Bleeding Green Nation is profiling all the candidates and potential candidates for the Eagles head coaching position in 2016.
Pat Shurmur is the Eagles interim head coach, after spending the previous three years as Chip Kelly's offensive coordinator before replacing him for the final game of the 2015 season. Prior to joining Kelly's staff, he was the head coach of the Cleveland Browns for two years, compiling a 9-23 record, the offensive coordinator for the St. Louis Rams, and a long time member of Andy Reid's coaching staff in Philadelphia. His uncle Fritz Shurmur was Mike Holmgren's defensive coordinator in the Packers Super Bowl years, and he literally wrote the book on coaching team defense.
1988-1989 Michigan State (graduate assistant)
1990-1997 Michigan State (tight ends/offensive line/special teams)
1998 Stanford (offensive line)
1999-2001 Philadelphia Eagles (tight ends/offensive line)
2001-2008 Philadelphia Eagles (quarterbacks)
2009-2010 St. Louis Rams (offensive coordinator)
2011-2012 Cleveland Browns (head coach)
2013-present Philadelphia Eagles (offensive coordinator/interim head coach)
Why he could work
If Jeffrey Lurie wants to relive the glory days of the Andy Reid era, Pat Shurmur has some strong selling points. As a part of Reid's staff for a decade, Shurmur was on hand for the best seasons of the Andy Reid era. And having been on Chip Kelly's staff, he has first-hand experience of what went wrong, if he can demonstrate that he knows what to and how to bridge the gap, he could be an attractive option for the Eagles. Hiring from within would give the Eagles, who essentially changed out their entire offense last season, continuity could be beneficial for many players.
One of who is Sam Bradford. An impending free agent, Bradford and Shurmur had previously worked together in St. Louis, when Shurmur was Steve Spagnuolo's offensive coordinator and Bradford won Rookie of the Year. By all accounts Bradford likes and respects Shurmur, making him coach would be a reason Bradford would sign an extension (assuming they don't franchise tag him). Jeffrey Lurie has said he does not view 2016 as a rebuilding year, so promoting from within, and with a coach who has worked with the quarterback before, may have a certain appeal to him.
One of the things that Jeffrey Lurie has said he is looking for in a coach is someone who "understands the passion of our fans and what it's like to coach the Philadelphia Eagles. It's a unique and incredibly passionate fan base that just wants to win, and you've got to incorporate that in your life and in your heart. You've got to be willing to do that." With 13 years of experience coaching in Philly and being a part of the highs of a Super Bowl run and the lows of 2014, Shurmur has run the gamut of expectations and experiences and knows the fan base better than any other candidate.
Why he might not be the guy
Shurmur's career as an offensive coordinator and head coach is thoroughly underwhelming. Sam Bradford won Rookie of the Year in part because he set some rookie records as the Rams went from 1-15 to 7-9. But that record-setting rookie season was a bit of a mirage:
If you wanted the perfect storm of a formula that would spit out an overrated rookie quarterback, you would want to have a quarterback who:
-Finished near the top of the league in attempts, overinflating his yards and touchdown metrics. Yards and touchdowns aren't good ways to grade quarterbacks, but that doesn't stop people from doing just that;
-Played for a team with just a couple of wins in the prior year, so the quarterback would get credit for any regression to the mean in the form of a significant increase in wins;
-Played a really weak schedule that boosted the quarterback's individual stats and team wins; and
-Played for a team whose defense got a lot better without adding any big names, so people can just think "what's the difference between them this year and last year? That rookie QB and not much else."
Some rookie quarterbacks will have some of those factors working in their favor, but Bradford has all four.
And if you are looking for a coach to improve an offense that had become predictable and ineffective, Shurmur's time in Cleveland offers no relief:
Writing about Cleveland's offense leads me to a game I play every week at NFL Films. I sit in my office in Mt Laurel, N.J., put the Browns' attack on my screen and call a friend who was a coach in the league, but is now in between successes. I tell my friend the personnel group, the formation, where the ball is located on the field and what hash mark and describe the motion -- if there is any -- and ask him to tell me the exact play that will be run. He is correct about 95 percent of the time. No lie. The Browns are so integrated into the West Coast system that their predictability is becoming legendary around the league.
Certainly he's learned some things in his time under Kelly, but with Kelly's offense regressing every year, and Shurmur being a part of that, though a deep profile on him failed to actually describe what he does, there's little indication that aside from slowing the tempo down that Shurmur can turn it around.
Pat Shurmur would be one of the most uninspiring hires imaginable for the Eagles. His track record outside of Andy Reid Eagles is poor, he doesn't check the box of "a strategic thinker" which is the top quality Lurie is looking for in a coach. His continuity, understanding of the Eagles and, if he has it, "emotional intelligence" may all appeal to Jeffrey Lurie, but his coaching acumen and prior track record are just as or more unappealing. Lurie has said he is not going to be risk averse in his next hire, which isn't the same as saying he will definitely take risks, but hiring Shurmur would be one of the most risk averse hires he could make. That doesn't guarantee low yields, but it all but assures them.