Having fired the coach who won the Eagles their only Super Bowl, the Eagles are now in search of a new one. Whoever he is, he will almost certainly fail compared to his predecessor, because it’s really hard to win a Super Bowl. And he will probably suck, because most people hired to be a head coach are not cut out to be a head coach. From 2016 to 2018, 20 head coaches were hired, and 13 were fired, including everyone from Pederson’s 2016 class, with three more in Matt Nagy, Kliff Kingsbury, and Vic Fangio probably hanging by a thread. Two of the eight coaches hired in 2019 have already been fired. Adam Gase has been hired and fired twice in five years. It’s a brutal profession.
Whoever the Eagles hire will probably be fired in three or four years. Let’s review every coach connected to the Eagles or that people would like to see connected to the team and examine why they’re destined to fail.
Dennis Allen, Saints defensive coordinator
The cover letter: The Saints have some good defensive players he happened to coach.
Why the Eagles are interested: Get in on the run on Saints assistants before they’re gone?
Why he sucks: As head coach of the Raiders from 2012 to 2014, he went 8-28. Presumably he would bring with him an offensive coordinator from the Saints, but if you’re going that route why not just hire long time Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael?
Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs offensive coordinator
The cover letter: Hard ass coach who occasionally calls plays for Patrick Mahomes to throw the ball to Tyreek Hill or Travis Kelce. Also a former Eagle who played under Andy Reid and coached under him in Kansas City.
Why the Eagles are or should be interested: Everyone else is, even the Houston Texans, and the Eagles can’t get over their break up with Andy Reid. You’ll see this material again.
Why he sucks: Remember Chiefs head coach Todd Haley? He shot up the coaching ranks by being the guy who yelled at Kurt Warner when Warner had Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin to throw to. Eric Bieniemy reminds me of him.
But that’s not the biggest issue with Bieniemy. Remember when Matt Patricia got hired as the Lions head coach, then it came out that there was a sexual assault allegation and the team just kind of hand waved it away?
Bieniemy has even worse issues from his past.
In college he had a series of incidents that can be charitably described as being a stupid young man. He was arrested for harassing a parking lot attendant, and a member of his party was arrested for hitting a witness, and received an on-campus ban for it. He was also suspended for interfering with firefighters putting out a fire, though apparently he was trying to stop them from needlessly damaging a wall. He had a DUI in his first year as a coach in college. He also got arrested for starting a fight after being called a racial slur, but the person with the character flaw in this incident isn’t Bieniemy. In Bieniemy’s defense, these were a long time ago, people mature and change. None of these are necessarily disqualifying for a head coach.
But there’s no getting around his time as a coach and recruiter at the University of Colorado, where he is a legend as a player, and the digusting scandals that happened there. In the early to mid 2000s, while Bieniemy was the RB coach, the program had an abhorrent scandal where players and recruits were accused of multiple rapes. In the fallout from that and other scandals, Colorado head coach Gary Barnett was fired and has never worked in football again, the same can not be said for his assistants. The Lions got a lot of deserved criticism for whitewashing Matt Patricia’s past, if Bieniemy is hired as a head coach his new team will need to be out front about what happened. They probably won’t.
Todd Bowles, Buccaneers defensive coordinator
The cover letter: The Jets second best coach since 2015.
Why the Eagles are or should be interested: Bowles has a reputation as a very good defensive coordinator, and the goods to back it up. In his second season as the Cardinals defensive coordinator in 20154, the team was 10th in DVOA, and in Tampa Bay his units have been 5th and 6th. You’ll get no argument that this man knows how to coach a defense.
Why he sucks: Coaching a defense and coaching a team are not the same. Bowles’ defenses while head coach of the Jets were like the rest of his team: strong the first year, bad after that. They ranked 6th, 23rd, 22nd, and 22nd again. Those were thought the best units on the team, the offense ranked 14th, 31st, 25th, and 29th. Bowles went through three offensive coordinators in four years: Chan Gailey, who spent the year after he was fired out of football; John Morton, who spent the year after he was fired out of football; and Jeremy Bates, who is out of football. Okay, it seems that he would be better off if someone picked his staff.
Joe Brady, Panthers offensive coordinator
The cover letter: 31 year old who has had a meteoric rise from no-name assistant to offensive mastermind.
