Now that the Eagles have lost that ever so important 8th game, it’s time to really break down the head coaching candidates. Eagles Team Owner Jeffrey Lurie stated in the offseason that 8-8 would not be good enough for Andy Reid to keep his job. At 3-8, it’s safe to say Andy Reid will get the axe sometime before the new year.
There are a handful of candidates that really jump out at me. Some are NFL assistants and some are college head coaches. There really isn’t a specific formula you look at when hiring an NFL head coach. NFL experience is a plus, but that doesn’t mean guys without it will automatically fail.
The main things you should be looking for is leadership qualities, what has made him successful at his current job and how well and hard his players play for him. A coach whose players showed some quit on him during his last job should raise a red flag. A coach who has overachieved at a program or with his positional unit really bodes well for the future. They key for a head coach anywhere is to get the most out of his players.
The candidate who gets the spotlight today is Stanford’s head coach, David Shaw.
I am a huge fan of David Shaw. The guy just knows how to get the most out of his players at a school that has very high academic standards. Shaw was the offensive coordinator before Jim Harbaugh left to be the head coach for the San Francisco 49ers. Shaw has been an NFL assistant with the Eagles, Ravens and Raiders. Having NFL experience is a huge plus.
The thing that stands out with Shaw is physicality. He loves to go with a lot of two and three tight end sets. He also utilizes his full backs. Those extra blockers make a huge difference in the running game and he knows it. He establishes the run and makes life so much easier for the quarterback. That is the reason he was able to win with an unexperienced freshman quarterback at Oregon.
Not only does a quarterback have a running game to lean on and let open things up for the passing game, he has a lot of options to throw to. This isn’t a wide receiver heavy offense. This is a true west coast offense where all the backs, tight ends and wide outs contribute. It is crucial in this age in the NFL to utilize the tight ends in the passing game. No position creates more matchup nightmares and no position is better at catching the ball in traffic.
With a win on Friday night in the PAC-12 title game, Shaw will have guided Stanford to 2 BCS bowl games in as many seasons. Stanford is supposed to be a middle of the road team in the PAC-12. They have a rich tradition, but they also have steep academic requirements. That means you have to pass on certain recruits if they don’t qualify or don’t want to play for a school that doesn’t require the bare minimum GPA to play each week.
Shaw became head coach after Harbaugh had really built the program up, but Lurie doesn’t need a coach to do a complete rebuilding job. He just needs a coach who preaches the fundamentals, can bring in a defensive coordinator who gets his unit to play as one and can utilize the talent already here.
Bringing in a coach that loves to run the ball is ideal for a team that has LeSean McCoy, Bryce Brown, Dion Lewis and Stanley Havili. That is the strength of the offense right now. Reid always wanted it to be in the passing game, but the Eagles lack that go-to possession receiver to make them a consistent passing offense.
What Shaw can bring to the Eagles is some much needed discipline and balance on the offense. With this offensive line and backfield healthy, this offense could be really special. You can’t bring safeties up to the line consistently with DeSean Jackson lining up wide. Shaw can make this offense complete.
There is still the issue of whether or not Shaw will leave Stanford at this point. He is only in his second season as the head coach and he has a very promising freshman quarterback. He knows he will get offers in the future. He doesn’t have to take a job this year. Of course, Philadelphia might be the perfect job for Shaw at this point.