Coaching Buzz: A Couple Dark Horses

Last time around, the Eagles shocked everybody and hired a relative unknown named Andy Reid to be their head coach. We have to at least account for the possibility that Jeffrey Lurie might favor the thrill of discovery over the security of a known entity once again.

Forget preference for a second. Even if Lurie did want a big name, who is to say he would be able to land one? There should be a lot of head coaching openings this offseason, and the Eagles don’t seem all that appealing at the moment. They might be better served getting a young, hungry assistant who is not just promising but willing to take on the hard labor ahead.

With that in mind, we made a few calls around the league and came up with a pair of sleepers to keep half-an-eye on.

Ben McAdoo

Current role: Quarterbacks coach, Green Bay

I know, right? I mean, what are the odds that Lurie would hire a QB coach from the Packers again? I can picture those 97.5 caller lines lighting up right now.

And there are similarities beyond job titles. Just as Reid studied and won a Super Bowl under mentor Mike Holmgren, so too has McAdoo under Mike McCarthy. The IUP grad and Homer City, Pa. native hooked on with McCarthy in New Orleans and followed him to San Francisco and eventually Green Bay. He served as the Packers tight ends coach for six seasons before being named quarterbacks coach this year.

Reid had Brett Favre, McAdoo gets Aaron Rodgers. Pretty good gig if you can get it.

Jason LaCanfora reported back in January that McCarthy denied requests from the Dolphins and Bucs to inteview McAdoo for their offensive coordinator openings this offseason.

McAdoo is just 35 and considered a fast riser. He has been around a very successful offensive system for a number of years. Green Bay’s offense has finished in the top 10 each year since McCarthy took over in 2006.

It would be stranger than fiction (and honestly, pretty unpopular) to replace Reid with someone with a similar coaching back story.  But if he is the guy, you fight past that.

Mel Tucker

Current role: Defensive coordinator/assistant head coach, Jacksonville

Fear not, this has nothing to do with Jason Babin.

The Jaguars’ DC was the interim head coach at the end of last season following the firing of Jack Del Rio. The Jags seriously considered keeping him in the head coaching role this season, but ultimately went with Mike Mularkey instead. He had a chance to move on and take the defensive coordinator job in Minnesota this season but got a nice offer from Jacksonville and decided to stay. According to a source, the Vikings did a study of all the defensive coordinators during their search and determined that, when it came to production versus talent, Tucker was far and away tops in the league. Tucker’s defense was ranked sixth overall in the NFL in 2011.

This year has been a different story. The 2-10 Jaguars are ranked 31st on defense.

The 40-year-old Tucker began his coaching career at Michigan State as a graduate assistant under Nick Saban and later served as a defensive backs coach for him at LSU. He also coached under Jim Tressel at Ohio State.

“I feel he’s an ascending coach within the profession and he certainly has the leadership qualities that you look for in a head coach candidate,” said Jacksonville general manager Gene Smith. “He’s very passionate in his approach and respectfully demanding of details, but yet he’s fair in how he handles his players. I think he’s a people person who connects well with his staff and players and they know he cares.’’

Tucker, who hails from Cleveland,  has been described as a “tough nut,” which is a requirement if you want to succeed in Philadelphia –especially under these conditions.

An African American, interviewing Tucker would also satisfy the NFL’s Rooney Rule.

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  • Myke Lowery

    Tim imo that last sentence isn’t needed

    • limodriver2750

      Maybe location of the statement is wrong but it IS a necessary item, something they’ll have to face when time comes.

      • Myke Lowery

        true.maybe I just read too much into it. seems the placement suggested the main reason was to satisfy the requirement.

  • The Guru

    I want nothing to do with anyone who’s ever been involved with Jacksonville. First name is pretty interesting though.

  • Wilbert M.

    Tucker’s defense collapsing this year doesn’t seem to make him a good candidate.

  • R B

    Rooney Rule? Really? Seemed an odd ending to an interesting article…

    • oshow

      Oh yeah, how odd to mention a rule that is there for every team to abide by. That’s what is very confusing today. Some people can mention race whenever they want, other people can’t. How’s this for you, I’d love Tony Dungy to be the next coach of the Eagles. How come his name hasn’t come up? I guess that’s “odd” too.

