Explaining the Eagles' Coaching Search

Jeffrey Lurie has changed his thinking when it comes to coaches. Who could make him do the 180?
Publish date:

PHILADELPHIA - One of Jeffrey Lurie's biggest eye-raisers during the press conference to announce the firing of the only Super Bowl-winning coach he's ever hired regarded the owner's own behavior over the 25-plus years the billionaire has stewarded Philadelphia's favorite sports team.

"I would say my involvement has been the same for about 25 years," Lurie said.

That wasn't a joke but If Zoom was like an old-school situation comedy, the laugh track would have been inserted right there, and who knows? Maybe Lurie could have added an Emmy Award next to his Lombardi Trophy.

The thought that Lurie treated Doug Pederson the same way he handled Andy Reid or Chip Kelly is ludicrous and the result of that is that his current search committee is likely being vetted just as harshly by the candidates being interviewed at Lurie's Palm Beach estate this week.

The early stages of Lurie's fifth coaching search have unfolded as expected with Jerod Mayo and Duce Staley the next men up to interview Friday. Of the five get-togethers to date, there has been cursory interest in the "hot" candidate list with Robert Saleh and Arthur Smith, as well as Joe Brady to a certain extent, before the shift to the more realistic options like Mayo and Staley.

Saleh already got the New York Jets job and Smith has been offered the Atlanta Falcons gig. The Eagles were likely never seriously interested in either because both had options and Lurie's handing of Pederson surely raised eyebrows with coaches like that when it comes to autonomy.

The thought around the league remains that the candidates the Eagles will be interested in will be the ones willing to accept the same limitations Pederson operated under and eventually balked at after five years, namely heavy input on the coaching staff, personnel, and game-day decision-making by the brass.

Typically the template for that will be like Pederson was in 2016, a first-time head coach, perhaps skipping steps, not being able to make demands like the very hot Adam Gase could do in 2016 when he turned away from the Eagles toward Miami, which gave the now-disgraced former Dolphins and Jets coach power over the final 53. That defines Saleh this time around, who had six of the seven organizations looking for a new head coach banging on his door.

The caveat to that is Lurie could rewind to being the owner he once was, the same guy who hired Reid, Kelly, and even Ray Rhodes.

"I think that what I tend to do is to ask a lot of questions and to understand where we're coming from strategically and performance-wise, and it's stood us in a good way because it's allowed me to transition when we've needed to, make coaching decisions that have worked out, at least often in the short run or long run, and allowed us to be able to have a finger on the pulse of what could take place," said Lurie.

The hurdle to that, however, would take a deep self-scout when it comes to one's own psyche, and perhaps Lurie has already done that, evolving to a new default setting.

Consider that the Eagles owner has only settled for a coach once when Pederson arrived in 2016 after Gase took his talents to South Beach and Ben McAdoo left the team at the altar.

Conversely, Lurie thought his other three hires were great at the time and to be fair Reid certainly was and both Rhodes and Kelly were solid when compared to the context of the rest of the league.

Yet, the only one Lurie never really trusted, won him the Super Bowl.

From that perspective, you can at least begin to understand why Lurie might believe the meddling was more important than the coaching in the run through Super Bowl LII.

Are there any candidates who could change that thinking?

Outside of Lincoln Riley in this cycle, that answer is no. The Oklahoma coach is to the Eagles what Urban Meyer was to Jacksonville, a trend-buster.

Most assume Riley is staying with the Sooners but he's still not commented publicly and until that happens the door remains slightly ajar. 

When that door is finally shut, it's back to the status quo.

"When we have a bad season, I look at myself as much as I look at anybody else, but I think we have a great infrastructure," said Lurie. "I think we've got good people all throughout the building, and it's a lot of the same people that built the championship team.

"I think our track record in the last 20 years, how many NFC titles, playoff appearances, and appearances in the NFC Championship Game, those are some of the metrics I look at. I'll compare our record with almost anybody."

John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John every Tuesday and Thursday on "The Middle" with Eytan Shander, Harry Mayes, and Barrett Brooks on SportsMap Radio and PhillyVoice.com. He’s also the host of Extending the Play on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

Ed Kracz is the publisher of EagleMaven. Check out anything you may have missed pertaining to the Eagles by going to www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.