After what could only be described as a disastrous year run as head coach and final decision maker on player personnel, the Philadelphia Eagles and owner Jeffrey Lurie decided it was time to remove Chip Kelly from his post.
Kelly made a number of questionable roster moves in the off season prior to 2015, trading the franchise’s all-time leading rusher LaSean McCoy, allowing WR Jeremy Maclin to leave via free agency, and releasing Pro Bowl G Evan Mathis in the summer.
Overall, Kelly shipped out All-Star talent and was not able to replace it, and his demeanor and overbearing “control everything” style did not sit well with the players, or other members of the Eagles’ front office.
Now, the team embarks on a coaching search to find Kelly’s long term replacement, with a few key attributes in mind. The Eagles want the next coach to be a strong personality, someone who can represent the players and front office in the media, and not “turn off” so many people in the way that Kelly did.
Next, the coach must be a better communicator and have more of a cooperative style with his players, which is an area that Kelly really lacked a skill set in. Finally, the coach must be in it for the long haul, and have the belief of the team and staff that he can truly lead them to a Super Bowl victory.
While a number of names have been floated around in the past week, I believe there are only a few names that fit this criteria, and would make a good hire for the Eagles.
In order of preference, here are my choices for next head coach of the Eagles:
1. Sean Payton – current New Orleans Saints’ head coach
Until Payton has met with GM Mickey Loomis and owner Tom Benson, this
is nothing more than a dream. However, if the trio meet and decide it is best to part ways, Payton would immediately become the top candidate. After reviving the Saints’ franchise and winning a Super Bowl title, Payton and the team have been hamstrung by large contracts, taking away their ability to acquire the proper talent to put a winner on the field. That being said, Payton’s track record and favor-ability with players speak for themselves. The icing on top of the cake is that Payton is already familiar with Philadelphia and the franchise, having coached here previously. Essentially, hiring Payton would be a complete 180 from Kelly, and instantly breathe new life into the franchise, as well as attract free agent players to a new and enticing landing spot.
2. Adam Gase – current Bears’ offensive coordinator
Gase is probably best known for his work with Broncos’ QB Peyton Manning, as the two teamed up to put up two of the most prolific seasons for an offense in the history of the NFL. Gase was a popular candidate last off season and interviewed with a few teams, and is already scheduled to speak with the Cleveland Browns. Overall, Gase would provide a much more traditional NFL-style offense, youth, and a breath of fresh air. He is the type of coach that could be the leader of a franchise for 10+ years, and continuity is important to Eagles’ owner Jeffrey Lurie.
3. Steve Spagnuolo – current New York Giants’ defensive coordinator
Another assistant coach under Andy Reid, Spagnuolo has already had a head coaching job in the NFL, struggling through a couple seasons with the St. Louis Rams. After returning to a role as defensive coordinator, Spagnuolo has shown that he is still a valuable member of a staff in the NFL. Having a familiarity with the Eagles should give him a step up on his competition, but the fact that he is a defensive coach may also benefit him, as the Eagles may be looking to transition in that direction after experimenting with an offensive coach in Kelly.
4. Doug Pederson – current Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive coordinator
Pederson has direct ties to the Eagles, playing quarterback for the team in the late ’90s, and being a former coach under Reid. When Reid was axed and left for Kansas City, Pederson followed and gained a position as offensive coordinator, and has led a Chiefs’ offense without All-Pro RB Jamaal Charles to 10 straight victories and a postseason victory. Like some of these other candidates, Pederson’s familiarity with the team should benefit him, and his success this season is definitely something that will interest the Eagles.
After these candidates, it is difficult to imagine a higher that will truly make a large impact on the Eagles. Other rumored candidates, such as Pat Shurmur or even Mike Shanahan, both fizzled out as head coaches in their last positions, and are better left in coordinator roles or retired (as Shanahan had been).