Will right coach for Eagles come from Northwest?
Phil Sheridan, Inquirer Columnist
Posted: Tuesday, December 25, 2012, 8:37 PM
It is more than a hunch that the Eagles' next head coach is working out in the Pacific Northwest.
Oregon's Chip Kelly has been mentioned for months as a possible replacement for Andy Reid, most recently in a CBS Sports report that said Kelly is the Eagles' first choice.
But Kelly isn't the only guy making noise in the upper lefthand corner of the country. Darrell Bevell is the offensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks, who have scored a total of 150 points in their last three games.
Kelly turned down the Tampa Bay job last year. This year, his program is being investigated by the NCAA and is facing possible sanctions, and there are reports that he is unpopular with influential Oregon boosters.
Bevell is running Pete Carroll's offense and winning with a third-round rookie quarterback. If Seattle stays hot in the playoffs, he could be the hot assistant coach this offseason.
See whether this sounds familiar: Bevell is a Mormon who previously served as quarterbacks coach for the Green Bay Packers. He played QB at Wisconsin, where his head coach was Barry Alvarez - whom Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie interviewed in 1995 - and his offensive coordinator was Brad Childress.
There is every reason to believe that Kelly and Bevell will be head coaches in the NFL in 2013. Will Lurie go after one of them? And, just as important, would either or both be willing to come to Philadelphia?
Reid said Monday he believes that the Eagles could be turned around quickly. That doesn't jibe with their 4-11 record, but the feeling here is that he's correct. With the right coach and the right approach, this team can get back in the mix almost immediately, even in an ever tougher NFC East.
That has less to do with the talent level - which is subject to debate - than with the simple fact that this is the way in the NFL now. There are no five-year plans. Teams can be turned around in an offseason.
The 49ers went from 6-10 in 2010 to 13-3 last year, Jim Harbaugh's first as head coach. He did it with Alex Smith at quarterback.
John Fox took a Denver team that was 4-12 in 2010 to a playoff berth at 8-8 last year with Tim Tebow to a 12-3 record this year with Peyton Manning.
Rookie quarterbacks have turned Washington and Indianapolis into two of the burgeoning powers in the NFL. Jeff Fisher has the Rams in turnaround.
The Eagles' situation is complicated by the presence of general manager Howie Roseman. Assuming Lurie plans to stick with his young GM, there are bound to be some coaches reluctant to stake their chances of success on him. It is vital that Lurie reach out personally to every candidate on his wish list. He has to get a firsthand, unfiltered feel for how this situation is perceived.
That shouldn't be taken as a dismissal of Roseman, either. It is a relationship business, and no relationship is more important within a franchise than the one between the head coach and the top personnel guy. Lurie may well find coaches who like the players Roseman acquired and believe that they will thrive under new direction.
The point is to be open-minded.
One aspect of the Eagles job that may prove very attractive is Lurie's handling of Reid. This is an owner who believes in continuity. Barring a total pratfall, a new coach can expect the owner to be patient, to stay in the background, and to provide the resources needed to win.
Those traits likely have Lurie looking closely at what Seattle does from here on out. One way to ease the sting of parting ways with Reid, a man he likes and respects, would be to turn it into an opportunity for a good friend of the longtime coach's. And Lurie is bound to find comfort in the familiarity.
Kelly is the higher-risk candidate who could bring the higher reward. If his uptempo pressure offense doesn't work in the NFL, he could flame out spectacularly. If it does, however, the Eagles could quickly be back among the league's elite teams.
That is what Lurie is looking for. His search will begin - and may well end - in the Pacific Northwest.
Contact Phil Sheridan at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow @Sheridanscribe on Twitter.
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Posted 26 December 2012 - 09:47 AM