Eagles Wake-Up Call: What the Players Want
Jeffrey Lurie cited several factors when discussing the timing of the Chip Kelly firing, but said the most important was that making the move before the end of the year would allow him to take the temperature of the players before they scattered for the offseason.
He met with them as a group on Wednesday morning, then again on Monday. In between, he sought the counsel of a few key veterans to get an understanding of what was lacking under Kelly, and what was needed moving forward.
“I think it was just more of him just getting a feel for his players and what are the qualities that we look for in a head coach, that we want in a head coach, what are some of the things that we need as NFL players,” said Malcolm Jenkins. “And I think that’s a conversation that not many owners have with their players. I think we can have confidence in who they select because we know they’re listening to what we want, what we have expressed is important to us, so we feel good about the whole selection process.”
We can get a good idea of what the players told Lurie based off some of their comments this week. Jason Peters, for example, said he wanted someone similar to Andy Reid. “He’s like a father figure to all the players. You just kind of didn’t want to let him down so you always played hard for the guy,” he said. “Somebody like him.”
DeMeco Ryans echoed those sentiments on Monday.
“For me, I think the coach that comes in has to definitely be like a father figure type of guy, a guy that really commands respect. A guy similar to Andy Reid,” said Ryans. “Playing for Andy was really cool. Andy meant a lot to a lot of guys. You could tell that. I played under him one year, but just to see his presence, it meant a lot. So someone similar to Andy.”
Ryans added that no one style guarantees success, but thinks this locker room is calling for a specific type of leadership.
“I think just every day, just the guys’ attitude around the building,” he said, when asked when the benefits of having a players’ coach shows up the most. “Everybody just being loose and being able to express their personalities. It allows guys to just be themselves.”
Certainly, having a coach that will “open [their] heart to players,” as Lurie said, is not the end-all, be-all, but it will be an important part of the recipe.
“There’s a lot of coaches that you ask their players about them and they love them to death but the team isn’t good,” Jenkins said with a laugh. “But then you also have these minds that are brilliant football minds but can’t relate to their players and can’t motivate their players. I think there is a balance of being a coach that can relate to the players but also getting the job done from an x’s and o’s standpoint.”
Who fits the bill? Adam Gase apparently connects (Josh will have more on that today), but at age 37, it’s unlikely he’d fit under the umbrella of a father figure. Ditto the 41-year-old Sean McDermott, who at last check (Monday afternoon) had not been contacted by the Eagles — though things can change quickly during this process.
Cincinnati offensive coordinator Hue Jackson seems to have the blend of x-and-o knowledge and personal touch. (As of late Monday, the Eagles had yet to submit an interview request for Jackson.) You can make the argument for Lions DC Teryl Austin (who will reportedly interview for the job this week) and Sean Payton.
And there’s also a case to be made for candidates Doug Pederson, Duce Staley and Pat Shurmur. All have the reputation of working well with players. All have studied under Reid. And all understand “the passion of our fans and what it’s like to coach the Philadelphia Eagles” — another desirable trait in the mind of Lurie. If we add experience into the equation, Shurmur has the rest of the company beat.
The list of potential candidates continues to grow. The names connected to the job so far include Staley, Pederson, Shurmur, Payton, Austin, Gase, Jags assistant head coach Doug Marrone, Giants offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo and Tampa OC Dirk Koetter.
Time will tell who ends up with the gig. But it’s probably smart to listen to the players’ preferences when trying to make sense of this search, seeing as Lurie appears to be doing just that.
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles signed seven players to reserve/futures contracts on Monday afternoon.
“Everybody who knows me knows where I want to be.” Roundup from the last locker room of the season.
The coaching search began Monday, kicking off a wild few weeks of uncertainty and interviews.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
While the Chip Kelly regime was a largely fruitless three seasons, it seems he may have found the team its franchise quarterback, writes the Daily News’ David Murphy.
One can make a case that Kelly’s decision to part with Nick Foles and a second-round pick – plus a significant chunk of salary-cap space – in exchange for [Sam] Bradford was his most counterintuitive move of the offseason. Bradford was coming off a second straight ACL tear and Foles had put up better career numbers, not to mention an exemplary 2013 season in which he threw for 27 touchdowns and just two interceptions as the Eagles made the playoffs in their first season under Kelly.
Yet Bradford has flourished even as the rest of his team has foundered, his 2 1/2-game absence with a separated shoulder looking increasingly costly the better he has played. If all you had was the tape of his 30-for-38, 320-yard, two-touchdown performance in a 35-30 win over the Giants, you would have made him the top pick in the draft all over again. He made every throw an NFL quarterback needs to make: every trajectory, every velocity, every location.
Peter King thinks Jeffrey Lurie should have shown more patience with Kelly.
Owning an NFL franchise is tough when the team’s losing. It’s a cauldron of hate in Philadelphia when the Eagles are down. It’s tough to get slapped in the face, day after day, by fan and media anger with a disappointing team. But this move is so 2016 NFL. So precipitous. So impatient. So unlike the 2010 Lurie. He succumbed to pitchforks instead of ignoring them. Even the trigger-happy Art Modell kept Bill Belichick (20-28 in his first three years) after Belichick fired the beloved Bernie Kosar in year three. And Kelly (26-21) gets fired?
I can see Lurie this season questioning, deep down, the Kelly hire. I can see him quietly telling his close friends, Maybe I made a mistake. But there should have been someone in the building or in his life to tell him to buck up, go one more year with a man in whom he’d invested so much. There’s no guarantee it would have worked and that Kelly would have won. But firing a coach with a different philosophy struggling with a different program but beating the Super Bowl champion on the road during that struggle? I don’t like it. I just think it’s wrong.
The coaching search rolls on. We’ve got you covered.