Get Wade Phillips on speed dial. The Philadelphia Eagles are searching for a new head coach and the retired living legend just announced his desire to return to the NFL. Interesting timing, huh?
Phillips announced he was ready to “retire from retirement” on Friday morning in a perfectly-timed tweet as five franchises look to fill head-coaching vacancies. The Eagles have been one of the most active teams in leaking out their prospective candidates, a list that had swelled to 11 names before the New York Jets hired Robert Saleh. Phillips would be an interesting fish to throw in the boil considering his 50 years of coaching experience, including 45 in the NFL.
It’s true the 73-year-old has sometimes struggled as a head coach. He holds an 82-64 overall record during stints with the New Orleans Saints, Denver Broncos, Buffalo Bills, Atlanta Falcons, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans. And he was fired by Jerry Jones in spectacular fashion in 2010 after a 1-7 start for the Cowboys. Maybe he’s not ready for all the stress — and reported dysfunction — of Philadelphia.
Then again, what if they offered him their vacant defensive coordinator position? No one can deny Phillips’ success on the defensive side of the ball. His units have consistently ranked among the best in football over the years, including a recent three-year run as defensive coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams. They ranked 13th in total defense in 2019 (339.6 yards per game) while racking up 50 sacks (fourth-best).
Remember, Phillips worked under Buddy Ryan for three years (1986-88) in Philly as Eagles defensive coordinator. He was credited for helping build those famed Gang Green defenses, including unleashing the pass-rushing tandem of Reggie White and Jerome Brown on the world. The Eagles combined for 152 sacks — 57 in 1987 (second-best) — during his tenure leading the defense.
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Duce Staley Meets Jeffrey Lurie in Florida
Meanwhile, the Eagles’ head-coaching search warped into overdrive on Day 4. Duce Staley was the first candidate mentioned by Jeffrey Lurie and he was heading to Florida to meet with the billionaire owner on Friday, according to Derrick Gunn. Lurie was also interviewing New England Patriots linebackers coach Jerod Mayo. This comes one day after the organization walked away “impressed” from their interview with Arthur Smith.
Smith, who serves as offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, was reportedly offered the head gig in Atlanta. The Jets named another Eagles candidate, Robert Saleh, their new head coach on Thursday. Philly has also been linked to Brian Daboll, Ryan Day, Lincoln Riley, Kellen Moore, Joe Brady, Mike Kafka, Todd Bowles.
Staley’s ‘Secret Notebook’ Could Help in Interview
One fun nugget Staley revealed during training camp was that he had kept a “secret notebook” while filling in for Doug Pederson when the head coach had to quarantine after contracting the COVID-19 virus. He was half-joking but the admission seemed to indicate how seriously he took his 10-day promotion. He has talked previously about wanting to be a head coach someday.
His experiences this summer — running team meetings, drilling players at practice, dealing with management — should give him a leg up on the other candidates. Staley should know Lurie better than anyone considering their 15-year working relationship between his playing days and coaching career.
“I learned the three L’s, and the three L’s are listen, learn and lead,” Staley said of the experience. “So that’s what I got from that awesome experience. When Doug was out of the building, he trusted me to step right in and take over and continue to deliver our message as a team and continue to deliver his message. It was awesome. I learned a lot and I have a little notebook up there with some secrets in it, so it’s been cool.”
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