Coaching Buzz: Eagles To Interview Nolan, Armstrong

The Eagles apparently like what they’ve seen from the 13-3 Falcons this season.

Birds 24/7 has confirmed  that the team has asked for permission to interview Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong.

Nolan is looking for a second head-coaching opportunity. The 49ers were 18-37 in three-plus seasons under his direction from 2005 to 2008. Nolan has served as a defensive coordinator for seven different teams: the Falcons (2012); Dolphins (2010-2011); Broncos (2009); Ravens (2002-2004); Jets (2000); Redskins (1997-1999); and Giants (1993-1996).

The Falcons are fifth in scoring defense, allowing 18.7 points per game, and rank 11th in Football Outsiders’ defensive rankings.

Nolan was 35 when he first became a defensive coordinator and is now 53.

Armstrong, 47, has been the Falcons’ special-teams coach for the past five seasons. His units have produced up-and-down results, per Football Outsiders’ rankings: seventh in 2008, 22nd in 2009, third in 2010; 22nd in 2011; and 16th in 2012.

Prior to joining the Falcons’ staff, Armstrong served as special-teams coach of the Dolphins from 2001 to 2006 and Chicago’s special teams coach from 1997 to 2000. Armstrong was Atlanta’s secondary coach in 1996 and the Falcons’ safeties coach in 1994 and 1995. He played his college ball at Temple from 1983 to 1986 and served as a graduate assistant with the Owls in 1987. He’s originally from Levittown.

The Rooney Rule stipulates that teams must interview at least one minority candidate. Armstrong would qualify.

Because the Falcons are in the playoffs, Eagles brass are scheduled to travel to Atlanta to interview all three candidates on Wednesday, according to the report.


Andy Reid will be one of three candidates to interview with the Cardinals, according to Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic.

Reid has remained committed to coaching somewhere in 2013. The Arizona gig would reunite him with Kevin Kolb, the quarterback he selected in the second round of the 2007 draft. The Cardinals have an elite wide receiver in Larry Fitzgerald and several talented pieces on defense like linebacker Daryl Washington, defensive lineman Calais Campbell and cornerback Patrick Peterson.

The other two candidates interviewing for the job are current Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton and Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.

* It looks like we might have to pump the brakes on the Jon Gruden rumors:

Pompei, a columnist for the National Football Post and Chicago Tribune reported Sunday that Gruden was looking to return, suggesting the Eagles could be a likely landing spot. Either Gruden didn’t receive any offers he liked, or this flip-flopping will continue. Not ready to rule anything out yet.

* The Chip Kelly/Eagles buzz continues.

Jay Gruden cannot interview with teams this week since the Bengals take on the Texans on Saturday.

* And finally, Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is staying put.

As always, catch all the latest coaching buzz in our special section.

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Lurie: Eagles Coaching Job the Best In the NFL

Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie had his sales pitch ready.

With six other teams – the Cardinals, Chargers, Bills, Bears, Chiefs and Browns – currently looking for head coaches, Lurie was asked what makes the Eagles’ job desirable.

“I’m very confident that this is the most attractive place for a head coach to work in the National Football League,” Lurie said without hesitation.

He then rattled off a series of reasons why. The fan base, the “obsession” to be great, the market, the prime-time games, the facilities, the coach-owner relationship, the winning culture and so on.

“I think that it’s ripe for a real smart, forward-thinking coach who wants to get his hands on a great situation,” Lurie concluded. “To me, this is the best situation for a coach to look at.”

Most of Lurie’s reasons hold merit. There are only 32 NFL head-coaching jobs. For 14 years, Lurie provided Andy Reid with resources and then got out of the way. Granted, Reid made the playoffs in nine of those seasons, which made Lurie’s decision to retain him an easy one. But still, Lurie didn’t let Ray Rhodes go until the Eagles went 3-13 and the wheels came off completely.

