I Have a Coaching Favorite, and His Name is Gus Bradley

Lovie Smith interviewed with the Eagles on Thursday and left without a contract. At this point, unless there's a mystery candidate out there that we haven't heard of, it seems likely that the team is waiting on one of the playoff coordinators. Among that group, the guy I'm by far the most excited about is Gus Bradley, the Seahawks defensive coordinator. We've already read some of Monte Kiffin's praise for his former assistant. Here's more:

"He really is exceptional," Kiffin, now USC's defensive coordinator, said in a phone interview. "You could tell. He's not just a really, really smart coach; he's got a great personality. He connects with the players really well.

"He reminds me of (Steelers coach) Mike Tomlin. We hired Mike at 29-years-old out of the University of Cincinnati. It didn't take long to know that Mike was special, and I knew from Day 1 that Gus was special. He'll be a head coach in the NFL. He's got no panic. Some people do, it doesn't mean they're not really good coaches, but Gus, he's special. When he interviews, he'll knock your socks off. I'm not trying to pump him up, but I know what he is. He's put it on tape up there."

Let's go Falcons, let's go!

By the Numbers: Why Even Try?

Nnamdi Asomugha Marshawn Lynch

After last night, it seems pretty clear that the Eagles have hit the low point of Andy Reid’s tenure as head coach. The only question now is whether you have any hope that he can turn things around. I assume many of those folks who have stubbornly supported Reid over the last few games are starting to change their minds, but we’ll find out.

7.9 = Vince Young’s interception percentage this season. For comparison, Mike McMahon had a 3.9 percent interception rate in 2005. I’ve never seen a team get four second half possessions, and give the ball away in three of them. If Michael Vick is out again, Mike Kafka will undoubtedly get his chance next week.

57.9 = Young’s completion percentage this season, worst season of his career. What happened to quarterback gurus Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg?

6 = Two game stretches when Reid has had a worse point differential than the last two games. It’s one thing to get blown out by New England, but Seattle?

1 = Torn ACL for Colt Anderson. It’s not fair that one of guys who consistently plays the hardest had such a career-threatening injury in a meaningless game.

137.0, 6.7 = Tarvaris Jackson’s QB rating and Marshawn Lynch’s yards per carry from last night. What was that about the Eagles defense improving?

133 = Total yards from scrimmage for LeSean McCoy. Bright spot!

0 = Emotional reaction to yet another embarrassing loss.

Photo from Getty.

Eagles Bravado Not Striking the Right Tone

Asante Samuel Philadelphia Eagles

You play to win the game. Corollary: if you don’t win, show some humility.

On Monday, Trevor Laws talked to Reuben Frank about the upcoming game against Seattle. “Watching the film, I think it’s an easily winnable game,” he said. “If we play our game, we should blow these guys out. That’s just how I feel.”

One might dismiss Laws’s words as a single player speaking off the cuff, not to be taken too seriously. But that would be to ignore the many other quotes from players over the course of the season, who’ve made similarly confident assertions about this Eagles team. Even right after Sunday’s debacle, I watched Asante Samuel assert that they were still a “really good team.”

It’s unclear if the players are delusional, overly cocky, or both. Any team that’s closer to a top five draft pick then to the playoffs should realize and admit that they just aren’t as good as as they expected. These quotes flew when it was early in the season and we still thought the losses might be an aberration. Not anymore.

It’s time to fess up to the disappointment and display some humility. Rather than boast about how “easily winnable” the upcoming game appears, look in the mirror. Most Eagles fans I know can “easily” see another loss as the Eagles head west on Thursday.

You were just embarrassed at home, and the fans that weren’t calling for your coach to be fired were headed to the exits a quarter early.

Save the talk about blowing other teams out for another season.

Photo from Getty.

Handicapping Kevin Kolb's Next Team

Kevin Kolb Trade 2011 Philadelphia Eagles

There’s still the long shot possibility that the Eagles don’t trade Kevin Kolb. They could always keep him as a back up and then franchise/trade him after next season. But there’s really no reason not to pull the trigger as soon as the lockout is lifted.

The situation is actually fairly analogous to last year’s decision to trade Donovan McNabb. Sure, the team could have kept McNabb another year, but his value would have only declined and their leverage in trading would have only decreased. The Eagles maximized their return and moved on to the future. I expect they’ll do that again as soon as possible.

Here’s a breakdown of Kolb’s possible destinations, starting with the least likely.

Packers, Steelers, Jets, Bears, Patriots, Falcons, Ravens, Saints, Colts, Chiefs, Buccaneers, Giants, Chargers, Rams, Lions, Texans, Cowboys: I can’t invent a realistic scenario in which any of these teams were ever in the market for Kolb. 100-1 odds for the whole group.

Jaguars, Vikings, Titans, 49ers, Bengals, Panthers: All of these teams would have been contenders, but are effectively wiped out by their high selections of quarterbacks in the draft. At most they’ll need a caretaker quarterback, but there are better options for that with Donovan McNabb, Marc Bulger, Carson Palmer, Jake Delhomme, and others soon to hit the market. 9-1 for this pack.

