Yesterday we gave reasons why the Eagles may not be an attractive option for a potential head coach. It only takes one reason for a coach to not desire the Eagles coaching job. But it can also take one reason for a coach to overlook all the warts that any available head coaching job has. Today we'll look at those reasons. Like the reasons why a coach wouldn't take the job, the reality of a situation is irrelevant, what ultimately matters is the perception.
In the wake of Jim Harbaugh being run of town by 49ers ownership, a coach may be turned off by a team with a weak and meddling owner. Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie is one of the more respected owners in the league, and aside from Chip Kelly, who was fired for reasons beyond his coaching, he's shown patience and stability with his head coaches, having given Ray Rhodes a chance to rectify a bad season in 1998, and Andy Reid multiple chances to rectify down years in 2006, 2008 and 2012. Kelly is the exception to the rule that Lurie isn't quick to pull the trigger after one bad year by a head coach. The same can't be said for the Dolphins, whose owner tried to hire Jim Harbaugh while he still had a coach under contract, or, should the jobs become available, the Browns or Colts, whose owners have both gotten in serious legal troubles.
This is both a blessing and a curse for a coach as it could mean early fool's gold success, but the lack of a good let alone dominant team in the division means that a coach wouldn't be stuck under a glass ceiling trying to make the playoffs. Things can change in a hurry in the NFL, but an NFC East team hasn't won the division in consecutive years since the Eagles won the division in 2003 and 2004. The AFC is dominated by the Patriots, the Packers are on the verge of their fifth straight division title, and in six of the last seven years at least two AFC North teams have made the playoffs. From a competitive standpoint, this makes the Eagles more attractive than the Dolphins or, if it opens, the Browns.
Talented, flexible defense
Whereas the lack of certainty and talent on the offense is a reason for a coach to steer clear of the Eagles, the defense is a good selling point. When a new coach is hired usually improvement is needed everywhere, they inherit some good pieces but not always a good defense or offense. The Eagles defense isn't perfect, but the starting lineup is both good and versatile. Because they have run the 3-4 for three years, there would be no growing pains of transitioning to it that most teams have to endure. But if a coach wants to run a 4-3, the Eagles defense is equally suited for it and experienced in it, nearly every player started their career on a 4-3 team, and like every 3-4 team, the Eagles play a four man front, so comfortably transitioning back to 4-3 would take far less time than it did to transition to a 3-4. With so many snaps in today's NFL being out of 3+ WR sets, nickel is almost the new base anyway, but no matter what a coach prefers as the "base" defense, there are many experienced parts already in place. And making the situation even more attractive, most of the defense is in or entering their primes. The front office and coach can dedicate the majority of off-season resources this year on improving the offense.
Yes, you, the city of Philadelphia, are an attractive reason for a head coach to take the Eagles job. The Eagles are a big market team that has no issues paying a coach top dollar, and has been for years an attractive destination for free agents. Some teams have difficulty signing free agents and had to pay premium prices for them, but the Eagles aren't one of them. They have overpaid their fair share of players, but by and large they have always been able to sign good players at reasonable contracts. And throughout the years players stay in the area after they are playing, from Ron Jaworski creating a television career while staying in the area to Jon Runyan being a Congressman and guys like Ike Reese and Hollis Thomas, players come back to the Philadelphia area after retirement because they genuinely like the area. This isn't unique to the Eagles by any means, but it's another selling point for a free agent that doesn't include a dollar sign. Little things like that can make a difference to a coach.
The Eagles probably won't be the most attractive open job. If Chuck Pagano is fired, the lure of coaching Andrew Luck in a weak division is a strong one, and Marcus Mariota in Tennessee should be as well. But it's also not going to be the least attractive either. There's more pieces in place than other teams with openings have, there's better ownership than any of the other choices, it's in a good market and building a winner won't be as challenging as it could be elsewhere. All it takes is one reason for a coach to strongly desire any job, and the Eagles offer a few good ones.