Eagles: Jon Gruden least likely option if Birds change head coaches
Published: Sunday, November 11, 2012
By BOB GROTZ
PHILADELPHIA — Believe the WalterFootball.com report that ESPN’s Jon Gruden wants another piece of the NFL.
Don’t necessarily believe the hype about him joining the Eagles, although you could hear his name mentioned repeatedly as a candidate if the organization goes in a direction other than Andy Reid.
ESPN Monday Night Football color commentator Gruden, who coached the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a Super Bowl title, is rounding up a coaching staff, according to the report.
Former Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo, on the staff when Gruden was offensive coordinator for the Eagles from 1995-97, was mentioned as a piece of the new posse.
Gruden reportedly would be interested only in coaching big market teams with good ownership and some talent. The Eagles, the New York Jets and the Dallas Cowboys could be “landing spots” if they make coaching changes. You probably should add the Cleveland Browns, owned by truck stop magnate Jimmy Haslam. Former Eagles president Joe Banner is the Browns’ CEO.
Gruden would seem perfect for the Eagles on at least one level. He would bring discipline to what now is a country club atmosphere at One NovaCare Way – with all due respect to the Cowboys, of course.
If the Eagles part with 14-year veteran Reid, the longest-tenured head coach in the league, Gruden likely would not be the new guy, according to one source. Whoever is on the Eagles’ short list is a mystery, assuming there is such a list right now.
Should the Eagles hire a new head coach, it’s more likely to be Sean Payton than Gruden.
Payton’s contract with the New Orleans Saints voids at the end of the season. There are preliminary indications he could remain with the Saints, who have embraced his significant baggage. The NFL suspended Payton this season for his role in the still unresolved bounty scandal, the alleged pay-to-injure program. For him to stick around, the sides would have to work out a deal. Payton reportedly has concerns about the power structure in the front office.
Payton has Newtown Square roots, having grown up playing for the Marple Newtown Junior Tigers. He’s a disciplinarian having worked under Gruden as quarterbacks coach of the Eagles.
Payton, who also has won a Super Bowl, and Gruden would command a ton of money. Two sources differ about the money Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie would shell out for a new coach. With Reid due $5.5 million next year, it could be a significant consideration.
Then there’s the Dallas connection. With Super Bowl rings, Payton and Gruden would be attractive to the Cowboys, who are spinning their wheels with head coach Jason Garrett. Price obviously is no object for Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. Of course, Jones also is general manager of the team and has been known to create friction.
Sports Illustrated NFL writer Peter King thinks the Eagles would make a play for Payton to keep the coach away from the Cowboys. He called it a Lurie-like move. It makes more sense than Gruden.
The Eagles almost certainly had a head coaching successor in mind when they left Reid hanging at the end of the 2011 season, one in which the club spent heavily in free agency and finished 8-8 and out of the playoffs. A source said Reid was looking for a landing place in case he got axed.
Reid didn’t address the media until a month after the ’11 campaign ended. During that time several NFL jobs were filled.
While it’s not clear who the Eagles’ candidates were, they could emerge if this team continues to struggle. If the Eagles are beaten here today by the Cowboys, in the battle of 3-5 teams, it would be Reid’s first five-game losing streak.
The way the NFL is these days, look for the next Eagles coach to be a play-caller, as Reid was when he came in.
Two potential hot NFL head coaching candidates are Bill O’Brien of Penn State and Chip Kelly of Oregon.
Some organizations are going to look hard at O’Brien, who has the New England Patriots background and Kelly, the architect of exotic who has Oregon within a few good games of a national championship.
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Posted 11 November 2012 - 09:25 AM