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.

MORE COACHING BUZZ

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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Coaching Buzz: Jon Gruden Rumors Continue

Yesterday, we brought you a report from Dan Pompei of the National Football Post, which suggested there’s “a good chance” of Jon Gruden becoming the next Eagles head coach.

And today, those rumors continue.

Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com reports that teams have quietly been in contact with Gruden’s representatives the past few weeks. And Gruden could start interviewing with teams as soon as today.

Per Freeman, the two teams to pay special attention to are the San Diego Chargers and (wait for it…) the Philadelphia Eagles.

That’s now two reports in two days linking Gruden to the Birds.

IS O’BRIEN REALLY A CANDIDATE?

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen reported yesterday that Penn State’s Bill O’Brien is on the Eagles’ short list of coaching candidates. One key with O’Brien is that his contract contains a buyout. And according to David Jones of the Harrisburg Patriot-News, the buyout would be for $18.4 million, not $9.2 million, as previously reported. Jones argues that O’Brien may not want to bolt for the NFL right now, but he wants to have the buyout clause removed from his contract so that he can leave in the future without such significant repercussions.

No, I think it’s about freedom. O’Brien wants to have his options open, to be able to go to the NFL in the future should he so desire. If he and his agent can get the buyout clause removed, then he can pursue his NFL dream after next season or some subsequent one.

Bottom line: I still anticipate O’Brien will coach Penn State in the 2013 season. After that might depend partly upon what gets done – or doesn’t – in the next few weeks.

Mortensen also reports that O’Brien was initially told the program wouldn’t face such stiff NCAA sanctions. And that could be an issue when trying to enforce the buyout.

MOVES MADE TODAY

A rundown of firings as of Monday morning:

Romeo Crennel is out in Kansas City, per ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Pat Shurmur and Tom Heckert are out in Cleveland, per FoxSports.com’s Jay Glazer.

Mike Tannenbaum is out as GM of the Jets, but Rex Ryan is staying put, per ESPN.com’s Rich Cimini.

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Reid’s Replacement? Start With These Names

Who will be the next head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles? Here’s a list of names to get you started.

Mike McCoyOffensive coordinator, Denver Broncos

What you need to know: If Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman are looking for a coach who’s shown he can adapt to personnel, they’ll want to give McCoy a call. He catered Denver’s offense to fit Tim Tebow’s skill set in 2011 and now coaches a Peyton Manning-led group that ranks second in scoring (going into Sunday). Kyle Orton had the best years of his career under McCoy’s direction. And Jake Delhomme made a Pro Bowl in 2005 with McCoy as his quarterbacks coach. Fun fact: McCoy, a former QB, spent training camp with the Eagles back in 1998. The 40-year-old has never been a head coach.

Jon Gruden – ESPN analyst

What you need to know: As recently as Saturday night, this seemed like a longshot. But respected columnist Dan Pompei of the National Football Post wrote Sunday morning that people around Gruden are convinced he’s coming back and believe there’s “a good chance” he lands in Philadelphia. Hiring Gruden would indicate that Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman believe they’ve assembled a talented roster that has underachieved and is close to being competitive immediately.

Bill O’Brien – Penn State head coach

What you need to know: It had seemed likely that he was staying put, but Chris Mortensen’s report that O’Brien is on the Eagles’ short list changes things. There’s a lot to like about the Penn State head coach. He spent five seasons as an assistant with the Patriots, including one as offensive coordinator. And he showed he’s capable of working through extremely difficult circumstances while in Happy Valley. Belichick’s disciples have struggled outside of New England, but O’Brien may be an exception since he’s already proven himself elsewhere. O’Brien’s contract with Penn State contains a buyout, but then again, the Saints are shelling out $8.5 million per season for Sean Payton. In other words, owners are willing to pay to get their man.

