Marty Mornhinweg Officially a Head Coaching Candidate, and Examining Potential Successors

Marty Mornhinweg Officially a Head Coaching Candidate, and Examining Potential Successors

Round and round the coaching carousel goes. While Andy Reid keeps on showing up for work these last 12 years and still going strong, a handful of NFL coaches haven't even made it past two. One such coach is Eric Mangini in Cleveland, who finds himself out of work again after a pair of 5-11 finishes. Now it's reported another man who knows something about two-and-outs, Marty Mornhinweg, could be the front-runner to replace him.

Mornhinweg's star has been resurrected since joining the Eagles' staff. As head coach of the Detroit Lions, he managed to win five games in two full seasons. Some of that is because it was, you know, the Lions, but he also once famously chose the wind instead of the ball after winning the coin toss in overtime. That kind of thing can make it hard to be taken seriously as a potential head coaching candidate in the future.

Mornhinweg became the Birds' offensive coordinator after Brad Childress departed in 2006, and since then has developed the most prolific offense in franchise history. They surpassed the club record for scoring for the third consecutive season, which is especially impressive considering the change at quarterback. Due to his success, it really isn't a surprise to see his name back in the conversation, but why Cleveland?

The Browns' front office went through a restructuring last off-season, hiring Reid's mentor Mike Holmgren as President and former Eagles General Manager Tom Heckert for the same role. Mornhinweg also worked under Holmgren and was the quarterbacks coach when the Packers won the Super Bowl in 1996. He obviously knows Heckert as well, so there is a level of familiarity between the three men that could give Marty the edge.

Sources are now acknowledging the Browns have requested an interview with Mornhinweg. They may not have needed to make a formal request at all if the Birds don't beat the Packers this Sunday, nor would any other NFL team searching for a head coach. The fact is, the Eagles probably need to prepare for life without him in the immediate or near future, one way or another.

One popular theory had Childress returning to Philadelphia after his firing in Minnesota. Reid even embraced the idea, welcoming his former understudy with open arms. Such a situation would be unique however. While disgraced head coaches sometimes go back to work under their students, the pupils rarely, if ever, go back to work for their old master. How would that look? Sort of like it was the only job he could get.

The most likely candidate to replace Mornhinweg if/when he is hired away might be current quarterbacks coach James Urban. Urban joined the Eagles as an assistant in 2004, and has been climbing the coaching ranks ever since. He became much more widely known this season for the work he did with Michael Vick in the off-season, which was said to be highly influential in the quarterback's incredible transformation.

It's not just Vick either. Last season, Donovan McNabb posted his highest passer rating since 2004. Urban has also worked with Kevin Kolb, who many observers believe can be a quality starting quarterback in the NFL. His resume is growing, and the offensive coordinator position looks like the logical next step.

Andy could also go outside the organization, but that seems unnecessary with a talented in-house option. Who knows, Marty could interview and not wind up getting any jobs... this time at least. With such strong ties inside the Browns organization though, and rumors as far back as a year ago Cleveland would be his eventual landing spot, it's looking like his run in Philly is coming to its end.

>> Source: Browns plan to interview Mornhinweg [CSN]

NFL Playoffs: Matt Ryan, Falcons dismantle Packers to reach Super Bowl LI

NFL Playoffs: Matt Ryan, Falcons dismantle Packers to reach Super Bowl LI

The Atlanta Falcons are headed to their second Super Bowl appearance in franchise history after routing the Green Bay Packers 44-21 in the NFC championship game.

Matt Ryan threw for four touchdowns, including a 73-yard catch-and-run for a highlight-reel score by star receiver Julio Jones. The defense played just as crucial a role in containing quarterback Aaron Rodgers and the Packers' offense.

Rodgers had 287 yards with three touchdown passes and an interception. But the Falcons got to Rodgers with pressure and forced two Green Bay turnovers. Rodgers was outplayed by Ryan, who even ran for a 14-yard touchdown.

Atlanta will play either New England or Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl on Feb. 5 in Houston.

The only other time that Atlanta made the Super Bowl was in the 1998 season. The Falcons lost 34-19 to the Denver Broncos.

The Packers fell in the NFC title game for the second time in three seasons.

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Jonathan Isaac has a banner week

2017 NBA draft prospect watch: Jonathan Isaac has a banner week

Two of the country's top prospects faced off in the Pac 12 this week while a top 10 forward saw his season come to a premature close. However, we begin this week with the breakout performance by Jonathan Isaac.

