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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