Eagles Wake-Up Call: Pressure Is On Now

The Eagles’ game plan heading into this coaching search now seems pretty obvious.

They were going to swing and swing hard at some of the big name college coaches early, and see if they couldn’t land a Kelly or an O’Brien or any collegiate coach with an Irish last name and some sizzle. There was an inherent risk in this strategy: such a pursuit will draw headlines, and there’s no guarantee that you’ll be able to lure these guys out of some of the top programs in the country. Come up empty, and your quest will look like a failure.

After Brian Kelly became the third coach to deny their advances, the Eagles have to be stinging a bit. It has undoubtedly served as a reality check  that, while this is certainly a good job, it might not be as desirable as Jeffrey Lurie made it out to be when he called it “the most attractive place for a head coach to work in the National Football League.”

That said, they knew that striking out was a possibility, as evidenced by the number of interviews they have conducted or will conduct in the coming days. It might be Plan B, but there is a plan in place.

The trick now is to get one of the targeted assistants to say, “Yes.”  And the pool is dwindling.

Bruce Arians, slated to meet with the Eagles Tuesday, reportedly favors San Diego as a landing spot. Jay Gruden, interviewing with the Eagles Monday, has a few suitors and does not sound in a hurry to leave Cincinnati in the first place. Mike Nolan and Keith Armstrong  don’t appear to be moving the meter. A couple reporters have suggested that the interview with Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy did not go all that well; and Lovie Smith might have a tough time convincing Lurie that he can cure what ails the Eagles’ offense.

That seems to leave Gus Bradley as the most desirable/realistic candidate. His name is playing well in Philadelphia, he’s extremely well-respected by his peers, and his coaching acumen and personality appear to fit the bill.

But with a total of five openings across the NFL, who is to say they can land him?

Losing out on the college coaches is not the end of the world. But now the pressure is on.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Sheil with some details on Kelly’s decision to stay at Notre Dame.

The Eagles reportedly reached out to Bill Cowher about their coaching vacancy.

Kapadia details how the Eagles will have to proceed if they want to further pursue Bradley.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Paul Domowitch caught up with Monte Kiffin, who is very high on Bradley:

“I try not to exaggerate,” Kiffin, who once called Bradley a once-in-a-lifetime coach, told the Daily News in a telephone interview last week. “But this guy is good.

“I’ve told people I’ve talked to in the last week or so, if you interview him, there’s a good chance you’ll hire him. He’ll walk in [to the interview] and take over the room.”

Arians talked about his future with USA Today:

“I have a great job. I love it here so much,” Arians said. “I’ve never been treated with more respect in my career than I have here, so it would be hard to leave.

“It’s going to have to be a perfect fit for me to leave, but you always want to win one of those Super Bowls on your own.”

Irsay wouldn’t disclose how much he’s paying Arians as coordinator, but said he’s offered him a sizable six-figure increase to remain with the Colts.

“You want to have him here,” Irsay said, “but if he has an opportunity to be a head coach, it’s hard to stop that. Money can’t really stop that.”

COMING UP

Phase III of the coaching search. We’ll keep you up to speed.

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