Lurie seeking 'right leader' to coach Eagles


Lurie seeking 'right leader' to coach Eagles

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 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

Odubel Herrera flips Phillies into winners over Tigers before big trip to Wrigley Field


Odubel Herrera flips Phillies into winners over Tigers before big trip to Wrigley Field


DETROIT — At least Odubel Herrera was honest about it.

“I didn’t expect to hit it that far,” he said with a big grin on his face late Wednesday afternoon.

A couple of hours earlier, Herrera helped key an 8-5 Phillies’ win over the Detroit Tigers with a towering three-run home run into the right-field seats against Anibal Sanchez (see Instant Replay).

Herrera unloaded on the hanging slider and finished with his bat high.

As the bat reached its apex, Herrera didn’t just let it go. He flipped it in the air as if to say, ‘Uh-huh, I crushed that one.’ In the annals of bat flips, it wasn’t quite Jose Bautista quality, but it wasn’t far off. The flip was so dramatic that Herrera admitted after the game that he would not have been surprised if a Tigers pitcher had retaliated and stuck a pitch in his ribs later in the game.

Retribution never came. And Herrera left Detroit with a smile on his face and yet another big day for the Phillies. He is leading the club with a .327 batting average and his .440 on-base percentage is second-best in baseball.

Herrera's big home run helped make a winner out of Aaron Nola and the Phillies on a day when they really needed a win. After all, they had lost four of their previous five and are headed into the den of baseball’s best team, the Chicago Cubs, on Friday.

“For me, it was a must-win,” said manager Pete Mackanin, whose club is 26-21. “We’d lost four of five and I felt like we needed to come out of here with a win.

“The guys battled the whole game. To me it looked like they played like they had to win this game, which was nice to see. It looked like they played knowing we had to win. They were grinding and coming up with hits. Call it what you want, it was just the feeling I got.

“I’m not going to say I’m anxious to see the Cubs; they’re a hell of a team. But I’m hopeful we can take two out of three.”

The Tigers are one of baseball’s best hitting teams.

The Phillies are one of the worst. They entered the day scoring just 3.2 runs per game.

But on this day, the Phillies out-hit the Tigers, 12-10, to salvage one game in the series.

Nola went six innings, allowed four runs, a walk and struck out six. He left with a 7-4 lead. Things got hairy in the seventh, but Hector Neris cleaned up things for David Hernandez, and Jeanmar Gomez registered his majors-leading 17th save.

In between, Peter Bourjos had a couple of big hits, including his first homer of the season. Andres Blanco started at second over Cesar Hernandez and had a couple of big hits, as well. Bourjos and Blanco even hooked up on a double steal with Blanco becoming the first Phillie to swipe home since Chase Utley in 2009. (An off-line throw to second by Tigers catcher James McCann helped.) 

“We have to try things,” Mackanin said. “We can’t bang it out with most teams so we have to try that kind of stuff, take chances.”

The Phillies actually banged it on this day.

Bourjos’ homer in the seventh provided some valuable cushion.

There are no cheap homers in spacious Comerica Park. Bourjos’ homer traveled 401 feet according to ESPN’s play by play.

Though Bourjos claimed he did not see Herrera’s bat flip in fifth inning, he was aware of it. For the record, Bourjos did not flip his bat on his homer. He put his head down and ran.

“I don’t have that kind of swag,” he said with a laugh.

Bat flips make some folks, particularly old-schoolers, uncomfortable. Bautista’s famous bat flip against Texas in the playoffs last season led to simmering tensions all winter and eventually a brawl between the two teams two weeks ago.

Mackanin actually seemed a little uncomfortable talking about Herrera’s flip.

“I did not see it,” Mackanin said. “A lot of players believe that they should be able to celebrate. But I didn’t see it. I wish you never brought it up.”

Herrera explained that he always flips his bat, even when he makes outs. This one had a little extra oomph, he said, because, "I didn’t expect to hit it that far.”

