Coaching searches can be painfully long, borderline exhaustive. They have to be because people’s livelihoods depend on their mentoring and decision-making.
Following the abrupt dismissals of both offensive coordinator Mike Groh and wide receivers coach Carson Walch, the Eagles have started that journey. There will be a bevy of names thrown out there — some wishful thinking, others downright laughable — and GM Howie Roseman has promised to leave no stone unturned. First and foremost, this will be a collaborative process.
“This is a collaborative process for all of us,” Roseman said when describing the Eagles’ hierarchy and organizational structure. “We are talking about things all the time; in Coach’s mind probably a little too much during the season as he’s trying to game plan for things, but that’s how we roll.”
The early front-runner appears to be Duce Staley, the team’s associate head coach and running backs coach. The thinking is to promote Staley to offensive coordinator and then hire a new assistant coach, maybe Darren Sproles or Josh McCown. Well, let’s take a look at a few other guys on the proverbial wish list.
Top 7 Candidates for Eagles Offensive Coordinator
The offensive coordinator’s role is a little different in Philadelphia. That person has traditionally not been in charge of the play-calling as everything goes through Doug Pederson.
It doesn’t mean he won’t have say — by all accounts, guys like John DeFilippo and Frank Reich and even Mike Groh had oodles of input — but they do have to taper expectations. The job isn’t for everybody.
However, it is one of the most desirable in football considering the level of respect and commitment to winning that comes with being a part of the Philadelphia Eagles. These are the top seven candidates the franchise should be targeting in the coming days and weeks.
Joe Lombardi, New Orleans
Forget the fact that he is the grandson of the legendary Vince Lombardi. He’s not coming here to get a bust, plus he’s probably sick of hearing about it. But Lombardi is a highly-regarded young coach who has a wealth of experience. Sure, it’s true he failed as offensive coordinator in Detroit but everyone falters in Detroit, right?
The 48-year-old was largely credited for developing Drew Brees in New Orleans as quarterbacks coach in 2009, the same year the Saints won the Super Bowl. Brees threw for 5,000 yards four times under his tutelage and led the league in passing in three of those seasons. He could do wonders with Carson Wentz.
James Urban, Baltimore
They will have to play the waiting game to nab Urban as he’s coaching the No. 1 seed in the AFC playoffs right now and can’t be interviewed. But surely there are back channels to get in touch. There always is. Urban is Lamar Jackson’s quarterbacks coach in Baltimore, otherwise known as the guy leading the NFL MVP conversation for the league’s second-best offense.
The dynamic Jackson has thrown for 3,127 yards and 36 touchdowns while rushing for another 1,206 yards and seven scores. Remember, Urban was responsible for Michael Vick’s resurgence in 2010 as quarterbacks coach in Philadelphia. The 45-year-old will no doubt get some head-coaching looks, especially if the Ravens go on a lengthy playoff run.
Mike Kafka, Kansas City
Another candidate getting a lot of publicity for an AFC playoff team. Kafka in his first season as Chiefs quarterbacks coach after serving as offensive quality control coach under former Eagles coach Andy Reid in 2017. Does that sound familiar? It should. Doug Pederson had the same role under Reid in Philadelphia.
This year, Patrick Mahomes threw for 4,031 yards and 26 touchdowns for the league’s sixth-best offense. Again, it’s likely the 32-year-old will get a ton of phone calls — and he may be in line to take over for offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy in Kansas City, that is if anyone comes to their senses and hires him.
Pat Shurmur, free agent
Say what you will about the football lifer but Shurmur can coach. In 2017, Shurmur was named the NFL’s assistant coach of the year after guiding the Vikings to a 13-3 record as offensive coordinator. Minnesota boasted the 11th-best offense in the league that year behind journeyman quarterback Case Keenum. Not easy to do. He also played in a pivotal role in nurturing rookie Daniel Jones this year in New York.
The rookie signal-caller threw for 3,027 yards and 24 touchdowns while breaking the Giants’ rookie marks for touchdown passes, passing yards, passing attempts, completions, and most consecutive games with at least one score. Shurmur started his coaching career in Philadelphia in 1999 where he spent nearly a decade before returning for a second stint from 2013 to 2015.
Norv Turner, Carolina
Would the Eagles hire a former Cowboys top assistant? Turner is an all-time great, one of the game’s best offensive minds who helped architect those high-octane Cowboys offenses of the 1990s. He’s been in Carolina since 2018 in a dual-role as offensive coordinator and “special assistant to the head coach” but his days appear to be numbered after the Panthers hired Matt Rhule.
Turner wouldn’t be a flashy hire but he would be a sound one who could further Carson Wentz’s growth as a down-field thrower. Remember, the 67-year-old offensive guru has long been praised for his ability to mentor young quarterbacks with “big arms who can make splash plays down the field,” something the Eagles desperately need to learn.
Josh McCown, free agent
Look, McCown is coaching high school football in North Carolina so just fast-track him to the pros. The way current and former teammates gush about the 40-year-old’s football intelligence, it just makes sense. He literally learned the Eagles’ playbook in a weekend cram session after the Eagles signed him in late August. He knew it better than most of his receivers did.
In fact, McCown told Heavy.com that he would definitely consider a coaching gig in the NFL in the not-so-distant future. He referenced soaking up all he had learned from great mentors like Lovie Smith, Rod Marinelli and Doug Pederson. Why not McCown? Why not now? He would be an unexpected and promising pick to replace Mike Groh.
Tony Elliott, Clemson
It might give the Eagles flashbacks to go back to the college ranks to find their guy. Elliott is the one coach who might be worth it. Clemson’s top assistant was loosely linked to the head job in Dallas last month until he himself scoffed at the notion. Elliott will get his shot, though. He is the co-offensive coordinator and running backs coach for the two-time national champions, with a chance to add a third title to his resume when Clemson and LSU battle on Jan. 13.
In 2017, the 40-year-old received the Broyles Award given to the best assistant coach in college football. His Clemson offenses have ranked No. 4 and No. 3 in the country over the past two seasons while racking up 528 yards per game in 2018 and 538.4 yards per game in 2019.
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