Why the Eagles are or should be interested: There is a school of thought that in today’s NFL you should look to make your head coach a strong offensive mind and then figure the rest out. There’s a lot of logic behind it. Teams are always hiring offensive coaches, so if your top offensive coach isn’t also the head coach, you might lose him and then not be able to find a proper replacement, so just hire the offensive guy. It’s one reason why teams are hiring young offensive coaches in Kyle Shanahan, Sean McVay, Zac Taylor, Matt LaFleur, Kevin Stefanski, and Kliff Kingsbury. You’ll see this material again too.
Why he sucks: Always beware the “QB guru” or the “hot coordinator” with quick rise. Almost always they were just the right guy in the right place at the right time.
Joe Brady made his name in 2019 at LSU, where he had Joe Burrow throwing to Justin Jefferson and Ja’Marr Chase, with Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the backfield and three 2020 draft picks on offensive line. LSU’s team was so stacked with talent that their long snapper got drafted. 14 players from that team were drafted, and more are coming this spring. It’s easy to look good as a coach when you have so much talent.
The 2020 Panthers were expected to be horrible, and they weren’t, which bodes well for Brady, but a closer examination gives reason for pause. Robby Anderson’s career year was a byproduct of volume: he was 10th in targets but 79th in yard per catch. Mike Davis averaged 3.9 yards per carry in place of Christian McCaffrey. Teddy Bridgewater was a genuine feel good story, but he threw just 15 TDs.
Brian Daboll, Bills offensive coordinator
The cover letter: Josh Allen went from “this guy can’t play QB” to MVP candidate in three years, and Brian Daboll was there for it.
Why the Eagles are or should be interested: If your #1 priority is fixing a broken Carson Wentz, you’d talk to the guy who coached Josh Allen.
Why he sucks: Again, beware the hot coordinator. A year ago Daboll only got one interview, with Cleveland, where he had previously worked. This is a guy that nobody wanted, and now everyone wants because of one year? Josh Allen has gotten better every season, but the Bills have also done a great job of improving the talent around him. How much of Allen’s improvement is just the players around him? How much of Allen’s improvement is natural improvement that comes with experience? Is it even sustainable? And if it is, how much is due to Brian Daboll? He had no history of QB development before this year. In his career as a QB coach for the Jets, offensive coordinator for the Browns, Dolphins, and Chiefs he has never developed a QB. In his one year at Alabama he coached Jalen Hurts, it was the season where Hurts got benched in the title game.
This is the way it is for “QB gurus” or “hot coordinators”: they have one or two good seasons with a single QB who has had success, and teams think he’s some kind of whisperer, when the reality is at best they were a helping hand rather than a conductor, at worst they were along for the ride.
Ryan Day, Ohio State head coach
The cover letter: Appears to be a really good college football recruiter.
Why the Eagles are or should be interested: Since taking over full time for Urban Meyer, Day is 20-2, with his only losses coming in the college football playoffs. In his short tenure, Day has the best winning percentage in school history. If you’re going to look at college coaches, look at successful ones, not mediocre ones like Doug Marrone or Kliff Kingsbury.
Why he sucks: A Chip Kelly protege, there isn’t a whole lot of evidence that Ryan Day can actually coach. His two years as an NFL QB coach under Kelly were abysmal, and so far in his college career the best QB he’s developed is Dwayne Haskins, with Justin Fields TBD. It makes little sense why the Eagles would be interested in a Chip Kelly understudy, and there’s nothing to suggest he can fix Carson Wentz.
John Fassel, Cowboys special teams coordinator
The cover letter: Jim Fassel’s kid
Why the Eagles are or should be interested: Special teams coaches are overlooked, and Fassel has a reputation as one of the best special teams coaches.
Why he sucks: Never hire a Cowboy. Seriously though, are we sure he’s a good special teams coach? His resume is as unimpressive as it is impressive. Four of his seven top ten finishes in special teams DVOA came under Jeff Fisher, who honestly believes that special teams is a third of the game, and a fifth came in the Rams first season after Fisher. We all thought that Dave Fipp was a hell of a special teams coach under Chip Kelly, but the reason for Fipp’s success was that his head coach put a strong emphasis on special teams, and overly so. Fisher was the same way.
Mike Kafka, Chiefs quarterbacks coach
The cover letter: Former Eagles backup who coaches for Andy Reid in Kansas City. Sounds familiar.
Why the Eagles are or should be interested: Again, the Eagles can not get over their break up with Andy Reid. But Reid does have a very strong coaching tree, teams should always be looking there.
