Marty Mornhinweg wants to be an NFL head coach again, but now may not be the time.
It appeared all but certain that the Eagles offensive coordinator would be left out of the discussion of possible head coaching candidates this off-season. A number of teams had openings -- some you would think might be interested in Mornhinweg -- but never once was his name mentioned in the usual chatter from the media gallery.
In talking with Mornhinweg recently I was under the impression that he was OK with that. There was the murmur of a drumbeat for the former Lions coach to get another crack at a top job last January, but it faded away when a report that Mornhinweg was to interview for the vacant Browns job proved false.
Last year should have been the year for Mornhinweg. Michael Vick's transformation, under the coach's tutelage, was one of theNFL stories of the year. The Eagles set franchise records in points and total yards. Mornhinweg was eight years removed from the debacle in Detroit that general manager Matt Millen co-authored.
But he didn't even get a sniff. And after this season's regressions -- the Eagles', the offense's, Vick's -- there was no way Mornhinweg was going to get a whiff of an opportunity. And, I think, he had accepted that and, perhaps, even welcomed it. He's loyal to Andy Reid and next season, obviously, is an important one for the Eagles head coach.
And then there is Mornhinweg's family situation. He has a daughter with another year of high school and a son with another year of grade school. His eldest son, Skyler, is moving on to college -- possibly to play quarterback for Penn State -- but he may prefer to wait a year before uprooting his family. (Which he may have to do if the Eagles miss the playoffs again next season.)
That being said, I think it would be hard for Mornhinweg to turn down a head coaching opportunity if one presented itself, especially the one in Indianapolis.
When Ryan Grigson was named the Colts' new general manager on Wednesday some were suddenly connecting the dots that would lead Mornhinweg to Indianapolis. Grigson, as some of you may not have known but probably do now, was the Eagles' director of player personnel. His dealings with Mornhinweg were limited, but they had an occasional working relationship. If Grigson were to look for a new man to lead the Colts, the thinking went, why not Mornhinweg?
He has head coaching experience -- albeit two forgettable years in Detroit. He's run an offense that consistently puts up franchise highs in yards and points. And, perhaps, most important, he has turned many young quarterbacks into successful pros. And with the Colts sure to expend the No. 1 overall pick in April's draft on Andrew Luck, Mornhinweg would be the perfect coach to spearhead the Stanford quarterback's development.
There is some merit to the speculation.
But there are obvious obstacles. For one, the Colts still have a head coach. His name is Jim Caldwell, and while he certainly is on the hot seat, he is only two years removed from a Super Bowl appearance. And it's not like working with quarterbacks is something alien to the coach. Caldwell was a quarterbacks coach in Indianapolis for seven seasons before he became head coach, for one season in Tampa Bay and way back when for seven seasons with Penn State.
He can't take credit for Peyton Manning's development, of course, and Penn State has a dubious history with quarterbacks, but Caldwell surely aided Manning in some way, and he was with the Nittany Lions when a young Kerry Collins was on the roster. Mornhinweg may have a greater track record in nurturing quarterbacks (Brett Favre, Jeff Garcia, Michael Vick), but it's not like Caldwell is some schlep in that department either.
There is the belief that Grigson may want to bring in his own guy. I'm a true believer in the axiom that a head coach and GM have the get along and have the same philosophy for a team to be successful. We've seen the casualties of differing personalties in Kansas City and other NFL outposts. But let's say Mornhinweg is Grigson's guy -- and that's quite a leap -- is the new Colts GM really going to be the one to make a coaching change?
Probably not. Caldwell's future ultimately lies with Jim Irsay, one of the more hands-on owners in the NFL, and if he goes a replacement will likely be picked by Irsay. Maybe Mornhinweg could end up being Irsay's choice, but it would seem to be a long shot.
I know some Eagles fans that would welcome his departure. Since the end of the season I've received many e-mails, tweets and messages from fans looking for various members from the Eagles organization to go. In order, the list probably goes like: 1. Reid, 2. Juan Castillo, 3. Howie Roseman, 4. Mornhinweg.
The Eagles offense did not have a great season. They set another team mark for yards and first down, but they were near last in turnovers and below average inside the red zone. Mornhinweg's play-calling was also not at its best. Abandoning the run with a 20-point, second-half lead against the 49ers immediately comes to mind.
And then there was Vick's step back. A lot of the blame falls on the quarterback's shoulders, but Reid and Mornhinweg share some of that responsibility.
Still, basking in Mornhinweg's departure should he leave would be a case of not knowing what you had until it was gone. In his six seasons as the Eagles offensive coordinator, the Eagles offense has finished second, sixth, ninth, eleventh, second and third in total yards and sixth, 17th, sixth, fifth, third and eighth in points.
If Mornhinweg were to go, the currently unemployed Brad Childress could return to the Eagles as offensive coordinator.
Or maybe Reid solves his defensive coordinator problem by placing Castillo in charge of the offense.
That was a joke.