Ranking the Eagles’ Head-Coaching Candidates
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - It's a new year and the Philadelphia Eagles have already turned the page even though they still have 60 minutes of work left against the New York Giants on Sunday.
From there, it's about finding a new head coach, who actually wants the players Howie Roseman will target in free agency and the draft. Here's an early look at who should be on Jeffrey Lurie's radar:
Adam Gase, offensive coordinator - Chicago Bears - If you buy Lurie's spin that the timing of Kelly's firing had to do with getting a head start on the rest of the field that will be looking for new coaches after "Black Monday," you almost have to center in on the 37-year-old Gase, who is the one "hot name," who has nothing to do after this weekend.
His age is also a positive because everyone is looking for continuity and that 10- or 15-year shelf life.
Gase was the caretaker when Peyton Manning was setting records in Denver and has only upped his reputation in Chicago, with the perception that he got more out of Jay Cutler than anyone else. Beware of that mentality, though, because the Bears are a last place team entering Week 17 and Cutler once won 10 games in the Windy City.
Josh McDaniels, offensive coordinator - New England Patriots - McDaniels is highly-regarded even though he was beyond a flop in his first opportunity to be a head coach from 2009-10 in Denver and Bill Belichick lieutenants tend to falter when they get the wheel (think Charlie Weis, Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini and McDaniels himself).
The hope is that McDaniels learned from his mistakes with the Broncos but he was the definition of an autocrat, who alienated many in the Rockies and Philadelphia just got done with that kind of personality.
(Listen to John McMullen discuss the Eagles coaching options)
IN THE MIX:
Hue Jackson, offensive coordinator - Cincinnati Bengals - Jackson had a one-year stint in the big chair in Oakland and finished 8-8. That might seem pedestrian but understand that's the best the Raiders have done since Rich Gannon and Bill Callahan were there in 2002.
The 50-year-old veteran coach also has a varied resume with stints under proven mentors like Marty Schottenheimer, John Harbaugh and Marvin Lewis.
The biggest feather in Jackson's cap is that he had Andy Dalton in the MVP conversation for about three-quarters of this season.
Sean McDermott, defensive coordinator - Carolina Panthers - McDermott has come a long way since he was deemed a failure as Andy Reid's DC back in 2009-10 but he was just 35 at the time and given the unenviable task of replacing a legend in Jim Johnson.
He obviously learned from that ordeal and has built one of the best 4-3 defenses in the game in Charlotte. Meanwhile, many believe the current Eagles personnel on the defensive side, particularly Fletcher Cox, Vinny Curry, Bennie Logan, Kiko Alonso and Mychal Kendricks, would be best-suited for McDermott's preferred style of defense, not to mention the fact that the city's makeup would embrace a defensive head coach.
Some believe McDermott's acrimonious exit from Philadelphia, which was exacerbated when his brother, then a team VP, was also let go, will eliminate the Eagles but that happened under the Reid-Banner regime and McDermott made his NFL bones in Philly, spending over a decade here where the good far outnumbered the bad.
Brian Kelly, head coach - Notre Dame - Lurie insists that his experiences with Chip Kelly will not eliminate a college coach this time and the Fighting Irish's Kelly got an interview in 2013 when the Oregon mentor with the same surname got the gig.
Since then Brian Kelly's reputation has only been bolstered as he has turned UND into a perennial heavyweight again but his press conference while in Arizona for the Fiesta Bowl on New Year's Day virtually eliminated him if Lurie was even thinking about revisiting the idea of a college mentor.
"How would you give up control of all the things you have at Notre Dame to do that?" Kelly said when asked about potentially coaching in the NFL. "Unless they gave you full autonomy and control of an organization. I don’t think that’s happening anytime soon for Brian Kelly.”
It's certainly not happening in Philadelphia, not after Chip Kelly.
Sean Payton, head coach - New Orleans - Payton has two years left on his New Orleans deal and while the Saints would certainly listen, they would want significant value (as in draft picks) to let the veteran coach go free. That, and the fact that Payton probably wouldn't play nice with Howie Roseman make him a non-entity.
Jon Gruden, ESPN "Monday Night Football" analyst - Gruden likes to keep his name out there by feigning interest in many jobs behind the scenes but he's got a great job and would want full autonomy in a can't-miss situation to return. That's not on the table here.
THE RIGHT STUFF?
Pat Shurmur, offensive coordinator/interim head coach - Philadelphia - It's time to go "Back to the Future," and realize the Eagles had it pretty good during Andy Reid's 14-year tenure.
That's not to say Andy should still been here even though he's proven in Kansas City that he is still a very good NFL head coach.
Everyone has a shelf life and Reid's expired in Philadelphia but it's now clear the grass isn't always greener on the other side and Lurie, Roseman and Don Smolenski should have stayed the course and picked some one off the same tree that spawned Reid.
The Eagles brass has a chance to do that now and the answer will be coaching the Eagles on Sunday in North Jersey.
While Pat Shurmur wouldn't be a sexy choice at first, the fact that his core beliefs were developed under Reid and Mike Holmgren, yet he was open-minded enough to try to learn new things under Kelly make him the safest bet, especially if the plan to stop the quarterback carousel and re-sign Sam Bradford after the season.
No one has had more success with Bradford than Shurmur, who could be the guy to mold the good parts of an up-tempo attack with a more conventional offense.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @JFMcMullen.