No coaching search has been as meandering and bizarre as the Eagles' circuitous trek across America. If you are replacing the greatest coach in your franchise history, you might want to actually have a plan to replace him.
Chasing every hot college coach, scrambling to the media to confirm some coaching interviews, obscure others; releasing skewed information about your whereabouts and resorting to day-late spin tactics after being repeatedly left at the altar isn't going to fly in Philly. Not when the entire league knew Andy Reid was done there since about the middle of the season, and not with a young general manager, Howie Roseman, trying to fight a growing perception around the league that he is woefully out of his depth. (Say what you want about the Bears' exhaustive search, but they haven't been strung out by college coaches who were unlikely to leave campus anyway).
The last two seasons, culminating with Roseman's rise to power in Philadelphia, have been marred with horror signings like Nnamdi Asomugha, the firing of coordinators and assistants in-season, some pretty obvious situations where the personnel didn't fit the scheme, the demise of Reid. Jason Babin being waived in-season a year after challenging the single-season sack record pretty much sums up the Roseman Era. Some strange front office firings mixed in there too.
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Oh, and also plenty of less-than-competitive football.
Couple that with this strange coaching search, and the pressure is mounting on Roseman. And now, there is no longer anyone to hide behind. Say what you want about former team president Joe Banner and his quirky coaching search in Cleveland, but a certain degree of chaos has seemed to permeate the Eagles building since he left. And, no longer are there out-sized characters around, like Reid and Banner, to take all the bullets when things fail. It's all on Roseman now. No more whispers about, oh, that wasn't Howie's guy, that wasn't Howie's signing, he never wanted him here in the first place.
Rather, very different chatter has been growing in NFL circles for weeks. What's up with the Eagles job? Why don't guys want it? What are their concerns?
I wish I had a dollar for every time someone told me one esteemed coach or another advised one of the Eagles' top candidates not to take the job precisely because of Roseman's presence there. Roseman isn't the general manager they should tie their wagon to. It's clear Chip Kelly wasn't leaving Oregon for anywhere unless he had a large measure of control over the organization, and owner Jeffrey Lurie has already entrusted that to Roseman. There has been trepidation by some candidates to go all-in given the questions about this existing power structure.
The rumblings about Roseman lacking nuance and foresight, about him turning people off with how drunk with power he's become, only grow louder as his coaching search grows stranger.
Now, the Eagles would tell you they are right where they thought they would be in this search, now going on Week 3. They'll tell you they just wanted to talk to a bunch of bright football minds and do their due diligence. All part of the process. They didn't really want Chip Kelly or Bill O'Brien or Doug Marrone or Brian Kelly, anyway. Riigghht. Sure. I mean, if you couldn't get anyone to take your job or work with you, wouldn't you indulge in the same revisionist history?
Problem is, they're replacing someone who lasted 14 years in that cauldron, who went to five NFC title games and one Super Bowl and who perpetually had the team in playoff position. They're not replacing Rich Kotite here. And they'd better hope the guy they finally hire isn't the next Kotite. Sure, things had come to an end with Reid, and, trust me, he wasn't going to stay in Philadelphia with this crew no matter what the Eagles would have wanted. But it's worth noting that Reid was unemployed for about 48 hours before he had effectively agreed to terms with the Chiefs, quickly getting total control of the building, a direct link to the owner and a salary that keeps him among top five in his craft.
And the Eagles, meantime, have spent much of their time inflating the rate of college coaching salaries around the country and boosting the stock of guys who certainly seem to have played them for rubes. So we'll see where this thing goes.
Brian Billick, who has a Super Bowl but has not drawn much interest in recent years, had a long interview there last week -- one of the clandestine ones -- and may end up being the guy. Interviews are pending with Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.
Eventually, they'll hire someone. And they'll try to tell you this was the guy all along and he was by far the best candidate and had the best interviews and all that good stuff. And you know what, as long as they win, nothing else will matter and all will be forgotten.
But the reality is, wins have been hard to come by lately, and they have an uninviting situation at quarterback and an unproven general manager who is going to have to dig them out of a hole he helped create. And they also happen to be playing in a division with Eli Manning and RG3 and Tony Romo, and in what has become a very deep NFC. And they have a fan base that has come to expect playoff football under Reid.
That's a dangerous combination for a general manager still coming to grips with how to harness all of the power he's been granted, and still trying to find someone willing to coach under him.
Just cool it with icing kickers
Is anyone else hopeful that the silly icing the kicker timeout crap comes to an end now, once and for all? I'm not mathematician, and I am going only on memory at this point, but when the hell does it really work? And seems to me quite often the kicker gets better on the second chance.
For all the Seahawks did to fight back in that game Sunday, and then to take the lead and have it there for the taking and to watch Matt Bryant miss ... only to see him split the uprights after the timeout. I don't think this is an instance where the league can save the coaches from themselves, as the competition committee surely will do with that replay challenge rule from Thanksgiving. But I would think watching Seattle lose such a big game in this manner would discourage further attempts to ice a kicker.
Two GM searches linger
I can't imagine the two general manager searches linger much longer. I mean, most staffs will be assembling at the Senior Bowl soon enough and you want to have a structure in place with decisions coming up on the roster, contracts, franchise players, etc.
The Jets have cut a tremendously wide swath, focusing the first portion of their search on candidates with more of a scouting/evaluation background, and then another stage with candidates with more a cap/business side background. Can't hire both, so will be interesting to see where they go with this. Some believe much of the front office could end up remaining status quo, with just a new general manager coming in but the assistants and scouts could stay largely in place.
Scott Cohen, their assistant general manager, is highly thought of internally, and they clearly identified several strong candidates in guys like Omar Khan of the Steelers and Brian Gaine of the Dolphins, to name a few (surprised they did not formally interview CFL GM Jim Popp, but as of Sunday night that had not taken place).
Also, as of Sunday night, the Jets had not contacted candidates to tell them who was in the final phase of the process and would be brought back for another interview. There have been reports and rumblings that this has taken place, but I have yet to hear from anyone involved firsthand that it's actually going on.
The Browns have identified some candidates and asked for permission to interview them, but don't seem as far along in their search. I still hear that former personnel executive Mike Lombardi could end up a part of their new front office team in a talent evaluation role, and, sources said, the Browns are interested in Jaguars general counsel Sashi Brown, who would oversee contract negotiations and cap stuff for the Browns.
So the Browns have put together several top executives under Joe Banner, but not yet filled the general manager title. And, in reality, with Banner having final say, and the coach already put in place by the front office, this won't be a scenario in which the general manager will have as much power as in some others.