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 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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