Eagles Head Coach Search: News and Rumors Around Top Candidates

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistDecember 31, 2012

Eagles Head Coach Search: News and Rumors Around Top Candidates

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    Here's what we know about the Philadelphia Eagles—head coach Andy Reid was fired on Monday, general manager Howie Roseman has the full support of owner Jeffery Lurie and the search for a new head coach will begin immediately.

    Seriously, the Eagles might be scheduling a visit with one of the coaches you'll see on this slideshow at some point this week. The NFL never sleeps.

    Here's something else we know—with Reid's firing appearing imminent for pretty much the entire second half of the season, four names have come to the forefront when discussing the team's future coach. John Clark of CBS has those names:

    From all reports out there, Eagles want an offensive mind to replace Andy. Chip Kelly, Bill O'Brien, Jon or Jay Gruden are the hot names

    — John Clark NBC10 (@johnclarknbc10) December 30, 2012

    On this slideshow, we'll focus on five potential hires the Eagles have been linked to. As more names surface, we'll update to make sure you stay in the loop.

    It's a new era in Philadelphia—let's find out which man might be leading the Eagles through it.

Chip Kelly

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    In Philadelphia, you'd be hard-pressed to find more buzz surrounding a candidate than Chip Kelly.

    Some fans love the idea of bringing Kelly's sharp football mind and progressive offensive system to the NFL. Others fear his style won't work at the next level and don't want to risk handing the reins to a coach with no NFL experience.


    UPDATE: Wednesday, Jan. 16, 12:15 p.m. ET by Donald Wood

    The Philadelphia Eagles shocked the world on Wednesday, reportedly signing Oregon Ducks head coach Chip Kelly just days after he told the school he would be staying in Eugene, according to FOX Sports NFL insider Jay Glazer:

    Yes I can confirm Chip Kelly is going to Eagles.

    — Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) January 16, 2013

    ---End of Update---


    UPDATE: Sunday, Jan. 6, 12:55 p.m. ET by Donald Wood

    Oregon Ducks head coach Chip Kelly will reportedly decide between staying at the university or jumping to the NFL as the head coach the Philadelphia Eagles, according to Peter King of Sports Illustrated:

    Chip Kelly's going to choose between Oregon and the Eagles, I'm told.

    — Peter King (@SI_PeterKing) January 6, 2013

    ---End of Update---


    UPDATE: Sunday, Jan. 6, 12:01 p.m. ET by Donald Wood

    According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Philadelphia Eagles met with Oregon Ducks head coach Chip Kelly Saturday:

    From #Eagles: They confirm they are meeting with #Broncos OC Mike McCoy today. Confirmed meeting with Chip Kelly yesterday.

    — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 6, 2013

    ---End of Update---


    UPDATE: Saturday, Jan. 5, 9:30 a.m. ET by Donald Wood

    According to Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Oregon Ducks head coach Chip Kelly will reportedly make his final decision on where he will coach in 2013 by Saturday night:

    Chip Kelly will make his decision by tonight, I'm told. He promised the #Eagles, #Browns and #Bills he'd interview with all three.

    — Jeff McLane (@Jeff_McLane) January 5, 2013

    While this isn’t good news for two of the three teams vying for Kelly’s services—Philadelphia, Cleveland and Buffalo are all rumored—the two teams left out of the Kelly sweepstakes will have ample time to find a suitable candidate as worthy as the star collegiate coach.

    ---End of Update---


    UPDATE: Saturday, Jan. 5, 8:10 a.m. ET by Donald Wood

    While Oregon Ducks head coach Chip Kelly has met with other NFL teams about their vacant coaching positions, he will now meet with the Philadelphia Eagles organization, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter:

    Eagles flying to Arizona to interview Chip Kelly today.

    — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 5, 2013

    The Philadelphia Eagles have the speedy personnel Kelly would need to implement his unique offensive style, and the stability the organization provided to former head coach Andy Reid has to be a factor in Kelly’s willingness to interview.

    With a few NFL teams in the mix for Kelly’s services now, the football world is hanging on his decision.

    ---End of Update---


    But there is no shortage of reports linking Kelly to the Eagles. On Sunday, there was this, from Jason La Canfora of CBS:

    As we reported last week, Chip Kelly is the prime target of the Eagles with Andy Reid set to be fired Monday. Many in the league are bracing for an intriguing struggle for Kelly's services to emerge between Philadelphia and the Browns, who are now run by former Eagles president Joe Banner.

    As one source with ties to Kelly pointed out this week, it's still roughly 50/50 that Kelly leaves college, and several execs said this week they have heard that Kelly might be only lukewarm at best about the Philadelphia opening.

    And don't think the Eagles interest is anything new. As Albert Breer of the NFL Network points out, the Eagles are plenty familiar with Mr. Kelly:

    Also, to double back on another one, Eagles have done their background work on Chip Kelly. Normal scouting trips to Oregon have been useful.

    — Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) December 31, 2012

    I still think Kelly is the Eagles guy. He would make a big splash, he's one of the most hottest football minds in the game on any level right now and he would certainly make use of Philadelphia's talent at the skill position. If he wants to coach the Eagles, I think the offer will be on the table for him to do so.

Gus Bradley

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    UPDATE: Tuesday, Jan. 15, at 12:10 p.m. ET by Adam Wells

    With the Seahawks being eliminated from the postseason on Sunday, defensive coordinator Gus Bradley has more time to interview for head-coaching jobs. 

    According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, Bradley will be in Philadelphia on Tuesday and will head to Jacksonville on Wednesday. 

    Seahawks DC Gus Bradley not scheduled to arrive in Philly till this afternoon. Bradley is scheduled to interview with Jaguars Wednesday.

    — Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) January 15, 2013

    Bradley has helped turn the Seahawks around. His ability to scheme and bring pressure has turned them into one of the most-feared defenses in the NFL. The Eagles need a new attitude after the Andy Reid era left them as more of a finesse team. 

    ---End of Update---


    Though most credit goes to the Seattle Seahawks' superstar cornerbacks Brandon Browner and Richard Sherman, it's defensive coordinator Gus Bradley who is the orchestrator of the team's brilliant attack.

    Bradley, 46, has slowly built the Seattle defense into a juggernaut since taking over the unit in 2009 under Pete Carroll. Working alongside his head coach, the Seahawks led the league in points allowed per game (15.3) this season, which was nearly two points lower than the next closest team. 

    With defense, particularly the secondary, being a problem area, it's no surprise the Eagles have interest in Bradley. Per team public relations representative Derek Boyko, the Seahawks have given permission to Philadelphia to interview their defensive coordinator:

    #Eagles granted permission by the Colts to interview Bruce Arians and by the Seahawks to interview Gus Bradley

    — Derek Boyko (@derek_boyko) January 4, 2013

    While it's unclear how high he is on their list of candidates, Bradley's work with Seattle's defense is certainly encouraging. 

Ken Whisenhunt

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    The Eagles' coaching search led them to interview former Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt on Monday, according to the team's official website.

    It is good that the Eagles are exploring every avenue they can for their next head coach. Andy Reid was an offensive guru, which would typically mean that they should go in the opposite direction with their next hire. 

    Instead, the Eagles want to find the best man for the job, regardless of specialty and expertise. This is an important season for the franchise, which still has a lot of talent and is capable of making a quick turnaround. 

Jay Gruden

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    Let's keep it in the family for a moment, shall we?

    Jon's brother, Jay, is another potential target of the Eagles. The offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals has worked wonders with young players like Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, and is a big reason why the Bengals have made the playoffs the past two seasons.


    UPDATE: Monday, Jan. 14, at 2:25 p.m. ET by Adam Wells

    Monday was a busy day for the Eagles, as the team's official website reported that the team interviewed both Gruden and Ken Whisenhunt on Monday. 

    The Eagles continued their search for a head coach on Monday, interviewing former Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt and Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.

    Gruden appears to be one of the hot coaching names this offseason, though teams seem to be taking a long time to make their decisions that you have to wonder how long it will take before he finds out where he will be next season.  

    ---End of Update---


    UPDATE: Friday, Jan. 11, 6:32 p.m. ET by Tyler Conway

    Though the winds had seemingly gone a little quiet, the Eagles will interview Gruden for their head coaching post on Monday, per NFL Network's Ian Rapoport:

    The #Eagles are scheduled to interview #Bengals OC Jay Gruden on Monday

    — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 11, 2013

    Gruden has instrumental in the Bengals' development of Dalton and Philadelphia could view him as an attractive mentor for Nick Foles. 

    ---End of Update---


    UPDATE: Sunday, Jan. 6, 12:01 p.m. ET by Donald Wood

    According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Philadelphia Eagles are still considering Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden for the team’s vacant head coaching position, but have yet to schedule a meeting or even gain permission to do so:

    Also... the #Eagles have not yet received permission to interview #Bengals OC Jay Gruden. Obviously have requested it.

    — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 6, 2013

    ---End of Update---


    And if the Eagles can't land a higher-profile target, he may be on the team's wish list. From Jason La Canfora of CBS:

    If the Eagles do not land Kelly, Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is also high atop their wish list, league sources said. But that, too, might not be the most attractive opening for him, and it will be a daunting chore for anyone to replace Reid on that rebuilding club.

    Oh, and Gruden and Howie Roseman share the same agent, Bob LaMonte. Just food for thought, that's all...

Brian Kelly

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    Brian Kelly and Notre Dame may have gotten embarrassed in the BCS National Championship, but that doesn't take away from what Kelly accomplished this season. 

