"He has a player's mentality," said former Eagles linebacker Ike Reese, who played for Mora in Atlanta. "Growing up around NFL players his whole life, being a college player himself, he understands today's players."
Mora, of course, is the son of Jim, the former Saints and Colts head coach. Jim Mora the elder was actually the last coach to bring Philadelphia a professional football championship when he guided the Stars to a USFL crown in 1984.
Although the Eagles have narrowed their focus on Mora, there's a chance they may not get their man. The 49-year-old interviewed with Denver on Monday night, according to a league source. A face-to-face with the Eagles has yet to be set, although Mora reportedly has spoken already with coach Andy Reid.
Mora was not available for comment.
In-house candidate Dick Jauron, the Eagles' secondary coach, interviewed with the Browns for their defensive coordinator opening. Former Cardinals defensive coordinator Billy Davis is also a candidate for the Eagles' job, and the list could grow.
Mora may have the personality to manage the Eagles' defense, at least according to Tapp and Reese, but it's not as if he has had great success. As a coordinator in San Francisco from 1999 to 2003, his defenses never ranked higher than 13th in the league in yards allowed or ninth in points allowed. As a head coach in Atlanta (2004-06) and Seattle (2009), his results were relatively the same.
"I think he's a good defensive coordinator. I wouldn't say great," said Reese, who now works for WIP-AM (610). "He doesn't have a stable defense like Rex Ryan did with the Ravens and now with the Jets, or like Dick LeBeau has in Pittsburgh or like Jim Johnson had here."
Mora's defenses are generally considered to have more of an attacking style, which would fall in line with how Johnson and McDermott schemed for the Eagles.
"We were always attacking, always attacking," said Tapp, who joined the Eagles in a trade last off-season. "I can't remember when we ever completely sat back in coverage."
Still, the Eagles may want to adopt a defense that is less reliant on the blitz. McDermott didn't call as many this season. Some of that had to do with helping an overmatched secondary. Some of it had to do with how top quarterbacks, such as Green Bay's Aaron Rodgers, were not fazed by the extra pressure.
"The league has to get away from blitzing," Reese said. "Look at what the Jets did to [Tom] Brady and [Peyton] Manning. They backed off the blitz and just sat back in coverage."
Mora employed 4-3 defenses at his previous stops, but there was a lot of flexibility for different looks, "playing his scheme off the strengths of his personnel," as Tapp said.
Reese said that because Mora was a head coach, he will have clout with the players and input on personnel decisions.
Mora has shown he is not afraid to draw a line in the sand when necessary. The Eagles' Michael Vick was Mora's starting quarterback in Atlanta. And although Vick and Mora "were on the same page 80 percent of the time," according to Reese, the relationship soured in 2006 after the quarterback gave Falcons fans a middle-finger salute at a home game.
"There were some rough patches down the stretch," Reese said. "When Michael had the incident with the fans, Jim said something and Michael didn't like it. . . . But I know when Jim was down at the NovaCare [Complex] this season [while working for NFL Network], Michael apologized to him."
After the firings of McDermott and defensive line coach Rory Segrest, Tapp said, there's "a lot of uncertainty right now" for some of the Eagles' defensive players. But he's lobbying for Mora.
"He's a young guy, but he's been around the block for a while," Tapp said. "He enjoys the game and loves being around it. It wasn't just punching the clock for him."
Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745 or email@example.com.
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