The Philadelphia Eagles head coaching search is well underway and candidate names are flying around all over the internet. What should you make of all the rumored interviews? Don’t worry, we have you covered! But before we dive into the names let’s get to…
The Historical Opening
In 1860, the United States faced a presidential election of epic proportions. Throughout the 1850s, the nation had become divided more and more along geographical lines over the issue of states’ rights vs federal rights, primarily related to the issue of slavery. In 1860, these divisions led to a fracturing of the previously dominant Democratic Party. As a result of the split, the way was paved for a Republican candidate by the name of Abraham Lincoln to win the presidency.
Lincoln’s fortitude as a leader was put to the test immediately upon taking the oath of office, as 11 southern states had seceded from the Union prior to his inauguration. Mere weeks after the swearing-in ceremony, the Confederate Army fired on Fort Sumter and the Civil War was underway.
Although Lincoln would not live to see the end of the war in 1865, having been assassinated 3 weeks prior, his leadership during this dark period of power struggles in the history of the United States and his plans for reconstruction still influence the world that we live in today.
Back to the Eagles
The Eagles are in the middle of a dark period of power struggles as well, as the split between the ever-powerful Howie Roseman and the coaching staff couldn’t be more stark. Already the team’s defensive coordinator, linebackers coach, 2 offensive assistants, and head coach have all been removed with more heads on the chopping block. The person that the Eagles ultimately hire will have to be part politician to survive in the strange web of power that is present in the Eagles front office as they attempt the massive reconstruction that is needed in this organization and on this roster.
So, without any further ado, let’s talk about the candidates who have already been connected to the Eagles:
Those That Cannot Be Interviewed
Daboll is currently the offensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills and is a hotshot coaching candidate primarily based on the job he has done with QB Josh Allen. Working with Daboll since 2018, Allen has seen his completion percentage rise from 53% to 59% to 69% this season. His touchdown percentage has risen every year while his interception percentage has fallen. The Bills are currently one of the top teams in the NFL and likely a favorite to make a Super Bowl run.
Daboll would be an intriguing candidate for the Eagles based on his work with Allen, and if hired would likely indicate that the organization is committed to retaining Carson Wentz moving forward. However, Daboll is not available to be interviewed until the Bills’ postseason run is complete which means that if the Eagles view him as their #1 choice they will have to pass on a lot of other worthwhile candidates while they wait to see if Daboll is even interested.
The Eagles love their backup QBs, especially if they have coached with Andy Reid. Nick Foles should take note and get onto the Chiefs coaching staff as soon as his playing days are over, and he will probably be the Eagles head coach at some point in the future.
Kafka is the current QB coach for the Chiefs, so like Daboll, he is unavailable for an interview until the conclusion of the Chiefs season. I do not like the idea of hiring Kafka as a head coach straight from being a QB coach, and ultimately I think the Eagles could be more interested in interviewing him to be an offensive coordinator in Philly.
The College Coaches
Riley has a 45-8 record at Oklahoma, has coached 2 #1 overall picks in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray (both of whom transferred to Oklahoma after being unable to get on the field at their previous school), and also coached Jalen Hurts.
Despite his reputation as an air it out type of play-caller, Riley is actually very committed to the running game both. Hiring Riley would likely signify that the Eagles are going to move forward with Jalen Hurts as their quarterback and continue to build around him.
However, it is highly unlikely that Riley will leave Oklahoma, rendering this argument mute.
Day is currently the coach of the Ohio State Buckeyes and has experience not only in the NFL but with the Philadelphia Eagles, after serving as their QB coach in 2015. Day has amassed an impressive record in 2 years at Ohio State, with his only losses coming in the college football playoff.
It is not believed that Day is a serious consideration for the Eagles, but his name has come up nonetheless.
The Offensive Masterminds
Moore was a backup QB in the NFL for 6 seasons before making the leap to coaching as a quarterbacks coach in 2018. In 2019, he was promoted to offensive coordinator for the Cowboys, the position he currently still holds.
Moore has overseen the development of Dak Prescott and the growth of the Cowboys offense over the last several years. Obviously, the Cowboys have more offensive talent than the Eagles do, but Moore could be seen as an intriguing candidate.
