Let’s jump right into it and state the very obvious fact: The city of Philadelphia has fallen out of love with long time Eagles head coach Andy Reid. It doesn’t take a genius to know that if you endorse Reid, you will get the similar response of endorsing the wrong Presidential candidate (Thank God that’s over!), and be shunned by friends and family just as fast. You can bring up his past accomplishments all that you want, but in the end we still have no Super Bowl, we have a team that is falling apart, and a scheme that is quite predictable. Michael Jackson’s song “Man In The Mirror” may say it best: “If you want to make the world a better place, take a look at yourself and make a change”. Let’s jump right into it and state the very obvious fact: Perhaps the best way for Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles to make their football worlds better is to part ways and start new.
The numbers are there to make us like Reid as a whole. The man has won 6 division titles, has appeared in 5 NFC Championship games, winning one of them, and making an appearance in Super Bowl XXXIX, which was a 3 point loss to the New England Patriots. 11 of his 14 seasons as Eagles coach has ended in either winning season or at least .500. He turned Donovan McNabb, the guy we all booed on draft day into one of, if not the best QB in Eagles history. He took a dead team that finished 3-13 and turned them into an elite NFL team, yes that is elite team. He was the guy that rolled the dice on a guy like Brian Westbrook, and made him one of the most loved players in the history of the city. He brought us Terrell Owens, Asante Samuel and other players many found unlovable, and made them Philly favorites, even despite Owens quick departure. 129 wins to just 86 losses and 1 tie is a nice record, very nice, but just not enough anymore, right Philly?
So let’s walk into the shoes of Eagles GM Howard Roseman and owner Jeffrey Laurie. You now have to make a huge decision for the 2013 season. Unless Reid finds a way to make this 3-5 football team into a Super Bowl winner, it is pretty clear that he won’t be back. It is time to find a new guy that your city will embrace, and can handle the rigors of trying to make this city happy. Every down is like the last play of the season, and every game is an event like no other. The coach you bring in needs to have a pure love for a city, a team and a dream. A guy that talks little and fires up just as little won’t last long. The next guy can’t be a no name guy, the fans want a star! Like the single guy who finally commits to a girlfriend, you want that “wow factor”, you want to stop everyone in their tracks with the choice you have made. In other words, this won’t be easy at all.
I have taken the time to find a list of potential replacements, a wish list if you will. Some of this is purely off of my knowledge of the game, and some comes from the talks I have with other fans. There are a few names on this list that may make some cringe, some that will make you excited, and some that will bring a “oh yeah, him” response. Remember I am trying here. I want a good guy as much as the next. I always liked Andy Reid, so this list for me is pretty tough. Do we get offense or defense for a theme? Do the Eagles get a guy from within? A guy who has been away from the game? This is the hardcore game we are going to play. Heck, for now let’s all pray for the big turn around, and be a winner. If not, well here is the list of some candidates. Chime in at will!
The List Of Potentials (In no order whatsoever):
Perry Fewell, Defensive Coordinator, New York Giants: Let’s get clever and say its “Fewell for the fire”, nah that’s pretty lame. However Fewell has a Super Bowl ring, and has one of the best front 4 defenses in the league right now. He would come from a division rival who can share some secrets about the Giants, and bring some of that winner’s mentality to Philly. Although the Eagles have fared well against the G-Men, it is not due to a lack of his ability. He had a brief run as Buffalo Bills interim coach and finished 3-4. He is a player’s coach, and brings defensive sense to a team that has been led by offense for so long. He seems a good choice, but will the Giants let him walk that freely, especially to Philly?
Jack Del Rio, Defensive Coordinator, Denver Broncos: A hard-nosed player in his day turned quality NFL coach, Del Rio is doing a nice job with Denver’s defense this year. Was formerly the head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003-2011, and finished with a record of 69-73, including a 1-2 playoff record. His smarts is on defense. In 2000 he was the linebacker coach for the Baltimore Ravens, who many say had the best defense of all time. He then took that to Carolina, where in his time there he had the league’s number 2 overall defense. In his time in Jacksonville, he turned them from the 23rd ranked defense up to as high as number 3. His situation was similar to Reid, in which it kind of ran its course and a change was needed. He has stayed very close to the game, is a tough guy and can be a good motivator. His name may not be the sexiest on the market, but he is a good guy for this job.
