I started to profile each of the Eagles potential head coaching candidates, but at this point they're flying by too fast for me to write up a long post on each one. Plus, others have hopped on the bandwagon and done a lot of in-depth research already. Let's talk about some of the recently rumored candidates in more abbreviated fashion.
First up is the trio of Falcons assistants that quickly whittled down to just a pair. The Eagles' initial attempt to interview all of Atlanta's coordinators was bizarre. Both Dirk Koetter and Mike Nolan only arrived a year ago, so it wasn't about importing talent from a top organization. And then you add special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong in the mix for no apparent reason.
Koetter -- profiled here by Jason Brewer -- pulled out of the search process yesterday when he received a long-term contract extension to remain with the Falcons. All I can say is good riddance. The former college head coach at Boise State and Arizona State ran the Jaguars offense from 2007-2011 with nothing positive to show for it. The Falcons have a good offense this year, but they had essentially the same DVOA before Koetter showed up. Nothing special there.
Nolan, on the other hand, has commanded a number of top NFL defenses over the last 20 years as coordinator or head coach. He's intriguing on that level, but that level alone. When he finally was promoted to the top job with the 49ers in 2007, he flamed out. Over four seasons he managed only a pitiful .327 winning percentage. Tommy Lawlor discussed Nolan and the other Falcons candidates, and he concluded that the coach may have learned from his mistakes, like Bill Belichick before him. One point Tommy makes is that multiple coaches recently have won Super Bowls with their second teams: Belichick, Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden. I think that's quite unlikely in Nolan's case.
If you go back and look through all 32 retread candidates hired since 1999, you'll notice a striking pattern. The best second-chance coaches, while they may not have won a Super Bowl with their previous team, demonstrated some level of success. They had winning records overall. They won playoff games. Guys like Dungy, Gruden, John Fox, Tom Coughlin, Mike Holmgren, Pete Carroll -- they all finished their previous NFL job above .500 and with playoff games won. Belichick is actually the only successful retread coach I found who didn't have a winning record the first time through, although he did win one playoff game. Unless you think Nolan is a once-in-a-lifetime coach like Belichick, I wouldn't take those odds.
As to Armstrong, I'm sorry to say this but he seems like a classic Rooney Rule interview. He already interviewed with both the Bears and the Chiefs (right before Kansas City brought Andy Reid to town and seem likely to keep him there). What makes it especially obvious is that he's not even the best special teams coach out there. That would be Dave Toub of the Bears, who has managed to keep Chicago in the top ten special teams DVOA for all but one year since his arrival in 2004 (plus three number one overall finishes). The sad truth is that, even as offense dominates the league more and more, only one NFL offensive play caller is a minority. That limits the pool of potentially worthy Rooney Rule interviewees.
Two other fringe candidates that were mentioned in connection with the Eagles, at least in passing, were Syracuse coach Doug Marrone (see Jason's profile) and Washington coach Steve Sarkisian. Both have turned downtrodden college football programs into at least respectable successes. Neither has a resume that screams home run, but they are offensive gurus with some NFL experience. Overall they seem like interesting Plan B choices, but nothing to get excited about right now. If the Eagles hired a defensive head coach though, luring one of these promising candidates back to the pros as a highly-paid offensive coordinator might be an interesting avenue to explore.
Mike McCoy, offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos, is reportedly scheduled to interview with the Eagles on Sunday. That's the first name on this list so far that I'm highly interested in. Jason did another breakdown for McCoy, and you can see what I mean. The 40 year-old played quarterback at the University of Utah and tried to bust into the NFL, CFL, and NFL Europe with little success. He ended up as an offensive assistant with the Panthers, and eventually became the quarterback coach for Jake Delhomme's best years. McCoy then jumped to Denver in 2009, where he worked under Josh McDaniels. Despite a poor overall record, the coaching duo actually made Kyle Orton look like a competent starter.
In 2011, John Fox came to the Broncos and kept McCoy on and gave him a chance to demonstrate some amazing offensive flexibility. After starting the season with Orton at the helm, McCoy masterfully rebooted the offense for Tim Tebow, using his (limited) strengths instead of forcing him into the old system. After that experiment ran its course, McCoy transitioned to working with Peyton Manning and helped the future Hall of Famer put up one of his best seasons at age 36. When Lurie talks about wanting a coach who can analyze the world of football, find "inefficiencies," and convert a team to take advantage, McCoy sounds like the type of coach he's talking about.
Photo from Getty