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Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Eagles Seem to be Interviewing Everyone

Eight candidates and counting.

Chip Kelly, Brian Kelly and Bill O'Brien all elected to remain at their universities.  The only one I would have liked for the Birds was O'Brien, who coached under Bill Belichick and had very solid NFL experience.  It's open to speculation whether either Kelly would succeed in the NFL.  As for Chip, well, the NFL players do have a tendency to talk back.  As for Brian, Alabama's Nick Saban made him look very average.  Then again, Saban's teams do that to most other teams, and Saban does that to most other coaches.

They recently interviewed Brian Billick, the former Ravens' coach.  Hiring Billick probably would be a mistake.  No head coach has won a Super Bowl with more than one team.  Not Shula, not Parsells, not Lombardi.  So why Billick?  Not just because he sounds authoritative when guesting on "Mike and Mike" on ESPN Radio.  One Philadelphia columnist has suggested that the Eagles hire Jon Gruden, as has Brian Baldinger, the sports talk radio show host in Philadelphia and former NFL player.  As for the latter, he thinks that the Eagles need an animated head coach along the lines of Buddy Ryan (who never won a playoff game).  To me, if you have an institution, you don't need a huge personality.  The Steelers simply hire good coaches; they are not bigger than their organization.  Baldinger is just wrong, and, also, Gruden should be disqualified for the same reasoning that Billick is.

Several coordinators remain, as does my favorite college coach, TCU's Gary Patterson, who has not received any mention.  Then again, in the mid-70's, the Eagles whiffed on their first five choices before hiring the coach of a UCLA team that had just won the Rose Bowl.  His name:  Dick Vermeil, and he remains one of the most popular coaches in Philadelphia history.  He rebuilt the Eagles, and his determination was infectious.  Great coach.

Typically, you write a job description and know what you're looking for -- college coach, NFL coordinator, rising NFL star, track record of achievement, offense, defense, special teams, what have you.  Yet, the Eagles seem to be all over the place.  I am sure that they've done their due diligence.  I know, though, what I would have done.  I would have polled influential people around the league and asked for their recommendations as to who might be the next "great" coach, the next Jim Harbaugh or Mike Tomlin.  Perhaps they did that, and perhaps the Broncos' offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and the Seahawks' defensive coordinator Gus Bradley are the favorites.  Then again, perhaps they're missing something.

The Eagles had a chance to capture the fans' imagination (and, perhaps, hold onto some of them) by making a big splash quickly.  But outside Chip Kelly, it's become increasingly clear that they didn't have a second choice.  And, as time marches on, it seems like they might be paralyzing themselves with their analysis.  The longer it takes and the more obscure the coach they hire, the more trouble they'll have with the fan base.

Last year's team lacked leadership, chemistry and oomph.

So far, the search for search for the next head coach seems to be going down the same path.


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