Why he sucks: Does anyone even know if Mike Kafka can coach? Here is his entire coaching history: One year as a graduate assistant at Northwestern, his alma mater. One year as an offensive quality control coach for Reid, the coach who drafted him. Three years as QB coach for Reid, with the added title of “passing game coordinator” in 2020, all of which were with Patrick Mahomes at QB. He’s Doug Pederson lite: even worse as a player, even less experience as a coach. Kafka has only coached in the NFL in Kansas City under Reid, and with Patrick Mahomes. He’s the third string coach for an elite QB, though that is what Andy Reid was when he was hired by the Eagles. This team really can’t quit him, can they.
Beyond the thin resume, hiring Kafka would be both some impressive mental gymnastics and a pitiful indirect admission that the coach doesn’t get to pull his own strings. Pederson was fired in large part because he wanted internal solutions to fill coaching vacancies, Jeffrey Lurie did not. On its own that is fine. But to then turn around and hire another Andy Reid assistant is to do as I say, not as I do. It’s not okay for the coach to go to the well to hire coaches, but it is for the owner? Ridiculous.
Jerod Mayo, Patriots inside linebackers coach/de facto defensive coordinator
The cover letter: 2008 Defensive Rookie of the Year.
Why the Eagles are or should be interested: Your guess is as good as mine, but they are going to interview him.
Why he sucks: I could just put “he is a Patriots assistant” and that would be enough, but on top of that he’s only been coaching for two years.
Josh McDaniels, Patriots offensive coordinator
The cover letter: The ultimate Patriots assistant
Why the Eagles are or should be interested: There is absolutely no reason why any team should interview McDaniels. The Eagles are.
Why he sucks: He left the Colts at the altar. He should be radioactive after that.
Even without that, we already know he’s a bad head coach. In less than two seasons in Denver he alienated just about everyone. His first few months in Denver were massive red flags. He tried to trade Jay Cutler for Matt Cassel in a three team deal, which was bad enough. He botched it and wound up with Kyle Orton. The first free agency signing of the McDaniels regime was the Patriots long snapper, displacing a fan favorite ala Jon Dorenbos for no good reason. That sounds like something I made up, but I did not. In 2010 he and the Broncos were fined for filming another team’s practice.
There is no reason to even consider hiring this idiot.
Kellen Moore, Cowboys offensive coordinator
The cover letter: Jason Garrett 2.0.
Why the Eagles are or should be interested: The Cowboys would hate to see him go, so that’s a bonus.
Why he sucks: Of the coaches the Eagles have or will interview, there’s no better example of a coach being carried by his players than Kellen Moore. In his first year as an offensive coordinator in 2019, which was his second year in coaching, the Cowboys offense was 1st in yards, 2nd in DVOA, 3rd in rush DVOA, 5th in pass DVOA, and 6th in points. With Prescott missing 11 games, they were 17th in yards, 24th in DVOA, 20th in rush DVOA, 24th in pass DVOA and 17th in points. This guy is supposed to fix Carson Wentz?
Lincoln Riley, University of Oklahoma head coach
The cover letter: Top college offensive mind who lost three straight bowl games with two #1 overall draft picks at QB.
Why the Eagles are or should be interested: He is friends with Howie Roseman. However Riley reportedly is not interested in leaving Oklahoma.
Why he sucks: If you wanted to drop a torch into the dumpster fire that is the Eagles QB situation, you would hire Jalen Hurts’ college coach.
Also, It’s a good thing Riley doesn’t want to join his friend Howie Roseman because:
Riley even had some influence in the Eagles’ decision to take TCU wide receiver Jalen Reagor in the first round. Riley had recruited Reagor when he was a high school star at Waxahachie (Texas) High School. His team also played against him for three years in the Big 12. He spoke glowingly of him to Eagles scouts when they talked to him about [Jalen] Hurts. He indicated that Reagor would’ve been a 100-catch-a-year receiver in Oklahoma’s offense.
Robert Saleh, 49ers defensive coordinator
The cover letter: Coaches a really good defense that starts five 1st round picks and a Hall of Famer.
Why the Eagles are or should be interested: As one of the higher profile assistant coaches in the league, everyone else is interviewing him, got to get in on the action.
Why he sucks: Remember earlier how I said there’s a school of thought that you should just hire a top offensive mind because if you go with a defensive guy, you’ll lose the offensive guy? That’s the risk with Saleh.
The path to success with the Eagles is pretty straightforward: Saleh hires an offensive coordinator connected to Kyle Shanahan (assuming the Eagles let him pick his staff), and the OC helps turn Carson Wentz around… and then leaves in a year or two, destined to fail as a hot coordinator. Now you’re back to square one, needing an offensive coordinator to make things work. Dan Quinn was 19-13 with a Super Bowl appearance with Shanahan, 24-29 without him. And short of winning a Super Bowl, that’s the best case scenario, because as a defensive coach Saleh isn’t going to be the guy to turn Wentz around.