Raiders, Dolphins, Redskins, Bills, Broncos: Jason Campbell, Chad Henne, Rex Grossman, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kyle Orton. If you were an NFL general manager, would you be comfortable relying on any of these quarterbacks? I certainly wouldn’t. But none of them seem like particularly good bets for Kolb at this point. The Raiders don’t want a West Coast guy, the Dolphins only want a challenger for Henne, the Redskins aren’t dealing with the Eagles again, the Bills seem content with Fitzpatrick, and John Elway already has three QBs competing in Denver. 7-1 for all five.

Browns: Tom Heckert and Cleveland were linked to Kolb a few times last offseason, and now they’ve added former Eagles quarterback coach Pat Shumur. Plus, they have an extra 2012 first round pick. A match made in heaven! Apparently not. After NFL Network’s Mike Lombardi stoked the flames of a possible deal, the Browns moved quickly to put them out. Perhaps they want to give Colt McCoy a full season tryout before they move on. 7-1.

Seahawks: Another team supposedly interested in Kolb last year when the Eagles wouldn’t trade him, Seattle still hasn’t resolved its quarterback issues. Matt Hasselbeck hasn’t been a starting-caliber QB since 2007 and Charlie Whitehurst doesn’t inspire much confidence as a replacement. Let’s peg them at 3-1 odds.

Cardinals: Arizona is the front runner for Kolb because, despite probably the worse group in the NFL (Derek Anderson, Max Hall, and John Skelton), the Cardinals have done absolutely nothing to remedy their quarterback situation. Nor have they really expressed any even token support for the players on their roster right now. They know they need a solution, and aren’t even trying to prove otherwise. At this point they’re probably 2-1 favorites for Kolb.

Disagree? Let the debate rage in the comments.

Originally published at NBC Philadelphia. Photo from Getty.

The Updated Odds on McNabb Destinations

Donovan McNabb Odds on Trade Destinations Rumors

A lot of quarterback moves in the NFL since free agency began. The Seahawks got themselves a new, if unproven, quarterback of the future. The Browns exchanged two mediocre quarterbacks for two more. In fact, 15 of the league’s 32 teams have made some sort of change at the position.

So with all that change, some have suggested that the market for McNabb is drying up. Maybe to a degree, but there are still a number of teams who still seem like they would be interested at the right price. It’s been awhile since we last examined the options. Let’s give them a quick look, in rough order of likelihood:

  • San Francisco 49ers — I still think the 49ers repesent the most likely destination for McNabb. They have the need, the means, and a demonstrated interest. With Kurt Warner’s retirement, San Fran is a good quarterback away from being the class of the NFC West. The defense is solid, the offense has talented playmakers from Gore to Crabtree to Davis. Last year, the Niners made a strong push for Warner — and despite their declarations of support for Alex Smith and commitment to David Carr as a back-up, McNabb would be a huge upgrade. Additionally, the team has two first round picks (13 and 17), which makes McNabb’s price tag feasible. Even McNabb would probably be happy there. The only big question I have is how their chaotic front office situation will affect their decision-making process.
  • Buffalo Bills — I can see where McNabb would be hesitant to go up to moribound Buffalo, but the Bills are one of the few teams actually broadcasting a need for quarterback. Coach Chan Gailey and company have been open to the idea of a trade, and the team has already been burned twice by mediocre draft picks.
  • Jacksonville Jaguars — Jack Del Rio has not been quiet about his disappointment with current starter David Garrard, and McNabb would be a big step up. He (or Michael Vick) would also boost attendance figures.
  • Carolina Panthers — While the team is outwardly fine with going into 2010 with Matt Moore as their starter, that still would be a large risk for a coach and front office on the hot seat. Also, Moore is the only quarterback with any experience on the roster. Trading for Vick as a back up and possible challenger might make more sense, but McNabb could immediately put them back into playoff contention. They don’t have a 1st round pick, which hurts their chances at McNabb, but also at getting a QB of the future.
  • Minnesota Vikings — Only jump back in to this discussion if Favre decides he’s not coming back, which seems like a longshot from here.
  • Cleveland Browns — They’ve got two veterans for back-up/keep-the-seat-warm duty while they groom a mid-round QB prospect who catches Mike Holmgren’s eye.
  • Seattle Seahawks — Found their guy in Charlie Whitehurst, apparently.
  • Arizona Cardinals — McNabb’s dream destination appears to be a competition between Derek Anderson and Matt Leinart.
  • Denver Broncos — Kyle Orton is the present. Brady Quinn (gag) is the future.
  • Oakland Raiders — Don’t really see McNabb ever approving a trade to Oakland.

Certainly there are a lot of teams now out of the running. Sound off in the comments where you think McNabb will end up, if anywhere.