What We Know

Posted: January 9th, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 62 Comments »

Okay, let’s review and cover the facts.

The Eagles have interviewed the following candidates:

Mike Nolan – ATL DC
Keith Armstrong – ATL STs

Bill O’Brien – Penn State
Chip Kelly – Oregon

Mike McCoy – DEN OC

The Eagles had interest in Doug Marrone, but he got the Buffalo job before the interview could happen.

Of the first 6 targets, 4 were on offense, 1 on defense, and 1 on STs.

3 of them were college head coaches. 1 of them had previously been an NFL HC.

Based on this, it sure seems like the Eagles prefer an offensive coach and one who is or has been a HC.

The Eagles want to talk to Bruce Arians, Jay Gruden, and Gus Bradley. Arians and Gruden are offensive guys and each has HC experience. That certainly helps them. Bradley is the hot name with fans and the media, but the trends don’t favor him.

Then the Eagles announced they would meet with Lovie Smith on Thursday. He is a former HC and has a winning record. Unfortunately, not only is he a defensive guy, he’s the opposite of an offensive guru.

The fact that the Eagles are going to meet with Lovie shows you that they aren’t married to the idea of an offensive guy. They’ll look at anyone. Since Bradley and Smith aren’t the ideal candidates, they really need great interviews to make the Eagles comfortable with them.

I can’t stress enough how important the interviews are. Andy Reid got the job based heavily on the interview. As I’ve written more than a few times, you hire the man, not the resume.

While the Eagles may have certain preferences, all candidates have a chance to impress Lurie, Roseman, and Smolenski. This isn’t about personality so much as answers. The candidate must have plans that he can explain in great detail. He must show that he’s got the presence to be a head coach and lead an organization. The candidate must answer tough questions when he’s grilled about the areas where he is weakest or has a poor track record. We’re not looking for a friend. This is an interview for the chance to run an NFL and be the key figure in a billion dollar company.

We have no idea how the interviews have gone so far. Did Mike Nolan explain his losing record and offensive deficiencies well? Did Keith Armstrong sell his ability to go from STs to HC? Did Mike McCoy come across as a leader? Time will tell us if they went well. If the Eagles don’t ask for follow-up interviews, they are done with those guys.

It will be interesting to see if any other candidates emerge. Here are some random possibilities:

NFL

Pete Carmichael – NO OC
Tom Clements – GB OC
Ben McAdoo – GB QBs
Mike Zimmer – CIN DC
Greg Roman – SF OC
Darrell Bevell – SEA OC
Ken Whisenhunt – former ARZ HC
Rick Dennison – HOU OC
Kyle Shanahan – WAS OC

NCAA

Nick Saban – Alabama
Brian Kelly – Notre Dame
Steve Sarkisian – Washington
Chris Petersen – Boise State
Kevin Sumlin – Texas A&M
Pat Fitzgerald – NW
Gary Patterson – TCU

* * * * *

I don’t know what the deal with Jon Gruden is.  He’s got Jaws pushing him to everybody.  Dick Vermeil wants him as Eagles coach.  Jay Gruden made some comments about wanting to stay in Cincy.  Did he do that to help push Jon as a candidate?

The Eagles have shown no interest.  I’ve said that Gruden isn’t the guy that I want the team to hire.  I think he’d be great short term, but would struggle to sustain success.

There are a couple of X-factors here.  Maybe being away from the game has changed him a bit and he would be more patient with his players.  I do think the Gruden QB Camp series has helped him.  He’s watched tape on the young QBs and then works with them.  Gruden used to love his veterans, but maybe he’s opened up to working with the young players.

You also wonder if the lack of attention has humbled him a bit.  If he could come in and work with Howie Roseman and try to build something, that would have my interest.  Tampa traded draft picks for him and I think that grew Gruden’s ego into a troublesome size.  Winning the SB made it even worse.  There was no one to rein him in down in Tampa.  Lurie and Roseman would need to be able to do that.