“I think to be really successful in this league, you’ve got to be able to have the freedom to make short-term plans, mid-term plans and long-term plans,” Lurie said. “If you feel like you’re under the gun where you’re going to be given two years and that’s it, or this year has to be absolutely the panacea to every problem you have, you’re not going to get the best coaching. So when a coach comes to the Philadelphia Eagles – and the next coach will feel this way – he knows he’s going to have the owner’s support to both plan in the short run, plan in the mid-term and have long-term strategy as well. That, to me, is crucial. Because every decision you make needs to balance the three, and when you start to reach for short-term panaceas or short-term solutions that are not consistent with your culture and your football program, that’s when you end up 4-12.”

It was a theme Lurie echoed throughout the press conference. The Eagles made out-of-character moves because they were tired of being close. The moves backfired, and now they are stuck with a roster that has several question marks, including at quarterback, where Nick Foles is the favorite to be the 2013 starter as we enter the offseason.

Coaches (for the most part) are not stupid. They know the importance of having a quarterback in place. A couple of the teams with openings – the Bears (Jay Cutler) and Chargers (Philip Rivers) – have better QB situations than the Eagles.

“The majority of teams looking for a head coach are normally looking for a quarterback,” said general manager Howie Roseman. “I think for us, we have a young quarterback who has a lot of promise, so that’s a positive thing. You don’t normally see the great quarterbacks without head coaches.”

Unless the Eagles target a truly under-the-radar candidate, we’ll be able to tell in the coming weeks whether Lurie is right.

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Coaching Buzz: Eagles To Reportedly Interview Koetter

The Eagles are one of three teams that will interview Falcons offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, according to Alex Marvez of

Owner Jeffrey Lurie denied the report, although he very well could just be trying to keep the coaching search quiet.

“We’ve contacted no coaches,” he said. “That’s all starting today. There’s no trips planned, there’s nothing planned yet. That’s all to be done.”

Lurie did admit that the team had its list of candidates made.

“While you’re trying to decide what you’re going to do with your coach, at least the way that I operate, is in doing a lot of research over the last month or so,” Lurie said. “That is done meticulously and in great detail. We do have a very, very defined list of candidates. And we hope to be able to meet with some of them as soon as possible.”

Koetter is in his first season with Atlanta. He previously spent five seasons as the offensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars and also served as the head coach at Arizona State (2001-2006) and Boise State (1998-2000). The Falcons are seventh in scoring offense (26.2 PPG) and 10th in Football Outsiders’ rankings, as Matt Ryan has turned in the best year of his career.

The fact that Koetter’s being looked at by three different teams speaks to his reputation, even though the results haven’t always been there. The Jaguars certainly didn’t have an abundance of talent, but they finished in the top-15 in scoring offense just once under Koetter.

Arizona State was 40-34 under his direction, and Boise State 26-10.

Earlier in his career, Koetter coached with Andy Reid at three different spots – San Francisco State, Missouri and UTEP.

Last January, he offered thoughts on his offensive philosophy during a Q&A with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

“Running the football is definitely a part of professional football. That’s never going to go away,” Koetter said. “I’m a big believer in the vertical passing game. Everywhere I’ve been we’ve had an element of the vertical game. Your offense is always going to be dictated to some extent by your personnel. Every team in the NFL knows that you have to be able to run it even when they know you’re going to run it. You have to be able to throw it even when they know you’re going to throw it. Running the football, there’s definitely still a place for that in the NFL. You ask any defensive coach and one of the hardest things to defend is balance. Balance is difficult to defend.”

Koetter is 53-years-old. Coordinators from teams who have first-round byes in the playoffs are allowed to interview for head-coaching vacancies this week.

Click here for our full list of coaching candidates.


One name we have on our list of candidates is Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy. McCoy will interview for the Chicago Bears vacancy, according to Jay Glazer of The Bears decided to part ways with head coach Lovie Smith. He’ll also get a look from the Arizona Cardinals, per Adam Schefter of ESPN.

As of this writing, there are seven job openings: Arizona, San Diego, Buffalo, Chicago, Kansas City, Cleveland and Philadelphia.

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Lurie Backs Howie Roseman

Jeffrey Lurie backed general manager Howie Roseman in a big way Monday, just hours after officially parting ways with Andy Reid. The Eagles owner made it known that he faults Roseman little for many of the bad personnel decisions made over the last several years.

