It’s all beginning to fall apart in Philadelphia where the Eagles showed so much promise a year ago. Maybe it was never smart of them to embrace the “Dream Team” nickname, but after their spending spree before the 2011 season everyone was sure they’d be good.
But they haven’t. Their record is a disappointing 11-13 since then. Michael Vick, once an MVP candidate has become a turnover machine and after a 28-13 loss to the New Orleans Saints on Monday night, they have put themselves in a 2 ½-game hole that appears far too deep for them to climb out.
And now, after 13 1/2 mostly successful seasons – albeit 13 ½ seasons without a Super Bowl championship – Andy Reid looks lost. He seems clueless about how to revive the franchise. And there are many who think Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie is finally ready to pull the trigger on a coaching change.
It won’t be easy to replace a man who has become a fixture in that rough-and-tumble city, who has managed a .597 winning percentage (129-86-1) despite residing in the hyper-competitive NFC East. When Reid was hired, he was a largely unknown assistant coach who came highly recommended but didn’t carry the star power fans usually crave.
Could the Eagles go that route again? Or will they go for the big splash? It’s far too early to tell. Who knows if Reid even will be fired after the season? But if he is, here are 5 very interesting names for Eagles fans – and fans of any team around the NFL that might soon have a coaching search – to watch:
Sean Payton – First of all, he’s a longshot for anyone. But the door was opened last week when the NFL reportedly voided the contract extension he signed with the New Orleans Saints, putting him on schedule to be a free agent after the season. Despite the BountyGate scandal that he oversaw, the Saints want to retain the only coach that took them to the Super Bowl. But Payton is also a Dallas native and would be just the sort of big splash Jerry Jones would love to make. If he’s available, if nothing else, you could bet the Philadelphia Eagles would get in line if they were looking for a replacement for Reid. Payton, a former assistant with the Giants and Cowboys, does have roots in the NFC East.
Steve Spagnuolo – He wouldn’t be a splashy hire, but he’d be a solid one with Philly roots. He was a long time assistant there under beloved defensive coordinator Jim Johnson. Then he left and was the defensive coordinator that helped the Giants upset the mighty New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII. His stint as St. Louis Rams coach wasn’t good, but most people saw that as an impossible situation – same for his position now as defensive coordinator of the BountyGate-saddled Saints. He’s still well-respected, knows the division, and has a defensive mind that would get the Philly faithful inspired.
Jon Gruden – In a division that has Tom Coughlin and Mike Shanahan and whatever big name Jerry Jones eventually hires to replace Jason Garrett, the Eagles may choose to match and there might be no bigger available name than Gruden. OK, there’s Bill Cowher and you might as well throw his name in too, but Gruden’s brash, confident, outgoing natures seems more Philly’s style. It helps, too, that his last stop before he became a head coach was as the Eagles offensive coordinator from 1995-97.
Mike McCoy – If the Eagles did want to go the unknown assistant route – especially since it served them so well with Reid – they might consider McCoy, the offensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos. Think about what he’s done in the past two years. He started running an offense with Kyle Orton at quarterback, quickly changed midstream to win with Tim Tebow, and then re-overhauled everything in the offseason when they brought in Peyton Manning. To continue to have success while reinventing your own scheme is pretty impressive. He’s going to be high on the list of a lot of teams looking for the next bright young mind.
Chip Kelly – Ask people around the NFL for the top college coaching prospect in the nation and they’ll probably mention Alabama’s Nick Saban. But since nobody expects him to leave the Crimson Tide, Oregon’s Kelly is next on the list. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers reportedly tried to hire him before they hired Greg Schiano, and a few other teams will come knocking on his door this offseason. His spread offense with the Ducks is not only exciting it’s proved to be a winner. He may not be able to run that exact same scheme in the NFL, but he might be able to adapt some components to help out a nimble quarterback such as … oh, maybe Michael Vick?
—By RALPH VACCHIANO