    The Irish were expected to barely make a bowl in 2012, but he led them to a near undefeated record and a final AP ranking of No. 4. 

    As such, it's understandable why the Eagles are so infatuated with the head coach (via NFL insider Jay Glazer):

    Eagles have legitimate interest in Notre Dame HC Brian Kelly. Kelly right now however is out of the country

    — Jay Glazer (@JayGlazer) January 10, 2013

    ESPN's Chris Mortensen notes that the sides have already interviewed:

    From @adamschefter & myself: Eagles interviewed Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly. Sides will revisit when Kelly returns from out of country.

    — Chris Mortensen (@mortreport) January 10, 2013

    We'll be sure to update you once Kelly makes his way back into America. 

Lovie Smith

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    UPDATE: Tuesday, Jan. 8, at 2:45 p.m. ET by Rob Goldberg

    The Philadelphia Eagles have looked in a lot of places for a new head coach, but it seems that the list of candidates is not getting any shorter.

    According to Reuben Frank of CSN Philadelphia, the team is set to interview former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith:


    Lovie Smith up next for the Eagles. Great move. Recently fired Bears coach will interview on Thursday.

    — Reuben Frank (@RoobCSN) January 8, 2013


    Few interviewed options have head coaching experience in the NFL, so Smith should provide a different direction for the team. 

    While this process is taking a long time to resolve itself, fans can be satisfied that the organization is leaving no stone unturned to try to find the right coach for the team. 

Doug Marrone

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    UPDATE: Sunday, Jan. 6, 12:53 a.m. ET by Donald Wood

    It seems that the Eagles will still meet with Doug Marrone after interviewing Chip Kelly for much of Saturday evening, according to Ruben Frank of CSN Philly.


    OK, now THIS is interesting. I'm told by league source Eagles still planning to meet tomorrow with McCoy and Marrone. So there's that.

    — Reuben Frank (@RoobCSN) January 6, 2013


    This is surprising news as it seemed to be almost a done deal that Kelly would end up in Philadelphia, but the Orange's head man will still interview with the Eagles on Sunday. 

    ---End of Update---


    The Syracuse Orange's 2012 season ended on the field with a win in the Pinstripe Bowl, but their 2013 calendar year may begin with replacing their head coach. Doug Marrone has become an exceedingly popular name in head coaching circles of late and it seems the Eagles have been added to the teams interested in his services. 

    According to Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News, the Eagles will interview Marrone over the weekend, sometime around when they meet with Chip Kelly:

    Source says Eagles will interview Syracuse coach Doug Marrone in Arizona this weekend, before or after Chip Kelly...

    — Les Bowen (@LesBowen) January 5, 2013

    Though most of Marrone's coaching experience has come outside the NFL, he's no stranger to coaching on Sundays. He was the offensive line coach from the New York Jets from 2002-05 before taking the offensive coordinator job with the New Orleans Saints from 2006-08. 

Bruce Arians

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    Arians spent his 2012 season leading the Indianapolis Colts through perhaps the most untenable situation imaginable. When Colts head coach Chuck Pagano had to leave the team to battle leukemia, Arians stepped in and not only kept the ship afloat, but also led Indianapolis to a playoff berth.

    He's become a hot commodity in coaching circles throughout the NFL, and it seems like the Eagles are another team that has interest. Per team public relations representative Derek Boyko, Philadelphia has been granted permission to interview Arians:

    #Eagles granted permission by the Colts to interview Bruce Arians and by the Seahawks to interview Gus Bradley

    — Derek Boyko (@derek_boyko) January 4, 2013

    Before joining the Colts in 2012, the 60-year-old Arians spent seven seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers as wide receivers coach (2004-06) and offensive coordinator (2007-11). 

Mike McCoy

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    UPDATE: Sunday, Jan. 6, 12:01 p.m. ET by Donald Wood

    According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Philadelphia Eagles will meet Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy Sunday to interview for the head coaching vacancy:

    From #Eagles: They confirm they are meeting with #Broncos OC Mike McCoy today. Confirmed meeting with Chip Kelly yesterday.

    — Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) January 6, 2013

    ---End of Update---


    UPDATE: Sunday, Jan. 6, 12:59 a.m. ET by Donald Wood

    It seems that Chip Kelly to the Eagles isn't a done deal after all. According to Reuben Frank of CSN Philly, Mike McCoy will still interview with Philadelphia on Sunday.

    OK, now THIS is interesting. I'm told by league source Eagles still planning to meet tomorrow with McCoy and Marrone. So there's that.

    — Reuben Frank (@RoobCSN) January 6, 2013

    McCoy is one of the hottest head coaching candidates outside of Kelly, and it will be interesting to see the results of these last-minute interviews.

    ---End of Update---


    The Eagles just confirmed reports that they will be bringing in Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy in for an interview concerning their open head coaching position.

