Episode One: Return of the Jedi? No Thanks.
But, now that we’re officially on Walrus Firing-watch, the time has come to figure out exactly who will be cleaning the crumbs and mustache whiskers out of Andy’s old
water tank office.
Now, before we start, let’s be real: we can only pontificate so much. We (obviously) won’t have access to candidate interviews and don’t have the ability to ask aspiring coaches their plans to move this franchise forward. So, take whatever we say as pure opinion and speculation(*).
(*)You know… Like always.
With that being said, let’s take a quick look at the qualities and philosophies we’d like to see in the next leader of the Philadelphia Eagles. After a decade and a half of Reid’s “Offensive Genius,” it’s finally time for the Birds to go the Defensive route. Sure, the NFL is a passing league, but when rookies like Brandon Weeden can come right into the league and throw for 4,000+ yards, it’s the league’s elite Defenses that make the biggest difference. If you look at the last four Super Bowl winners – the Giants twice, the Packers and Saints – they all won with elite Quarterbacks and high-volume Offenses, sure, but their Defenses were also among the top-10 in the league for their respective seasons and they all excelled at creating pressure and forcing turnovers. That’s a far cry from this current Eagles team.
The next coach needs to be defensive-minded, and we would certainly prefer a mad scientist-type, who will create crazy schemes (alá Buddy Ryan’s 46, or even move the team to a 3-4 or 4-4 base Defense) and has a philosophy that predicates tough, hard-nosed, tenacious Defense.
Think about some of the greatest coaches in NFL history – Chuck Noll, Hank Stram, Tom Landry, George Halas, Bill Parcells and more recently Bill Belichick. All Defensive geniuses. And all of the best Defensive Coordinators that “great” Head Coaches owe their legacies to – Buddy Ryan, Dick LeBeau, Jim Johnson, Monte Kiffin. We NEED a Defensive guru.
We want a tough, stern, disciplinarian coach, whose team will adopt that mentality through osmosis. Think about how Jim Harbaugh came into San Francisco and instantly transformed the team’s demeanor, personality and culture. The Eagles desperately lack discipline and accountability, and need to have a leader that will instill that in the franchise.
Much like Andy’s need for a top-notch Defensive mind to complement his (once-potent) Offense, we are fine with the Offense being run by an established coordinator. Either way, both sides of the ball need to be totally overhauled and re-built from the lines out(**).
(**)Ironically, building from the lines out was Andy’s philosophy… And it worked! Until he completely wavered from it and starting plugging the lines with undrafted rookies and journeymen.
With that being said, there are four different categories to draw potential replacements from: current NFL Head Coaches, former NFL Head Coaches, current NFL assistant coaches, and college coaches.
Let’s start with the most obvious group: former NFL coaches.
Whenever we get into a discussion about the next Eagles coach, an uninformed fan will inevitably bring up Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher. Let’s be perfectly clear… We DO NOT want Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher or any other “retired” Head Coach to lead the Eagles.
Sure, Gruden and Cowher and Dungy and Parcells and Brian Billick and whoever else were once successful, Super Bowl-winning Head Coaches… But they would be better suited to takeover a team that is one piece away from winning it all. In other words, they would have been perfect fits for the Eagles in 2007-2008. This team needs a complete overhaul and rebuild, not a former-personality to push them over the top.
None of those coaches would be interested in building a team from scratch. If Cowher or Gruden or Dungy wanted to come back to the league, they would do it to add to their championship collections, not take a chance on reshaping a franchise over the next five years.
On top of that, there is very little precedent for a coach coming out of retirement and succeeding with a new team. Parcells has tried on multiple occasions and, while he was successful in changing the philosophies of franchises like the Jets and Dolphins(***), has never lasted long enough to see it through. George Siefert tried in Carolina and failed. Dan Synder wiped the cobwebs and NASCAR logos off of Joe Gibbs a few years back and we all know how that ended.
(***)Not so much the Cowboys.
Dick Vermeil is the only coach we can recall who retired and came back to take the St. Louis Rams from laughingstock to champions… And that had a lot to do with Mike Martz’s “Greatest Show on Turf” Offense.
So, would we like to see a past-his-prime, once-great football mind to come in and lead our team? No thank you. Sorry Gruden Fans and lovers of the Chin, we’ll pass.
Next stop on the Eagles’ Magical Mystery Coaching Tour: Current NFL Coaches.