Chip Kelly – Head Coach, University of Oregon

What you need to know: Hailed as an offensive mastermind, Kelly may be the most-hyped candidate on the market. We’ve written about him at length in this space. He has four years of college head-coaching experience, but has never held a job in the NFL. Oregon’s offense averaged 50.8 points per game this season, second in the country. The Ducks have ranked first, second, third and eighth in scoring offense during Kelly’s tenure as head coach. Bill Belichick has picked Kelly’s brain and incorporated aspects of his scheme into the Patriots’ offense. Teams looking to add Kelly will have to ask themselves whether they’re hiring him for his offensive mind or his offensive system. The system might fail, especially with inadequate personnel, but Kelly’s success in college suggests he’ll be able to figure things out at the NFL level. The Bucs offered Kelly their head-coaching job last offseason, but he ultimately decided to stay at Oregon. The consensus seems to be that he’s ready to make the leap this offseason. Kelly is 49-years-old.

Greg Roman – Offensive coordinator, San Francisco 49ers

What you need to know: Roman, a Ventnor N.J. native, has worked on Jim Harbaugh’s staff for the past four seasons – two with the Niners and two at Stanford. Under the direction of Roman and Harbaugh, Alex Smith turned in his best season as a pro in 2011. The 49ers’ offense turned the ball over just 10 times last season, tied for the fewest in NFL history. This year, the 49ers have changed their offense to fit Colin Kaepernick’s talents. San Francisco is 11th in the league in scoring offense and ranks fifth, according to Football Outsiders. Roman, 40, has never been a head coach at any level and has only been an NFL coordinator for two seasons.

Dirk Koetter – Offensive coordinator, Atlanta Falcons

What you need to know: Koetter has helped Matt Ryan have a career year as the Falcons rank fifth in scoring offense and 10th in Football Outsiders’ rankings. Koetter produced mixed results in his previous stops. He served five years (2007-2011) as the offensive coordinator of the Jaguars. Arizona State was 40-34 under Koetter’s direction, and Boise State was 26-10. Koetter worked with Andy Reid at three different spots – San Francisco State (1985), UTEP (1986-1988) and Missouri (1989-1993). He is 52.

Jay Gruden – Offensive coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals

What you need to know: Tim had a good breakdown of Gruden earlier this month. He’s done a nice job developing young talent – and specifically, a young quarterback – the past two seasons. Andy Dalton, a second-round pick in 2011, threw 20 touchdowns and 13 interceptions as a rookie. This year, his numbers are up across the board. A.J. Green, meanwhile, has emerged as one of the top receivers in the game, and the Bengals are headed back to the playoffs for the second straight season. Gruden had never been a coordinator or a position coach in the NFL or college before 2011, although he did serve as an offensive assistant with the Bucs from 2002 to 2008. He’s 45-year-old.

Gus Bradley – Defensive coordinator, Seattle Seahawks

What you need to know: Bradley’s spent the last four seasons as Seattle’s defensive coordinator, and the results this year speak for themselves. The Seahawks lead the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 15.5 points per game, and are second in Football Outsiders’ rankings. Bradley coaches a versatile, physical group, and the Seahawks boast perhaps the best secondary in the NFL. Bradley, 46, worked under Monte Kiffin in Tampa for three seasons. He was the linebackers coach from 2007 to 2008 and Tampa’s defensive quality control coach before that.

Ray Horton – Defensive coordinator, Arizona Cardinals

What you need to know: The Cardinals have received no help from their offense, but the 3-4 ‘D’ ranks fifth in Football Outsiders’ rankings – second against the pass. Horton played for and coached under Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau. He has 19 years of NFL coaching experience, including six with the Steelers (2005-2010). Horton interviewed with the Rams last year before they hired Jeff Fisher. He could be in line to take over for Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona if he is fired.

Darrell Bevell – Offensive coordinator, Seattle Seahawks

What you need to know: Bevell has seven years of coordinator experience – the last two with the Seahawks and the previous five with the Vikings. He also served six years on the Packers’ staff, including three seasons as quarterbacks coach. The Seahawks are eighth in scoring offense and fourth in Football Outsiders’ rankings. Bevell and the Seahawks coaches have done a masterful job building the offense around rookie signal-caller Russell Wilson. Bevell is 42.

