Like everybody else, I'm trying to think about what the Eagles might do when this disappointing season ends and Andy Reid's 14-year coaching tenure presumably ends.
I'll be really surprised if the choice is some guy who won a Super Bowl elsewhere -- Jon Gruden, Brian Billick, even Bill Cowher, who tends to be more highly regarded than Gruden or Billick in NFL circles. A couple of reasons there: 1. Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman think of themselves as bold, innovative people; they are unlikely to settle for trying to recreate what someone did somewhere else, and more important, 2. IT NEVER WORKS. How many coaches have won a Super Bowl somewhere, then gone somewhere else and won another? The answer is nobody, never, ever. Not Vince Lombardi, not Bill Parcells, not Mike Holmgren, who came closest, not Mike Shanahan.
This last point is something too few people in the fan base seem to understand. The objective here is not to hire somebody who will give us entertaining press conferences, or somebody who once beat the Eagles in an important game.
One caveat: I'd make an exception for Sean Payton, who would be available under unique circumstances that might make him different from the other retreads. But I really don't think Payton is leaving New Orleans, and if he does, he has strong ties to Dallas.
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I'm pretty sure Lurie and Roseman will go for a "bright young man" type. Of course, that has its risks, too. A lot of those guys look less bright, once they're in charge. See Steve Spagnuolo, Todd Haley, Ron Rivera, Tony Sparano, etc.
The guy that everybody is talking about, in regard to every potential NFL coaching vacancy, is Oregon coach Chip Kelly, who certainly is a successful innovator. I am leery. Kelly has never spent a minute in the NFL, as a player or coach. "Pure" college coaches have been really, really unsuccessful in the NFL lately -- Steve Spurrier, Nick Saban, Bobby Petrino. Yes, Jim Harbaugh and Greg Schiano have been good hires, but both had strong NFL backgrounds, which they took to college coaching, before returning to the NFL.
Besides, Kelly is the guy who, when a disgruntled Ducks fan wrote him demanding a refund for traveling to a loss at Boise State, sent the guy a check for $439. The Eagles have a much larger, more critical fanbase. I see looming bankruptcy for Chip if he comes here.
And it would be hard to keep up with uniforms that would change constantly.
More seriously, Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer is not a bright YOUNG man -- he's my age, 56 -- but Zimmer, the longtime Cowboys d-coordinator, sure knows defense.
Dirk Koetter, the Atlanta offensive coordinator, is going to be a hot name if the Falcons' success holds up into the playoffs. He's 53, has been a college head coach, unlike Zimmer, who is a career assistant.
It also might be relevant that Roseman's agent is Bob LaMonte, Reid's agent, and the guy who sometimes seems to orchestrate NFL coaching moves. Jon Gruden is a LaMonte client, as is his brother Jay, the Bengals' offensive coordinator.
But really, the hottest guys will be the top assistants on the teams that get to the Super Bowl. That game will be played more than a month after the Eagles' season concludes. (I'm assuming, I think safely, there will be no Andy-job-saving run into the playoffs).
Will the Eagles have hired a coach by then? As somebody who's going to have to cover this, I think that would be nice, but it's unlikely. I would anticipate a meticulous search, with Lurie and Roseman seeking advice from people they know across the league, weighing variables, holding multiple interviews. One goal here is to go another 14 years without having to do this. There is no need to rush.