I’m still skeptical of Gruden, but now that things have played out this way, I’d be more open to him getting the job.  It will be interesting to see if the Eagles ever do show any interest.

_


  • TheRogerPodacter

    do you think the interest in lovie smith is serious? isn’t there a rule that they have to interview a minority candidate in the search for a new HC? granted, i don’t know if any of the other interviewed subjects apply, but could lovie be coming in just to satisfy that rule?

    • GermanEagle

      It’s called the Rooney rule and the Eagles already ticked the box with interviewing Armstrong from the Falcons.

      • TheRogerPodacter

        cool. i didn’t know who was already interviewed and if any of those candidates had satisfied the rule.

        had lovie been the only one, then *maybe* you could make the argument that the interest isn’t too serious, but i don’t think thats really the case now.

    • TommyLawlor

      I think the interest is legit. Lovie has the 49th best winning percentage in the history of the NFL. The man is a winner.

      The reason teams aren’t falling over to get him is the issues with offenses/QBs/OLs. You can’t ignore those. Lovie must be able to explain why things would be different with the new team.

      • P_P_K

        I’ve been under the impression that Lovie was handcuffed by having Cutler as his qb. Jay was not good enough to carry the O, but not bad enough to warrant drafting or trading for a different qb.

        • ChaosOnion

          I always ascribed it to their failures in drafting o-lineman. Cutler can be brilliant at times and hapless at others. Usually has something to do with how bad the line is playing that day.

    • austinfan

      Armstrong satified that rule.

      Lovie didn’t do a bad job in Chicago, he’s also a potential DC, and if the fault was the front office as far as the offense, with the right OC he could make it work – but he has a lot of explaining to do in an interview.

      And there is the “Al Davis” interview everyone, pick their brains, outside perspectives are invaluable aspect to this process. Especially if the real candidate(s) such as Clements are still in the playoffs and can’t be hired for a couple weeks.

  • bdbd20

    You were way smarter in italics.

    Seriously, I’ve been intrigued by Sumlin for a while. His success at Houston and then at Texas A&M (moving to the SEC on top of that) really caught my eye. I assume he stays, but it would be a nice guy to get before he hits the national stage.

    From the limited stuff I’ve seen, he seems like a natural leader and a no-nonsense type of coach (kinda reminds me of Tomlin and McCarthy).

    • TommyLawlor

      I wish he had some ties to the NFL or wasn’t such a spread offense coach. Those are the only things that turn me off.

      Young. Leader. Aggressive, innovative. Winner. Lots to like.

      • bridgecoach

        Sumlin is a fantastic candidate. Under 50 and the definition of a HC who develops talent. BJ Anderson would be among my top choices for OLine Coach no matter who our HC is.

        • austinfan

          Sumlin would be a fool to leave right now, he about to land the 3rd ranked recruiting class in 2013, Johnny Football is just a sophomore. Coach a few more years and continue to have success and he’ll be in the same position as Chip Kelly, he can name his price.

          Of course, if he wins the SEC Championship the Aggie alumni may make him an offer he can’t refuse to stay.

          College coaches toy with the NFL, but I think most know they’re over their heads in that environment, it’s the NFL coaches who go to college to fill out their resume who are most willing to jump because they know what the job demands. Marrone being a good example.

  • http://twitter.com/hotcakes_33 Glenn Jaffe

    Rules are that if you want to hire a guy but his team is still in the post season you cannot announce anything until after the team is eliminated, right? Could they have settled on someone (read: McCoy) and are blowing smoke to make it look like they are still searching? Maybe the Lovie interview is for DC to come work with McCoy or the yet to be IDed coach. I doubt Bradley would make a lateral move to an inferior secondary.

    • TommyLawlor

      That is possible, but unlikely. There are so few secrets today that I think if they loved McCoy enough to hire him, it would somehow get out. He still could end up being the guy, but I don’t think he is right now.

