Yesterday I looked at five coaches who could take over for Andy Reid after the 2012 season is concluded. I broke down two of the best college coaches, David Shaw of Stanford and Chip Kelly of Oregon. I also broke down to of the best coordinators in the NFL, Vic Fangio of the San Francisco 49ers and Mike McCoy of the Denver Broncos. I also threw on Mike Zimmer, defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals who has been due for a head coaching job for a few years now.
Today I bring you five more candidates. These five aren’t the most likely coaches to replace Reid, but they the potential to surprise a lot of people and get some serious attention from the Eagles. Jeffrey Lurie is going to take a hard look at a lot of coaches this offseason. His next coaching hire is going to be a big decision. A bad hire puts this team into a rebuilding mode for the next five or six years, but a good hire could mean a Super Bowl in Philly within two or three years, maybe even sooner.
Here are the final five candidates:
Sean Payton, ex-Saints Head Coach
A lot of Eagles fans are going to be expecting Lurie to bring in a Super Bowl winning NFL head coach this offseason. I wouldn’t hate a move like that, but there just aren’t too many unemployed Super Bowl winners worthy of getting the job. Bill Cowher won a Super Bowl during the 2005 season, but has been out of coaching since 2006. It will take the perfect opportunity to get Cowher out of the CBS Pre Game Show studios and back into the high pressure of an NFL head coaching job. Six years is a long time to be away from coaching. There is no guarantee that he will be coach to bring a Super Bowl to Philadelphia. It took him 14 seasons to bring one to Pittsburgh.
Sean Payton is the most likely Super Bowl winning head coach to get hired by the Eagles. He is a proven winner and a offensive guru. The problem with Payton is that he has a similar play calling style as Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg have had and there is little chance that he won’t be back in New Orleans next season. He is suspended this season stemming from his involvement in the Bounty Gate fiasco. The only reason he isn’t under contract was because the NFL voided his deal from 2011 because of the Bounty Gate situation. He would have to turn down a big deal from the Saints and his hometown team, the Dallas Cowboys as well before he can become the Eagles next head coach. It’s a nice thought, but there are some major hurdles to overcome.
Jon Gruden, ex- Tamp Bay Head Coach
Jon Gruden is going to be another ex-NFL head coach that will draw a lot of interest. He is a Super Bowl winner, has coached in Philadelphia as an offensive assistant and knows the West Coast Offense very well. He can bring stability and balance to the offense while also bringing some much need discipline on all three phases as well.
Gruden went 12-4 in his first season with Tampa Bay in 2002 and won Super Bowl XXXVII. His tenure with Tampa Bay after that Super Bowl season didn’t go quite as well. Hade made the playoffs just twice over his next six seasons, won zero playoff games and had a record of 45-51 over those final six seasons. Most people believe he just finished the job Tony Dungy started. Still, that may be what the Eagles are looking for in a head coach that will take over a pretty talented roster.
Jack Del Rio, ex- Jacksonville Head Coach
Jack Del Rio isn’t a candidate that is going to be taken seriously, but he would be a good Plan C or D type of candidate. He did a good job without much talent in Jacksonville between 2003-2011. He never had that franchise quarterback, he never had any talent at wide receiver and he never had big names on the defensive side of the football. Still he won 68 games.
Del Rio is currently the defensive coordinator of the Denver Broncos. He also worked under John Fox, Brian Billick and Mike Ditka in his coaching career. He is a good defensive mind who could do wonders for a defense in Philly that seems to always be confused about their assignments.
Ray Horton, Defensive Coordinator, Arizona Cardinals
Ray Horton is one of the hotter assistant coaches in the NFL right now. He was a defensive assistant with the Pittsburgh Steelers until 2011 when he has hired to be the defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals. He has done a lot to improve their defense. When he came into Arizona they had no pass rush, no defensive line penetration and no secondary. Right now he is leading one of the better defenses in the NFL that is helping a offensively challenged Cardinals team compete in the NFC West.
Hort is another 3-4 guru. Should the Eagles want to go that route on defense, Horton might be the best head coach to bring in. He worked under Dick Lebau in Pittsburgh and has brought that aggressive, linebacker orientated defense to Arizona. I don’t know if the Eagles have enough players capable of playing in the 3-4 defense to make the switch right now, but Horton would be a guy, along with Vic Fangio, to bring the 3-4 defense to Philadelphia.
Jon Hoke , Defensive Backs Coach, Chicago Bears
Jon Hoke was one of the defensive coordinator candidates for the Philadelphia Eagles back in 2011 before they hired Juan Castillo. I don’t know how serious they were about hiring Hoke, but he was one of the hotter news back then. Two years later and his name is getting even bigger. He is still the Bears defensive backs coach, but with the way the Bears defense is playing he will be getting a job offer as either a defensive coordinator or head coach this offseason.
Hoke was the defensive backs coach under Dom Capers in Houston back in 2002 and was retained when the Texans brought in Gary Kubiak in 2005. He joined Lovie Smith’s staff in Chicago in 2009. He has gotten the most out of his defensive backs in Chicago, especially with Charles Tillman this season who is making a serious run at Defensive Player of the Year.
Even if Hoke doesn’t get the head coaching job for the Eagles this offseason, he will be a strong candidate for the defensive coordinator position depending on how is hired.