Why Pat Shurmur Should Not Be Overlooked

Pat Shurmur. (Jeff Fusco)

Pat Shurmur. (Jeff Fusco)

It lacks sizzle, and that’s part of the reason why it’s being generally ignored. But there’s an argument to be made for why Pat Shurmur might just be a legit candidate for the Eagles head coaching gig.

A few things to consider:

Relationship With Bradford

Asked recently if he wants to be back in 2016, Sam Bradford said “yeah” but offered the caveat that “a lot of it depends on who they hire as a coach and what kind of offensive scheme he wants to run.”

The week before Chip Kelly got fired, Bradford noted how hard it is to improve as a quarterback when you’re always learning a new system and a new language, and that part of the allure of remaining in Philadelphia was that it would allow him work in the same offense for a second year. With Kelly gone, that option is now off the table. But if he were to remain side-by-side with Shurmur, they could carry over many of the concepts and verbiage while adding more pro-style elements that were left out in the name of tempo under Kelly.

There is a comfort level between coach and QB dating back to their time in St. Louis, which Bradford seems to value.

“The quarterback-head coach relationship is extremely important in any organization,” Bradford said following the win over New York. “Given the history I have with Pat — we were together my rookie year and reunited this year — I think it would mean a lot to me. I would love to play for him. I really enjoyed playing for him today. If he is a candidate, I hope that he gets serious consideration.”

Is Shurmur the only candidate that would make him happy? Probably not. And even if he wasn’t enamored with the head coaching choice, the Eagles could tag him anyway. But if the Eagles want to sign Bradford long-term and Bradford prefers Shurmur, that can only help Shurmur’s stock.

Linking Present And Past

Andy Reid‘s name has been bouncing around the NovaCare quite a bit over the past week or so.

Asked what they want in their next head coach, both Jason Peters and DeMeco Ryans said they would prefer a father-figure type “similar to Andy Reid.” Lurie met with the players on several occasions to get a feel for what they’re looking for in their next head coach ( including more privately with a handful of veterans that presumably included Peters and Ryans). It’s fair to wonder if the ideal candidate described to him sounded an awful lot like his old coach.

Independent of that, multiple people have suggested to us that Lurie is somewhat eager to reconnect with that part of the franchise’s recent past. Perhaps that helps partially explain why Doug Pederson is also a candidate for the job. Misguided or not, plucking from the Reid tree would link Lurie’s club to an identity that he may very well be longing for after a three-year lab experiment gone awry.

That said, it wasn’t all bad under Kelly. Two ten-win seasons. Plenty of quality offensive concepts that still possess value. And methods on the operational side that can no doubt be pulled from.

Shurmur knows Kelly’s system and he knows Reid’s. He’s worked with the current personnel and is familiar with the old standards that the Eagles likely want to get back to. A decent bridge, in other words, as they travel away from the cliff and back towards more familiar ground.

Further, when describing what he’s looking for in his next head coach, Lurie said he’d like someone “who understands the passion of our fans and what it’s like to coach the Philadelphia Eagles.”

Certainly, previous experience coaching the Eagles would help in that respect.

Working With Howie

Asked about the new front-office structure, Lurie said that Howie Roseman would remain executive VP of football operations and that senior director of player personnel Tom Donahoe would run the day-to-day player personnel department, calling Donahoe a “crucial hire in crucial position in terms of player personnel.”

It has since been widely reported that Donahoe is more or less a placeholder for a to-be-determined front-office exec who will team up with Roseman and the new head coach in “a collaborative approach” to personnel.

However you want to slice it, Roseman is back in the player personnel game and seemingly in a big way. The new coach is going to have to work well with Roseman and be comfortable in Lurie’s desired front-office design.

Not every available candidate is going to fit into that round hole. Shurmur has never worked with Roseman directly but says the two are “friendly.” He’s been around long enough to understand the dynamics inside the Eagles front office, doesn’t come off as power hungry and has a disarming disposition that has likely created few adversaries. Peace is possible, in other words, with Shurmur.

Now, there are plenty of arguments to be made on the other side:

–While Cleveland coaches might have to be graded on a bit of a curve, he went a combined 9-23 in his two seasons as the top man for the Browns.

–You would be promoting a coordinator from a failed regime who worked with an offense that finished 26th in the league in 2015, per Football Outsiders.

–And it would be a tough sell. Eagles fans are looking for a little hope, a little spark, and announcing Pat Shurmur as the next head coach isn’t going to provide much of either. Maybe a popular staff hire (would Duce Staley as OC do the trick? A splash name as DC?) could move the meter, but overall expectations would be tempered and the excitement levels would likely drop.

But Lurie hasn’t always made the popular hire, and here he is working in a unique set of (largely self-created) circumstances. He needs someone that can work well with Roseman. He could use a coach that will help convince Bradford to re-up. He needs someone that will connect with this locker room. He prefers someone that understands this organization and this city.  And he wouldn’t mind if the new era had roots in a successful era of old.

There is much to be weighed and a process still to go through with candidates that could very well dazzle and provide the answers the search committee of Lurie, Roseman and Don Smolenski is seeking.

But Shurmur checks too many boxes to be overlooked altogether.