      • R B

        sorry man, just didn’t seem to fit the flow of the article…just one man’s opinion.

  • morgan c

    Tim, I was impatient when we didn’t get names in your earlier coaching query post, so thanks very much for this piece. What about Vic Fangio, the DC in San Fran? Man oh man, I can only hope the Cardinals fire Whisenhut, because I would LOVE to have that guy.

    • JofreyRice

      I like Fangio, but that defense was humming before he got there. They have a ton of talent. I’d say 10 out of 11 of their starters are better, talent-wise, than the Eagles defense. Fletcher Cox might be the only guy that could win a spot on that D, over Ray McDonald, but McDonald’s a very good player, too. Whitner’s probably their worst player, and he’d beat out either of our bums for starting safety.

      • BQNinja

        I think even I could beat out Coleman!

      • Myke Lowery

        Jim Tomsula the 49ers dline coach is someone that’s been successful.he was there building the defence and took over duties for Singletary for one game.

        • JofreyRice

          Hmm…Interesting, I don’t know too much about him.

          I still say if they’re going to take someone from the 49ers, give Howie the axe, and take their GM!

          • Myke Lowery

            he’s from Pittsburgh area and has had successful defenses in NFLEurope. his bio on the niners page shows his accolades. just a name I heard floating out there as someone that should be considered as a position coach directly to head coach…along with the chargers special teams coach.

          • Johngiam

            with the latest theories about Reid coming back next year putting the fear of god in me, at this oint I will literally take anyone. I do prefer a young coach that already has some sort of nfl experience

  • HowieDon’tKnow

    This approach puts the cart before the horse. We should hire a competent GM and then let him pick the coach. For the GM, look around the league at who is bringing in the best talent and hire their head of college scouting. Then, let that person pick your coach. Our problems go beyond AR. If you want to be really depressed, go through our recent drafts. We stink this year in all facets of the game because we have an appalling lack of talent. If we don’t fix that, focusing on the coach is like straightening out the deck chairs on the titanic.

  • Tim McManus

    Regarding Rooney Rule comment: I wrestled with whether to include it or not and am still having some internal battles. Ultimately I wanted to stay true to the reality of a coaching search in the NFL. The Rooney Rule is a real thing and all teams need to honor it as they look for a head coach.

    Hope you understand my thought process. I appreciate the feedback.

    – Tim

    • JofreyRice

      Mel Tucker is African American, and interviewing him would satisfy the Rooney Rule requirement; that is a statement of fact. It worries me that observing a fact is now considered an inflammatory statement.

      My only addition to that is that I don’t believe Tucker should be the only guy on their list of potential head coaching candidates that would fulfill that requirement. To me, the best of “the best candidates” includes Ray Horton, of the Cards, as someone who might have a bright future as a head football coach–the Cardinals do some really interesting things on defense. I’d definitely want the Eagles to meet him and see if he’s ready to take the next step. If Shaw is interested in leaving Stanford, he might be the guy to base an offense around McCoy/Brown and definitely worth talking to, as well.

    • Heraclitus

      Sorry to hear you had some internal battles over a simple, direct, minor point.
      Political correctness is a disease. Not in a medical terms per se, but in social and psychological/emotional term it is a plague.
      Out there with the masses you can’t avoid it. I guess you just have to protect yourself from the worst, and do the best you can.
      Good luck.

    • buckmulligan

      You wrestled with it so much that you screwed up the grammar. Try “Interviewing Tucker, an African American, would also satisfy the NFL’s Rooney Rule.”

  • R D

    Wade Phillips?

    • Mr. Magee

      For defensive coordinator? Sure.

  • aub32

    Hey Tim, do you have any fear that hiring McAdoo would lead us into the same situation we are currently in with regards to running the ball? If BB does turn out to be something special, he and Shady should be the cornerstones of this offense, especially with no elite QB prospect coming in the draft or FA.