“I keep voluminous notes on talent evaluation — not just who we draft, but who is valued in each draft by each person that is in the organization that’s working here,” said Lurie. “And I came to the conclusion that the person who was providing by far the best talent evaluation in the building was Howie Roseman. I decided to streamline the whole decision-making process for the 2012 draft and offseason, and that’s the first draft and offseason I hold Howie completely accountable for.

“The mistake that were made in the 2011 draft have little or nothing to do with Howie’s evaluations. And I think it was important for me to own up to the mistakes that were made and understand where they were coming from and it was awfully clear, and so an effort was made to streamline the entire operation.”

Lurie said the decision to keep Roseman on as the organization begins its transition “was a very easy decision when the facts were in.”

Roseman explained that during this past April’s draft, he had an opportunity to lead the process as opposed to just being a part of it. While it is still early, the early returns are pretty positive when it comes to the 2012 draft haul. Still, the 37-year-old GM helped build a roster that went 4-12 this season and 8-8 the year before that. He says he isn’t looking to be absolved.

“Our season that we just went through, it’s unacceptable,” he said. “Whatever has happened here is not good enough for the fans, we’re not happy about the chemistry of the team. I’m not trying to shirk any of that responsibility. It’s going to stop. We’ve had a chance to meet with a lot of the players today. We’re going to get to the bottom of the things that don’t work and [make sure] that they do.”

Lurie said that head coaching candidates will be interviewed by himself, Roseman and president Don Smolenski.

Roseman was asked if there is any conflict of interest given that a lot of power is up for grabs — maybe he wouldn’t be inclined to just give it away to a coach looking for more sway.

“The most important part of my job is to make sure that we have a great head coach and a great quarterback. Everything pales in comparison to making sure you have that,” said Roseman. “We want to get the best head coach. I’ve worked in a situation for a long time where we were supporting a head coach — that’s how this organization has been built, that’s how it will continue to be built — and we look forward to sitting down with these people and making sure that we explain that fully.”

Lurie detailed how he expects the power structure to work.

“The new head coach — whoever that is — will report directly to me. That’s the only structure that I insist upon,” said Lurie. “As we go through the process we have the flexibility to finalize personnel decisions and everything else that goes with the coach/GM relationship. But my goal is to have the coach and the general manager work hand-in-hand, work collaboratively and work in a very terrific way together. But there’s no question in my mind the head coach will report directly to me as every head coach has. It’s important in terms of attracting the right coach, it’s important in terms of the autonomy that coach will have, and it also fosters an owner-coach relationship that I think benefits a football team in many, many ways.”

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Bridal Bulletin’s Top 15 Posts of 2012

Bridal Bulletin's Top 15 Posts of 2012


15. Obviously, a Couple Made a “Gangnam Style” Wedding Video One of the most viral videos/dances/dudes/things of the entire year was, obviously, going to work its way into weddings at some point. And this is pretty funny.

14. Bride-to-be Blogger Kathleen: Why I Can’t Have the Wedding Cake I Want One of our lovely bridal bloggers from last season encountered one of the first major hiccups in her wedding plans—and what she feared was her first Bridezilla moment—when her baker informed her that the type of cake she wanted for her wedding just wasn’t going to work out.

13. Diary of a Marriage: Do Sex Toys Make For a Happy Marriage? After attending a bachelorette party that featured both a sex-toy party and a pole-dancing lesson, Emily returned home wondering this very thing.

12. Here’s What Really Happens at a Boudoir Shoot Yes, readers, this year, I showed my love for you by stripping down to my skivvies—pretty skivvies, of course—and taking part in a boudoir shoot, that I might fill you in on what it’s really like, should you be considering it yourself as a gift to your groom.
Read more »

Free Condoms For All at Philly Schools!