  • austinfan

    There may be bad blood with Jon going back to the Rhodes days and the 2002 SB. However, I think the real issue was set forth when Lurie set up his new organizational structure, he knows no HC in demand would accept reporting to Howie, but he didn’t want a HC to have control over personnel, so by having them both report to him he resolved that issue before a hire was made. Remember, Lurie has seen both Rhodes and AR screw up the personnel side, he won’t give that power to a HC again.

    And that may be the real sticking point with Gruden, Eagles wanted to make it clear what the limits of his authority would be before they talked to him. The fact that he’s lobbying behind the scenes through friends puts them in the catbird seat.

    Gruden was in TB for 7 years, and leaving Oakland, well, working for Al Davis is liking working for Jerrah, a job you only take as your first job, and put up your Rita Hayworth pinup poster until you’re free.

    There is no “perfect” candidate, since the perfect candidate would still be in the playoffs.

    Little note, resumes can be misleading, Mike McCarthy had an awful season as SF’s OC before GB hired him, previously he had a good but not great run as OC in New Orleans. Nothing shouted SB coach. Tomlin was an in house DC hire, Belichick a failure in Cleveland, Harbaugh in Baltimore was our ST coach. Coughlin had the best resume, and he came with a couple plays of being fired instead of wearing two SB rings (if they miss the 2007 playoffs).

    So the proof is in the chocolate pudding.

    • TommyLawlor

      Resumes can definitely be misleading. That’s why the interview is so critical.

      My guess on Gruden is that he was so forceful within the Tampa organization that it has scared off Lurie. Gruden got them to fire longtime GM Rich McKay. He had them hire his guy (Bruce Allen). Gruden ruled the roost. The Glazers were passive owners. There were also a lot of players with some issues.

      Lurie isn’t Jerry Jones, but he is somewhat of a hands-on owner. And Lurie isn’t answering to a coach. He wants the coach to answer to him, as it should be. If Gruden has eaten a bit of humble pie, he might be someone Lurie would consider.

      • aceandson

        I think the more important point is that there is no “formula” for SB coach.

        An owner can’t run down a checklist then start building a trophy case for the Lombardi.

        The approach Lurie and Co. seem to be taking -and took with Reid -was to find a man who’s plan, resume and personality are conducive to a winning program.

        Of all the variables it takes to winning a championship, winning a whole lot more than you lose is the only consistent factor.

    • ACViking

      Re: Gruden’s record / Resumes

      Austinfan — love your comment and supporting examples about resumes. Really great point that puts more beef on the bones of T-Law’s interview argument.

      ___________________

      I have to believe it’s not helping Gruden with Jeff Lurie to have Vermeil and Jaws — two well respected figures among Eagles fans — pushing for the guy. In fact, there’s a striking awkwardness to it all.

      Regardless, I’m not sure Gruden’s the right person for any team — except as an OC.

      After winning the 2002 SB, Gruden’s record as the Bucs’ HC was 45-51.

      I know TB went through a dramatic personnel transition after 2002. But even factoring that in, Gruden didn’t do particularly well . . . and struggled terribly to find or develop a QB.

      Reid, despite “reloading” the past several years, at least had a plus-coaching record.

      Same with Lovie Smith, even with his offensive challenges.

      • Baloophi

        Jaws and Vermeil stumping for Gruden is indeed awkward, and potentially portentous (if you’ll excuse the alliteration).

        If Gruden became the coach and we experience another middling season, what happens if and when he uses outside channels to take a swing at Roseman? The Philly media will find a way to build a circus, and Gruden would make a mighty fine ringmaster.

  • http://www.facebook.com/jeffrey.stover.3 Jeffrey Stover

    Tommy, if we go with a Offensive minded Head coach. What do you think about Rob Ryan as a DC? The last time we had a Ryan in Philly, we actually had a feared defense instead of being the turnstile of the league!

    • TommyLawlor

      I need to cover Rob in a post.

