While the names Chip Kelly, Jon Gruden and Bill Cowher continue to spark conversation on 97.5 The Fanatic and in the blogosphere in Philadelphia, it simply is not Jeffrey Lurie’s MO to tab proven, pedigree Head Coaches to lead his football team.
While those names certainly bring intrigue and a track record of success, it is worth nothing that the names such as Gruden and Cowher come with the ominous distinction that no Super Bowl winning coach has ever gone on to win a second Lombardi Trophy in a new town.
For that reason, the finances and more, it appears that Lurie will likely to scour the coaching market for up and coming position coaches or coordinators to replace Andy Reid at season’s end. After all, that was his methodology when hiring former 49ers Defensive Coordinator Ray Rhodes upon dismissing Rich Kotite in 1995 and again in 1999 when Reid was brought to the city of Brotherly Love following his tenure as Packers quarterbacks coach.
After 14 years of an offense-centric Head Coach in Reid, Lurie may choose for the pendulum to swing back towards a defensive mind to lead the troops and bring a sense of calm to the chaos that has reigned on that side of the football since Jim Johnson’s death in 2009.
Searching around the league there are some intriguing names rising through the ranks such as Winston Moss, Tim Lewis, Ray Horton and Perry Fewell.
Lurie is likely most familiar with Fewell after watching his New York Giants defenses wreak havoc on the Eagles twice a year the last two seasons and halting the Patriots quest for the Lombardi Trophy.
“His personality is right for Philadelphia,” A league source said. “He’s serious but ultimately player oriented.”
Prior to his tenure in New York, Fewell was an assistant under Tom Coughlin with the Jaguars and later served as The Buffalo Bills defensive coordinator from 2006-2009, before ultimately taking over as interim Head Coach when Dick Jauron was fired in 2009.
During 2008, Buffalo’s best statistical season under Fewell, the defense ranked 2nd in the AFC in negative yardage plays, recorded 7 games of holding opposing offenses to less than 100 yards rushing, finished 4th in the NFL in red zone defense (41.8%), and allowed just 14 passing TDs all year.
“I don’t recall him being too impressed with his pre-Coughlin days,” The source said. “He could be a guy that works well within an established system rather than a system builder.”
Moss is an interesting option because he has never been a Head Coach but is in his fifth year as the Green Bay Packers Assistant Head Coach under Mike McCarthy.
Since the Packers named Moss Assistant Head Coach, they have been ranked first in the NFL in total takeaways (166), interceptions (126) and second in opponent passer rating (73.1).
Moss has also overseen the development of linebackers Clay Matthews, A.J. Hawk and has the pedigree to help maximize the potential of guys like DeMeco Ryans and Mychal Kendricks.
Not to mention, Moss helped guide the Packers to the top ranked defense in 2009 and 2010 en route to a Super Bowl victory following the ’10 season.
Moss interviewed for the Eagles defensive coordinator vacancy in January 2011 before Reid chose to promote Castillo to the position from offensive line coach.
Lewis may not be available until after the Super Bowl, depending on when his Falcons season ends. The current Atlanta secondary coach has local roots as a 1959 Pennridge High graduate.
Prior to guiding the Falcons secondary, Lewis served as defensive coordinator for the Steelers and Seahawks.
Then there’s Horton who is currently the Cardinals defensive coordinator after a successful tenure overseeing the Steelers defenses.
“I’ve seen Ray transform the defense in Arizona over the last few years,” legendary former Eagles linebacker Seth Joyner said. “He’s a straight forward guy who’s been there, done that and garners a lot of respect from his players.”
Horton helped guide the Black and Gold to three Super Bowls in six seasons before heading to Arizona.
A 10-year defensive back in the NFL, Horton helped develop six time Pro Bowl safety Troy Polamalu in Pittsburgh.
“He’s a guy that gets 100 percent of his players buying in which seems to be something Andy Reid is lacking,” Joyner explained.
While Todd Bowles has stumbled out of the gate as Defensive Coordinator for the Eagles, following a stint as secondary coach to start this season, he was put in a near impossible position to succeed and shouldn’t hold any baring on coaches with a similar background taking the job.
While Kelly, Gruden, Cowher and the ilk are likely to garner the most media attention, there surely are other candidates that likely make it onto Lurie’s radar before the pedigreed names.
Matt Lombardo is the Lead Writer and Eagles Beat Reporter for Taking It To The House (www.takingit2thehouse.com). To contact Matt, email him at firstname.lastname@example.org
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