Friday, April 18, 2014
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What Jobs Will Be Better than Birds'?

It's way too early to obsess over an Eagles coaching search that isn't even going to start for a couple of months yet, but hey, what else do we have to think about?

What Jobs Will Be Better than Birds'?

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
Eagles general manager Howie Roseman. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

It's way too early to obsess over an Eagles coaching search that isn't even going to start for a couple of months yet, but hey, what else do we have to think about?

I'd love to know who's going to be running the search. I guess I envision a Jeffrey Lurie-Howie Roseman tag team, which was the way the interviews went in 1999, the last time the Eagles did this, with Joe Banner in Howie's role. The Eagles hired Tom Donohoe as an advisor last year; not sure whether he will come into play in this process or not. They also maintain ties with other former NFL execs who have worked for them in the past, including Phil Savage and Andrew Brandt.

There's an interesting and I think instructive anecdote about that 1999 search in my book "Philadelphia Eagles: The Complete Illustrated History" which by the way would make a fine Christmas present for any Eagles fan. I think a main selling point right now is that it contains all the good stuff from the glory years, and absolutely nothing from the past two seasons. But I digress.

The anecdote is about how the leading candidate then was Jim Haslett, who had deep roots with then-GM Tom Modrak from Pittsburgh. At the time, Lurie and Banner had only been around 5 years, and they hadn't experienced much success. The only coach they'd hired was Ray Rhodes, and you know how that turned out.

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The way I heard it, Haslett came in for an interview and basically insulted Lurie and Banner. He wanted to make it clear that if he deigned to accept their coaching job, they were both going to have to butt out, entirely. He wasn't going to have any clueless, interfering nerd-boys telling him and Modrak what to do.

My understanding is that Lurie and Banner wished Haslett well and immediately turned their search elsewhere. They also thought for a minute about where in the world Haslett might have acquired such a view of them. I'm pretty sure the skids were greased for Modrak's departure right then.

This is not 1999. Back then, the Eagles' job was not considered attractive, even though the Birds had the second overall pick in that year's draft, mainly because the team was playing and practicing in dilapidated Veterans Stadium, a tough sell to free agents and not a great setup for financial success. In 2012, the Eagles have first-class facilities, a stable, passionate fan base, and a history of recent success.

Lurie, whatever fans think of him, is not a Jerry Jones-level meddler or a guy who might be looking to move the franchise to Los Angeles because he can't sell tickets. He's a solid owner who has shown he's willing to spend money on coaches and players; when Andy Reid needed him to open up the checkbook to entice Jim Washburn and Howard Mudd here, Lurie did that. (Yes, I'm aware those hirings haven't turned out well. The point is, when the head coach has wanted to spend money, Lurie has spent it.)

It's true that if Nick Foles isn't any better than he looked in Washington Sunday, the Eagles are going  to have to draft a franchise quarterback, and that's a daunting task. It's also true that teams with head coaching openings tend not to have franchise quarterbacks sitting around. Funny how that works. It's almost like there might be some sort of connection there.

The Eagles have some talent, not as much as many of us thought they had in September, obviously, but more than the usual lousy team can boast of having. LeSean McCoy, DeSean Jackson, Fletcher Cox, DeMeco Ryans. These are core players. You can add Jason Peters if he comes back all the way from the Achilles' and maybe Jason Kelce, if he can adapt to a different blocking scheme. There are other guys who aren't bad and might blossom with better talent around them -- Brandon Graham, Bryce Brown, Jeremy Maclin, Cedric Thornton, Mychal Kendricks. I'm not sure what to make of Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie right now, but I know he has talent,

Who's going to be hiring a coach this year? Cleveland, Jacksonville, Carolina and Kansas City, the teams down at the bottom with the Eagles right now, are always hiring coaches. Anybody who thinks any of those jobs is a better situation than this is crazy. Yeah, Carolina has Cam Newton. Big whoop. Seen him play this year? Tuned into any of his press conferences? Good luck building around that guy. Maybe in 5 years, when he grows up.

San Diego might fire Norv Turner. San Diego has a QB, more or less, but doesn't have a stadium and is considered one of the league's weaker franchises, overall. The Cowboys are the Cowboys. Any coach looking into that mess has to know what he is getting into, what the last decade and a half has been like in Jerryworld.

I think the Eagles' problem won't be attracting candidates, it will be deciding whether a candidate is the next Jim Harbaugh or the next Bobby Petrino. And deciding how much say over personnel that person might get, whether Roseman has done a good enough job to continue to carry a lot of weight in his role.

I'm pretty sure we'll have all the answers to these questions in, oh, two or three more excruciating months.

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Les Bowen Daily News Staff Writer
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