Syracuse coach Doug Marrone and Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden have emerged as the two latest candidates for the Eagles head coaching job.
League sources said Saturday morning the Eagles plan to interview Marrone in the Phoenix area this weekend and are also awaiting word from the Bengals on whether theyll be permitted to meet with Gruden.
The Eagles have formally requested permission from the Bengals to talk to Gruden after their playoff game Saturday in Houston, but according to a source the Bengals have not yet gotten back to the Eagles.
Marrone emerged almost immediately early in the week as somebody the Eagles had on their coaching radar, and hell be one of three candidates the Eagles brass will visit with during its Southwestern swing.
Eagles owner Jeff Lurie, President Don Smolenski and General Manager Howie Roseman are also scheduled to interview Oregon head coach Chip Kelly in Arizona on Saturday, according to a league source, and Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy in Denver on Sunday, according to a team spokesman.
Marrone and Gruden become the seventh and eighth confirmed candidate for the Eagles head coaching vacancy, which opened up when they fired Andy Reid Monday after 14 years.
Other known candidates are Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, Falcons special teams coach Keith Armstrong and Penn State head coach Bill OBrien, who have already been interviewed, and Colts offensive coordinator and interim head coach Bruce Arians and Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who cant be interviewed until after their teams play on Sunday.
Assistant coaches whose teams are playing wild-card weekend are not allowed to interview for head coaching jobs until after their team plays.
Marrone, an offensive lineman at Syracuse in the mid-1980s, had a brief professional playing career and then coached in the college ranks from 1992 through 2001.
Herm Edwards brought him to the Jets in 2002 as offensive line coach, and he stayed with the Jets through 2005 before Payton brought him to New Orleans as offensive coordinator.
In his three years as offensive coordinator, the Saints ranked No. 1, No. 4 and No. 1 in total yards and fifth, 12th and first in points scored. He left for Syracuse a year before the Saints won the Super Bowl.
Marrone went 25-25 in four years at Syracuse but this years team surprisingly won the Big East at 5-2 and went 8-5 overall, beating West Virginia 38-14 in the Pinstripe Bowl at Yankee Stadium, not far from where Marrone grew up.
Marrone interviewed last Thursday with the Browns and on Friday with the Bills for their head coaching openings.
As for Gruden, younger brother of former Eagles offensive coordinator Jon Gruden, hes finishing his second year as the Bengals offensive coordinator after coaching in the Arena League for several years following a seven-year stint with the Buccaneers working with his brother.
The Bengals went 10-6 this year and ranked 12th in the NFL in scoring offense with a young quarterback in Andy Dalton. They beat the Eagles 34-13 on Dec. 13 at the Linc.
The Bengals play the Texans in Houston in a wild-card round game Saturday afternoon.
There's always a chance the Bengals haven't given the Eagles permission to meet with Gruden because they're trying to talk him into staying in Cincinnati, which would go along with a pay increase.
The Eagles meeting with Kelly is curious, since multiple reports said Friday evening that the Browns led by former Eagles front-office exec Joe Banner were on the brink of hiring Kelly.
Kelly, who has already interviewed with the Bills and Browns, is still expected to wind up in Cleveland, most likely before the weekend is over, but the Eagles are still going through the interview process, apparently just to get to know Kelly, even though they most likely are fully aware hell be signing with the Browns.
Adding to the intrigue is the fractured relationship between Lurie and Banner, who were boyhood friends and were together in Philly from 1994 through last year. Could the Eagles try to pry Kelly away from Banner even after Kelly and the Browns have presumably reached an agreement?
E-mail Reuben Frank at firstname.lastname@example.org