Lurie shouldn’t ignore top special-teams coaches in head coaching search
When Jeff Lurie begins his search for a new head coach for the Eagles, he will look in all of the same places as other NFL owners and general managers.
He will sift through the names of all living former NFL head coaches with at least one Super Bowl ring.
He will check out the list of the league's hot up-and-coming offensive and defensive coordinators.
And he will take a look at who's kicking butt in the college game.
One place he probably won't look, but should, is at some of the NFL's top special-teams coaches.
Despite the extraordinary success of ex-Eagles special-teams boss John Harbaugh in Baltimore the last five seasons, special-teams guys still aren't attracting a lot of interest when NFL head-coaching jobs open up.
"I think there's a culture, even with as good as John has done," that special teams coaches wouldn't make good head coaches, Eagles special-teams coordinator Bobby April said.
"But last year, I think there were three coaches interviewed for head-coaching jobs that were special teams coaches. That would have never happened without John's ability to pioneer it to the owners, to the general managers, that these guys can do it, too. So we're making progress."
Before the Ravens hired him, Harbaugh had trouble getting interviews even for bad college jobs. Syracuse wouldn't give him the time of day. Same with Boston College.
BC ended up hiring former Packers offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski, who now is coaching wide receivers at Ave Maria University, an NAIA school in Florida. Harbaugh had to give up his special-teams gig with the Eagles and coach the secondary his last year in Philly just to get taken seriously.
The truth is, special-teams coaches probably are more qualified to be head coaches than offensive and defensive coordinators. As Harbaugh has frequently pointed out, unlike offensive and defensive coordinators, special-teams coaches deal with every position group on the team.
"You're dealing with offensive linemen, you're dealing with defensive backs, wide receivers . . . they're all a little bit different," Harbaugh said. "You also get a chance to work with the young guys, and that's thrilling as a coach, because you build a foundation for your football team with those young guys."
Harbaugh touted three guys who are eminently qualified to be head coaches: his own special-teams chief, Jerry Rosburg; the Cowboys' Joe DeCamillas, who was the brains behind Dwayne Harris's 78-yard punt return for a touchdown against the Eagles 2 weeks ago, and Chargers assistant head coach/special teams Rich Bisaccia.
NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock, a former special-teams player in the league, would put Bisaccia at the tippy-top of his candidate list if he were a GM looking for a new head coach.
"I really believe there are three to four special-teams coaches out there who deserve a shot, and Rich would be right at the top of my list," Mayock said. "I think Rich is the next John Harbaugh. He would be a guy I would bang the table for. There are people at both the college and pro level that are looking at him right now [as a head coach]."
Bisaccia, 52, spent nine seasons as the special-teams coach in Tampa, seven on Jon Gruden's staff. He left last year to take the Chargers job.
"He's a guy that has coached on both sides of the ball," Mayock said.
"If you ask Gruden or [Chargers head coach Norv] Turner if he's ready, both of those guys made him an assistant head coach. When he was with Gruden in Tampa and they won the Super Bowl, he was the only special-teams coach in the league that also coached a position group [running backs].
"He's a grinder. Players love him. If you call Philip Rivers or Derrick Brooks or any of those guys, they will bang the table [for him] like you can't believe. He's old-school and he's tough. But players love him, because he's fair. He never tells you something that isn't true."
Figuring the Eagles
Mat McBriar is tied for fifth in the league in punting with a 48.5-yard gross average, but is 31st in net average (36.8), ahead of only Carolina's Brad Nortman (36.4). The 11.7-yard difference between McBriar's gross and net averages is the largest in the league. The Raiders' Shane Lechler is second at 10.6, with a 48.5 gross and 37.9 net. Ironically, McBriar is on pace to break the Eagles' single-season franchise record for gross punting average (47.3 by Joe Muha in 1948).
The Eagles have lost six games in a row. The last time they lost seven consecutive games was 1994. That was Rich Kotite's final season, when they won seven of their first nine games then lost their final seven.