Yeah, there is also that…
Brady is very young at 31 and has very little NFL experience. He made the leap to the NFL from LSU last year when he was named the offensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers. The Panthers’ offense struggled in 2020, but that was predictable and likely shouldn’t be seen as indicative of Joe Brady’s coaching.
What makes Brady especially intriguing is his background as a WR coach. In 2019, Brady was the passing game coordinator and receivers coach for LSU, where he worked closely with Joe Burrow, Justin Jefferson, and Ja’Marr Chase.
Brady could be just the guy to get Carson Wentz back on track, help coach up the Eagles’ 2020 1st round pick Jalen Reagor, and perhaps be reunited with Ja’Marr Chase in this year’s draft.
Smith is the current offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, a position he has held for 2 seasons. The Titans employ a defensive-minded head coach who largely stayed out of Smith’s way when it came to running the offense.
Ryan Tannehill’s career was on life support in Miami, but he has developed into a top QB in the NFL in the Arthur Smith offense.
Duce Staley is a former player for the Eagles and has spent his entire coaching career with the organization, first as a special teams coach for 1 season and then as a running backs coach for the last 7 years.
Staley has been interviewed for nearly every offensive position that the Eagles have had come open over the years and never gotten any of them. He does not have any coordinator or head coaching experience, but he does clearly have the respect of the players.
Duce Staley #NextManUp !!! Every time he stood in front of the team he had the attention and respect of everyone in the room. The embodiment of what it means to be an 🦅 @Eagles , in a coach. I’m good where I’m at lol BUT, In another lifetime I’d love to play for him!— Malcolm Jenkins (@MalcolmJenkins) January 11, 2021
I’m the leader of the Duce Staley Coaching Committee but I think they are rolling with a fresh start. https://t.co/hAGepRuhuf— Torrey Smith (@TorreySmithWR) January 11, 2021
Staley would likely bring more of a CEO type presence to the organization as he oversaw the team as a whole while bringing on an offensive coordinator to call plays. The positives of that approach would be the stability he would bring to the organization and the respect he already has from the players, but the drawbacks would include the likelihood that he would be easier for Howie to control than an outside hire and the fact that whatever offensive play-caller is brought in would likely be poached for a head coaching job in a few years if he does a good job.
The Defensive Minded Coaches
Mayo has been a coach for only 2 seasons, both with the New England Patriots as the inside linebackers coach. Bill Belichick is the official defensive coordinator in New England, and Mayo was something of his top assistant.
Mayo was a great player in the league and likely has a bright future as a coach, but it is highly unlikely that he is hired as a head coach after only 2 years as a position coach. I think it is more likely that the Eagles view him as a potential defensive coordinator than as a head coach.
Bowles is currently the defensive coordinator for the Buccaneers. He has previous experience with the Eagles during the 2012 season. As a head coach Bowles floundered with the Jets, although he never exactly had a great roster. However, as a defensive coordinator, he has thrived and has a similar approach to Jim Schwartz with a focus on stopping the run first and worrying about the rest later.
Hiring Bowles as the head coach would necessitate a strong offensive coordinator hire if the Eagles want to make something of the mess that has become their offense.
What Should the Eagles Do?
I have no problem with the trend of young coaching candidates that the Eagles are looking at. They need fresh, new ideas after years of stagnation. While rolling the dice on a younger hire is a gamble, it could pay off big if they can land a promising hire who can re-energize the organization for years to come.
That isn’t to say I’m opposed to more of a veteran coach. It may be easier for someone with more coaching clout to fight the necessary battles with the front office, but overall I lean towards the movement of youth.
I have no interest in hiring a defensive-minded coach. In today’s NFL, rules massively favor offenses and it is no coincidence that 6 of the top 7 offenses in the league are in the 2nd round of the NFL playoffs. Meanwhile, only 3 of the top 7 defenses in points per game are still left standing. If you want to be a serious contender then having a top-class offense is the surest way to get there. While you can build a top offense with a defensive-minded head coach, there is nothing to keep the offensive play-caller around when other teams come knocking with the offer of a head coaching job. The offense matters most, so I want an offensive-minded coach in the top position in the organization.
I would rank these candidates from most preferable to least preferable:
- Brian Daboll
- Joe Brady
- Lincoln Riley
- Arthur Smith
- Ryan Day
- Duce Staley
- Kellen Moore
- Mike Kafka
- Todd Bowles
- Jerod Mayo