Missanelli: The Last Thing the Eagles Need Is Another “Genius” Coach
Al Pacino once famously said about Chip Kelly and his tenure with the Philadelphia Eagles: “He took a FLAMETHROWER to this place.”
OK, maybe I’ve got the context all screwed up, but basically, that’s what Kelly did to the Philadelphia Eagles. And it wasn’t like we didn’t predict it. When Kelly was tinkering with his culture-beats-scheme principles, the fanbase was thinking either this guy is a total genius, or he’s taking this franchise to the bowels of hell. This season, and the Eagles’ terrible regression, proved it was more of the latter than the former.
So where does the team go now?
Every day, fans have a new idea about whom the Eagles should hire to resuscitate the franchise. Before he reportedly agreed with the Dolphins, the flavor of the month was Adam Gase, the offensive coordinator from the Chicago Bears, who has two claims to fame.
One: He worked with Peyton Manning in Denver and Peyton swears by the guy as if he’s Svengali. The story goes that Peyton could call Gase at any time of the night to discuss a football concept. What coach isn’t going to take a call from Peyton Manning? This is supposed to be a bright spot on the guy’s resume?
Two: He somehow made Jay Cutler a human being. Cutler, an enigma if ever there was one in this league, had a good year for the Bears … who finished 6-10. Uh, is Adam Gase really that good?
Me, I’m tired of Jeffrey Lurie trying to find the next “genius.” He did that with Kelly and it failed miserably. So here’s my plan:
Hire Sean McDermott, the defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers. McDermott failed here as a D-coordinator after tutoring under the great Jim Johnson. But that was many years ago. Since then, he has forged solid defenses nearly every year in Carolina, including the last four years ranking the Panthers in the top 10 in that category. He’s also a Philly guy, which overall doesn’t mean much. But he certainly understands the Philadelphia sports fan base and knows — where Kelly didn’t — that one must reach out occasionally to them by being available and actually saying something in press conferences.
But I like McDermott mostly because his hiring would create much-needed stability for the Eagles, the kind that would make it possible for the Eagles could go into next season and actually win a division. If the stinking Washington Redskins can do that, why couldn’t the Eagles?
Here’s the way my theory would work. The Eagles hire McDermott, who retains Pat Shurmur as the offensive coordinator. Now Shurmur isn’t a sexy name, but he does have a relationship with the current quarterback, Sam Bradford, who, as a free agent, must decide whether he’d like to re-sign with the Eagles. Now Bradford isn’t Joe Montana, but the Eagles have backed themselves into a corner at that position. They need Bradford — unless they’re willing to take a chance on drafting a quarterback with the 13th pick in the upcoming NFL draft. The best of the lot at that point might be Carson Wentz, a kid from FBS school North Dakota State, who likely isn’t ready to start in the NFL.
If the Eagles can lure defensive coordinator Steve Spagnuolo back to town from the Giants, they would have three guys on their staff who all coached together on a previous Eagles staff. That’s continuity. That’s stability. And that just may be enough to simplify the proceedings and get to the business of winning enough games to get into the playoffs.
I like that concept better than looking for the next genius.