Eagles Wake-Up Call: Championship Coaches
Searching for a head coach who can lead your team to a Super Bowl is an inexact science. Championship caliber coaches have come from all kinds of backgrounds, which is why — despite the Chip Kelly era — Jeffrey Lurie won’t rule out any type of coach, even those from college with no professional experience.
“No category is diminished here,” Lurie said the day after he fired Kelly. “We’re going to look at NFL coaches, NFL coordinators, college coaches, retired coaches — any category you can come up with, if we think it’s the best candidate.”
Although there may not be a prototype you can model the best head coaches after, we looked at the last 10 Super Bowl-winning coaches to seek similarities. Those coaches are Bill Belichick, Pete Carroll, John Harbaugh, Tom Coughlin, Mike McCarthy, Sean Payton, Mike Tomlin, Tony Dungy, Bill Cowher, and Jon Gruden.
Be careful not to confuse correlation with causality, but we thought it would be interesting to look at those coaches in five different categories.
PREVIOUS NFL COACHING EXPERIENCE
Before their first NFL head coaching job, men in this group had an average of 10 years of professional coaching experience. Tomlin had the fewest number of years (6), while Belichick had the most (16). The Patriots head coach has been around the league for so long that his first job was with the Baltimore Colts 40 years ago when he was a 23-year-old special assistant.
According to Brandon Graham, previous NFL coaching experience is important.
“It’s just different,” Graham said the day after Kelly was fired. “You’ve got more opinions in the league than you do in college. You’re paying a lot of guys in the league more money sometimes than the coach. You got to work together. You got to come to the middle. There’s always a power struggle in the NFL because you’re trying to tell a grown man with some money to do something, and make them believe it. It’s hard.”
PREVIOUS NFL COORDINATOR EXPERIENCE
We only counted previous offensive or defensive coordinate experience, or else Harbaugh would’ve been included as he spent nine years as the Eagles special teams coordinator. Coughlin, of course, became the Jaguars head coach after spending three years at Boston College in the same position, and he was only a wide receivers coach before being elevated eventually to the top job.
Prior to their first NFL head coaching job, this group of men spent an average of 3.5 years as an offensive or defensive coordinator. However, Lurie added that he doesn’t care which side of the ball a coach’s background is in.
“I’ve looked carefully at coaches around the league and where they come from, and I don’t think there’s any clear evidence of offense over defense or defense over offense,” Lurie said. “It comes down to the leadership ability with today’s athlete and today’s world. It’s different than it was a long time ago. I don’t treat offense or defense differently.”
SUPER BOWL-WINNING COACH TUTELAGE
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70 percent of the men in this group coached under a Super Bowl-winning head coach in the NFL before elevating to the top spot themselves. When a coaching candidate is deemed to be qualified, such as Adam Gase before Miami hired him, it’s often because of the successful men they’ve learned under elsewhere in the league.
YEARS BEFORE FIRST SUPER BOWL WIN
Although Eagles fans are anxious for the franchise’s first Super Bowl win, they may have to be more patient than they realize. In this group, it took an average of 7.3 years for the head coach to win his first Lombardi Trophy. Tomlin did it the fastest (2), while Cowher took the longest (14).
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As you’d expect, the success of a head coach appears to be closely tied to how good his quarterback is. “Franchise quarterback” is a relative and debatable term, so I used the straightforward definition of a quarterback who has been named to multiple Pro Bowls. Joe Flacco is the only one who doesn’t fit that bill, although he did turn down his first invitation last season due to the anticipated birth of his third child.
WHAT YOU MISSED
The Eagles confirmed they met with Tom Coughlin for their coaching vacancy Monday.
A Twitter mailbag, with answers to pressing queries on Sam Bradford and Coughlin.
“In so many ways, he’s a perfect fit for the Eagles.” What they’re saying about Coughlin.
With Adam Gase off the board, taking a second to reset the Eagles’ coaching search scene.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
David Murphy makes the case for Doug Pederson; or, at least, a coach very similar to him.
Start scrolling through his career, and you realize that he is pretty much the Kevin Bacon of NFL assistants. He has direct experience with an amazing number of offensive and defensive schemes thanks to his time as a journeyman quarterback.
One of the biggest challenges facing any new coach is the task of building a quality coaching staff. A new head coach can’t hire coordinators who are under contract elsewhere, which means he needs to rely on first and second-hand knowledge of position coaches across the league in order to find one capable of the task.
Despite their supposed jump start, writes John Gonzalez, the Eagles’ head coaching search simply feels disjointed.
The part about it being rushed and chaotic seems right, but it doesn’t appear the Eagles got a jump start on anything. Does it seem to you that they’ve benefited from those extra six days? More specifically, do you believe they had a specific plan in place? Because the way this search has gone, it feels less like they had an in-order, top-to-bottom wish list than a grab bag of potential candidates.
The last search ultimately failed, but at least the Eagles had a clear idea of what and who they wanted. Chip Kelly was their guy. They got their guy. And if they hadn’t gotten their guy, they probably would have gotten Gus Bradley, who was almost their guy. Whatever you may think about those two men as coaches, the Eagles knew exactly what they set out to accomplish in the last search.
Eagles not planning any more HC interviews as of now. Will regroup after owner’s meetings. Pederson among those who impressed them
— Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 12, 2016
To be clear on Eagles, could be second interviews with candidates but was informed nothing was planned with new candidates — Jason La Canfora (@JasonLaCanfora) January 12, 2016
We’ll continue to have you covered as the Eagles search for their next head coach.