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Eagles to interview Lovie Smith

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Posted 09 January 2013 - 06:16 AM


Eagles to interview Lovie Smith

LES BOWEN, Daily News Staff Writer bowenl@phillynews.com

Posted: Wednesday, January 9, 2013, 12:39 AM

HEY, THERE'S a veteran NFL head coach available, that the Eagles are planning to interview Thursday. He was fired when his team missed the playoffs the past two seasons after raising fans' expectations. Got to the Super Bowl once but lost it. He's 54 years old, and has a solid career winning percentage (.563), even if his last years didn't match his earlier success.

Andy Reid is in Kansas City now, so the Eagles are going to interview former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith, who is basically an African-American version of Reid, with a defensive mindset instead of a background on offense.

When Jeffrey Lurie talked about the coach he envisioned, the day he announced the Eagles were moving on from Reid, many of us got the notion the next coach would likely be youngish, someone on the vanguard of change. That would not be Lovie Smith.

"I'm looking for someone that's innovative. Somebody that is not afraid to take risks. Somebody that looks [at] and studies the league and studies the college world and decides what the best efficiencies are on offense and defense and special teams and can execute it with their coaches . . . a student of the game who is obsessed and who absolutely and, on his own, is completely driven to be the best," Lurie said then.

Lurie also talked about other traits, such as strong leadership, and "being comfortable in his skin," that could apply to Smith, or lots of coaches. Then again, he talked about hiring someone who would "surround himself with strong coordinators and assistant coaches." Smith's staff has been all over the place the past several years, people like Ron Rivera and Mike Martz coming and going, other guys getting demoted and staying on.

Of course, the Eagles' picture has changed since Lurie laid out his template. Bill O'Brien and Chip Kelly - the kind of innovators Lurie seemed to have in mind - decided to stay in college. Doug Marrone signed on with Buffalo before talking to the Eagles. The only guys in the current field who might fit all the guidelines would be Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, 40, whom the Eagles interviewed last weekend, and Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, 46, whom they must interview this week, before the Seahawks visit Atlanta on Sunday. The Eagles said Tuesday that the Bradley interview remains on tap but has not been scheduled.

Ditto Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, 45, and Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, 60, whose teams are out of the playoffs. There is less urgency with those two, since they can be interviewed at any time. Also, Arians was back in the hospital Tuesday with that inner-ear problem that kept him away from the Colts' loss in Baltimore last weekend.

Gruden didn't seem to be exactly anticipating getting a head-coaching job Tuesday when he spoke with Joe Reedy, of the Cincinnati Enquirer.

Asked about turning down head-coaching interviews last year but accepting them this time, Gruden said: "I figured I'd better say 'yes,' or they'll quit asking me. I think it will be a great experience and it's exciting. I have every intention of coming back here. We've got a great group of guys here. We're excited for the future here; win 19 games in 2 years with a young group, with a rookie quarterback 2 years ago, rookie receiver . . . the future is very, very bright here."

Smith was 81-63 as the Bears' head coach, but was fired after the 10-6 team missed the playoffs this season, despite having gone 7-1 through the first eight games.

It's possible the Eagles aren't really that focused on Smith, but when a veteran head coach with a decent resume comes available, and you know you aren't getting your top targets, you feel like you have to at least kick the tires.

On Twitter: @LesBowen

LES BOWEN Daily News Staff Writer bowenl@phillynews.com