A lot has changed since Chip Kelly was unceremoniously dumped by the Philadelphia Eagles brass, and with Jeffrey Lurie and company already waist-deep in their latest coaching search, we’re left with limitless questions and virtually no answers. It’s been a while since I’ve put pen to paper (or, err, fingers to keyboard), so I’ll use this space as a vehicle for some thoughts that I have regarding the coach search and the trajectory of organization.
The coach search has been ongoing for nearly 2 weeks to this point, and has yet to bear any fruit. Yes, it is still very early in the process, but one of the Eagles’ apparent top targets, former Bears offensive coordinator, Adam Gase, is already off the market, opting to sign with the Miami Dolphins before he could make it it back to Philadelphia for his purported second interview. It’s difficult to pinpoint whether or not Gase was Jeffrey Lurie’s favorite for the head coaching vacancy, but the myriad of reports linking he and the Eagles coupled with the fact that he was the the organizations first out-of-house interview indicates strong interest at the very least.
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To be clear, there’s little reason to believe that missing out on Adam Gase should be considered a harbinger of doom, or anything of the sort. After all, no candidate should be considered a sure thing, as there are limitless variables and mitigating factors involved in the functions of any football organization. That being said, Gase was as good a candidate on the circuit as there is at this point, boasting a resume that oversaw the greatest statistical season ever posted by an NFL quarterback, in addition to serving a key role in coaxing passable play out of Tim Tebow, and manufacturing the best season of veteran quarterback Jay Cutler‘s career. Not to mention his extensive background in developing wide receiver talent. Both of these propensities along with Gase’s reputation as a players’ coach/motivator were obviously highly appealing to the Eagles’ brass, as the state of the league necessitates effective QB play, and the previous coaching staff had failed to develop the team’s young receivers, or exhibit the necessary leadership qualities.
Circling back to my initial point, while Gase was my personal favorite for the job –and perhaps the Eagles as well– it’s prudent to acknowledge that public perception means very little in the grand scheme of things. For a frame of reference, recent Eagles history alone should be indicative of this irrefutable truth.
Now, you’ll have to excuse me here as I’m speculating a bit given my age, but it never appeared to me that the hiring of Andy Reid was well received by the fan base. Reid was a dark horse candidate at the time of his hiring; a quarterback’s coach for the Green Bay Packers with no head coaching or coordinator experience at any level. Donovan McNabb, the most successful quarterback in franchise history by most measures, meanwhile, was booed on draft night. Fast forward to the Eagles 2013 coaching search, and you’ll recall that the 3 of the hottest candidates were Chip Kelly, Gus Bradley, and Mike McCoy. Kelly, of course, was released following his 3rd season, while Bradley has accumulated just 12 wins in 3 seasons, and McCoy is coming off a disastrous 4-12 campaign. Meanwhile, Bruce Arians, who garnered scant fan-interest by comparison, has emerged as a one of the league’s most successful head coaches (go figure).
The point I’m trying to make is that as fans, we are at best viewing this coach search through a third-hand perspective. The fact of the matter is, we don’t have the intimate knowledge of candidates that those within league circles have, and we don’t get the opportunity to see how they conduct themselves during interviews (which is a huge part of the process). The truth is, we’re on the outside looking, and have little, if any intimate knowledge of the situation at hand. This isn’t to say that we shouldn’t develop an opinion on candidates, but acknowledging our position is necessary before attempting to definitively judge a hire, especially before it’s even made.