Mike Zimmer – Defensive coordinator, Cincinnati Bengals

What you need to know: He’s spent the past 13 seasons as a coordinator – five with the Bengals, one with the Falcons and seven with the Cowboys. While Zimmer got a pair of interviews last year (Bucs, Dolphins), he’s yet to get a head-coaching opportunity. Zimmer’s units have finished in the top-10 in scoring defense in three of the past four seasons. Cincinnati is second in the NFL with 47 sacks. Zimmer is 56-years-old.

Bruce Arians – Offensive coordinator, Indianapolis Colts

What you need to know: Stepping in for Chuck Pagano, Arians has been at the center of the feel-good story in the NFL this season. A year after earning the No. 1 pick with a 2-14 record, the Colts are headed to the playoffs. Arians has experience working with young quarterbacks. He’s helped Andrew Luck along as a rookie and worked with Ben Roethlisberger from 2007-2011, a run that included a Super Bowl win and another Super Bowl appearance. He of course has Philadelphia roots too, having served as the head coach at Temple from 1983 to 1988. The one thing working against Arians is that he’s 60 and has never been an NFL head coach before.

Ben McAdoo – Packers quarterbacks coach

What you need to know: Tim introduced us to McAdoo earlier this month as a potential sleeper. He’s worked with Aaron Rodgers and was being looked at as a coordinator by other teams last offseason. Lurie, of course, went this route once before and had success hiring a certain QBs coach from Green Bay.

Mike Nolan, Falcons defensive coordinator

What you need to know: He went 18-37 in three-plus seasons as the 49ers head coach, but he may get a second look. Atlanta is fourth in the NFL in scoring defense, allowing 18.5 points per game. Nolan’s also served stints as the defensive coordinator of the Dolphins, Broncos, Ravens, Redskins, Jets and Giants.

Mel Tucker, Jaguars defensive coordinator

What you need to know: Another one of the sleepers McManus’ listed previously. He’s had little to work with in terms of talent in Jacksonville, and the results as of late have not been pretty (27th in scoring defense in 2012). The 40-year-old recently interviewed for the University of Wisconsin head-coaching job, enforcing the belief that the Jaguars’ struggles on defense are due to talent, not bad coaching.

Dave Toub, Bears special-teams coordinator

What you need to know: Toub served on the Eagles’ staff from 2001 to 2003 as an assistant, working with John Harbaugh’s special-teams group and the defensive line. He interviewed with the Dolphins for their head-coaching vacancy last offseason. Chicago’s special-teams units are consistently among the best in the league. SI.com’s Don Banks recently suggested that special-teams coaches may get more of a look this offseason.

Steve Sarkisian, University of Washington head coach

What you need to know: He was mentioned recently by Albert Breer of NFL Network as a potential candidate. Sarkisian has coached the Huskies the last four years, previously spent time as an assistant at USC and served one year as the quarterbacks coach of the Oakland Raiders.

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Coaching Buzz: ‘A Good Chance’ Eagles Land Jon Gruden?

When the idea of Andy Reid being fired became realistic earlier this season, there was one name that was discussed among Eagles fans more than any other: Jon Gruden.

As the weeks have gone by, the attention has turned to others like Oregon’s Chip Kelly, Denver’s Mike McCoy and so on.

But less than 24 hours before Black Monday, Gruden’s name has resurfaced. This, from Dan Pompei of the National Football Post and the Chicago Tribune:

People around the NFL who know are convinced Jon Gruden is coming back to coaching this year, provided the right situation presents itself. I’ve been told Gruden feels he needs to come back now if he’s ever going to do it. He already has been away from the game for four years, and it becomes increasingly difficult for a coach to return the longer he is away. The right situation for Gruden very well could be in Philadelphia. People close to him think he has a good chance of landing there.

Of course, there are many questions here. One, would Gruden want to go to a team where someone else is in charge of personnel? We should get clarification in the coming days from Jeffrey Lurie, but it appears that Howie Roseman is staying put and will serve as the owner’s right-hand man during the coaching search.

