Philadelphia Eagles Coaching Search: The Pros and Cons of 5 Possible Candidates

Giancarlo Ferrari-KingFeatured ColumnistJanuary 15, 2013

Philadelphia Eagles Coaching Search: The Pros and Cons of 5 Possible Candidates

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    With Chip Kelly headed back to Oregon, Brian Kelly staying put at Notre Dame, and Bill O'Brien opting to remain with Penn State, the Philadelphia Eagles are still searching for their next head coach.

    An organization looking for a fresh start has narrowed its list down to a handful of possibilities. From guys who haven't coached in half a decade to first time candidates, one thing remains clear. The next head coach of the Eagles will be under the spotlight from day one.

    Start the slideshow below and join me as I take a closer look at five possible candidates who could become next head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.

Brian Billick

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    Bleacher Report's very own Chris Trapasso made a passionate argument earlier today explaining why the Philadelphia Eagles should hire former Baltimore Ravens head coach Brian Billick to be their next leader.

    Pointing to Billick's 80-64 record and his experience on the offensive side of the ball, Chris presents quite a compelling case in defensive of Billick.

    Outside of the experience factor, what makes Brian Billick a viable candidate is his understanding of how to run a football team. Coach Billick knows exactly how a locker room works, how to deal with players, and how best to move a team forward.

    Unlike many of the first time head coaching candidates on this list, Brian Billick would be the safe choice for Philadelphia.

    So what's the flip side of the coin?

    Well for starters Brian Billick will be 59 years old by the start of next season. And yes, while age is just a number, it does matter when you are rebuilding a franchise.

    Also Brian Billick hasn't coached in the league since the Ravens fired him back in 2007.

    That five-year layoff may not seem long on paper, but if you have a set of eyes, you understand that the game has changed quite a bit since Coach Billick was last seen on the sidelines.

    All I'm saying is there's a reason why Brian Billick's offensive playbook is considered to be a "classic" playbook in Madden '13.

Jay Gruden

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    Jay Gruden is an offensive guy who loves to throw that pigskin all over the yard. And if you know the Philadelphia Eagles, you know they love to pass the ball.

    Gruden, a former Arena Football League quarterback, has an infatuation with the word pass. No matter where he seems to end up or what role he serves, Jay Gruden has always found success.

    But it's his most recent stop as the Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator that has sparked the Eagles interest.

    Gruden's incredible work with second year quarterback Andy Dalton definitely intrigues Eagles' owner Jeff Lurie (the Nick Foles question). The growth and maturity Dalton has shown in just two seasons has been nothing short of amazing.

    A quarterback who wasn't blessed with all of the physical tools has thrived under Jay Gruden's influence and coaching.

    While we all know Jay Gruden can help turn around the Eagles offensive woes, we still don't know if he is ready to become a head coach at this level. (Gruden did serve a head coach in the AFL and UFL at one point in time.)

    Factoring that out, what concerns me most about the Eagles hiring Jay Gruden is his lack of enthusiasm. It almost seems like he just going through the motions and has no real desire to become next head coach of the Eagles. And if that turns out to be the case, a Jay Gruden hire will set the franchise back even further.

Mike Nolan

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    You remember Mike Nolan right? The current Atlanta Falcons defensive coordinator and former head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. The guy who battled with the NFL over his right to wear a suit on the sidelines? Yeah, that Mike Nolan.

    While he may look like an NFL head coach, the truth is Mike Nolan just isn't the right guy to lead the Philadelphia Eagles.

    During his tenure in San Francisco, Nolan compiled a terrible 18-37 record. While the 49ers weren't the most talented team on paper, it was Nolan's failure to create improvement that ultimately cost him his job.

    Combine that with the fact he reportedly wants to stay in Atlanta, and my friends, you get yourselves one sticky situation.

    Do the right thing Jeff Lurie and leave Mike Nolan to what he does best. Coaching the Falcons' defense and fighting the good fight for all suit lovers across this great nation.

Ken Whisenhunt

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    Now here's a candidate that is oozing with potential. The recently fired Ken Whisenhunt is a guy Philly fans should get on board with.

    First off, there aren't many bad things to say about Ken Whisenhunt. He's an accomplished offensive mind who has had success everywhere he's been.

    Taking the Arizona Cardinals franchise to the Super Bowl behind the arm of Kurt Warner was a monumental achievement that will forever live in the minds of all Cardinal fans.

    Yeah, Coach Whisenhunt is a hard nosed guy. He demands the absolute best from his players, and will not settle for anything less. And while that may rub some guys the wrong way, it's a great quality to have in a head coach.

    Putting aside Whisenhunt's on field accomplishments, what stands out most about Ken is his ability to surround himself with great coaching talent.

    From Todd Haley to Ray Horton, Ken Whisenhunt had quite the talent around him during his time in Arizona.

    Sure Todd Haley struggled in Kansas City as a head coach, but his gift for play calling has always allowed him to find work in this league.

    So why not hire Ken?

    The only downside that I can think of about hiring Ken Whisenhunt would be the timing.

    Sometimes, it's a smart move for a recently fired coach to take a year off and reflect. Go back to play calling or just walk away from the game. Then come next offseason start fresh with a clear head.

Gus Bradley

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    The Philadelphia Eagles organization reportedly is set to conduct it's second interview with Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley on Tuesday (via Pro Football Talk).

    Bradley, considered to be one of the top defensive minds in football, is a hot coaching candidate right now.

    Thanks to his recent success in Seattle, the Eagles seem to be excited by the possibility of Bradley becoming their next head coach.

    A disciple of the legendary Monte Kiffin, Gus Bradley earned his stripes immersed in the Tampa 2 style of defense.

    A player’s coach, who thrives off of unique defensive game planning, Gus Bradley could end up becoming one heck of a ball coach.

    That creative defensive mindset has helped turn Seattle's' defense into one of the leagues best.

    What intrigues me most about Gus Bradley is that he is the exact opposite of what most organizations have been looking for this offseason when searching for a head coach.

    Focusing strictly on the offensive gurus, many teams and fans seem to forget that a good head coach can come from either side of the ball. And by doing that, a lot of teams may have missed out on a potentially great candidate in Bradley.

    Yes he is raw, and the Eagles would be rolling the dice if they decided to make him their next head coach. But the thought of that Eagles defense becoming a top 10 unit once again has to get the fans excited.

    Hiring Gus Bradley will come down to do one thing. Do the Eagles think he is capable of running an organization, or do they simply think he is better off calling plays?