The Eagles have started a drive beyond their own 40-yard line only 11 times in 119 possessions. They don't have a kickoff return longer than 31 yards or a punt return longer than 20 yards, and are tied for 28th in the league in takeaways with 10.
The Eagles are on pace to finish with only 16 takeaways. The fewest they've had in a season since the league went to 16 games in 1978 was 17 in '98.
According to David Gerard, of makeNFLplayoffs.com, the 3-7 Eagles have a 3.6 percent chance of earning a postseason berth. That is only slightly better than a snowball's chance in hell.
The Eagles must make a decision on Jason Peters (Achilles') by Tuesday. They either have to add him to the 53-man roster or put him on season-ending injured reserve. If they let the All-Pro left tackle step on the field this season, everyone in the organization, from Jeff Lurie on down, should be drug-tested.
DeSean Jackson suggested earlier in the week that one of the Eagles' problems might be a lack of vocal leaders. "When I was a young guy coming up through the organization, that's who we counted on - Brian Dawkins, [Brian] Westbrook, guys like that. As far as anybody being that vocal guy, there's really not anyone on this team like that that pumps the team." Hey, here's an idea, DeSean. You've been with the team for 5 years. Why don't you try being a leader instead of whining about the lack of one?
Nick Foles' passing numbers weren't very good last week, but ESPN analyst Ron Jaworski saw a lot of positives in the rookie's first start.
"After looking at the tape, I thought, for the most part, he was under control," Jaws said. "There were a few times I thought he got a little quick in the pocket with his feet. And that's going to happen, not only with a rookie, but with any quarterback.
"With young guys, if their feet are skittish and they're flying around, that's how they're thinking. If they're calm and collected with their foot work, they're usually calm and collected with the way they're playing the game in their mind. I thought, for the most part, Nick was very good in the game. Now, he made some mistakes. And there were times they didn't give him help. I just don't think you can ask a young quarterback to drop back 51 times and expect great results against a very complex and sophisticated Jim Haslett defense that got after him pretty good."
Marty Mornhinweg will tell you that's being aggressive.
The Giants, who have lost two of their last three games, have been having major problems on third down. In their first seven games, they converted 42.5 percent of their third-down opportunities. In the last three: 25.6 (10 of 39). Eli Manning's third-down passer rating in the last three games is 30.0. He's completed only 12 of 29 attempts on third down in those three games.
Tweeting with Big Red
I just informed Mike Vick that his concussion is going to last the rest of the season.
Somebody keeps calling me up in the middle of the night, laughs and then hangs up. #iknowit'syoujuan
Tammy's flying to San Diego next week to look for a house on the beach. C'mon, Norv. Just lose, baby.#surfinsafari
Marty's gone off the deep end. He wants to run the ball on our first offensive play Monday night.#insanity
FROM THE LIP:
"You can't worry about it. Part of playing this [quarterback] position in this league is knowing that there will be times when you make mistakes and fall flat on your face. You just have to get up and keep playing and keep throwing." - Falcons QB Matt Ryan after throwing five interceptions against Arizona
"I know what Gronkowski is doing in that game. I had Lawrence Taylor in the game every time at the same position. Fans and media assign the degree of importance they want to assign. A coach assigns the degree of importance." - Bill Parcells on Patriots coach Bill Belichick having TE Rob Gronkowski blocking for a PAT late in the 59-24 win over the Colts; Gronkowski broke his left forearm on the play
"We grew up watching the game be played a certain way and played it a certain way. It is tackle football. It is a contact sport and a brutal one, a violent one at that. I know concussions have been a big thing. I've had concussions before. If you want to stop them, stop the game. Like people say, it's starting to be a flag-football thing." - Ravens S Ed Reed after being fined $50,000 for a hit on Steelers WR Emmanuel Sanders
"At a certain point, a player, a man, needs to grit his teeth, buck up and win a fight." - Bears offensive coordinator Mike Tice after his line gave up six sacks in a loss to the 49ers
BY THE NUMBERS:
No quarterback in the league has had as big a home-away performance disparity this season as the Ravens' Joe Flacco this season. He has a 108.3 passer rating at home (.665 completion percentage, 9.3 yards per attempt, 10 TDs, three interceptions) and a 65.2 rating on the road (.542, 5.2, three, four).