The other question is: What will the market be like for Gruden? No coach has ever won a Super Bowl with one team and gone on to win another with a second team. But just because it hasn’t happened doesn’t mean it can’t happen. There figures to be around eight or 10 openings in the next couple days.

Gruden has a career 95-81 (.540) record as a head coach with the Tampa Bay Bucs and Oakland Raiders. His teams made the playoffs five times in 14 seasons, and Gruden got a Super Bowl ring with the Bucs in 2002.

As always, a reminder that you can find all the latest coaching buzz in our special section.

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Coaching Buzz: A Look At Jay Gruden

The focus may be on the wrong Gruden.

While plenty of fans are clamoring for the more famous brother, Jon, to climb down from the broadcast booth to take over the Eagles in 2013, the chances  of that becoming a reality are slim. But hiring his younger brother, Jay, just might make some sense.

The Eagles will get a first-hand look at Jay Gruden‘s work on Thursday night when the Bengals come to Philly. The 45-year-old is in his second year as offensive coordinator for Cincinnati. Integral in the selection and development of quarterback Andy Dalton and receiver A.J. Green, Gruden helped transform the Bengals from a 4-12 club in 2010 to a playoff team the following year. Dalton and Green became the first quarterback-wide receiver duo to play in the Pro Bowl as rookies.

As it just so happens, the Eagles have a young Texas-born quarterback of their own that could use some mentoring.

“From everything I have heard I think Foles would be a good fit for his system. I think Foles and Jay would get along pretty well,” offered Bengals beat man Joe Reedy of the Cincinnati Enquirer. “He is a big guy (Foles is 6-5, 243; Dalton is 6-2, 220), he is accurate and he makes good decisions. I think Jay likes quarterbacks with a little bit of moxy and the ability to persevere.

“Dalton and Foles are about equal in mobility. [Gruden] values accuracy and I know one thing about Foles coming out was that he is extremely accurate.”

Reedy explained that Gruden runs a variation of the West Coast offense that is more rooted in a balanced attack and features a decent amount of the vertical game. He likes the tight end working underneath, and his methods work best with versatile backs that can catch the ball out of the backfield and hold up in pass protection.

“We are not reinventing the wheel against every new defense we face,” said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis. “Jay sees the offense through the quarterback’s eyes, and it’s a case of building from week to week, rather than starting over. The quarterback has a lot of leeway in the things he can call, and Jay recognized that Andy was the type of player who could use those options effectively.”

You can argue that the Eagles have some pieces in place to run Gruden’s system effectively, and a quarterback that might work for him.

Gruden was a quarterback himself both at the University of Louisville and later in the World League and AFL. He was an assistant for the Bucs from 2002-08 and won a Super Bowl coaching under Jon in Tampa. He also won two AFL titles as head coach of the Orlando Predators.

Gruden was said to have been offered the Jaguars head coaching job last year, but declined. Part of the reason is because he is not a man that likes to uproot his family. Reedy said that Andy Reid tried to add Gruden to his staff on multiple occasions before Lewis got him but his advances were denied, in part for the very same reason.

“One of his kids is a senior in high school and one is just starting,” said Reedy. “One reason he stayed out of coaching searches last year is he made a promise with his family that they would stick around for at least one more year.”

Would he be willing to move now for a head coaching gig?

“I think he wants a shot but it’s got to be the right situation,” Reedy said. “He is young enough where he can kind of wait and confident enough that he is not going to take a job just for the sake of taking it.”

A reminder that you can find all of the latest coaching buzz in our special section.

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Eagles Wake-Up Call: The Latest Coaching Buzz

Let’s start this morning with a roundup of the latest coaching buzz around the league.