      • tad

        You’d need a horse blanket to cover him.

        • TommyLawlor

          Nice.

    • austinfan

      What has Rob Ryan done in Cleveland or Dallas that makes you suspect he’s a real DC?

      • deg0ey

        You forgot Oakland; he sucked there too. One year for the Raiders he managed a D that was ranked 3rd in total yards and 18th in points. One would suspect that the offense was giving them a short field fairly frequently there, but given the total lack of discipline his defenses seem to have I’d suggest there were a hefty number of failings in the red zone too.

    • bridgecoach

      Rob Ryan is a joke. Plenty of better DC candidates who are more deserving and less disruptive.

    • http://www.facebook.com/jamie.parker.1044 Jamie Parker

      He lost to Juan Castillo, twice.

    • deg0ey

      Rob has been trading off of the name for years. The most telling stat for me is that he’s never had a winning record in his career as a DC. Some of that will have been on the offense, but even so, not a guy I would EVER want in Philly.

  • T_S_O_P

    “It will be interesting to see if any other candidates emerge.”

    If the Seahawks win at the weekend, another name may emerge.

  • Ark87

    I’m amazed at how many coaches are basically looking at all these coaching vacancies and saying “hmmm….naaaah I’m good where I’m at”. I know SOME ONE will take the job, only 32 NFL HC jobs in the world. But damn they aren’t near as coveted by qualified individuals as I thought.

    • austinfan

      Depends on the situation -

      college coaches with nice salaries who are in good situations, both Kellys, O’Brien, have close to lifetime tenure and future raises as long as they don’t screw up, and once you’re established, you got to work to screw up, the hours are better, if you can recruit, a much easier life

      assistant coaches often have one shot, then they’re stigmatized as failures, sometimes they know they’re not ready, sometimes their families aren’t ready, and there is the “I’ll reject her before she rejects me,” by taking yourself out of the running, you don’t have to find yourself left out when all the chairs are filled.

      • Ark87

        good points by you and bd20. Makes perfect sense, I’m just commenting on how I had unrealistic expectations.

    • bdbd20

      The NFL isn’t for everybody. Spurrier loves working 6 months a year (not counting recruiting) and playing golf everyday.

      I’m sure Saban likes the idea of being a god in Alabama. We all thought Chip Kelly was wired for the NFL, but that may not be the case.

      I think a lot of college coaches see what happened with Spurrier, Saban, Petrino, etc.. and would rather stick with something that they love rather than risk failure.

  • http://twitter.com/Angry_Amishman Angry Amishman

    Tommy, love your work. Followed you for years on the EMB. One question. Is Tony Dungy out of the mix? He’s never really said no to coaching again that I recall.

    • P_P_K

      I haven’t heard that he wants to get back into coaching. Too bad, he’s a great guy.

    • TommyLawlor

      I do miss the EMB. Lots of good friends and fun times.

      Dungy has said no to coaching. He’s had 2 NFL jobs. He’s now paid by NBC for cushy work and can still be a father/husband. He’s loving life as is.

  • bridgecoach

    Winston Moss needs to be added to your list. He is among the most qualified candidates available for head coach. The Green Bay Packers have been a model organization is terms of success and developing talent. Winston Moss has been the asst head coach there for 5 years, has been immersed in the NFL for 25 years, and has extensive experience developing talent while managing logistics. He is a defensive minded tough guy – but hasn’t only benefited from mentoring under Dom Capers, he has worked closely as Offensively minded HC Mike McCarthy’s number two.

    Ben McAdoo could follow him as OC, Perry or Trgovac as DC. Perry would be huge with his extensive expertise developing and getting the most from CB/Safeties – from Nnamdi to Polamalu. We might get all three!

    • TommyLawlor

      Winston was a hot candidate in the past. I wonder if he interviewed poorly.. He’s getting no attention right now. He has a solid track record and GB continues to win so I don’t know why teams would sour on him unless it was his interviews.

