Relax! The Eagles still have time to find a coach

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Relax! The Eagles still have time to find a coach
January 9, 2013, 6:51 pm
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Youre panicked. Youre freaking out. Your fingernails are down to their cuticles.

Nine days have passed since the Eagles fired Andy Reid and began their search for a new head coach -- nine whole days! -- and it seems like an eternity.

Youve seen them interview and get spurned by two college coaches. Youve heard about Lovie Smiths arranged meeting on Thursday. Youve read about their meetings last week with three NFL assistants and about three more slated for the near future.

Meanwhile, the Bills have already found their front man, and Reid was unemployed all of four days before landing another head coaching gig. Even some quality assistants have found new work.

So you wonder: Whats taking the search committee of Jeffrey Lurie, president Don Smolenski and general manager Howie Roseman so long? You fear too much time has passed and the new guy will have trouble finding quality assistants to round out his staff.

If youre one of those people, just relax. Breathe in. Exhale.

History suggests that the Eagles havent taken any longer to hire a new coach than most other teams have over the past several years. And theres no correlation between the timing of a hire and the teams future success.

Today is Jan. 9. Last year on Jan. 9, only one of the seven NFL teams looking for a new head coach had hired one, and the Chiefs didnt have to look very far for Romeo Crennel. They simply removed the interim tag from Crennels title after the former defensive coordinator had taken over for the fired Todd Haley 13 games into the 2011 season.

Crennel then coached Kansas City to the NFLs worst record at 2-14 and was immediately fired and replaced four days later by Reid. For the second straight year, the Chiefs became the fastest team to replace its head coach.

Of those seven teams last year that sought a new head coach, four didnt hire until Jan. 20 or later. The Colts were the sixth of seven teams to make a hire when they tabbed Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano. One year after going 2-14, Indianapolis went 11-5 to earn the first AFC wild card.

Jeffrey has been very adamant with us that the key is getting the right guy, Roseman said Wednesday to the teams official Web site. The key isnt getting the right guy as quickly as possible. So thats what were going to do.

For several of the NFLs most stable franchises, the right guy wasnt hired within the first 10 days of January.

The Steelers hired Mike Tomlin on Jan. 22, 2007. Theyve since appeared in two Super Bowls, winning the first one for their sixth title overall. Under Tomlin, they have never finished with a losing record and averaged almost 11 wins per season.

The Ravens hired John Harbaugh on Jan. 19, 2009 and have qualified for the playoffs each of the five years since, an NFL record for a new head coach. Baltimore has averaged 10.8 wins per season under Harbaugh.

The Broncos hired John Fox on Jan. 13, 2011; the Falcons named Mike Smith on Jan. 24, 2008; and the Seahawks signed Pete Carroll on Jan. 11, 2010. In their 10 combined seasons since being hired, the trio has made the postseason eight times.

Excluding the three teams that removed the interim tag on their head coach, 13 teams have hired and fired new head coaches in the past three years. The earliest of those hires was San Franciscos tabbing of Jim Harbaugh on Jan. 7, 2011, but Harbaugh came from the college ranks and was the 49ers top choice. The Redskins hired Mike Shanahan on Jan. 6, 2010, but the former Broncos coach had taken the 2009 season off after Denver fired him following the 2008 season.

In the past three years, the earliest an NFL team has hired an assistant from another NFL team was when the Panthers hired Chargers defensive coordinator Ron Rivera on Jan. 11, 2011. Carolina hasnt made the playoffs in Riveras two seasons although the Panthers improved in the win-loss column by one game. The latest in that time frame that an NFL assistant accepted a head coaching job was last year, when the Colts and Pagano agreed to terms on Jan 25.

None of the six new head coaches over the past three years who came from another NFL team and was hired before Jan. 11, which isnt coincidence. Teams with head coach openings frequently get their next guy from a playoff teams. NFL rules permit assistants from playoff teams from agreeing to terms elsewhere until their respective team has been eliminated from the postseason.

The Dolphins last year hired Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin as head coach just five days after Green Bay was eliminated from the postseason by the Giants in an NFC divisional round game.

The Eagles have already interviewed offensive coordinator Mike McCoy of the AFC top-seeded Broncos, who have a home game Saturday against the Ravens in the divisional round, as well as defensive coordinator Mike Nolan and special teams coach Keith Armstrong of the NFC top-seeded Falcons.

They also plan to meet with Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, who will coach Sunday against Atlanta at the Georgia Dome.

These meetings last hours upon hours, so it makes sense that the Eagles would find the right time and place to really get to know the person theyve targeted -- especially for the franchises first coaching search in 15 years.

Being a head coach of a National Football League team, thats a big job, Roseman added. Youre a CEO, so you have to have a plan and know what youre doing in every area. You would be surprised in how detailed these people are -- whether it comes to strength and conditioning or a training staff or equipment of video, they have the answers and its very interesting to hear.

E-mail Geoff Mosher at gmosher@comcastsportsnet.com

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