Shockwaves were sent throughout the city when it was announced on Jan. 11 that the Eagles had fired Super Bowl-winning coach Doug Pederson after just five seasons. The timing of the parting was questionable, coming just eight days after the regular season. Usually, when teams move on from a coach it happens during the season or the day after the season, giving time to have a thorough interview process. Luckily for the Eagles, the six other teams who have coaching vacancies have yet to hire a coach, but those teams are a week ahead of the Eagles in terms of interviewing candidates. (Update: The Jaguars and Jets Hired coaches on January 14)
When thinking about who to hire as a head coach, owner Jeffrey Lurie and General Manager Howie Roseman have to consider multiple factors. Do they want to hire a coach with the intention of trading away Carson Wentz? Someone who can further develop Jalen Hurts? Or do the Eagles want to hire someone with the intention of “fixing” Carson Wentz?
Two head coaching options if the Eagles go with Hurts:
- Lincoln Riley
Coming in as the number one option is 37-year-old Lincoln Riley. Riley is currently the head football coach at the University of Oklahoma that he has held since 2017. At Oklahoma, Riley has compiled an impressive overall record of 45-8. The appeal of Riley is his reputation as a “Quarterback Whisperer.” At Oklahoma, Riley has helped groom quarterbacks Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Jalen Hurts. The fact that Jalen Hurts has worked with Riley, and had his best statistical collegiate season with Riley, shows that this has the potential to be a very intriguing match to hire Riley as Head Coach.
- Brian Daboll
The next best option for the Eagles to consider is 45-year-old Brian Daboll, who is the current Offensive Coordinator of the Buffalo Bills and their high-powered offense led by Stefon Diggs and Josh Allen. Quarterback Josh Allen has dramatically improved his game with Daboll as his offensive coordinator. In 2019 Allen threw 20 touchdown passes with a 59 percent completion rate. This season Allen has exploded with 37 touchdown passes and a completion percentage of 69 percent. Not only has Daboll coached with the Bills but he also spent time as the University of Alabama Offensive Coordinator in 2017, working under the legendary Nick Saban, as well as serving as the tight ends coach for the New England Patriots for three seasons. Daboll’s diverse experience with high profile coaches and the ability to help a mobile quarterback like Josh Allen are great attributes that could support Jalen Hurts in rapid progress.
Two head coaching options if the Eagles go with Wentz:
- Eric Bieniemy
Similar to Daboll, Eric Bieniemy orchestrates an extremely high powered offense. That offense is the Kansas City Chiefs, where Bineimy has coached since 2013 and served as the Offensive Coordinator since 2018. The year Bienemy took over as OC, his quarterback Patrick Mahomes won the NFL MVP Award, throwing 50 touchdown passes in the regular season. Bieniemy has been coaching, including at the college level, since 2001. Prior to that Bieneimy was an eight-year NFL running back, including one season with the 1999 Eagles. Bieniemy comes from the Andy Reid coaching tree, which might make Lurie hesitant to hire him considering the recently fired Doug Pederson also came from that same coaching tree. Regardless, Bieniemy could be the answer to fix the struggling Wentz, considering how much he has developed the Patrick Mahomes ascension.
- Robert Saleh
Regardless if the Eagles decide to go with Hurts or Wentz, Robert Saleh is an extremely intriguing coach for the Eagles to consider. The defensive-minded coach has served as the 49ers’ defensive coordinator since 2017, helping lead them to a Super Bowl appearance last season. He would bring some much-needed firepower and energy to the Eagles. During 49ers games, Saleh is often shown on the sideline with great enthusiasm and passion throughout the game. Saleh has the type of personality that players like to rally around. One of Saleh’s biggest supporters is 49ers cornerback Richard Sherman, who was angry that Saleh didn’t get a head coaching job last offseason.
“You’ve got to give Robert Saleh an abundance of credit,” Sherman said. “You have to give him an unusual amount of credit, and I don’t think he’s getting enough credit not only here but in the league, in general.” Sherman continued “I expect him to be a head coach next year, because of what he’s able to do,” Sherman said. “He’s able to rally men. He’s a leader of men, and that goes a long way.”
For such an established player like Richard Sherman to say demonstrates how respected Saleh is by players in the league and that’s the exact trait the Eagles should be looking for in their next head coach. Unfortunately, Saleh was hired yesterday by the New York Jets, so the Eagles will have to look elsewhere for a difference-maker.