News I missed while on vacation: A third of Philadelphia public high schools–those with the highest rates of sexually transmitted diseases–will welcome students back from the holidays with big old clear plastic tubs of condoms affixed to the walls outside nurses’ offices. While the city has given away four million condoms since 2011, there haven’t been any targeted programs for youths until now. (25 percent of Philadelphians infected with HIV are teenagers.) Small wonder Rick Santorum home-schooled his kids! [Inquirer]

2012 Hottest Year Ever in Jersey

Since we’re living in the hottest year ever recorded in U.S. history, it should come as no surprise that Jersey’s temperatures have also never been higher. On the heels of Hurricane Sandy and this latest bit of news (along with every bit of news about global warming published in the past 25 years), I recommend Tom McGrath’s February 2012 piece forecasting Philly-area weather in the next century. Among his predictions for 206o: Say goodbye to Phillies day games, Pennsylvania trout fishing, and living anywhere near a river. [Newsworks]

McCoy: Guys Made Too Many Excuses

A somber LeSean McCoy stood at his locker Monday afternoon and voiced strong support for the coach who drafted him in the second round of the 2009 draft.

As one of the key building blocks going forward, McCoy reiterated his belief that the Eagles’ struggles were not Andy Reid’s fault. In the process, he was critical of his teammates.

Asked how many Eagles players let Reid down, McCoy said, “Tons, tons of guys. I think guys kind of notice that now that he’s gone. …I think a lot of guys realize the lack of focus, the lack of heart in certain games, in certain situations, it’s in full effect now. Now you may feel sorrow for coach, but it all comes down to your performance, so you should have probably thought about that during the season, during the game.”

The running back has said multiple times this season that he’s had one-on-one conversations with Reid, in which McCoy’s apologized for letting the coach down. Clearly, he felt some of his teammates should have been doing the same thing.

“I think guys made a lot of excuses,” McCoy said. “Guys maybe weren’t playing up to par, guys weren’t focusing enough, guys making a certain amount of money, not putting out. So I think guys were looking for excuses.”

Did the players leave it all on the line for their coach?

“I don’t think they did,” McCoy said. “I don’t think some players did at all. That’s obvious. You see some of the scores, you see some of the plays, you see some of the stuff happening. You don’t see Coach Reid out there just making errors like that. I think some of the things you’re asking me are obvious. Did guys lay it down on the line? I mean, you see the games.”

McCoy said he loves Reid like a Dad and didn’t want him to leave, but the running back closed his media session by trying to look at the positives a new coach might bring.

“I will say this, bringing in a new coach, I think things will be different – kind of getting rid of all the losses and all the bad plays, things like that,” McCoy said. “Going to a new coach, a new direction, things probably will be different because you want to impress the new coach. Guys want to show the first impression that I work hard, I’m playing for you. …Once things gets started in a new direction, with a new coach, I think guys will play a little differently because of something new.

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In Case You Missed It: The 50 Best Restaurants In Philadelphia

Last week was a big week ’round Foobooz World HQ. All the holiday kerfuffle aside, it was also the week that we posted the Philadelphia magazine list of the 50 Best Restaurants in Philadelphia for 2012, and the response to said list was…overwhelming.

But the 50 Best Restaurants package wasn’t the only thing that got posted over the holiday week. There was a whole bunch of other 50-Best-related stuff that also hit the internets while you might’ve been looking in another direction. So here, for the convenience of our less-than-fanatical readers, is the full accounting of last week’s 50 Best Restaurants action, all in one convenient place.

Cheers, and have a happy New Year.

50 Best Restaurants In Philadelphia for 2012 This is the big list, and a good place to get started. For those looking for a little more information, the issue (with write-ups and explanations for every restaurant on the list) is on the stands right now–though we’ve been hearing that it has been selling out everywhere, so be quick.

Please Ignore This List–Our Insatiable Obsession With The Philadelphia Restaurant Scene A counter-punch to our big list, coming from one of the people who helped put it together.

Philly’s 51st Best Restaurant In a city with so many great restaurants, here’s what it means to be the 51st-best in town.

Methodology: How The 50 Best Restaurants List Came To Be It took us months to come up with the 50 best restaurants in Philly. Here’s how we spent our time.

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