Jeffrey Lurie seeks the next Andy Reid -- someone with the same forward thinking, football smarts and locker room magnetism that defined Reid and the golden era of Eagles football over which the head coach presided.
At the same time, Lurie and his search committee of general manager Howie Roseman and president Don Smolenski know its not fair -- nor reasonable -- to expect their next head coach to be a carbon copy of their former one.
Because those would be big shoes to fill, Smolenski said Monday in an interview with CSNPhilly.com. But I think what were looking at is a lot of the qualities and characteristics that were found in Andy and trying to find those qualities and characteristics in the individual to be our next head coach.
The point that came across clearest in discussions with the teams power brokers is that the head coaching search, much like the one conducted 14 years ago, will not be motivated by public relations or dictated by the teams prolonged title drought.
Lurie isnt seeking a retread who can maybe rebuild the Eagles into a championship contender within the next year or two before riding off into the sunset. He seeks a progressive-minded franchise builder who embraces the passion of the citys fan base, someone looking to plant his roots here and become synonymous with the franchises identity.
You have to find the right leader, Lurie said in the halls of the NovaCare Complex on Monday, after his press conference to announce Reids firing. When I picked Andy I know it wasn't popular, I know he wasn't known very well. But I had known this guy for a couple years, I had spent time with him.
Nobody knew that but we had met at the NFL Scouting Combine. I had studied him for a while. And looking at the best pool of candidates for that year, it was a no-brainer with Andy, even though it was an off-the-wall choice.
Lurie then dropped his biggest hint yet, calling this years crop of candidates an exceptional pool of visionaries and leaders for those willing to open their mind and look beyond the resumes.
I think if you're open to finding outstanding leaders wherever they are and you're not concerned with how famous they are, you can find someone special, Lurie said.
With that, the message was sent: Dont expect to see Jon Gruden or Bill Cowher roaming the NovaCare halls anytime soon.
It has to be somebody that I think both really has studied where offenses and defenses are going, Lurie said. Somebody that will not just today have a dynamic approach to the game but studies it in such a way that when the game figures out whats going to happen with that kind of offense or defense that theyre a step ahead.
Andy was a step ahead and he realized not just because the offensive rules were changing but he realized that teams that could throw the ball were teams that could win Super Bowls. I think he recognized it way before most coaches. That's been the history of the NFL over the last several years. You can pretty much rate them according to who has the best passing game.
The Eagles already have three interviews lined up with three NFL coordinators from the same staff: Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong (see story).
They have long been rumored to be pursuing Chip Kelly, the offensive mastermind who coaches the University of Oregon and consulted Bill Belichick on how to make the explosive New England offense even faster and more dynamic.
Fourteen years ago, dipping into the college ranks for an NFL head coach would have been considered a major dice roll. But the recent success of 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh and Seahawks coach Pete Carroll -- along with a decent debut from Tampa Bays Greg Schiano -- has made the jump less taboo.
The NFL is getting younger and the age difference between college and NFL players has become less of an obstacle for coaches who make the adjustment.
Its not that big of a difference, Lurie said. There is no question Im not the only one that thinks college coaches are well trained and have experienced tremendous pressure and can handle it and are smart.
On the other hand, thats not to diminish that most of the successful coaches come from the coordinator ranks. Some ex-NFL coaches as well. Again ... no stone unturned. Weve got our target list and its from all sides.
Another point made clear by team brass: The teams 51-year title drought will have no influence in the decision-making process.
Lurie is bent on finding a coach who can deliver the franchises first Super Bowl title but by no means will overlook any potential red flags or personality conflicts that would suggest an improper fit for the city and franchise.
"I think were trying to be balanced in that approach and not put so much pressure on that one thing, Smolenski said. We know its an important decision. We very much want to get it right. You heard Jeffrey said that. Hes very laser-focused on getting that right.
But hiring a head coach, its such a key component to the organization in so many ways. Hes the face with the players. Hes the face with the fans. Hes the face with the media. Hes the face. Jeffrey wants solid, first-class representation. Thats what hes seeking.
I think its an important decision. Its a significant decision. Its one were all going to be very thorough on. Much like when you draft a player you hope you get it right, but were trying not to put so much pressure on ourselves that its a make-or-break decision.
E-mail Geoff Mosher at firstname.lastname@example.org