Hes out of practice. He said so himself.
Now the Eagles are in that same situation. For the first time in a long while, Lurie was forced to dust off the help wanted sign and put it in the front window at the NovaCare Complex. It will not be easy hiring a replacement for the best coach in the history of the franchise. What an unenviable position.
Get it right as Lurie did when he plucked Reid from Green Bay and installed the then-unknown quarterbacks coach as the Eagles main man and the organization will have a chance to rise from the treacherous 4-12 quicksand it unwittingly fell into this season. Get it wrong as Lurie did when he went with Ray Rhodes shortly after buying the team and the Eagles will sink deeper into the mediocre muck.
Despite the history, its not exactly a binary proposition. Employing a good coach or a bad coach isnt the equivalent of flipping a coin. The process is obviously more complicated than that. And Lurie wont make the decision alone. Hell have help from general manager Howie Roseman and president Don Smolenski. But the final call, as Roseman and everyone else has said, will be Luries to make.
There are plenty of good candidates out there. According to various reports, potential applicants for the Eagles gig include Falcons specials teams coordinator Keith Armstrong, Falcons defensive coordinator Mike Nolan, Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman, Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden, Oregon head coach Chip Kelly and countless others. (All of that is according to Sources. The problem with this Sources fellow, aside from the fact that he evidently doesnt have a first name, is that he seems to tell different people different things.)
So there are several solid contenders. The issue is that the Eagles arent the only team with an opening. At present, there are six other organizations the Bears, Bills, Browns, Cardinals, Chargers and Chiefs in need of a new head coach. That means, after Lurie and his head coach headhunters identify their man, the Eagles might have to convince their prospective hire to come to Philly instead of sign somewhere else.
Lurie seems to understand that point. Parts of his press conference from the other day doubled as an advertisement for the organization. As pitchmen go, it was like watching Lurie channel his inner Billy Mays but instead of hawking industrial strength cleaning solvent he was hyping the virtues of a football franchise.
Im very confident that this is the most attractive place for a head coach to work in the National Football League, Lurie said. Other teams can argue the same thing, but I am very confident that we have an incredible fan base. This is a huge media market; prime-time games. If you want to be at the forefront of NFL in America, this is a top-four, top-five media market. Thats great. Facilities, about the best facilities in the National Football League. History of an owner-coach relationship, I think virtually unmatched. I think that the resources, any coach coming here knows theres no limitation on the resources in any direction, financial or otherwise, thats put towards the football program.
Act now and your coaching contract will come with a free ShamWow. Operators are standing by.
It was a good marketing job by Lurie. But convincing someone to take the gig will require more than self-promotion. The Eagles had their worst record since 1998. They may or may not have a quality quarterback in Nick Foles. The offensive line suffered serious injuries, and the defense was a disaster for much of the season. Not to mention that the locker room chemistry is currently toxic. Its a franchise that has been on the decline recently. Thats a tough sell overall.
That doesnt mean we dont have significant holes as well, Lurie admitted after extolling his organization. The NFL is a changed league than it was 14 years ago. Last year everybody laughed and thought that the Indianapolis Colts were years away no matter if they get a young quarterback or not. Theyre a strong team right now and the Redskins as well. Its a league that is changing rapidly.
Hes right. Every year, one or two teams make significant and unexpected strides, leaving the basement behind in favor of a better view at the top of a division. Of course, the Colts and Redskins each have premium commodities at quarterback. The Eagles cant say the same at the moment.
But evaluating talent comes later. First, the Eagles must find a quality head coach. Lurie did it 14 years ago. It wasnt easy then, and it might be even tougher this time around. Replacing Rhodes couldnt possibly be as daunting as replacing Reid.
Were saying goodbye to the winningest coach in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles, Lurie said. Thats the main point. Thats not said lightly.
Lurie gets it. But will he get the right man for the job?