Philadelphia Eagles head coach Andy Reid's coaching seat is absolutely blazing right now. He has gone from one of the top head coaches in the NFL to a coach who is on the hot seat in just four short weeks. The Eagles front office went all out this summer to stockpile as much talent as they possibly can, and it has completely backfired due to poor playcalling and coaching.
Andy Reid brought in a legendary defensive line coach in Jim Washburn and his "Wide 9" technique. It's a style of defense that requires linebackers that can fight off blockers in order to make an impact against the run. The Eagles passed on a veteran and standout middle linebacker in the "Wide 9" technique in Stephen Tulloch, who signed for next to nothing in free agency.
Instead, the Eagles went with rookie fourth round pick, 235-pound Casey Matthews. Matthews lasted just two short weeks at middle linebacker before moving to the weak side and eventually to the bench.
Reid also decided this offseason to promote offensive line coach Juan Castillo to defensive coordinator. This move has proven to be the most costly of any coaching decision Reid has made, as the defense has no identity and has become incredibly soft.
The Eagles have a pivotal division matchup against the Washington Redskins in Week 6 that could either put the Eagles back into the NFC East race or destroy their season altogether. The Eagles have a bye week in Week 7. Bye weeks are a perfect time to fire a coach and promote an interim if the situation calls for it. A 1-5 start for a team that is horribly undisciplined would certainly call for it.
If the Eagles were to replace Andy Reid in 2012, Jon Gruden will be the most logical candidate. He is a veteran of the West Coast offense, working with Andy Reid, Mike Holmgren and George Seifert. He also has something that every Eagles fan, player and person in the front office covets, a Super Bowl ring. Gruden won XXXVII when he was the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach.
Gruden has proven he knows how to manage a football team and hire the right people around him to help him do it. Raheem Morris and and Mike Tomlin both served as assistant coaches under Gruden before they both became successful head coaches.
The Eagles are built to win now, and hiring a young assistant coach may not be the best move for them right now. Hiring a proven winner who has taken two different teams to conference championship games does make sense. It's about winning now, and it's about finally bring the Lombardi Trophy to Philly.
Bill Cowher has been one of the most sought after coaches the last two seasons. And why not? He has a Super Bowl ring and 149 career victories as a head coach, all with the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Cowher is known for his Super Bowl XL victory and his tough demeanor. Right now, the Eagles look pretty soft on defense, and even if they stick with the 4-3 defense, Cowher can add some much needed toughness to the softest defense in the NFL.
Cowher used the 3-4 defense when he was a head coach for the Steelers, but that doesn't mean he would have to make the switch for the Eagles defense. A head coach isn't the defensive coordinator. Cowher could hire a proven 4-3 defensive coordinator to run his defense while he runs the team, rather than call plays. His hiring would be more about discipline and leadership than what he would bring in terms of schemes.
Jerry Gray has been one of the most underrated defensive assistant coaches in the NFL since 2000 and is currently the defensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans. The Titans are currently in the top 10 against both the run and the pass.
Gray is a defensive backs guru who is a former four time Pro Bowler as a cornerback in the 80s. A head coach with great knowledge of how to utilize great defensive backs is what the Eagles really need right now. The hiring of Gray as head coach would allow the Eagles to keep the offensive coaching staff intact in order prevent less turnover.
Gray was known for being a hard hitter and an excellent tackler. Right now, the Eagles are known for missing tackles and being out of position. A shot of toughness from the head coach position could be what the Eagles could use more than anything right now.
The Eagles are loaded with outstanding pass rushers on the defensive line, and no coach knows how to better utilize great pass rushers better than the New York Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell. Fewell was the defensive coordinator of the Buffalo Bills from 2006 to 2009 and has been the Giants defensive coordinator since 2010. He also served as the Bills interim head coach in 2009 for the final seven games, where he finished with a record of 3-4.
Fewell is known for getting the most out of defensive linemen, especially last season with the Giants, where his defensive line finished with 37.5 sacks, including 11.5 from both Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, who both made the All-Pro team.
The Eagles are loaded with talented pass rush on line, including Cullen Jenkins, Jason Babin, Trent Cole and Darryl Tapp. Fewell would bring experience to the defense that it is clearly missing under new defensive coordinator trainee Juan Castillo.
Just like with Gray or any defensive guy getting the job as head coach of the Eagles, he could keep the offensive staff intact to make the transition less of an impact on the offense.
Quite possibly the most logical move for the Eagles if they fire Andy Reid would be to just promote offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg to head coach. The move wouldn't affect the offense that much, which would make sense. The offense is on pace to put up even bigger numbers than the Eagles offense of 2010.
The Eagles offense is on pace to put up over 4,600 passing yards, 2,600 rushing yards and 650 points in 2011. The problem with the Eagles has been turnovers, tackling and lack of any toughness on either side of the ball. Sometimes a change at the helm can transform a team's morale when they need it most. Of course, sometimes it just gets worse.
The key for Mornhinweg would be to hire a good defensive coordinator with actual play calling experience. These don't exactly grow on trees, but even hiring a coach who is working under a proven defensive coordinator would get the job done.
Whoever the Eagles hire, it has to be a guy that can win now. The fans want to win now, and the team is built to win now. This is not a rebuilding job; this is a win now job. Much like what Jon Gruden and Tony Dungy did in their careers, taking over for head coaches that build their teams up but couldn't finish the job.