SI.com’s Peter King thinks Jon Gruden could end up in Dallas:

I think, with all the talk about Jon Gruden’s coaching candidacies, remember these things:

a. ESPN would feel betrayed after clearing Ron Jaworski out of the three-man Monday night booth this season if Gruden left. Not that this would prevent Gruden from taking a great job in the NFL, but simply a point to keep in mind. He wouldn’t go with ESPN’s blessings, regardless what the PR spin is when he leaves.

b. Gruden’s going to have to have a veteran quarterback who’s smart enough to process and execute the whims of his offense, and to be flexible. A Tony Romo, for instance, or Philip Rivers.

c. I would not be at all surprised if the Cowboys have a bad final three weeks if Jerry Jones goes after Gruden hard.

Paul Domowitch of the Daily News talked to a couple league executives about potential head-coaching candidates:

I asked each for a list of four candidates. Interestingly, both lists included two of the same names – Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, brother of Jon. One list also included Packers offensive coordinator Tom Clements and 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman. The other had Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and Bengals defensive lieutenant Mike Zimmer.

Greg A. Bedard of The Boston Globe reports that Joe Banner could hire Michael Lombardi as his GM. He thinks Lombardi could target Nick Saban, Chip Kelly or Josh McDaniels to coach the Browns.

Saban could well be looking for his next/final NFL opportunity if he wins his fourth national championship next month in the BCS title game against Notre Dame. If the Browns (Saban is from northern West Virginia, played for and coached at Kent State, and was a Browns assistant under Belichick) and Lombardi are dangled, he may indeed take the plunge again.

Despite Saban’s personality and his issues in Miami, an NFL owner would be a fool not to make a run at him. He’s a phenomenal coach if he can figure out the personnel and get the right quarterback. And if you want Saban, you need Lombardi.

Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan could get another look as a head coach, writes Dan Pompei of the National Football Post:

Front office men are taking another look at Mike Nolan as a serious head coaching candidate, and many have come to the conclusion he deserves a second chance. Nolan’s body of work as the Falcons’ defensive coordinator this year is pretty impressive. He has had five games against top 10 quarterbacks this year (two against Drew Brees, on against Robert Griffin III, one against Peyton Manning and one against Philip Rivers). Their cumulative passer rating against the Falcons is 61.3. Manning threw three interceptions. RGIII threw for 91 yards. Rivers didn’t throw a touchdown pass but threw two interceptions. Brees had the only good game against the Nolan defense, but in the second meeting between the teams Brees was picked off five times. And Nolan has not accomplished this with an all-star cast. It’s a tribute to his coaching.

A reminder that you can find all of the latest coaching buzz in our special section.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Michael Vick and LeSean McCoy are close to returning to practice. Tim’s got all the details.

The offensive line struggled Sunday. Here is my game review.

After a two-month drought, the Eagles finally found some joy on Sunday.

Here’s my game review of what we saw from Nick Foles.

An update on where the Eagles would draft if the season ended today.

Todd Bowles is in the mix for the Temple job.

A look at Eagles snap counts from Sunday – from Dion Lewis to Brandon Graham, and others.

Foles is earning the confidence of his teammates.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

SI.com’s King offers his take on the Eagles’ win:

I think — and I don’t care how much of an Eagles homer this makes me sound like — I was happy to see the delight on the Philadelphia sideline as the seconds ticked off on the win in Tampa. That’s not an eight-game-losing-streak team, and it doesn’t mean Andy Reid is suddenly a lousy coach. It’s football. And it’s good to see the seeds planted with a young quarterback like Nick Foles bear fruit — he improvised on the winning drive, inventing a fourth-down-conversion pass in the huddle.

Jason Cole of Yahoo Sports lists five potential homes for Michael Vick in 2013: the Bills, Browns, Jets, Cardinals and Eagles:

The final school of thought is that Vick ultimately won’t go anywhere. More likely, it will be Reid who gets let go first and then the decision on Vick will be left to Reid’s successor. If the successor is Oregon coach Chip Kelly or former Tampa Bay and Oakland coach Jon Gruden, Vick’s chances of staying increase exponentially. Vick would fit Kelly’s high-tempo offense (assuming Kelly wants to run that attack in the NFL). As for Gruden, the last thing he has ever done as a coach is develop a young quarterback. Vick, who is 32, fits into Gruden’s model of an older guy who knows the playbook already.

