Coaching Buzz: Lovie Smith Interviewing With Chargers

The Eagles interviewed Lovie Smith yesterday, but the former Bears coach has other suitors.

He’s headed to San Diego to meet with the Chargers about their vacancy, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL.com. As we detailed earlier this week, Smith’s Bears teams made the playoffs three times in nine seasons. He had defense and special teams figured out, but failed to put together a top-level offense during his tenure there.

That will be the key question for Smith as he goes through the interview process: What went wrong offensively in Chicago, and how do you plan on fixing that if we hire you?

Smith will have interviewed with three different teams: the Eagles, Bills and Chargers. Buffalo, of course, has already filled its vacancy with Doug Marrone.

If Smith doesn’t get a head-coaching gig, he’d be a heavily-pursued target at defensive coordinator.

Here’s the rundown of Eagles interviews/planned interviews so far:

Coach
Position
Status
Jay GrudenBengals OCWill Interview
Gus BradleySeahawks DCWill Interview
Bruce AriansColts OCWill Interview
Lovie SmithEx-Bears CoachHas Interviewed
Mike NolanFalcons DCHas Interviewed
Keith ArmstrongFalcons ST CoachHas Interviewed
Mike McCoyBroncos OCHas Interviewed
Chip KellyOregon HCHas Interviewed
Bill O'BrienPenn State HCHas Interviewed

JIMMY JOHNSON BREAKING NEWS?

Fox analyst Jimmy  Johnson got people’s attention with this Tweet:

We know about Rob Chudzinski, but if the Bears are ready to hire Montreal Alouettes coach Marc Trestman, that’d qualify as breaking news.

Perhaps Johnson has some inside information that no one else is privy to, but his Tweet has not been confirmed.

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Eagles Wake-Up Call: Old School Vs. New School

Bill Cowher perked up some ears when he told Newsday that he plans to coach again at some point. He hasn’t paced an NFL sideline since 2006 (at which point Nick Foles may or may not have had a driver’s license) but insists his time off is a “non-issue.

“I did it for 27 years. You don’t just forget things overnight. One thing about this job is it’s been really good because it allows me to study the game and do features on the game. I want to know what I’m talking about so I’m watching tape. It’s not like I’m out of it. I know how the game is changing.”

The coaching “retreads” have been a bit of a hot topic in Philadelphia over the past few days in particular. Between Cowher’s comments, Jaws’ push for Jon Gruden and the announcement that the Eagles will interview Lovie Smith Thursday, the debate is on whether Jeffrey Lurie should go with the proven commodity over the up-and-comer.

So far, the Eagles have only shown public interest in two former head coaches — Smith and Mike Nolan. But the allure of the established veteran  exists. It is easy to look at the Gruden, Cowher, Smith trio and be taken by the four Super Bowl appearances and two Lombardi trophies between them. Land one of those three, and you at least have a resume and some career highlights to work off of. If you hire Gus Bradley or Mike McCoy — accomplished assistants who have yet to sit in the captain’s chair — you are selling promise.

You are also selling the idea of being with the times if not ahead of the curve. These are hungry, motivated coaches looking to make their mark. Would a more accomplished coach be willing to push the boulder back up the mountain? Do they want it — even need it — enough?

Lurie is on record as saying the coaching talent pool this season is “exceptional.”

“I think if you’re open to finding outstanding leaders wherever they are — and you’re not concerned with how famous they are or whatever — you should be able to find someone special,” he said.

The Eagles appeared to go pretty hard after Chip Kelly, so it’s not as if they have exactly steered clear of the popular coaches. But Lurie believes there are some less-than household names out there  that can get the job done.

Last time around he called on a young Andy Reid to try and fix a team that went 3-13 the year before. Now he needs someone to clean up the mess left behind following a 4-12 campaign.

Does he go new school or old school? If he chooses the latter, he better be sure the candidate is willing to get his hands dirty as the Eagles rebuild.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Sheil has more details on Smith.

The latest coaching buzz features news on Nick Saban, Mike Pettine and Jay Gruden.

The national media are talking about Evan Mathis, Brandon Boykin, potential Eagles draft picks and more.

Jaws says Jon Gruden might want back in, but the Eagles haven’t reached out to him.

If you missed our show (heavy on the coaching search talk), here’s the podcast.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

A couple NFC East notes that will impact the 2013.

For one, Dallas fired defensive coordinator Rob Ryan. As you might expect, Ryan did not go gentle into that good night:

The Cowboys defense finished 19th overall, 17th against the run and 21st against the pass.

“I inherited a team that was 31st in the league in defense and made them better,” Ryan told ESPNDallas.com’s Tim MacMahon. “I (expletive) made them a hell of a lot better. I’ll be out of work for like five minutes.”

RGIII will be learning the severity of his injury very soon.

 Robert Griffin III is expected to undergo surgery this week on his torn lateral collateral ligament and at that time doctors will determine how much damage has been done to his anterior cruciate ligament, a source told ESPN. According to reports, Griffin is expected to have the surgery on Wednesday.Griffin suffered a partially torn LCL in his right knee during Sunday’s playoff game against the Seahawks, a source said.

Griffin also likely tore at least part of his ACL, but it’s unknown how severe it is because a previous knee injury he suffered at Baylor in 2009 required two screws and a rubber band to hold it together.Because of the previous injury, doctors initially could not determine Monday if his ACL was partially or completely torn and doctors don’t know what surgery should be performed.

The Washington Post reported earlier that Griffin’s MRI suggested partial tears to the ACL and LCL.

COMING UP

Continuing coverage of the Eagles coaching search. We’re getting closer.