Eight games into the season is probably far too early start talking about a replacement head coach for a team that still has their head coach. In most cases it is. In the Eagles case, it is pretty much a forgone conclusion that Andy Reid will get the boot eventually. The team has lost four in a row and is getting worse by the second. Experts around Philly know it’s only a matter of time and fans are already warming up their vocal cords for the “Fire Andy” chants.
I think it’s important for fans, writers and team executives alike to get a feel for potential replacements know while their teams are still playing. What is the point of waiting until December or January most teams’ seasons are over? Like scouting a potential draft prospect, I want to check out some of these coaches while they are coaching this season and get a good feel for their coaching styles and how the players respond to them.
I selected just 10 candidates that I think could have a lot of success in Philadelphia, both in the short-term and for years to come.
David Shaw, Head Coach, Stanford
David Shaw might be the perfect candidate for the Eagles right now. He has plenty of NFL experience, including one season as the Eagles offensive quality control coach in 1997. He was an offensive assistant in the NFL from 1997-2005 before following Jim Harbuagh to the University of San Diego in 2006, and later joined him at Stanford in 2007. He took over for Harbaugh as head coach last season at Stanford where he led The Cardinal to a 11-2 record.
Shaw understands the importance of balance on offense and tough defense. You got to love the fact that he was a key assistant under Harbaugh at Stanford, especially after all of Harbaugh’s early success in the NFL. The key factor when hiring a college coach is previous NFL experience. The college coaches that succeed in the NFL tend to have more experience in the pros while the ones who don’t, don’t come in with that experience. Steve Spurrier is a great example. He never coached in the NFL at any position until accepting the Redskins head coaching job in the early 2000s.
Chip Kelly, Head Coach, Oregon
Chip Kelly is going to be a popular choice by the fans to replace Andy Reid. He has absolutely no NFL experience, which scares the heck out of me. Having said that, he has the most fundamentally sounds offense that I have ever seen in college football. The reason the Ducks’ spread offense works so well is that everyone blocks extremely well. They are also well disciplined. They don’t commit many penalties or turnovers and they play hard on every snap.
The NFL is a whole new ball game for Kelly. The media is different, the players act different and the competition is different. Nick Saban was a mess as a NFL head coach in Miami, but has dominated every where he has been in college. Kelly has lead the Ducks to three straight BCS bowls and is on his way to doing it again. He may not want to leave the comfort of the college game for a high pressured NFL job. Still, it’s hard not to like his level of discipline and perfection with his offenses. Nobody has run a more efficient offense in the last four seasons.
Mike McCoy, Offensive Coordinator, Denver Broncos
Mike McCoy has had an impressive last two years in the NFL. Last season he tailored his offense around Kyle Orton before he had to change it up completely for Tim Tebow. This season he changed it up again, this time for Peyton Manning. He had to convince Manning he was the right coordinator for him before he would sign in Denver. It turned out he was and Manning is on fire right now. The point is some offensive coaches know how to run a specific offense and some just know offense in general. McCoy is the latter.
McCoy also recently turned 40. He is young for a NFL coach. That means he can be here for a long time while also having the energy to put in the long hours needed. He has the right mix of youth and experience for the job. He obviously earns the respect from his players right away. He’s earned the respect of Peyton Manning and there is no reason why he couldn’t earn the respect of an entire team in any city.
Mike Zimmer, Defensive Coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals
Mike Zimmer has been a defensive coordinator in the NFL since 2000 with the Dallas Cowboys, the Atlanta Falcons and the Cincinnati Bengals. His defenses never wow you, but he has had success everywhere he has gone and has been able to run the 4-3 and 3-4 defense.
The thing that has always impressed me with Zimmer is how much the players love him. Cincinnati is a tough place to win. The owner is more concerned with money than he is winning. They have the fewest number of scouts and their owner is their GM. He doesn’t get the best players, but he has always had a competitive defense. The Eagles don’t need a coach who had a couple great seasons as a coordinator, they need a coach he get the most out of his players. The Eagles have stopped developing players latley. Zimmer could be the guy to put together a staff that gets the most out of Danny Watkins, Brandon Graham, Nate Allen and Fletcher Cox.
Vic Fangio, Defensive Coordinator , San Francisco 49ers
If you want a head coach who can bring in the 3-4 defense, Vic Fangio would be your guy. He has worked under the likes of Dom Capers, Rex Ryan, Greg Mattison and Chuck Pagano. He has been a defensive coordinator in the NFL for 13 seasons and is currently leading the 49ers stellar defense.
The Eagles switching to a 3-4 defense is really intriguing for me. Fletcher Cox could be a start as a 3-4 defensive end while Phillip Hunt could become a lethal pass rusher from the outside linebacker position. He also understands the importance of becoming a physical football team and that is something this team desperately needs right now.
*I will have the next five coaching candidates in my next post.