COMING UP

With a Thursday night game, the Eagles have a full practice today. We’ll have everything covered.

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Coaching Buzz: Chudzinski A Sleeper For Eagles?

We gave you two potential dark horse candidates for the Eagles head coaching job on Wednesday.

Mike Lombardi added a name of his own. From NFL.com:

If the Eagles fire Andy Reid and can’t get [Chip] Kelly, Lombardi said Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Rob Chudzinski could be a sleeper selection in Philadelphia.

The Panthers set a team record for yards last season, thanks in large part to a standout rookie year out of Cam Newton. That was Chudzinski’s first year on the job. Prior to that he was the tight ends and assistant head coach for the Chargers, where he worked with Antonio Gates. He has also served as an offensive coordinator for the Browns and the University of Miami.

Lombardi also agrees that Kelly is going to be a sought-after coach.

“He’s the prettiest girl in the school,” Lombardi said. “Everyone is going after Chip Kelly because of what he brings uniquely offensively.”

Playboy has an interesting piece on Jon Gruden (I read it for the articles, I swear!). The subject of whether he’ll return to the sidelines is broached:

When asked if her husband is happier broadcasting than he was coaching, Cindy pauses and then says, “Sometimes I think Jon has two monsters on his shoulder. One is go back to coaching, and the other is stay with this, have a nice life with his family. He’ll always have those two monsters.”

Gruden nods, seems to think it over and shrugs. “At least, no matter what happens, I’ll have tape to watch—and a seat at the FFCA.”

The FFCA stands for Fired Football Coaches Association. Gruden has rented a dingy office overlooking  a swamp in Tampa where he can hang out and watch film at all hours (turns out, Gruden is an insomniac). Fired coaches apparently come from all over and use the place almost as a refuge. Pretty good read.

Gruden’s name is always being linked to one team or another. The latest is the Raiders, who quickly shot that rumor down.

As always, you can find all the latest coaching buzz in our special section.


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Coaching Buzz: The Odds On Gruden

Ask not what Jon Gruden can do for you. Ask what you can do for Jon Gruden.

That is the mindset that needs to be adopted if you want to get a realistic feel for the odds of the Eagles landing Chucky.

Let’s start out by saying those odds are very small. Consider:

Gruden is a 49-year-old mega-millionaire with one of the more desirable jobs in the industry. His work schedule is manageable, his paycheck is exorbitant and his lifestyle is, well, kick-ass.

To cash all that in for the  all-consuming, sleep-in-your-office, round-the-clock grind that is a head coach’s reality would take “an absolutely unbelievable package” from what I have been told.

That means a truckload of money, a high-end quarterback, a dynamite franchise, the works.

The news on Friday is that he turned down the University of Tennessee.

“Coach Gruden has let us know that he’s not interested, and we’re pursuing other candidates,” a Tennessee official said.

He would be king in Knoxville, but he said, “No thanks.” It’s not the first time he has turned down a job since heading to the broadcast booth in 2008, and it won’t be the last.

Of the requirements listed above, the Eagles have the money. You can argue, despite the recent slide, that they have one of the better franchises in the league. But they definitely don’t have stability at quarterback.

Whoever takes this team over from Andy Reid will have his hands full. There is some talent, but it is dysfunctional talent at the moment. A lot of ails can be masked with exceptional quarterback play, but where will that come from?

There are headaches ahead, maybe some more losing seasons. The next man up will have to be motivated to push this team back up the steep incline, inch by inch. As Gruden looks out at the landscape from his plush digs up high in the booth, there is little chance he will gaze upon Philadelphia and find it desirable enough to make the descent back into the trenches.

 

As always, you can find all the latest coaching buzz in our special section.
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Coaching Buzz: Gruden Rumors; O’Brien’s Intentions

The Jon Gruden rumors continue to swirl in several different directions.

