After watching the Eagles get demolished by the visiting Patriots on Sunday afternoon, many Eagles' fans are wondering if the end of the Andy Reid era is nigh. Absolutely, without question -- if for no other reason than the fact that Reid hired Juan Castillo to be the defensive coordinator. That horrible mistake, coupled with the antics of diva wide receiver DeSean Jackson, could, should, and must spell the end of Andy Reid as head coach of the Eagles.
Where do we go from here?
It's hard to know whom to hire as your next head football coach. The Eagles are still, relatively speaking, a young team, particularly on offense, and they desperately need coaching help on the defensive side of the ball. So continue reading for my not-so-humble opinion...
What about Mike Martz for head coach?
Let's start off with the good: He knows offense, and how to use his personnel to best effect. He makes stars out of guys no one ever heard of before, and he puts his skill players in the best position to succeed. He can also coach quarterbacks (hello, Kurt Warner and Marc Bulger -- even Jay Cutler has progressed better under his tutelage than he performed in Denver). And the man does know what he doesn't know: Defense. So a Mike Martz hire would mean there is still a need for a (preferably veteran) defensive coordinator. More on that in a moment.
If I were the Eagles' owner, I would make a caveat to Martz -- I'll hire you to be the head coach, but you MUST keep Howard Mudd as the offensive line coach, and work with him to implement your offensive system. As poorly as the Eagles have looked and played at times this season (too many times), the offensive line has been a very bright spot for them. Once the rookies began playing with the veterans as a unit, they have meshed and jelled and looked very, very good. I would not want to try to teach them another new system, placing both their development and the franchise in general in jeopardy in the first year.
Martz will draft his own quarterback and groom him for 2013 and beyond... he may want a veteran (i.e., Bulger) instead of Michael Vick; one who knows better how to operate from the pocket. I'd be fine with trading Vick if he decided to go that route. The Eagles already own two second-round draft picks in the 2012 draft (along with a first-round pick), and any additional high-round picks can only help a new coach set the foundation for the franchise (as opposed to trading those picks for more, lower-round picks, as has often been the case under Reid's tenure).
If I were the Eagles' owner, I would hire a real General Manager, as well. Someone in charge of scouting the college and pro ranks, and selecting the best players to fit the new schemes brought in under a new head coach and defensive coordinator.
If I were the Eagles' owner, I would sign DeSean Jackson to a contract, and keep him; mercurial attitude or not, the man would absolutely thrive in a Martz offense. I would, however, trade or release Jason Avant, because while he is (allegedly) sure-handed, he's too slow for the slot position in any non-West Coast offense in the league. I might try and retain Steve Smith for that spot, but more likely they would both go and I would draft a speedster for the third wide receiver position (think Az-Zahir Hakim in St. Louis).
The main knock on Martz has been that he considers himself a genius, and is all-too-eager to prove it to anyone who will watch or listen. That knock is years old, though, and I believe that his time spent as a successful offensive coordinator has humbled him. He's ready, in my opinion, to be a head coach again.
And the last piece of that puzzle is: Who will be the defensive coordinator under Mike Martz? There are myriad possibilities, including Mike Singletary, Dennis Thurman, perhaps even (my preference) Jeff Fisher. He would cause the least trouble because he could work with Jim Washburn to fully implement the style of defense which includes Washburn's Wide-9 scheme, and which was very, very successful in Tennessee. The Eagles' lack the players behind the front-four, specifically the linebackers and safeties, which must work in tandem with the front four to actually call their play a 'defense'. My point, though, is that there are literally dozens of assistants out there (LB coaches, secondary coaches) who, like Mike Tomlin, Steve Spagnuolo and Leslie Frazier, are ready to move to the next level.