PHILADELPHIA — Philadelphia Eagles chairman and CEO Jeffrey Lurie gave us fair warning that this could be a long, winding coaching search.
“If we find a head coach soon or it’s early February, it’s totally great. If we’re the last team picking a head coach, that’s great, too, because then you have all the opportunity in the world,” he said on Jan. 11 after firing Super Bowl winning coach Doug Pederson. “There’s no rush. There’s no pressure. There’s nothing that should drive you from a decision based on just rational thought and careful analysis and getting to know the person as best you can.”
Five of the seven head-coach openings in the NFL have been filled, leaving the Eagles and Houston Texans still in the dance. Given all the turmoil surrounding the Texans lately, Philadelphia is probably the more desirable landing spot, though questions about how it ended with Pederson, a complicated quarterback picture and a bad salary-cap situation for 2021 have affected the job’s attractiveness.
The Eagles continue to cast a wide net. They interviewed Arthur Smith, Robert Saleh and Brandon Staley, all of whom have since accepted head-coaching jobs elsewhere; met with rising stars such as Jerod Mayo, Joe Brady and Kellen Moore; and talked with in-house candidate Duce Staley, who has been receiving one vote of confidence after another from current and former members of the organization.
Three other candidates have been interviewed in recent days, including Josh McDaniels, who is the hot name at the moment. Let’s take a closer look:
Josh McDaniels, New England Patriots offensive coordinator
McDaniels, 44, had a marathon interview with the Eagles on Sunday, and there’s been plenty of industry buzz since that he’s the guy. Others believe that’s premature.
What’s certain is the Eagles are intrigued. McDaniels, after all, is a six-time Super Bowl champion and has an extremely bright football mind by all accounts. Given his success working alongside quarterback Tom Brady, McDaniels has the kind of coaching chops Carson Wentz would respect and likely respond to — at least initially.
There are legitimate questions about fit, however. Would he clash with Eagles general manager Howie Roseman over personnel control and organizational structure? Would Wentz respond well longer term to McDaniels’ hard coaching? Did McDaniels learn from his rocky stint as the Denver Broncos‘ head coach? Will his instinct once again be to grab power?
There is a lot to think about, and plenty of homework to do, before making this decision.
Todd Bowles, Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator
Bowles, 57, had a virtual interview with the Eagles on Monday, one day after his defense generated four turnovers in a 30-20 Tampa Bay win against the New Orleans Saints in the divisional round of the playoffs. Talk about coming in with some momentum.
There is a great deal of respect for Bowles in the Eagles’ organization. He is viewed as a strong leader with high character. They are familiar with him — he was the Eagles’ secondary coach and interim defensive coordinator in 2012 — and have a good idea of how he would fit within the current organizational dynamics.
The big question would be related to his coaching staff. Lurie desperately wants an innovative offensive mind to help lift the Eagles’ attack back toward the top of the league. Bowles’ choice for offensive coordinator, then, would be critical to him landing the job.
It’s possible that after all this searching, Lurie comes back to someone he trusts and is comfortable with.
Nick Sirianni, Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator
Sirianni, 39, is interviewing for the head-coaching job Tuesday, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. He was the Chargers’ quarterbacks coach in 2014 and 2015 when Frank Reich was offensive coordinator in San Diego, and Reich hired him to be his right-hand man when he left Philadelphia to take the Colts’ head-coaching job in 2018.
Indianapolis has fielded a top-10 offense two of the past three seasons despite a rotating cast at quarterback. Philip Rivers completed 68% of his passes this season for 4,169 yards with 24 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. Sirianni has worked as a quarterbacks coach and receivers coach since coming into the league with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2009.
The Colts (11-5) finished ninth in scoring (28.2 PPG) and 10th in yards per game (378.1) in 2020.
Dennis Allen, New Orleans Saints defensive coordinator
The Eagles are scheduled to interview Allen on Wednesday, a league source confirmed.
Allen, 48, has served as the Saints defensive coordinator since 2015. His defense ranked third in yards allowed (277.5 YPG) and fifth in both points per game (19.5) and passing yards allowed (190 YPG) in 2020.
He was the Raiders’ head coach from 2012 to 2014, posting a record of 8-28. Prior to that, he won a Super Bowl ring as secondary coach of the Saints in 2009.