Jon Gruden, ESPN Monday Night Football Analyst: This is the hot name, and with very good reason. Gruden has been a guy that has always changed momentum and made winners out of teams. A career record of 95-81, plus a 5-4 playoff record and a Super Bowl win speaks for itself. We now see him as the lovable, superlative-slinging guy on Monday Night Football, but with that we also get to hear just how much he knows about the game, and how much fire comes from his belly. Some big factors here include a brand new contract he just singed with the network, and if he really wants to walk away from his cushy job to go back to the hard days of NFL coaching. He knows the city, as he was an assistant here some years ago, and Philly would take to him in an instant. He brings a winning attitude, plenty of press, and a similar scheme to what Reid used, which is less of a transformation.
Chip Kelly, Head Coach, Oregon Ducks: The first mystery name to come at you here, and the first college coach who I bring up. Kelly has been masterful at Oregon with a current record of 43-6, including 1-2 in Bowl Games. In 2010 Kelly was named the AP, Sporting News and Eddie Robinson Award Coach Of The Year, and his innovative style of offense and game “mathematics” have many considering him the new face of football. In 2011, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers offered him a head coach position, but he declined stating he had “unfinished business” at Oregon. This shows that the NFL has his eye on him, now to bring him here! His style was compared to that of baseballs Billy Beane and his “moneyball” technique of playing percentages over basic assumed logic. He goes for it on 4th down, loves the 2-point conversion, will fake punts and use some razzle-dazzle. He will keep it exciting here for sure, and being a Pac-10 coach he has knowledge of Nick Foles, who may very well be the Eagles next starting QB. He sounds like a real good choice, but we have seen college coaches implode before.
Bruce Arians, Offensive Coordinator, Indianapolis Colts: A strange thing happened on his way to riding off into the sunset. After 4 years of being the offensive guy in Pittsburgh, Arians was let go, only to find himself being offered the same job with the Indianapolis Colts, where he once served as the QB coach for Peyton Manning. He was steadily going along until being thrust into the interim head coaching job when coach Chuck Pagano was found to have leukemia. What are the results? He has produced a 3-1 record, bringing rookie QB Andrew Luck along nicely, and bringing a new spirit to this team. His head coaching back ground was not stellar, as he spent several years as the head man at Temple University, which so happens to be in Philadelphia, so he does know the city. He has family throughout Pennsylvania, so the move here won’t be hard for him, and he has always had a creative flare for offense. Come 2013 he will find himself an active candidate, so don’t hate on this name quite yet.
Brian Kelly, Head Coach, Notre Dame: Here is a lusty name for you. Kelly has come a long way since starting his head coaching career in 1991. He has always moved up the ladder to get better jobs as a tribute to his success. For his career he has a sparkling record of 196-66-2, including a 3-2 Bowl record and 25-10 at his current job with Notre Dame. He has brought back prominence to a once dying team, and currently has them ranked number 4 in the country, and has been winning big games. A former NFL Linebacker as well, he knows how to lower the boom and bring fire to his players. The notion is that he would bring a slower paced, smash mouth style game, but hey it works in Pittsburgh. I find it very hard to think that Kelly will walk away, but if he does this is an excellent NFL starter job for him.
Mike Nolan, Defensive Coordinator, Atlanta Falcons: A guy who has been around the block at a pretty young age, Nolan does know defense. Sure, his only other head coaching stint was a rough one in San Francisco, but he would inherit a lot more talent here. Sometimes guys like this just need to step back, learn more of a leadership role, then come back to try again. I can’t see Philly being the place of such open arms for that try, but they will get a good football guy here. In Atlanta he currently has a nice defense and an undefeated team, so that speaks well of what he brings. Just this, if he would be the new coach in Philly, he may want to lose that “suit” idea.
