Eagles continue their search for a coach

Posted: January 12, 2013

The Eagles are in the second week of their head coaching search, and while it is too early to panic, it's a good time to take stock of where they have been and where they are going.

And to ask: Whom exactly does Jeffrey Lurie want to be his next coach, and does he even know at this point?

This is what we know:

After meeting with former Bears coach Lovie Smith on Thursday, the Eagles have interviewed at least seven candidates. There are Oregon coach Chip Kelly, Penn State coach Bill O'Brien, Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly, Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, Falcons special-teams coordinator Keith Armstrong, and Smith.

Chip Kelly and O'Brien, the Eagles' initial top choices, are out. Both decided to stay put rather than make the leap to the NFL. Both reportedly received hefty raises out of the flirtation.

The Eagles' interest in Brian Kelly, first reported by The Inquirer, was another indication that Lurie is focused more on the college ranks than any other owner who is looking to fill a vacancy. Although there was a report that the attraction was mutual, one has to wonder if Kelly, 51, is also looking for a bump in pay.

McCoy met with the Eagles' traveling search party - Lurie, general manager Howie Roseman, and team president Don Smolenski - on Sunday. The interview lasted approximately two hours and there have been indications that McCoy is not Lurie's man. Nolan and Armstrong are not considered to be serious contenders at this point.

The Eagles have been granted permission to interview three more NFL assistants - Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, and Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians. Formal dates have yet to be announced.

After interviewing with the Cardinals on Thursday, Gruden, 46, told reporters in Arizona that there was a possibility he would sit down with the Eagles next week. Arians, released from the hospital Wednesday after dealing with an inner-ear infection, has yet to sit down for expected interviews with the Chargers, Bears, and Eagles.

Arians, 60, told a San Diego radio station Thursday that the Chargers' hiring of Tom Telesco as general manager increased his interest in the San Diego job. He worked with Telesco, who was Colts GM Ryan Grigson's vice president of football operations, in Indianapolis.

The jury is still out on whether Roseman will affect the pool of candidates who are willing to come to a team with the young GM already in place.

The Eagles are the only team linked to the 46-year-old Bradley. If Lurie wanted to hire either Bradley or McCoy he would have to wait until Seattle or Denver was no longer playing in the postseason.

The Eagles had plans to interview two other coaches, but Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter signed a contract extension to stay in Atlanta and Syracuse coach Doug Marrone agreed to become the Bills' head coach.

Among the five teams still looking for coaches - the Jaguars joined the Bears, Cardinals, and Chargers when Mike Mularkey was fired Thursday - the Eagles have had the most candidates choose another course.

Lurie promised that he would "leave no stone unturned," but whiffing on Chip Kelly and O'Brien and casting a net with more reach than any other team has given off a slight whiff of desperation.

The Eagles certainly have time to get their man. If they're waiting for Bradley, McCoy, or any other the other assistants on the eight remaining teams in the postseason, the search could last until after the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.

They would certainly prefer to have someone in place before Senior Bowl practices start in 10 days, but as Roseman said Wednesday, "the key is getting the right guy. The key isn't getting the right guy as quickly as possible."

Plenty of other candidates could be on the Eagles' radar. Many of them have interviewed for other jobs or will do so: Seahawks offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell (Bears); Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael (Bears); Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements (Bears); Texans offensive coordinator Rick Dennison (Bears); Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley (Cardinals); Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton (Bills, Browns, and Cardinals); 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman (Jaguars); Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer (Jaguars); Buccaneers offensive coordinator Mike Sullivan (Bears); former Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt (Bills, Browns); and Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer (Bengals, Chargers).

And then there's the people's choice, or at least the choice of a large number of Eagles fans: Jon Gruden. There are no indications that Lurie is interested, but could the meandering search lead the owner back to the team's former offensive coordinator?

The point: No one knows at this juncture who will be the Eagles' next coach. It's fairly certain they don't know, either.

Honor for Cox. Eagles defensive tackle Fletcher Cox was named to the Pro Football Writers Association's all-rookie team.

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


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