s been a good positional assistant and DC. The Seahawks have been Top 10 in points and yards the last 2 seasons. The complicated part is that they’ve done it in an unusual way. You give Bradley credit for coaching up Richard Sherman, KJ Wright, Kam Chancellor, Brandon Browner, and making them into good (some great) players. The flip side is that you have to ask if this is a fluke at all. Can Bradley duplicate this? I dont question that he’s a good coach, but the Seahawks are getting great returns on some low-level investments. There has to be a degree of luck involved with that.
The Pete Carroll factor also has to be explored. Pete ran successful defenses in NY, SF, and NE before getting to Seattle. Pete is a DB guru. He’s had success with DBs all over the place. I’m sure Bradley has learned from Pete, but how much of the magic is Pete’s vs Bradley’s? That’s a huge and crucial question.
The Eagles have been to 2 Super Bowls. We won those NFC title games 27-10 and 20-7. The Eagles have 3 NFL titles. The Eagles won those games 7-0, 14-0, and 17-13. You must be able to play good defense to win in Philly in January. I would love to hire Bradley as the DC, but clearly that’s not going to happen. He’s staying put or getting a head coaching job.
I think he would be a risky hire, but I’ll admit that part of me would love to hire a defensive HC. It also helps when Monte Kiffin calls you a “once in a lifetime coach”. I would hope that quote is the only thing on Bradley’s resume.
I did note yesterday that Bradley is a very positive guy and reminds me a bit of a younger Pete Carroll. While Pete had success in his first NFL stops, it was marginal success. And things weren’t necessarily headed in the right direction. Carroll’s players took advantage of his player-friendly style. That all changed when Bill Belichick replaced him. I would hope that Carroll has talked to Bradley about the need to balance being positive and supportive and also being tough on players.
Sam found a couple of great things to check out on Bradley.
Best “Do your job” sideline pep talk in a while (you have to get about 2 mins in).
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The last 5 guys on the list I don’t feel as strongly about.
I’m a Lovie Smith fan, but his failure to develop a decent offense in Chicago scares me.
Pete Carmichael interests me, but I just wonder if he’s ready to be a HC. I do think he’s got a bright future.
Arians helped develop Roethlisberger and Andrew Luck. That’s huge. He’s also 60 and isn’t an offensive guru. Seems like more of an assistant to me.
I love Zimmer as a DC, but I’m not sure he’s ready to run a whole team. Background with dysfunctional teams (CIN, DAL) scares me.
I like Greg Roman quite a bit, but he’s not getting any calls. That means the league knows something I don’t. Or they’ve got the herd mentality and are scared to hire him. I think he could be a good HC, in the NFL or college.
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I think you can see that my biggest concern is the offense and QB development. I think that is crucial. Tom Coughlin doesn’t win his SBs without Eli Manning. Belichick doesn’t win without Brady. Who’s more important in GB…McCarthy or Rodgers? And so on. You must be able to acquire, coach, and develop a talented QB if you expect to win a Super Bowl.
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Jimmy Bama and I did a new show this morning discussing Andy Reid’s new gig and the Eagles coaching search.