Frank Bush, Linebackers Coach, Tennessee Titans: You may fire when ready readers! However, sometimes you need a dark horse, and a guy who is given a big chance to make things happen. Bush was a linebacker coach for the Denver Broncos during 2 Super Bowl wins, and has since been doing work in Houston, Baltimore and now the Titans. He may not be a football genius, but is a no nonsense kind of guy, much the way he was as a linebacker for the old Houston Oilers. Another factor is this: We really don’t know who will be with this team next year, and it may be very much a rebuilding process, in which Bush can either be a surprising hero, or a fall guy who can still land an NFL coaching job somewhere. There are many guys out there that could be much worse, so I say Bush gets at least a thought.
Wilbert Montgomery, Running Back Coach, Baltimore Ravens: Another call me crazy pick, but one of substance. Philly loves to bring back familiar names, from Mo Cheeks to Larry Bowa, so why not a try for Wilbert? He worked in St. Louis and prepped a few guys named Marshall Faulk, and Steven Jackson, perhaps you have heard of them? He is a student of Dick Vermeil as well, another plus for Philly fans. In his current position with Baltimore he is teaching the ropes to the very successful Ray Rice, so his track record of making premier backs speaks for itself. He could bring back some old time Eagles ball here, get some familiar names to join in and maybe even make this a fun team. Heck at least we won’t be asking “why don’t we run the ball”. Long shot, very long, but he deserves a shout out here.
Rob Ryan, Defensive Coordinator, Dallas Cowboys: You want fire and passion, well this is your guy. You want to stick it to our arch rivals well this is again your guy. It may be fun to have Buddy’s son here to try and bring some of that snarl that his dad had when he head coached, but does he have what it takes? His brother Rex had a nice start in New York, but is slowly losing his mojo, and some fear Rob will have that same fallout. He has never been an NFL head guy, but has been around a few defenses. He appears to be a guy that can be a leader, but if we also remember his dad was brutal in making key decisions, especially with his offense. Ryan will get a look, but I don’t see him being liked very much here in Philly, just a hunch of course.
Bill Cowher, CBS Football Analyst: Another year and another mention for “The Chin”. Yes any modern day football fan will know his angry face, and his fired up temper, but is he still in touch? I know full well, as we all do that he has a fantastic reputation and a great career with a record of 149-90, plus a 12-9 post season record and a Super Bowl win in 2005 with the Steelers. He built that franchise into a power house before turning it over to Mike Tomlin in 2007. In my opinion he has earned his right to take it easy like Mike Ditka and Jimmy Johnson, and not try and tarnish a nice career. If you remember when Ditka tried a comeback his days in New Orleans were not very pretty. I know Philly wants this guy and would love him, but getting him to come out of the booth could be a tough sell.
Sean Payton, Head Coach, New Orleans Saints (Suspended): The NFL threw a nice little wrench in the works here when they voided Payton’s renewed contract extension. Sure they now will allow the team to try and work a new deal, but is this still his passion? Sure he has a nice comfortable dome to work in, and a super star offense, but maybe it is time for a change. He has learned quick and has a terrific 62-34 record including a Super Bowl win. Some say he is the smartest offensive mind in the game today. He was in Philly in 1998 and 1999 as a QB coach before becoming an assistant for the Giants and the Cowboys, so the NFC East is nothing new to him. Basically to have any shot at him, Reid would need to be let go right now, and the negotiations would have to start today. Not even sure if we can speak to him, and really not to sure he wants this as his next stop, but he would make a good coach here.
Les Miles, Head Coach, LSU: If arrogance was money, Miles would be the wealthiest man alive. Heck he knows he’s a good leader, and his smug smirk will tell you that all of its own. He may very well be yet another college guy that just can’t cut it in the NFL, or he may be just as smart as he will tell you he is. Being nicknamed “The Mad Hatter” means others see his cunning, and that just might be the flavor that the Eagles need. He has a good career record of 110-41, and won the 2007 National Championship. His southern style and attitude may not be to the big city liking, but his winning sure can be looked at. To me he is not a Bobby Petrino, Steve Spurrier or even a Nick Saban. I think if he got his chance he would be aggressive with it and may make a good run.
