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.

Brian Kelly Staying Put; Now What?

We can scratch another name off the Eagles’ list.

Brian Kelly is staying put at Notre Dame, the school announced Saturday.

“This week, I had an incredible opportunity to speak with one of the premier organizations in sports about becoming their head coach,” Kelly said in a statement. “Like every kid who has ever put on a pair of football cleats, I have had thoughts about being a part of the NFL. However, after much reflection and conversation with those closest to me, I have decided to remain at Notre Dame.”

Bruce Feldman of CBSSports.com first reported the news.

Earlier in the day, the Eagles were rumored to be going “all-in” on Kelly. But he will not be the team’s next head coach.

In the past two weeks, the team has shown serious interest in Brian Kelly, Oregon’s Chip Kelly and Penn State’s Bill O’Brien, but all three coaches have decided to stay in the college ranks.

“There is no question we spent a considerable amount of time and effort looking at who we thought were the best collegiate candidates for our head coaching job,” the Eagles said in a statement. “We did so knowing that there was a remote chance that these coaches would leave their current posts.”

“We understood that going into the process, but we wanted to leave no stone unturned while trying to find the best head coach for the Philadelphia Eagles. We have no regrets about the effort we made in that direction and we will continue to proceed as planned in our search.”

The clear intention of the statement is to reinforce Jeffrey Lurie’s assertion that the Eagles job is among the best in the NFL.

So, where does the search go from here?

The Eagles were scheduled to interview Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley in Atlanta Saturday, a source confirmed. He would appear to be near the top of the list. The Eagles will also interview Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden on Monday and Bruce Arians on Tuesday, according to an NFL Network report.

The team has already interviewed Atlanta’s Mike Nolan, Atlanta’s Keith Armstrong, Denver’s Mike McCoy and former Bears coach Lovie Smith.

There are still five openings league-wide: Philadelphia, Arizona, Jacksonville, San Diego and Chicago. Lurie’s plan all along has been to be thorough. And now, there really appears to be no rush to name a new head coach.

Remember, Brian Kelly wasn’t thought to be on the Eagles’ radar until Wednesday night. So there could still be a mystery candidate. According to a report, the team at least inquired about Bill Cowher. And while the Eagles seem to be leaving no stone unturned, Jon Gruden has not yet been interviewed.

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Report: Eagles ‘Going All In’ On Brian Kelly

The Eagles are “going all in” on Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly, according to a report.

Pro Football Talk, citing a source, says that the Eagles want Kelly to be their next head coach.

And if the Eagles don’t get Kelly, there’s a sense that they won’t quite know where to turn next.

One logical choice seems to be Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who is interviewing with the Eagles Saturday.

But Jeffrey Lurie has made it pretty clear through his actions that he sees value on the collegiate level. The team brass has shown interest in Oregon’s Chip Kelly, Penn State’s Bill O’Brien and Syracuse’s Doug Marrone, now in Buffalo.

“I think the NFL right now tends to borrow more from college than the other way around,” said Lurie following his press conference last  week. “But I think it’s more about leadership. Some of these coaches in college are outstanding leaders. And they just go from a younger roster to a slightly older roster — still the average age is, what 26, 27, 25 in the NFL? They are dealing with 19, 20 year-olds. It’s not that big of a difference.

“There’s  no question, and I’m not the only on who thinks that college coaches are well-trained and have experienced tremendous pressure, and can handle it. And they’re smart.”

Brian Hamilton of the Chicago Tribune reports that Kelly was not out of the country, as has been reported, but rather went from Miami to Nashville for a vacation, and is now in Connecticut to attend the Walter Camp dinner. Over the last several days, Kelly has been talking with “NFL people” to get a sense of the differences between college and the pros.

The conversations with NFL folks have been set up via Kelly’s camp and began before his interview with the Eagles last week, but a league source told the Tribune they continued into the weekend. It doesn’t preclude Kelly’s return to Notre Dame at all, but it suggests more than a passing fancy with the idea of coaching at the next level.

The Eagles, according to a report, are expected to meet with Kelly for a second time. Assuming he gets an offer, the Fighting Irish coach is expected to make a decision fairly quickly.