And how far did he hit it?

Well, ESPN’s play by play said it traveled 409 feet. MLB’s Statcast said it went 427.

Either way, that’s a long Uber ride.

Herrera was asked what was more impressive, the flip or the homer?

“Both,” he said with a laugh.

Herrera has become a more demonstrative player in his second year in the league. He’s letting his emotions show. On Monday night, frustration over a poor at-bat got the best of him. He did not run out a ball back to the pitcher and was benched.

On Wednesday, his emotion was more triumphant, hence the bat flip. But sometimes that can make an opponent angry. There were no repercussions Wednesday and probably won’t be because the Tigers and Phillies don’t see each other again this season. But down the road?

“I’m not worried,” Mackanin said.

“It was nothing personal,” Herrera said. “It was natural.”

Maikel Franco says ankle injury is mild, vows to play Friday


Maikel Franco says ankle injury is mild, vows to play Friday

DETROIT — The Phillies have an off day Thursday.
It will come in handy for Maikel Franco.
The third baseman suffered what was termed a sprained right ankle while sliding into second base in the top of the seventh inning Wednesday. He hobbled off the field before the start of the bottom of the inning.
After the game, both Franco and manager Pete Mackanin stressed that the sprain was mild.
Franco received treatment after coming out of the game and he will again on the off day. Mackanin said he would exercise caution in determining Franco’s availability for Friday afternoon, but did not rule out playing Franco.
Franco was adamant. He’s playing.
“It’s a little bit sore, but it’s fine,” he said. “It already feels better. I’ll be ready for Friday. With the day off, I know I’ll be OK.”
If Franco can’t play, Mackanin would insert super-sub Andres Blanco into the lineup. He had two hits, including an RBI double, and scored two runs in Wednesday’s win over the Tigers (see Instant Replay).
Franco had a pair of singles and is 7 for 15 in his last four games.

Frank Reich: Sam Bradford won't be handed Eagles' starting job


Frank Reich: Sam Bradford won't be handed Eagles' starting job

After the Eagles drafted quarterback Carson Wentz, head coach Doug Pederson declared that Sam Bradford was still the No. 1 quarterback.

Pederson reiterated it when a scowling Bradford chose to skip some voluntary workouts and did so again after Bradford returned to the team.

But Pederson's assistants haven't been so clear.

On Tuesday, defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz discussed the topic when asked how he brought along QB Matt Stafford — the first overall pick in 2009 — while serving as head coach of the Detroit Lions. 

"Don't judge him on somebody else, and then also don't predetermine the results of the race," Schwartz said. "Just let him go play. Don't put pressure on him."

At the moment, it certainly seems like the results of the race are predetermined. It's Bradford, Chase Daniel and Wentz ... right? 

On Wednesday, offensive coordinator Frank Reich was on 94-WIP and was asked by Angelo Cataldi about the "impression" that Bradford is the No. 1 QB and there isn't an open competition. 

“No, I would actually say that’s probably not the right impression. I'll tell you why,” Reich said. “I’ve been around this business a long time as a player and as a coach, and one of the things I’ve really come to appreciate is it’s not a contradiction to say that you’ve got to have order. Because if you don’t order it’s chaos. 

"So if you’re the head coach, you gotta come in and you’ve gotta establish order. There has to be organization, there has to be order, but the other thing that, as coaches, that you’ve got to establish is a culture of competition. I mean this is one of the most competitive industries in the world — and so, to say that there’s not competition, that’s just the furthest thing from the truth.

“So I don’t see the problem with creating order and competition at the same time, personally. Every one of us as a coach and a player, you’re working harder to get better, but in that process you have to establish order, and things have a way of working themselves out.”

So there has to be a order — hence Pederson's QB depth chart — but there also has to be competition.

In other words, there is a depth chart, but it's written in pencil. And a big eraser is nearby.

Let the saga continue.

Training camp is still two months away.