Brad Childress, Offensive Coordinator, Cleveland Browns: Not far removed from days here in Philly, Childress has a decent track record, in fact it is better than many people think. Sure he crashed in his final year as the Vikings head coach, but he brought that team along nicely with a 39-35 record that included back to back Division titles in 2008 and 2009 before losing the NFC Championship game to the Saints and posting a 12-4 record. It got messy when he started to deal with an aged Brett Favre, and started to lose his teams trust after becoming very outspoken. He is a good overall football guy, and that is showing in Cleveland, where he is working well with a rookie at both QB and RB, and you have to say they have improved greatly on offense. Heck if Romeo Crennel can get a second crack why not Childress? I would take him on.
Matt Patricia, Defensive Coordinator, New England Patriots: Yes, here is my ultimate dark horse and “who the heck” candidate. Here is a guy that fits the mold rather nicely, wearing his big shaggy beard and mustache, long hair, and the looks for most of the Philly faithful in the stands already. Patricia looks like a “sock you in the face” type guy, and would bring a very new flavor to Philly. Despite being just 38 years old, he has spent 8 years with the Patriots and Bill Belichick has had him in many realms, from assistant offensive coach, to O-line, to linebacker coach to the head of the defense, and at each stop he has improved the structure. For years it was thought the Pats didn’t have the defense to win again, but with this guy taking the lead it looks much better. They average less than 4 yards allowed per rush, which is one of the best numbers in the league. He would need to find a very sharp offensive mind to bring along, which should be easy enough. I will throw out a comparison name that you all may love: Pittsburgh Steelers head guy Mike Tomlin. He is very much the same breed, young, sharp, hard-nosed and ready to rock. I like this guy, and I think the team would too. Just worth a mention.
Brian Billick, NFL Analyst Fox Sports: Another guy with a bit of arrogance but a good football guy as a whole. As an assistant with the Minnesota Vikings he led one of the best offenses of all time, then took his act to Baltimore, where he became head coach, posted an 85-67 total record and won the Super Bowl in 2000, and he did it with defense. Billick may not be a total Philly guy, but he will have the patience to bring in a new scheme and can teach plenty to young QBs like Nick Foles, if the Eagles choose to part with Michael Vick. He is another guy that would have to be lured out of the booth, but I clearly see him giving it one more shot.
Jim Mora Jr., Head Coach, UCLA: Before you click off of this page, hear me out. If the Eagles decide that their future still lies with Michael Vick at QB, then why not bring back his former coach? These 2 guys did have a decent run together, including an improbable trip to the 2004 NFC Championship game, in which they lost oddly enough to the same Eagles. Mora has always been a fiery guy, but seen as some to be lost. However he does have a good nose for defense and came back strong in leading UCLA to a current 7-2 record. As a pro coach he is 31-33 with a 1-1 playoff record, totally not dooms day. He could work his way back into the pros, with or without Vick it could still be good in Philly. Not one of the top options, but a name to think of anyway.
Jay Gruden, Offensive Coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals: Why not “Little Chucky”? Sure he turned down a few jobs last year, but this is a job that will have a decent team waiting for him. He has done great things for the offense in Cincy, and has groomed QB Andy Dalton and WR AJ Green into 2 excellent NFL pros. Sure he is under the shadow of brother Jon but at least there will be someone to teach him all about Philly. He is also served as head coach in smaller football leagues, so being the head guy is not that much of a stretch. A nice vertical passing game could be very much the spark to jump this Eagles team in 2013.
Yes, 20 very strong candidates for my Eagles to consider, but with that a list of the guys I would not like. No history just a list.
Todd Haley: His character kind of stinks
Josh McDaniels: See Todd Haley
Rod Marinelli: Great D coach, but really, 0-16?
Dick LeBeau: See Rod Marinelli
Jerry Gray: A hot name, despite a brutal Bills defense that cost a fortune.
Jason Garrett: ?, please!
Mike McCoy: Not that I don’t want him, but good luck prying him away from Peyton Manning
Cam Cameron: Failed because well, he’s not a leader
Mike Singletary: Can’t win with them, can’t coach them, does he mean players or himself?
Bill Parcells: If any human says Parcells, they should be shot!
I welcome any and all feedback here everyone. I know this is always a hot topic so I expect many comments and choices. Not giving up on 2012 yet, but it’s nice to have a plan in place at least.