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Eagles Wake-Up Call: Decision Soon On Kelly?

Brian Kelly is “seriously debating” making the leap to the NFL, a source tells Adam Hoge of CBSChicago.com.

But according to the report, there’s one major issue: He doesn’t have an offer from the Eagles yet.

The Eagles interviewed Kelly on Tuesday, one day after the BCS title game. And they are expected to talk to him once again after he returns from vacation.

All along, Jeffrey Lurie has emphasized that the plan is to be thorough. Earlier this week, SI.com’s Peter King indicated that the Eagles really liked Bill O’Brien, but not enough to make him an offer on the spot. And the team is still expected to interview Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden.

As for Kelly, many speculated that he might simply be using the Eagles to negotiate a better deal at Notre Dame. But I’m not sure that adds up. Like I mentioned earlier this week, Kelly just got the Fighting Irish to the national title game. He was already operating from a position of strength and power. And there are repercussions to flirting with the NFL. Notre Dame has already lost a linebacker recruit because of Kelly’s indecision, per Rivals.com.

By all indications, many at Notre Dame are in the dark about what Kelly’s going to do. From SI.com’s Pete Thamel:

 

The ball appears to be in the Eagles’ court. If they really want Kelly, they’ll meet with him again and make him an offer.

If they want to continue with the process as planned, Kelly will be the one forced to make a decision. Wait around for an offer, which would undoubtedly upset many at Notre Dame; or decide the NFL can wait and stay put.

One way or another, we’ll likely know how serious of a candidate he is by the end of the weekend.

WHAT YOU MISSED

The Eagles will meet with Jay Gruden on Monday, Tim reports.

Andy Reid has most of his coaching staff together. Doug Pederson will be his offensive coordinator; Tommy Brasher his defensive line coach; and his son, Britt, will serve as quality-control coach.

Marty Mornhinweg is getting a look from Rex Ryan and the Jets.

The Eagles aren’t the only team interested in Bradley. The Chargers interviewed him already. Lovie Smith interviewed with San Diego also.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Tommy Lawlor over at IgglesBlitz.com took an in-depth look at Brian Kelly:

I really believe that the inability to work psychological angles and push buttons hurt player development for the Eagles in recent years. Andy Reid seemed to treat his players in a trusting, respectful way. Kelly would be much more demanding. He would be confrontational. He would turn off some players, but if he just connected with a few guys, it would be huge. The Eagles had many good and very good players under Andy Reid, but few great ones.

Evan Mathis made Pro Football Focus’ All-Pro Team:

In the highlight driven world in which we live, many people seem to like like guards who pancake people on occasion, regardless of what they do on the other 1000+ plays. We like them doing whatever it takes to block guys consistently, play in play out. In that regard there isn’t a player in the league close to Mathis.

COMING UP

The coaching search continues.

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Coaching Buzz: Moves That Impact the Eagles

Things have been relatively quiet with the Eagles today, but there has been plenty of movement around the league that could impact the Birds.

Here’s a roundup of what’s going on:

* Let’s start in Cleveland where Joe Banner and the Browns are interviewing Ken Whisenhunt for a second time, according to Mary Kay Cabot of The Plain-Dealer. The Bills expressed some interest in Whisenhunt before hiring Doug Marrone, but no other teams have interviewed the former Cardinals coach.

* The Jaguars joined the party late, firing Mike Mularkey today after one season. According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, they’ll take a look at 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman and Rams offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer. Surprisingly, Roman has not had a single interview up to this point.

* Jay Gruden is currently interviewing with the Cardinals, and he told reporters the plan is to meet with the Eagles next week.

* League sources tell ESPN’s Ed Werder that the Cowboys, who fired Rob Ryan this week, have focused their defensive coordinator search on 72-year-old Monte Kiffin. Kiffin’s age apparently is not scaring teams off. SI.com’s Peter King reported earlier this week that Kiffin could be on Andy Reid’s radar in Kansas City. As for an Eagles slant, the team is expected to interview Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley. Bradley coached under Kiffin for three seasons with the Bucs, and Kiffin apparently thought Bradley was a “once-in-a-lifetime” coach. Perhaps the mentor wouldn’t mind running the protege’s defense if he gets back in the league? Just a thought.

