This is not a done deal. Per multiple reports, Gus Bradley and the Eagles still need to talk today. The meeting on Saturday was limited since it was the eve of a playoff game for him. That meeting lasted a couple of hours (barely a handshake compared to other interviews).
Gus will arrive in Philly this afternoon around 3pm. It sounds this will initially be Part 2 of the interview. If things go well, it will segue over to contract talks. Obviously the Eagles have serious interest, but they aren’t just going to hand Gus the job. They still have some important issues to discuss.
I mentioned on Twitter yesterday that this is a huge opportunity for Jeff Lurie. If he’s able to find the right coach and they win a Super Bowl together, that changes Lurie’s reputation and legacy forever. You either have a ring or you don’t. Lurie would give anything to be a Super Bowl winner. That validates you as a player/coach/owner in a way nothing else can.
The Eagles seem to want to hire Bradley, but they just want to make sure before committing. This is smart. You’re choosing a man to run your billion dollar organization. Make sure you’ve got the right guy.
* * * * *
Many of you want to know about Gus and the defense. Would he run the Tampa 2, which he was part of in Tampa? Would he run Pete Carroll’s 4-3 under that they used in Seattle? I have no idea what Gus wants to do.
I need to go home and sort through old boxes of tapes to see if I can find a North Dakota State game from 2004 or 2005. If I get one, I’ll study it to see what scheme Gus ran up there. I’m trying to get some info on NDSU schemes, but haven’t had much luck so far.
There was something interesting that a guy named Eagle Jake pointed out to me on Twitter. Dave Spadaro was asked about Lovie Smith. Dave responded: ”He interviewed and remains a candidate, I think, for a couple of jobs”. Very interesting. Could Lovie come here as the DC and Assistant Head Coach?
Gus has never been a HC before. It would be highly advisable for him to hire at least one former HC to help him with the odd issues that come up from time to time. Andy Reid had Rod Dowhower on his original staff. He had a veteran coordinator in Jim Johnson. Even Brad Childress had been the OC at a few colleges, including Wisconsin. These men could be self-reliant. That helped a lot.
If Gus did bring Lovie in as DC, the defense would likely be some variation of the Tampa 2. That would be fine with me. Seattle’s scheme is complex. It takes the right personnel and the right teachers. It can work without Pete, but he’s the guy with the vision behind it.
The Eagles personnel fit the Tampa 2 more than they do Seattle’s scheme. That’s not a huge issue. The team can adjust personnel. Gus must run the scheme that he prefers. Buddy Ryan didn’t have the right guys for the 46 when he got to Philly so he went and got them. He kept his scheme.
We just don’t know what Gus’s scheme is. He’s had 2 NFL stops and both times worked under a defensive guru who already had a system.
We’ll discuss this issue at great length if/when Gus gets the job and is able to tell us exactly what he does want to do on defense.
* * * * *
One thing I hope we don’t see is Gus surround himself with too many cronies. A coach needs to hire the best people, not just guys he knows.
Andy Reid tried to hire Marvin Lewis to run the defense. Marvin turned him down so Andy called Jim Johnson and that worked out. Reid wasn’t friends with either guy. Reid wasn’t friends with most of the coaches he hired. Childress was a buddy. Andy built a great staff because he hired the right people.
Andy chose JJ in part because JJ’s blitzing had given the Packers problems. You wonder if Gus would have the same mindset and find a coach who gave his defense problems.
Mike Mularkey is a name to watch here.
The Falcons didn’t get a ton of yards (266), but only allowed 1 sack, had 1 turnover, and 4 penalties. The game was in Seattle, never an easy place to play. Atlanta had a balanced offense (35 passes, 37 runs)
Another win in Seattle. This time Atlanta piled up 412 yards. They allowed no sacks and had no turnovers. There were 4 penalties. Atlanta threw 42 passes and had 36 runs.
Mularkey wasn’t in Atlanta this year, but the players he developed beat Seattle 30-28 on Sunday. The scheme is different, but I’m sure there were some elements that go back to the old system.
Back in 2008 Mularkey faced Gus when Atlanta took on Tampa twice. Mularkey had a rookie QB in Matt Ryan so the numbers weren’t great, especially in the first meeting. That was Ryan’s second NFL game and he lost 24-9 and looked like a rookie QB. The rematch came late in the season. Atlanta lost 13-10, but played better. Ryan was picked off twice, but only sacked once. Atlanta ran 43 times for 175 yards. They only had 3 penalties.
I don’t know that Mularkey did a lot schematically that threw off Bradley’s defenses, but Mike did run a balanced offense that limited turnovers and penalties. There is a lot to be said for that. He also did this while grooming a young QB.
* * * * *
Ken Whisenhunt would be an interesting OC candidate. He’s got a much longer history vs Gus Bradley.
2006: PIT 20 , TB 3
2008: no games
Ken’s teams only scored more than 24 points in 2 games, both with Kurt Warner playing at a high level. The coaches went 5-5 in their meetings, but Bradley and the defense were the better of the two units.
When you look at it like this, the case isn’t all that compelling for Whiz…as OC or HC.
* * * * *
Back to my point about not just hiring the guys you know. Scott Pioli took over as Chiefs GM back in 2009. He hired Todd Haley, who he knew from a Jets job in the past. The staff got loaded with former Pats coaches like Romeo Crennel, Charlie Weis, and Brian Daboll. That situation proved disastrous.
Thomas Dimitroff left the Patriots to go run the Falcons. He hired Mike Smith, a coach he had never worked with. They maybe had met in the past, but weren’t friends. They hired a coaching staff from various places. I’m not sure there were any ex-Pats on the staff. Dimitroff didn’t try to re-create the Pats down south. He built his own team and organization. The results have been impressive.
If Gus gets the job, he should focus on hiring the right coaches and not just friendly faces.
* * * * * *
NFL Gimpy posted his new MAQB column. He’s got lots of good info on the playoff games.
Gimp made one very interesting point. The Niners offense did amazing things on Saturday night and broke all kinds of team records. The records were held by teams that featured multiple HOF players. Is there even one guy on the current Niners offense who you can see as HOF material? I know that is a young group and we don’t know the future, but Gimp’s point is relevant. When Montana, Rice, John Taylor, Roger Craig, and the gang were putting up freakish numbers, they were established, elite players. What we saw this weekend was like a bomb going off. Was the Packers defense really that awful? Can the Niners repeat that? If they do, are we seeing something special?
I do think we need Gimp to decide if he’s going to worship Russell Wilson or Colin Kaepernick. Can’t have ‘em both.