Who will replace Eagles' Andy Reid? Let speculation begin

Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (second from left), with head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, has been a head coach before in Denver. He might be ready for a second chance.
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels (second from left), with head coach Bill Belichick and quarterback Tom Brady, has been a head coach before in Denver. He might be ready for a second chance. (JOHN FROSCHAUER / Associated Press)
Posted: November 11, 2012

Fourteen years ago, the Eagles were 1-7, all but lifeless and with a lame-duck coach in Ray Rhodes. The drumbeat for who would be the team's next leader didn't really start until late December.

Andy Reid's name wasn't mentioned until a week before he was hired on Jan. 11, 1999.

But that was then, and this is now, with Reid just a couple of more losses from not returning, and fatigued fans already thinking about his successor.

So here's a look at some of the candidates to replace Reid - should he go - with the understanding that we're still some distance from a new regime.

Past winners

Leader: The reports are already starting to fly that Jon Gruden wants to get back into coaching. The current ESPN analyst will be linked to the Eagles, where he was once an offensive coordinator. Gruden has a Super Bowl ring, but he went 45-51 in his final six seasons in Tampa Bay. He'll be 50 in August, but hasn't coached in five seasons. Jeffrey Lurie, who it was rumored didn't get along with Gruden when he was here, will have competition for the coach. The Eagles owner will also have to figure out if Gruden is in it for the long haul.

Contenders: Like Gruden, Brian Billick has a comfy TV gig and hasn't coached in years. He's 58, and the former BYU player may have too much in common with his friend Reid. Bill Cowher falls into the same category - former Super Bowl-winning coach now with a microphone - but there have been rumblings that the only way he returns is if it's in New York, where he has a home.

Long shots: Tony Dungy, Mike Holmgren, Sean Payton.

Retreads

Leader: He crashed and burned in Denver, but Josh McDaniels is far too young and talented to not get another shot at a head coaching job. There aren't many examples, but Bill Belichick and Tom Coughlin delivered on second chances. McDaniels has a reputation for arrogance, but perhaps he just needed his comeuppance. The 36-year-old is coordinating the No. 1-ranked offense in New England under Belichick.

Contenders: Mike Nolan couldn't win more than seven games as the 49ers' head coach from 2005 to '08, but he's still one of the better defensive minds in the NFL. His Falcons did a job on the Eagles. Hue Jackson was given just one season in Oakland. He deserves another chance. If he's out with the New York Jets, Rex Ryan would still be a hot ticket.

Long shots: Todd Haley, Eric Mangini, Pat Shurmur, Steve Spagnuolo.

Offensive coordinators

Leader: He didn't need Peyton Manning's stamp of approval, but Mike McCoy will be one of the most sought-after coordinators in the offseason even if the Broncos fail to make the postseason. In four seasons in Denver, the 40-year-old McCoy has worked with three quarterbacks and still managed to produce.

Contenders: The Redskins are losing yet again, but their offense under the stewardship of Kyle Shanahan has been electric. The 32-year-old has done wonders with rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III and will get interviews for coaching vacancies in the offseason. Greg Roman actually had more NFL coaching experience than Jim Harbaugh when Harbaugh brought him from Stanford to the 49ers. The Ventnor, N.J.-raised Roman was a finalist for the Penn State job.

Long shots: Cam Cameron, Rob Chudzinski, Rich Dennison, Jay Gruden, Dirk Koetter.

Defensive coordinators

Leader: Imagine if the Eagles had hired Ray Horton instead of Juan Castillo in January 2011 to run their defense. Horton, 52, runs a 3-4 in Arizona, but there's no doubt he could have adjusted if Reid wanted to keep a 4-3. The Dick LeBeau protégé has turned the Cardinals defense into one of the stoutest and is widely respected around the league. As silly as it sounds, he may have to get rid of the corn rows to get a top job.

Contenders: The Giants' Perry Fewell, 50, had a number of interviews last offseason but failed to land a job. The 46-year-old Gus Bradley could spurn offers if the Seahawks make him head-coach-in-waiting.

Long shots: Vic Fangio, Rod Marinelli, Rob Ryan, Mike Zimmer.

College coaches

Leader: Oregon's Chip Kelly, 48, is generally believed to be the most likely college coach to make the jump. Daniel Jeremiah, who recently left a scouting job with the Eagles to work for nfl.com, had an NFC executive tell him the following about Kelly: "He runs the best practices I've ever seen. I would hire him in a second if I ever had the opportunity." One significant knock: He has never coached in the NFL.

Contender: Harbaugh's success in San Francisco has opened the door for some college coaches. His successor at Stanford, David Shaw, was a quality-control coach with the Eagles in 1997 and worked another eight years in the NFL.

Long shots: Bill O'Brien, Nick Saban, Bob Stoops.

Others

Leader: Once an assistant under John Harbaugh when he was the Eagles' special-teams coordinator, Dave Toub could follow his former boss into the head coaching ranks. Toub, whose special teams have been consistently good in Chicago for close to a decade, interviewed for the Dolphins job in January.

Contender: Bruce Arians, 50, has done a splendid job as the Colts' interim coach after Chuck Pagano's cancer was diagnosed. The former Temple coach has never been a head coach in the NFL.

Long shot: Winston Moss, Brad Seely.


Contact Jeff McLane at jmclane@phillynews.com or on Twitter @Jeff_McLane.

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