* Multiple reports indicate that Doug Pederson will be Reid’s offensive coordinator in Kansas City. The former Eagles QB coach drew some pretty high praise from former Eagles scout Daniel Jeremiah:

* There was a report Wednesday night that the Bears were also interested in Brian Kelly, but Sean Jensen of the Chicago Sun-Times says that’s not the case.

* Bruce Arians told a San Diego radio station that his interest in the Chargers job has increased now that they hired Tom Telesco as their GM:

“I think so much of [the] success that teams have are great relationships between general manager and head coach,” Arians said, per SportsRadioInterviews.com. “And it’s not who has control of the roster, it’s how do we get the best players? … I had the opportunity to work for 12 weeks as a head coach this year with Ryan Grigson and Tommy Telesco, and it was a fantastic relationship. And I wouldn’t want to work in any other situation as a head coach, unless it’s that type of relationship where nobody’s got a power player [and] we’re all in this together trying to win.”

Arians is expected to interview with the Eagles.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Mike Mayock Talks Brian Kelly, Jon Gruden

Mike Mayock called into 97.5 The Fanatic Thursday to give his take on Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly.

“He is highly charismatic. He is very much a CEO,” said Mayock. “He understands how to hire people, he understands how to delegate. But when it comes to his offense, he’s the guy. He’s a play-caller, and I’m not so sure I believe in that in the NFL at this point.”

The term “CEO” is interesting, because it was used by Howie Roseman this week when talking about what it takes to do this job.

“Being a head coach in the National Football League is a big job, and you’re a CEO, so you have to have a plan and know what you’re doing in every area,” he said. “You would be surprised at how detailed these people are, when it comes to strength and conditioning  or training staff or equipment or video, they have the answers. It’s very interesting to hear.”

 Jeffrey Lurie seems to like the idea of college coaches who are proving that they can handle everything that goes along with running a successful program.  Lurie also wants someone who offers a  modern and flexible approach to the game, which Mayock seems to think Kelly has.

“In his DNA, he wants to spread the field, he wants to throw the ball 40 or 50 times, he loves the mobile quarterback. He is perfect for where offenses are heading this day,” said Mayock. “However, the reason I like him is he knew the strength of his team this year was his defense. There are a lot of coaches who let ego get in the way of wins and losses, and I thought he managed that offense beautifully.

“I’m really a big believer of this guy. The only downside is he has no familiarity whatsoever with the league and would really have to be paired I believe with a highly-competent general manager who is ready to hit the ground running.”

The takeaway would be that Mayock is unsure if Roseman and Kelly would be a fit.

Asked who the ideal candidate is for the Eagles job, Mayock brought up a familiar name.

“I think you load up the truck, and you get in it with a bunch of money and you drive down and find Jon Gruden,” said Mayock. “There’s nobody more ready to jump in than him. He’s gonna cost you a lot of money, but if I’m the Eagles, I’m camped outside his office because I wanna have a conversation.”

The entire interview is worth a listen.

Twitter Mailbag: Why Hold the Title Game Against Kelly?

Every Thursday we select a few of your Twitter questions and provide the long-form answers they deserve. For a chance to have your question published on Birds 24/7, send it to @Tim_McManus.

From @CTel92: Do you get the sense that the Eagles have a preference for a proven commodity (Lovie) or a guy with upside ( Bradley, McCoy)?

The fervent pursuit of college coaches leads me to believe the answer lies somewhere in between — someone who has proven themselves on a big stage but is still considered part of the new wave.

I question whether Smith fits the bill. I think he is a sound leader and a hell of a defensive coach. But he never really found a way to get his offense humming in Chicago, and that has to be concerning. The Eagles have a quarterback to develop.

Jeffrey Lurie has emphasized the importance of landing someone who has an understanding of where the game is headed and will lead the way. I’m not sure Smith is that guy. Maybe Bradley and McCoy aren’t either, but as up-and-comers they hold a certain amount of promise that is hard to generate when you are more of a known entity.