      • bridgecoach

        If it is true that he interviewed badly as opposed to simply not being chosen for the job like all the other candidates that failed to secure the job offer, the whole point of the rule was to help minority candidates gain interview experience.

        But I take your point that his name isn’t out there this cycle, but I expect that to change after the Packers play. Win or Lose, their coaches will get looks.

    • bdbd20

      I do wonder how much their defensive struggles have hurt his reputation. I imagine he was a hot candidate after the SB, but last year’s debacle against the Giants may have done some damage. He may have to prove his worth as a DC first.

  • D3FB

    Just say no to Lovie. For the following reason:

    Lovie’s coaching record with the Bears was as follows…

    51-15 vs. teams with losing records

    11-8 vs. teams with .500 records

    19-40 mark against teams with winning records.

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I rest my case.

    • TommyLawlor

      Well done.

    • Ark87

      That is a bit alarming, but I do wonder, what is an acceptable W-L rate vs winning records? It is a proper gradient to be sure. He take care of business against bad teams. Overall this seems to suggest that the Bears teams were better than middle of the road but not elite over the course of Lovie’s tenure. Which pretty much sums up what we already knew about the bears. Unimpressive offenses have always kept his teams from being elite. He has some tools here to be productive on offense. It all comes down to how Lovie sells his ability to keep the Eagles offense productive to Lurie and Howie.

      Wonder what the spread looks like on Bill Belichick.

      • D3FB

        Found that stat. Currently grinding through by hand on Reid, will have in an hour or so.

        • Ark87

          oh was hoping your source might have had other coaches to compare to as well, but it’s awesome you’re digging that up. Will be very interesting to see.

      • TheRogerPodacter

        on a similar direction – its hard to look just at the record at the team at the end of the season…. their record when you play them is just as important.
        good example – the bears this season. if you beat them at teh beginning of the season, that would be quite the accomplishment. if you beat them at the end, not so much.

        another example was when we played the bills a season or two ago. they were red hot when we played them, and then went ice cold…

        if you start looking at things that way, then you would have to start factoring in major injuries to key players like the starting QB and such and i think you could spend the rest of your life analyzing it all.

        tl;dr – i dont think just looking at W vs L is really a good measuring stick.

        • Ark87

          Exactly right. You almost need both systems. Like the first 4 games of the season will be severely skewed if you go by the “record before the game”. IE the eagles were 3-1 and on top of the NFC East.

          In the end of the season record system, winning naturally pushes your opponents towards losing records, losing naturally pushes opponents towards winning records. This tend to make the gradient more dramatic

      • D3FB

        OK SO THE ANDY REID NUMBERS ARE AS FOLLOWS:

        VS TEAMS WITH WINNING RECORDS: 34-54 OR 38.6%

        VS .500 TEAMS: 18-17 OR 51.4%

        VS TEAMS WITH LOSING RECORDS: 77-22-1 OR 77.5%

        • D3FB

          Looking at the breakdown of the two, the numbers are closer than I expected.

          • Ark87

            Oh wow, awesome insight. Later tonight or early tomorrow I’ll check out bill belichick’s numbers so that we can get an idea of what an Elite coach looks like with this spread system. It’s a very interesting way to look at a coach. But having some context via comparisons will make it that much more valuable.

            Thanks for sharing your findings

          • Iskar36

            I’d love to hear Belichick’s numbers against good teams. It seems almost every year, they play one of the easiest schedules in the league. In 2011, the Patriots had a 13-3 record. That year, they played 2 teams with a winning record all season (the Giants and the Steelers) and lost to both. Then in the playoffs, they had a bye, then played the Broncos who were 8-8 in the regular season and won. Beat the Ravens for their 1st win against a winning team, and then lost to the Giants in the superbowl.

            Seems to me that they have ridiculous schedules like that year in and year out, so those numbers could be very interesting.

