The 2013 offseason is here and that means lots of activity for the Eagles. The primary focus is finding a new head coach. Jeffrey Lurie, Howie Roseman, and Don Smolenski have met with a handful of candidates so far and are continuing to look at others in their quest to find the right coach for the organization.
Frankly, this is a strange experience for me. Andy Reid was the coach for 14 years so I just don't remember the coaching searches of the past all that well. I can tell you about free agency because we see it every year. I know the draft inside and out because we see it every year.
The last time the Eagles had a head coaching search was January 1999. I was using a dial-up connection for the internet to get my Eagles news, as well as checking out pictures of young starlets like Katie Holmes and Jennifer Love Hewitt. I was still debating whether to buy a DVD player. I already had a handful of VCRs and a laser disc player. Was this DVD thing going to be a fad or what? Boy, that was a long time ago.
I think all Eagles fans are a bit nervous as the search goes on. This isn't like free agency where you get the best guys in the first day or two. Coaching searches are longer and more complex. You need to interview multiple candidates to make sure you aren't jumping at the first coach you like. Some coaches are total strangers and it can be important to check them out. Mike McCarthy wasn't a flashy name when the Packers hired him, but he's proven to be a great coach. Mike Smith in Atlanta was a "who is that?" kind of hire that has worked very well.
Guys like Josh McDaniels and Eric Mangini left the Patriots as coaching stars. They were young. They had worked under the great Bill Belichick and had helped the Patriots build into a machine. Both coaches flopped and were fired.
The key to all of this is to find the right guy. Each organization is a little different. There is no universal perfect coach. Andy Reid brought structure and organization to the Eagles. That stuff is still in place. The new coach can focus on other areas. I would suggest someone who has a better understanding of psychology and how to push buttons to motivate players.
Don't rush the hiring process. It is good that the Eagles are looking around. They're talking to a variety of coaches. The guys have a variety of backgrounds. The last two hires (Ray Rhodes, Reid) had ties to Mike Holmgren and the West Coast Offense. That's been a coaching tree with a lot of success, but it is good to branch out (so clever, huh?) and look elsewhere. That doesn't mean you can't hire someone from that tree, but at least consider other options.
People ask me over and over who I want. Chip Kelly was my primary target. He's out and there isn't any one candidate that I'm completely sold on. I think the interviews are crucial. Each of the candidates has good and bad points. You must grill them on the problem areas to find out if the coach sees the problems and has ideas for solutions. If the candidate doesn't even agree there is a problem, you know not to hire that guy right away. I have complete trust that the Eagles will use these interviews well.
Like you, I'm taking in every rumor and reading every article. I'm dying to know who the new coach will be. Lurie has done a good job of hiring people in his time as owner. Both Rhodes and Reid won NFL Coach of the Year honors. As much as it kills me, I'm willing to be patient and let things play out. Hopefully Lurie will find Mr. Right for us.
Tommy Lawlor, goeagles99 on the Discussion Boards, is an amateur football scout and devoted Eagles fan. He is the Editor of IgglesBlitz.com and was a contributor to the Eagles Almanac.
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A new head coach will mean a new coaching staff and new schemes. That makes it impossible to know what kind of players the Eagles will target in free agency, pro personnel moves, and the draft. Roseman and his staff have signed a few players, but these are guys who will compete for backup spots and provide roster depth. They don't need to be scheme specific. Should any of them not fit what the new coach wants, the team can let them go and find other players.
I would bet most of these guys had good draft grades from the Eagles when they came out of college. I'm sure some of them are versatile enough to fit in different types of schemes.
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Who will be the Eagles quarterback in 2013? I have no idea.
The Eagles could spend the number four pick on a quarterback. Unfortunately, there are no clear-cut franchise quarterbacks in this draft class. Geno Smith from West Virginia looks to be the top senior. Mike Glennon of NC State and Matt Barkley of USC are also in the mix. There will also be players of interest in the second and third rounds.
Should the Eagles choose to not draft a quarterback and Foles then struggles in 2013, there is some good news. The quarterback class of 2014 does have a lot of promise. Alabama's A.J. McCarron could be a high pick. Tajh Boyd just made Clemson fans happy by announcing that he's staying in school for his senior year. Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater will be a junior next year and looks like an NFL star in the making. Aaron Murray is staying at Georgia for his senior year. Lesser known players like David Fales and Bryn Renner could emerge as big time prospects.
You can't solve every problem in one offseason. I hope the Eagles find an answer in Foles or someone else this season, but there are no guarantees. Quarterback has been an amazingly steady position for the Eagles since 2000, but the situation is wide open for right now.
This definitely will be the strangest offseason in a while.