From @SHOOD1970: why for the love of all that is holy are we not talking to Jon Gruden?? 

Not the only question I got about Gruden as you might suspect.

There are working theories out there: Gruden and Lurie don’t have the best relationship; Gruden doesn’t want to step on his baby brother’s toes; Gruden already made it known through back channels that he didn’t want the job. Whatever the case, it’s safe to say that the love affair between Philadelphia and Chucky is much stronger than the one between Chucky and the Eagles.

Someone close to Gruden suggested a couple weeks back that he was on the team’s early list of candidates. But there have been no indications since to suggest that a courtship has ensued. Unless the Eagles are throwing up some major smokescreens, it’s best not to have your heart set on him.

From @brookman_doug: What is the point of interviewing a guy in Brian Kelly, who got rocked vs Saban, and couldnt even speak @ HT interview on ESPN?

I have heard this argument a lot since word came down that the Eagles interviewed Kelly on Tuesday. And for the life of me I don’t understand it. My reaction was the complete opposite: I kept looking at the bottom of the screen during Alabama’s absolute beat down of the Irish, and thought, How is this team ranked No. 1 in the country? You can tell me it’s the shoddy college system or Notre Dame’s schedule or whatever, but you have to admit that it took a tremendous coaching job out of Kelly to get that team into that title fight against that juggernaut.

The BCS championship game was not Kelly’s finest moment and I have no idea whether he would be a good pro coach, but I don’t make my decision off one game against a superior opponent. The Irish were more physically outmatched than they were outsmarted.

From @JesusZoidberg: Do you believe that the Eagles place more of a value on the interview process compared to other teams?

Sure seems that way. At this pace, Kapadia will be interviewing sometime early next week for the post.

“Jeffrey has been very adamant with us that the key is getting the right guy,” said Howie Roseman. “The key isn’t getting the right guy as quickly as possible. So that’s what we’re going to do.”

They are thorough and I can’t hold that against them (even though my wife does). If you feel like you are under the gun than you might skip over important parts of the vetting process.

The coach has to fit with the owner, the general manager, the president, the players, the staff, the city. It takes some time to figure out if you have the right guy (and even longer if a coach you targeted decides to stay in college). I do feel they are approaching it the right way.

Be sure to check out our coaching tracker for all the latest.

 

Eagles Wake-Up Call: Making Sense Of the Brian Kelly Interest

The Eagles’ coaching search took a sharp left turn Wednesday night when reports surfaced that the team has expressed interest in Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly.

Kelly interviewed with the Birds on Tuesday, one day after the Fighting Irish were blown out by Alabama, 42-14, in the BCS title game.

Of all the candidates who have been linked to the Eagles – and there have now been 11 total – Kelly is perhaps the most surprising name. He said as recently as last week that leaving was “not an option.” But as we know by now, what coaches say and what they do can be two different things.

So the obvious question is this: Is Kelly just leveraging NFL interest into a more favorable deal at Notre Dame? We’ve already seen Bill O’Brien and Chip Kelly interview with NFL teams before going back to their respective college gigs. Is Brian Kelly doing the same thing?

Notre Dame athletic director Jack Swarbick recently talked about what he could do to keep Kelly. From the Chicago Tribune:

“Everything that goes into the program is on the table when we have those discussions,” Swarbrick said, when asked if a raise or extension would be part of his postseason talks with Kelly.

“Every year when we’re done, we talk about what the program needs. It’s been reflected in staff hires and equipment and all kinds of things that you do to make sure the program has the resources it needs to go forward. We go through a laundry list of those.”

So, perhaps that’s all it is. Kelly is playing the game like others before him.

But there’s always the possibility that he’s ready to make the leap. He spent three seasons at Central Michigan (2004-2006) and then made the move to Cincinnati. He spent three seasons there (2007-2009) and then landed the Notre Dame job. He’s spent three seasons in South Bend, and well, you get the picture.