Nick Sirianni, Colts offensive coordinator
The cover letter: Frank Reich’s right hand man, which makes him Andy Reid’s right hand mans’ right hand man’s right hand man.
Why the Eagles are or should be interested: Apparently they’re bored waiting to finalize Josh McDaniels (or someone else, hmm)?
Why he sucks: To fix Carson Wentz and the offense they’ll hire... a guy who has never called plays most of his QB coaching has been with Philip Rivers in his 30s. And he got reassigned from being Chargers QB coach when Reich was fired. Sure, whatever.
This is another one that makes no sense with the optics of firing Pederson. It wasn’t okay for Pederson to go with familiar faces, but it’s okay to hire a guy who is Frank Reich’s offensive coordinator and was Reich’s QB coach when he was OC in San Diego and his understudy when he was QB coach?
Arthur Smith, Titans offensive coordinator
The cover letter: In Smith’s offense Ryan Tannehill became an efficient QB when he wasn’t handing the ball off to Derrick Henry.
Why the Eagles are or should be interested: Ryan Tannehill started 2019 as a backup and ended it having led the league in passer rating and yards per attempt, and then in 2020 regressed to… 5th in both.
Why he sucks: Arthur Smith never coached a QB before he was made offensive coordinator in 2019. If a team is interested in Smith because he fixed Tannehill, they have to ask themselves why Marcus Mariota, who began 2019 as the Titans’ starter, faltered and was benched. Once again, coaches with QB “credentials” are almost always just the right guy in the right place at the right time. Tannehill has played really well in Smith’s offense on the Titans. Change one of those and there’s no guarantee the results are the same. Smith has no other history with QBs, so the case for him being a strong offensive mind comes entirely from less than two full seasons with a veteran QB who while never great prior to working with Smith, was never truly terrible either.
Brandon Staley, Rams defensive coordinator
The cover letter: Coached the league’s best scoring defense while having the league’s best defensive lineman and the league’s best cornerback.
Why the Eagles are or should be interested: The Rams are assembled in roughly the same way the Eagles are: they spend a lot of money in some areas, and virtually none in others. Especially on defense, where both spent about the same money and both went cheap at linebacker and defensive back. From an Xs and Os standpoint, he makes sense.
Why he sucks: Brandon Staley has the same concerns as Robert Saleh, but with less experience. In 2016 he was a DIII defensive coordinator, and has spent the previous three seasons as a linebacker coach. He’s the hot defensive coordinator (Saleh has been seen as a future head coach prior to this year), and those rarely work. Gus Bradley and Dan Quinn immediately come to mind, with Vance Joseph and Steve Wilks are similar in that they were DCs for one season before becoming failed head coaches, though Mike Vrabel had just one season as a DC, but we’ll see how he fares if and when Arthur Smith leaves.
Duce Staley, Eagles running backs coach
The cover letter: Duuuuuuuce
Why the Eagles are or should be interested: Duuuuuuuuce
Why he sucks: I can not say anything negative about Duce Staley. Can not do it. Will not do it. Duce is the god damn man. Running through a brick wall is extremely bad for your health. I would do it if Duce asked me to.
But I can say things that are negative about the reasons why Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman would hire him to be the head coach.
Correctly or not, if the Eagles hire Duce Staley it will be perceived that it is because no one else wanted the job. They’re interviewing roughly 40 candidates, this is the NFL equivalent of speed dating. Correctly or not, no other team is interested in hiring Staley. Correctly or not, the team gave him a courtesy head coach interview in 2016 and passed over him to replace Frank Reich as OC in 2018, Lurie didn’t seem to want him as OC for 2021 under Pederson. They liked him, but didn’t love him. He has had his title expanded over the years, and he was the interim head coach in training camp when Pederson had to sit due to COVID protocols. If hired the team will point to those, and the outpouring of support by players, most notably by Malcolm Jenkins. Staley will certainly have the leader of men box checked.
But like Mike Kafka, the optics of firing Pederson because of the staff changes he wanted to make and then hiring from within that same staff is bizarre. The team didn’t want an internal candidate to the offensive coordinator, but they do want one to be the head coach? Was making Duce the offensive coordinator for Pederson this year not on the table? If so, jumping him up to head coach is another in a growing list of dysfunctions.
Odds are that whoever the Eagles hire will be bad at his job. You can’t say you weren’t warned.