          • Ark87

            posted them above about a second ago. Just sending this to make your update alert go off

    • ceteris_paribus1776

      I would guess that, with very few exceptions, those numbers are actually pretty good. Know how 10-6 or 11-5 teams get to be that instead of 15-1 or 16-0? They lose to other good teams. This just tells me the Bears are who we thought they were under Lovie: a pretty good team.

      That fact of the matter is that any coach who has been fired is going to have an issue coming with him, otherwise he wouldn’t be fired. The only way you get around that is to hire a coordinator who is a hot name because of recent success, or someone from collect, and neither will have HC experience. In other words, there are very few “perfect” candidates with few-to-no question marks available for a reason.

    • Ark87

      Alright, results are in for Bill Belichick

      sub .500: 82-11 (.88)
      .500: 21-5 (.81)
      above .500: 48-41 (.54)

      Even the Great Bill Belichick has what appears to be a pretty meh record against good teams. That’s the ceiling right there, more or less.

      • Iskar36

        Actually, having a record above 500 against >.500 teams seems incredibly impressive to me. The other part I am blown away by is the number of >.500 teams he has played. He has been a HC for a shorter time than AR, but has 1 more game against a >.500 team.

        • Ark87

          It’s because of 2011, went 6-0 against .500 teams
          Also, if you think about it, beating good teams more often than not is really the key his success. You get to the playoffs where all teams are good (winning records), it is good to have the odds in your favor.

          • D3FB

            Yea Reid had two outlier years where he was like 1-8 I think in 05 and like 2-8 or something another year that just completely blew his numbers. Every other year he’s 2-3, 3-5, 5-4, etc.

  • jshort

    The longer the search drags on, Jon Gruden is starting to make sense. He has the qualities that the organization is supposedly looking for:

    (1) HC experience – won SB
    (2) Leader – King David danced around naked in the streets of Jerusalem worshiping God for something (forget what). He led a nation. Chucky danced around Tampa naked after the SB victory.
    (3) NFL experience – He knows every nook and cranny. He would know all the hard-working coaches throughout every organization, probably right down through the janitorial staff.
    (4) Student of the game – NFL-quality film room in his home. Willing to take on a OC job under Chip Kelly just to understand an offensive scheme.
    (5) Short-term long-term coach – Who really cares if we get to see a SB winner in the next three years? That’s something that has never happened here yet.
    (6) Rested – He’s taken a break from coaching which has given him time to reflect on his deficiencies.
    (7) Knows the Philly fans and media – If he takes the job, he knows exactly the pressure that awaits.
    (8) He has a hot-looking wife – When the camera scans to her, a game analyst can tell all the aspiring young coaches this is what they can get if they study their play books with their fathers.

    • TommyLawlor

      Good stuff, although I am worried about Gruden’s naked dancing.

    • Yuri

      Warren Sapp, not Gruden did the post-SB dance.
      http://staugustine.com/stories/072503/spo_1691558.shtml

      Gruden toyed with the idea for repeat but ultimately decided not to (and did not repeat either):
      http://articles.latimes.com/keyword/tampa-bay-buccaneers-football-team

      Immodest as he is about his goals, Jon Gruden is a bit more shy when it
      comes to his body. He will not dance in a jockstrap down Dale Mabry
      Highway if his Tampa Bay Buccaneers repeat as Super Bowl champions, even though he told Playboy magazine he would. “Ain’t gonna happen, man,” said Gruden, once named to People magazine’s 50 most-beautiful-people list. “A little levity once in a while never hurt anybody.”

      • jshort

        I guess that disqualifies him for a leadership role. I could swear I read that he did. My bad.

    • laeagle

      Don’t get #2 and #8 mixed up. Scary results.

  • KeithPetres

    It doesn’t really matter which side of the ball the head coach comes from. Reid was from the offensive side, but Jim Johnson was better on defense than Reid was on offense (this isn’t an insult to Reid, but JJ extremely good). As long as the coach “knows people”, that’s all it takes.