Dan Wetzel of Yahoo Sports doesn’t buy the idea that Kelly is just looking to negotiate a better deal at Notre Dame:

The thing is Kelly was already going to get paid. He was already in the perfect position. He restored Notre Dame, bringing joy to one of the wealthiest alumni bases in major college football. He’d earned his raise.

No, the interest in the NFL is real. It’s always been real, the ultimate spot for an upwardly mobile coach.

Wetzel’s argument makes a lot of sense. Kelly just led Notre Dame to the BCS title game. Wasn’t he already operating from a position of strength if all he wants is a better deal from the university?

From the Eagles’ perspective, the interest in Kelly tells us a couple things. Number one, they don’t plan on leaving any stone unturned (this side of Jon Gruden, that is).

And number two, this coaching search is completely wide-open. It appears Jeffrey Lurie had Chip Kelly and O’Brien at the top of his list. After them, the candidates are lumped together. And they come in all different shapes and sizes – from the college ranks (Brian Kelly) to NFL second-chancers (Lovie Smith) to up-and-coming coordinators (Gus Bradley).

The search is going to be exhaustive and thorough. And with the way things are developing, Brian Kelly might not be the last surprise name on the list.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Tim’s got more details on the interest in Kelly.

There were rumors that Jon Gruden was in town yesterday. T-Mac looked into them.

I took a break from the coaching search and offered up three playoff thoughts with an Eagles slant.

Howie Roseman talked to the Eagles’ Web site about the coaching search.

Greg Roman could be drawing some interest, and Mike Pettine is headed to Buffalo.

Tim looks at the philosophical decision between established candidates and unknowns.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com is skeptical of Kelly’s motives:

One longtime general manager says he generally stays away from trying to hire college coaches because you rarely know what they really want — do they want to go to the pros or use the pros to better their situation in college?

The NFL is a huge cash cow and not just for players or coaches but for college coaches looking for a raise. A great college coach leaks word about an NFL interview and boosters show up and ask: How would you like your extra cash? Stock options OK?

From SI.com’s Pete Thamel:

ESPN’s Adam Schefter and Chris Mortensen report that the Eagles and Kelly have agreed to revisit talks when he gets back from vacation this weekend.

COMING UP

I have a hunch we’ll come up with something to talk about.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Eagles Interview Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly

The Eagles are looking to the college ranks once again.

The team is interested in Notre Dame head coach Brian Kelly and have already interviewed him, a league source confirmed to Birds 24/7. It is unknown if the interest is mutual, and Kelly is said to be out of the country. The interview took place on Tuesday, one day after the biggest game of Kelly’s life.

The 51-year-old Massachusetts native took the Fighting Irish to the BCS National Championship game this season, where they suffered a 42-14 loss at the hands of Alabama. Notre Dame went unbeaten in the regular season for the first time since 1988, and led the nation in scoring defense (10.3 points per game). The reigning AP Coach of the Year played linebacker at Assumption College before being hired as the team’s defensive coordinator. Defense is his specialty.

Prior to joining the Irish in 2010, Kelly coached at Cincinnati and Central Michigan. In those three stops he has compiled a record of 81-33 (.711 win percentage), including a 28-11 mark at Notre Dame. He has never coached in the pros.

Jeffrey Lurie clearly likes what he sees on the college level this year.

“I think the NFL right now tends to borrow more from college than the other way around,” said Lurie following his press conference last  week. “But I think it’s more about leadership. Some of these coaches in college are outstanding leaders. And they just go from a younger roster to a slightly older roster — still the average age is, what 26, 27, 25 in the NFL? They are dealing with 19, 20 year-olds. It’s not that big of a difference.

“There’s  no question, and I’m not the only on who thinks that college coaches are well-trained and have experienced tremendous pressure, and can handle it. And they’re smart.”

The team appeared to be in hot pursuit of Oregon’s Chip Kelly and also had interest in both Penn State’s Bill O’Brien and Syracuse’s Doug Marrone. Kelly and O’Brien chose to stay at their respective universities while Marrone took the Bills head coaching job.

Brian Kelly recently stated that he does not intend on leaving South Bend.

“Leaving is not an option,” he said. “I don’t even think about it.”