The latest report out of WREG-TV in Memphis has the University of Tennessee willing to offer Gruden an ownership stake in the Cleveland Browns.

How exactly would that work?

The story goes that Browns owner Jimmy Haslam III, a Tennessee booster, would help lure Gruden to Knoxville. However, the Browns have flat-out denied the report. Via NFL.com:

“Jimmy Haslam has no involvement in the University of Tennessee head coaching search, and the report that Jon Gruden would potentially have an ownership stake in the Browns is completely erroneous,” Browns Vice President of Media Relations Neil Gulkis said in an official statement.

Gruden also said during a radio interview that there’s no truth to the report.

There have been all kinds of rumors involving Gruden, and we still have five weeks left in the regular season. With there likely to be so many opportunities both at the pro and college levels available, if Gruden wants to go back to the sidelines, this would seem like a pretty good time to make the move.

Meanwhile, Bill O’Brien was asked during a radio interview with 790 AM The Zone in Atlanta whether he’ll be back with Penn State next season.

“I plan on being the head football coach at Penn State (in 2013),” he said. “That’s my plan and that’s what I intend to do.”

Of course, most will notice O’Brien carefully using words like “plan” and “intend.” As others have pointed out, even if O’Brien is 100 percent committed to staying, perhaps it’s not the worst thing in the world (when it comes to recruiting and rebuilding Penn State’s program) to have his name mentioned in NFL circles. Then again, maybe he’s going to at least weigh his options if/when teams call.

O’Brien’s agent, Joe Linta, provided a more firm answer to ESPN.com.

“(O’Brien) is staying, and we’ve had no conversations with anyone else,” Linta said. “In fact, he’s leaving at 6 in the morning tomorrow to go out on the recruiting trail.”

If he bolts, O’Brien would owe Penn State $9.2M over four years, Linta confirmed.

As always, you can find all the latest coaching buzz in our special section.

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King Believes Kelly Will Be Candidate To Replace Reid

Here’s the latest coaching buzz around the NFL. And remember, you can find all these links, notes and rumors in our special section.

SI.com’s Peter King chimes in on who he thinks could be in the mix to replace Andy Reid:

Close to the end, barring a miracle stay by Jeffrey Lurie. Could Oregon coach Chip Kelly, his national title hopes dashed, be waiting in the wings? I believe he’ll be a candidate to take the Eagles job after leaving the Bucs at the altar last year.

We’ve written about Kelly quite a bit in this space. His Oregon squad lost in overtime to Stanford Saturday night. Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com reports that potential NCAA sanctions could push Kelly to the NFL after this season:

The NCAA has been conducting a lengthy investigation into possible payments to intermediaries with ties to recruits. And while the governing body has announced no timetable for any decisions, according to sources with knowledge of the situation, the sanctions could be severe and a decision could be coming after the season. In recent months, the NCAA has conducted interviews lasting six hours or more with “recruiting services” personnel connected to the program, and NFL executives see the situation as being similar to when Pete Carroll left USC to head to the Seahawks in 2010. Carroll bolted to Seattle with sanctions looming, and months later USC was hit with a two-year bowl ban and scholarship reductions that have plagued the program throughout Lane Kiffin’s tenure.

Meanwhile, there continues to be a growing sentiment that Jon Gruden plans on returning to the sidelines after this season. But according to La Canfora, Gruden is being targeted by college programs like Arkansas and Tennessee:

League sources said Gruden has made calls identifying possible staff members with his focus seeming more on the college game, asking questions of those potential staffers about recruiting and issues that do not relate to pro football. Numerous sources who have talked to him in recent weeks came away with the impression that Gruden was more serious about return to coaching now than at any time since he was fired by the Bucs after the 2008 season, although it still would have to be a perfect situation to lure him from his current job at ESPN, where he is well compensated and gets to have a fairly normal family life.

Gruden and the Monday Night Football crew must be thrilled that they’ll get to call the Eagles-Panthers game next week. The two teams are a combined 5-15 and have been outscored by a total of 149 points.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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