Examining The Eagles Coaching Landscape Going Forward

Could Seattle Seahawks Defensive Coordinator Gus Bradley be the next Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach?It’s been a week since Andy Reid was relieved of his duties as Eagles head coach and the rumors about who will replace the long-time Philadelphia staple are flying at an impressive rate.

From all corners of the football map, potential replacements have come forth. While the decision about who will be Reid’s successor is unarguably the most important decision Jeffrey Lurie will make since–well, since he hired Reid, and therefore deserves the utmost of consideration, this is a time of rapid movement for team’s in search of a new coach.

Because teams are scrambling to find their new head coach–two of the five teams with vacancies have already made hires. More on that later–Lurie can ill afford to drag his feet and miss the bus on snagging one of the top candidates available. So far, he and his staff have done everything in their power to ensure they don’t miss out.

Unfortunately for Lurie, his swiftness in cramming in the interviews has so far yielded nothing but goose eggs. To put it another way, if this were baseball, Lurie would be batting a cool .000. Three of his top candidates have spurned him for their current jobs (Chip Kelly, Bill O’Brien and Dirk Koetter), while a fourth candidate thought to be near the top of everyone’s list in Doug Marrone has already been snagged by Buffalo before the Eagles could even have a word with him.

If you’re keeping track at home, that’s 0-for-3 on what were reportedly the Eagles top three candidates and 0-for-1 on a candidate the Birds probably would have considered had he still been available right now (though that latter assertion is complete conjecture on my end). At this point, even Mario Mendoza is wondering when Lurie is going to hit on one of these.

So much for that whole most attractive job in the NFL thing, huh, Jeffrey?

The lack of results no doubt has the fanbase worked into an impatient fervor. Most are wondering just when Lurie is planning on pulling the trigger on one of these guys. All of them are hoping he does something before the only viable candidates left are the insufferable Jon Gruden (seriously, please hire ANYONE BUT Jon Gruden. PLEASE), the salivating Bill Cowher (have you ever seen the spit fly out of that guy’s mouth when he screams on the sidelines?), and trickeration specialist Brian Billick (with fantastic trickeration, the offensive coordinator has embiggoned his entire team’s spirits!). I don’t think any of us want that.

Quite honestly, though, I think the fear any fans are feeling right now is more a result of the typical Philadelphia doom and gloom mentality rather than a dearth of quality candidates being left on the market. While I think some of the guys who have rejected Lurie would have made fine head coaches (O’Brien, especially), I don’t think missing out on them means there isn’t coaching talent left on the market. In fact, there are guys who are just as likely to do a good job as any of the guys that have rejected the Birds so far.

Let’s take a look at who the Eagles are targeting and how they suit the job. For formality purposes, I’ve ordered them from weakest to strongest:

1) Lovie Smith: I feel it’s necessary to mention Smith because reports have surfaced today that the Eagles will interview the former Bears head coach. Unlike what someone has suggested, Smith is far from a Rooney Rule candidate (Keith Armstrong, as you probably already know, filled that obligation last week). If the Eagles are interviewing Smith, it’s because they believe he could potentially fit the bill. During Smith’s time in Chicago, he headed up one of the most dominating defenses in football. Having said all that, I don’t look at Smith as an ideal candidate for the job, despite my desire for a defensive-minded head coach. To me, Smith is essentially a poor man’s Andy Reid. During his time in Chicago, his team’s averaged 9.5 wins a season and did make one Super Bowl appearance. However, he only made the playoffs in three of his nine seasons. This past season alone is enough for me to steer clear of Smith. How he failed to make the playoffs with the boatload of talent currently in Chicago is beyond me. Imagine what he’d do with a far less talented roster in Philadelphia. No, thanks.

2) Bruce Arians: Ah, Arians. You know him well, no doubt. The offensive coordinator for the Colts has exploded onto the head coaching candidate scene this offseason, propelled forward by his team’s unlikely playoff appearance. Arians, however, was more than a mere coordinator for the Colts. When head coachChuck Pagano was sidelined with leukemia, Arians served as the interim coach and did a great job, going 9-3. Arians, along with Andrew Luck, is a big reason why the Colts made such a drastic turnaround this season. He’d probably be able to get maximum results from Nick Foles, a pocket passer similar to Luck in style, though a fair cry from him in potential, if he were to come to Philly, which is a great plus. Arians also has a history in Philadelphia. He served as Temple’s head coach from 1983 to 1988. I wouldn’t hate this hire. That is, if there weren’t stronger candidates available.

3) Mike McCoy Of the offensive-minded head coaches still available, McCoy is the strongest. Just look what he has done with Denver’s offense this year with the help of Peyton Manning. I know, I know, the Eagles hardly have Peyton Manning at quarterback. It’s a fair point. But you forget he was the Broncos coordinator last year, too. Any guy who can get a team to the playoffs with Tim Tebow as their quarterback is OK in my book. The offense wasn’t flashy, but it was exactly what it needed to be for the Broncos to succeed. I think he could do great things with the weapons the Eagles have and a healthy offensive line.

4) Gus Bradley This guy. I’ll tell ya, I like this guy. I even like his name. Gus. He sounds like a guy that knows how to get things done. Maybe it’s my defensive-minded coach bias talking, but I want Gus Bradley. I want him BAD. He’s the next best thing to Mike Zimmer (who was my top choice before Reid was fired and seems to be off the radar). But Bradley is more than just a guy with an All American name. In his three years with Seattle, he has completely revamped their defense. Since 2010, they’ve gone from 27th in yards per game to fourth. In 2012, they were first overall in points allowed. This was done because Bradley reconstructed his defense, getting players that worked within his scheme. It’s time for Bradley to get a shot and the Eagles should be the team to give it to him.

There you have it. I’d be willing to wager a large some of money that one of these four guys is the next Eagles head coach.

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Ryan Dinger

Along with The High Phive, Ryan also writes for Phillies Nation and The Grapevine. While his sports expertise lie with the Phillies and the Eagles, he is a diehard fan and avid analyst of all five major Philadelphia sports teams. Follow Ryan on twitter @Ryanfromjersey.

One Response

  1. Matt Coyne says:

    Extremely well thought out analysis with humor sprinkled in liberally, Problem is, we all know that Jeff Lurie will just hire someone he used to play Fantasy Football with in high school.