Each Wednesday, the SB Nation NFL team sites explore a special theme. This week's theme is: “Who is the assistant coach on your team most likely to become a future head coach?”
As mentioned yesterday, the Philadelphia Eagles have several assistants who could go on to become head coaches as soon as this offseason. Losing good assistants is the “downside” to having success in the NFL.
The Eagles’ defensive coordinator was asked about the possibility of becoming a head coach again during his press conference on Tuesday. His response:
I'll pass on that question. We have enough to get ready for the Rams, and I think it does nobody any good to mention that. There is really no right way to answer that. If you answer it and say, ‘Yes,’ then your eyes are on the wrong thing. You answer it and say, ‘No,’ then people -- it's just not the right time or place to talk about that stuff. We have our hands full with the No. 1 scoring offense in the NFL this week.
Allow me to replace Schwartz’s non-answer with the likely truth: Yes, he does want to be a head coach again.
There are few coaches who wouldn’t want to have one of the 32 most coveted jobs in a given year. My understanding is that Schwartz, who has an alpha personality, would not pass on a head coaching opportunity.
We all know that Schwartz’s first stint as a head coach didn’t go so great. He finished 29-51 in 80 games with the Lions before getting fired. There’s thought that Schwartz might be one of the many coaches in the NFL who are better suited as coordinators.
Some team out there might be willing to take another chance on Schwartz, however. The success of the Eagles’ defense will surely draw attention. Philadelphia ranks third overall in defensive DVOA, third in opponent yards per play, and sixth in opponent points per game.
I think some teams out there might want to see more from Schwartz before hiring him to lead their team. I don’t know that he’s the likeliest candidate to move on this offseason.
The Eagles’ offensive coordinator is in a weird spot. From the outside looking in, no one is very sure exactly what he does. Head coach Doug Pederson handles the play-calling. Quarterback coach John DeFilippo works with Carson Wentz. So what exactly does Reich do?
While we might not know the specifics, we do know he’s contributed to an offense that leads the NFL in scoring.
Reich has previous experience as a play-caller (with the Chargers) and he’s received some head coaching buzz in the past. The Buffalo Bills reportedly interviewed him for their vacancy last offseason.
I don’t know that Reich would be considered the hottest name out there, but he could draw some attention.
DeFilippo, aka Flip, might be the most likely future head coach candidate on the Eagles’ coaching staff.
Flip’s work with Wentz has drawn a lot of attention. Wentz is already an MVP candidate in just his second year.
The New York Jets had interesting in hiring Flip as their offensive coordinator following the 2016 season. But Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie ultimately blocked the move, which is the team’s right.
The Eagles can’t block Flip from interviewing as a head coach, however. And given the success of potential Coach of the Year candidate Sean McVay, who is only 31 years old, teams might be less hesistant about hiring a younger head coach such as the 39-year-old DeFilippo.
If a team was smart, they’d try to hire Joe Douglas as general manager and then Flip as their head coach. Those two people have made significant contributions to Philadelphia’s success in 2017.
Fipp’s more of a long-shot candidate, in my view. There’s no question he’s done great work with the Eagles’ special teams unit. But NFL teams haven’t been rushing out to hire special teams coordinators lately. And even if that did begin to happen, you’d think Cheifs assistant Dave Toub would be the first guy to get that opportunity. Known as one of the league’s best ST coordinator, Toub has received a number of head coaching interviews over the years. I think Fipp’s time could come eventually, but not any time too soon.
The Eagles could stand to lose a number of assistants this offseason. I think Flip could be the most likely to get a job elsewhere. If Reich gets hired somewhere, however, maybe Flip would be content with being promoted to offensive coordinator in Philly.
If Schwartz leaves, I’d keep an eye on what happens with interim Giants head coach Steve Spagnuolo. The Eagles reportedly wanted to hire Spags shortly after Pederson was hired in Philly last year.
The upcoming change expected this offseason is all the more reason for the Eagles to make the most of what they have going right at now. At 10-2, the Eagles still have a chance to make a run deep into the post-season.