Have the Browns gotten the jump on the Eagles?
The Eagles confirmed that they will interview Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy on Sunday, but there are two meetings that could prevent the team from getting to Denver.
The Eagles are scheduled to interview Chip Kelly of Oregon, an NFL source said Wednesday, presumably sometime this weekend. And while an interview with Bill O’Brien has yet to be reported, the Eagles’ interest in the Penn State coach is no secret.
O’Brien has apparently already started fielding interviews. He met with the Browns sometime this week, according to the Cleveland Plain-Dealer.
With Kelly and O’Brien high on their lists, the Eagles and Browns could be headed for a showdown that would pit Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie and general manager Howie Roseman against former colleague and current Cleveland CEO Joe Banner.
The Browns are reportedly set to meet with Kelly on Friday, the day after Oregon faced Kansas State in the Fiesta Bowl, as are the Bills.
Lurie, Roseman and team president Don Smolenski – the Eagles’ three-man search party -- left Atlanta on Thursday, after interviewing Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and special teams coach Keith Armstrong, for parts unknown.
(Neither Nolan nor Armstrong is considered to be among the Eagles’ top choices.)
The Eagles were not in Glendale, Ariz. for the Fiesta Bowl, despite a report that said they were, a team spokesman said. Banner was, according to several reports.
He has already interviewed Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton, recently-fired Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt and Syracuse coach Doug Marrone, according to various reports.
But Kelly and O’Brien are the top targets for the Eagles and Browns, league sources have said. Both teams could be poised to pounce immediately. Each one has satisfied with NFL’s Rooney Rule by interviewing minority candidates – Armstrong for the Eagles and Horton for the Browns.
Kelly, 49, and O’Brien, 43, are expected to make their decisions sooner rather than later because of college recruiting. O’Brien has a buyout clause in his contract that is reportedly worth anywhere from $9-$18 million that could dissuade potential suitors.
Lurie is a billionaire, of course, and he’ll be $5 million richer if/when Andy Reid is hired by the Chiefs. There’s an offset clause in Reid’s contract with the Eagles that would only require the team to pay the remaining difference if he signed with another team.
O’Brien has not commented on reports linking him to the Eagles and Browns, among other teams. In November, he said that he was staying in State College. Still, this may be the best opportunity he has to get a top NFL job with NCAA sanctions against Penn State increasingly kicking in.
McCoy is expected to interview with the Cardinals and Bills on Saturday before meeting with the Eagles and Bears on Sunday. Despite having a jump start on most other NFL assistants that are in the playoffs because of Denver’s bye, McCoy said he wasn’t penciling himself in for a promotion.
“Until you get that job, don’t listen to anybody,” McCoy told reporters at the Broncos facility. “Seriously. Everyone had me penciled in going to Miami last year and it was a done deal, ‘Don’t get on a flight, it’s your job,’ and this and that.”
McCoy, 40, interviewed with the Dolphins a year ago, but Joe Philbin got the job. As much as he said he wants to become a head coach, McCoy said he wasn’t going to accept just any offer.
“If you’re going into a new situations, you’ve got to make sure that it’s the right one,” he said. “It’s not about just taking any job. That’s not my goal.”
McCoy has had success with a variety of quarterbacks. Jake Delhomme became a Pro Bowl quarterback during McCoy’s time as the quarterbacks coach in Carolina. When he moved on to Denver he had Kyle Orton playing above his capabilities. The same held true last season when as offensive coordinator he devised an offense that catered to the mobile Tim Tebow.
Peyton Manning deserves the lion’s share of credit for the Broncos success this season, but he said on Wednesday that McCoy deserved a chance to be a head coach.
“I think he’s paid his dues,” Manning told reporters. “Mike’s a good leader.”