The Patriots' win over the Jets on Thanksgiving was Bill Belichick's 200th career win. He became the fourth fastest coach in history to get to the 200-win mark. He did it in 307 games. The only three who did it faster: Don Shula (286), George Halas (287) and Curly Lambeau (300).
The Ravens haven't allowed a red-zone touchdown in the last three games. Opponents are 0-for-9 in the red zone against them during that period.
The Cowboys' Thanksgiving loss to the Redskins was only the fourth defeat in 25 career November starts for quarterback Tony Romo. His .840 winning percentage in November is the best in the Super Bowl era among QBs with at least 20 starts.
Rookie QB Robert Griffin III has a 146.1 passer rating in the Redskins' wins over the Eagles and Cowboys. Completed 79.1 percent of his passes, averaged 11.9 yards per attempt, threw eight TD passes and only one interception.
That's sayin' thumbthing
THUMBS UP: To Browns executive vice president Bryan Wiedmeier for his remarkably upbeat attitude after being blindsided last month with the news that he has Stage 4 brain cancer.
"[You] take the haymaker. You reboot, focus and then you're proactive," Wiedmeier, a father of five, told Pat McManamon of FOXSportsOhio.com. "You're not a victim. And you do everything you can. It's either helping or hurting. There's not a middle ground. If it helps, then we're going to do it. This thing has happened. It's tough news, but if we can create a positive out of a negative, that's what we want to do. I don't want a mystery about what it is, or a pity party. There's an opportunity here, no matter what happens, to make this circumstance into a positive. That's the good thing that's come out of it."
THUMBS DOWN: To Marcus Vick who, going forward, will be referred to as MIB (Mike's Idiot Brother) for his latest Twitter attack on his brother's employer. In a thinly veiled shot at Andy Reid, MIB tweeted, "Yeaaaa!. Try everything n your handbook to save your ass FATBOY!!!!" MIB later tweeted a nondenial denial, saying, "I never mentioned coach," which isn't the same thing as saying, "I wasn't referring to coach."
If MIB truly wasn't referring to Reid, then he should've been smart enough to realize that's who everyone would think he was blasting. MIB also needs to realize that, were it not for Reid, his brother wouldn't have earned $30-plus million the last 2 years and he wouldn't be able to pretend to be a corporate executive with his brother's V7 apparel line.
1. Texans 10-1 (1 last week)
2. Ravens 8-2 (2)
3. Falcons 9-1 (3)
4. 49ers 7-2-1 (4)
5. Patriots 8-3 (5)
6. Packers 7-3 (7)
7. Broncos 7-3 (8)
8. Bucs 6-4 (10)
9. Bears 7-3 (6)
10. Steelers 6-4 (9)
11. Giants 6-4 (11)
12. Seahawks 6-4 (12)
13. Vikings 6-4 (13)
14. Saints 5-5 (15)
15. Bengals 5-5 (17)
16. Colts 6-4 (14)
17. Redskins 5-6 (24)
18. Cowboys 5-6 (16)
19. Chargers 4-6 (18)
20. Cardinals 4-6 (19)
21. Bills 4-6 (23)
22. Dolphins 4-6 (21)
23. Lions 4-7 (22)
24. Rams 3-6-1 (20)
25. Titans 4-6 (26)
26. Eagles 3-7 (25)
27. Jets 4-7 (27)
28. Browns 2-8 (28)
29. Panthers 2-8 (29)
30. Raiders 3-7 (30)
31. Jaguars 1-8 (31)
32. Chiefs 1-8 (32)