Jonathan Isaac, forward, Florida St. (6-11/205)
Isaac's potential had everyone in the basketball world's curiosity. Now his play on the court has their attention. The Seminoles hosted No. 15 Notre Dame, which had yet to lose in ACC play before the Wednesday game. 

The freshman forward dominated in the 83-80 win. He had 23 points on 7 for 9 shooting from the field. He made both his threes, all seven of his free throws and also had one assist. His other stats were also otherworldly. He picked up 10 rebounds and had seven(!) blocks, including one on a late Notre Dame shot to get back into the game after he'd put the Seminoles ahead with a three. All this was in just 25 minutes

He followed it up with a similar game against Louisville. In 28 minutes, he had 16 points on 4 for 7 shooting, making one three and, again, all seven free throws. Add in two assists and two blocks to aid in the 73-68 win. Isaac has shown himself to be an athletic freak, a potential stretch-four at the next level and one with tremendous defensive potential, displayed with his nine blocks this week.

OG Anunoby, forward, Indiana (6-8/235)
Anunoby has had an uneven season, but he, at the very least, showed flashes of the ability that make him a top player for this year's draft class. However, a knee injury suffered on Wednesday finished off Anunoby's season, forcing him to undergo surgery that will keep him off the court for the rest of Indiana's schedule.

This may knock him out of the 2017 draft entirely. As a freshman last year, his NCAA Tournament performance was enough to make him a lottery pick in an even weaker draft field than the upcoming one. He chose to remain in school and it isn't farfetched to believe he will return to Indiana for his junior year to get more seasoning, a better draft field and another year of education.

Lonzo Ball, guard, UCLA (6-6/190)
There are going to be quite a few marquee matchups in the Pac 12. One of the first this year came in the form of UCLA-Arizona in Los Angeles on Saturday. The No. 3 Bruins lost, 96-85, but that had nothing to do with Ball's standout performance (more on the Wildcats below). He pushed the ball in transition, drove to the hole with ease and made 4 of 8 threes with his quirky shot. 

He had 24 points on 10-for-15 shooting and had eight assists, six rebounds, two steals and a block. When you watch Ball score so naturally, it's easy to forget his potential as a point guard, but then he whips up beautiful assists as he did many times on Saturday. The freshman has everything you want in a point guard.

Lauri Markkanen, forward, Arizona (7-0/225)
The No. 14 Wildcats picked up their biggest win of the year, moving to 7-0 in conference play. As you can expect, Markkanen had a big game to push Arizona past UCLA. He had 18 points on 6 for 10 shooting, was 3 for 3 from three and made three free throws, all which grabbing seven boards. Like Isaac, he is a tantalizing talent as a stretch-four, hanging out around the perimeter and spotting up for threes well.

He now has 16 made threes in his last four games and has averaged over seven boards in that stretch. He's not unbelievably thin like many fours his age. The freshman really can battle down low and get his shot, and he justifies his prospect status on a game-by-game basis with his ability.

Markelle Fultz, guard, Washington (6-4/195)
Washington lost on Saturday, moving to 9-10 and 2-5 in conference. But it's worth talking about Fultz's standout Wednesday night. The freshman willed his team back from 17-points down with a 37-point performance en route to an 85-83 OT win over Colorado. In 43 minutes, he was 13 for 24 from the field and 11 for 15 from the free throw line.

Don't think he's just a scorer, though. He had eight assists, five rebounds, three steals and three blocks, doing it all for the Huskies as he usually does. The freshman sensation was 0 for 2 from three, but he is normally efficient from beyond the arc. He alone is the reason to watch the under .500 Huskies.

While the 9-10 Huskies are unlikely to make a late run towards March Madness, the strong Pac 12 should provide many marquee matchups for Fultz. He faces off vs. a stout Arizona team next Sunday afternoon. Six days later, the long awaited matchup between Fultz and Ball up in Seattle goes down with presumably many scouts in attendance.

Quick Hits

Malik Monk, guard, Kentucky (6-4/185)
Twenty-seven points on 9 for 14 shooting, 4 for 7 from three, 5 for 6 on free throws, three rebounds, one assist, two steals and four turnovers in an 85-69 win over No. 24 South Carolina.

Josh Jackson, guard/forward, Kansas (6-8/203)
Fifteen points on 6 for 14 shooting, 2 for 5 from three, 1 for 3 on free throws, five rebounds, two assists, four steals and six turnovers in a 79-67 win over Texas.

Jayson Tatum, forward, Duke (6-8/204)
Fourteen points on 4 for 9 shooting, 1 for 4 from three, 5 for 6 on free throws, three rebounds, one assist, three turnovers and five fouls in a 70-58 win over Miami.