    According to Dave Spadaro of PhiladelphiaEagles.com, team brass plans to hold a discussion with the candidate on Sunday.

    #Eagles confirming a Sunday interview with Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy for vacant head coaching job.

    — Dave Spadaro (@davespadaro) January 3, 2013

    McCoy has become a hot name following “Black Monday”, where seven different organizations cut ties with their head coaches and left plenty of vacancies across the league.

    The 40-year-old O-coordinator/QB coach has been responsible for the success of the Broncos since 2009.

    He started by helping Kyle Orton to the finest seasons of his career that year and in 2010, altering the offense to allow Tim Tebow to become a winning signal-caller in 2011 and has now orchestrated one of the most potent offenses with Peyton Manning under center.

    The Broncos locked up a No. 1 seed in the AFC and are in the midst of an 11-game winning streak, a feat that the 30.1 points per game the team is scoring has significantly contributed to.

    McCoy has never held a HC position at any level, but the relatively young coordinator looks to be one of the finest potential hire. We expect the Eagles will give him strong consideration come Sunday.

Mike Nolan and Keith Armstrong

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    The Eagles aren't going to wait for the Atlanta Falcons to wrap up their season before scouting their coaching ranks for the possible replacement to Andy Reid. 

    CSNphilly's Geoff Mosher reports, on information that came from team spokesperson Derek Boyko, that team chairman Jeffrey Lurie, president Don Smolenski and general manager Howie Roseman all hopped on a flight to Atlanta to interview Atlanta's special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan.

    As the former coach of the San Francisco 49ers, Mike Nolan has experience to offer the position, and that should make him the more attractive candidate of these two. 

Dirk Koetter

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    The Falcons offensive coordinator opened up the Atlanta offense in 2012, leading to the sixth-best passing offense in the NFL (281.8 yards per game), a career year for quarterback Matt Ryan and a 13-3 record for the team.

    Now, he's become a major target around the league, according to Alex Marvez of FOX Sports:

    @foxsports.com has learned #Falcons OC Dirk Koetter set to interview this week 4 HC jobs with #Eagles, #Chiefs & #Browns. Story coming ASAP

    — Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) December 31, 2012

    Of course, you won't hear the Eagles confirm that, as Reuben Frank of CSNPhilly.com notes:

    Lurie said Eagles have not contacted Dirk Koetter.

    — Reuben Frank (@RoobCSN) December 31, 2012

    My guess? Koetter wouldn't represent a big enough splash for Lurie and the Eagles. After 14 years with a coach that had as much success as Andy Reid, Lurie might be less inclined to take a chance on a lesser-known candidate.

    Koetter does have experience as a head coach, however, spending time at Boise State (1998-2000) and Arizona State (2001-06). He's certainly someone to keep an eye on.

Jon Gruden

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    If nothing else, bringing back Jon Gruden—he was with the team from 1995 to1997—would make a big splash. There was the normal talk of Gruden returning to the NFL throughout the season, and some of it speculated a reunion with Philadelphia.

    That sort of talk eventually died down, however. Or so we thought, until Dan Pompei of the National Football Post reignited that old flame on Sunday: 

    People around the NFL who know are convinced Jon Gruden is coming back to coaching this year, provided the right situation presents itself. I’ve been told Gruden feels he needs to come back now if he’s ever going to do it. He already has been away from the game for four years, and it becomes increasingly difficult for a coach to return the longer he is away. The right situation for Gruden very well could be in Philadelphia. People close to him think he has a good chance of landing there.

    Honestly, Philly would make a lot of sense for Gruden if (okay, okay, "when") he returns. The Eagles have a nice collection of young players, especially on offense, and shouldn't need to go into full rebuilding mode. This is a very real possibility. 

Bill O'Brien

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    Penn State's head coach, Bill O'Brien, has become a hot name after leading Penn State to an 8-4 record this season, despite the shadow of the Jerry Sandusky scandal hanging over the university, and a number of NCAA sanction and player transfers seemingly crippling the team.

    O'Brien, however, led the Nittany Lions to a very successful season. And now, the former offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots is being rumored as a target for a lot of NFL teams, including the Eagles. 

    From Chris Mortenson of ESPN:

    As NFL owners and executives revisit the success of college coaches at the pro level, Penn State's Bill O'Brien may be on more short lists than Oregon's Chip Kelly and that would include the Cleveland Browns and Philadelphia Eagles, according to league sources.

    O'Brien would not necessarily jump at any NFL opportunity but if he did leave Penn State it would qualify as a surprise after the former Patriots offensive coordinator was named the Big Ten Coach of the Year in his first season as the Nittany Lions coach in 2012.

    I think O'Brien will probably stay in college for another year, but if he decides to make the leap, I think he'll be a fine NFL coach. 

    Just not next year.