It has been two weeks since Chip Kelly was relieved of his duties as Eagles head coach, not-GM, and general overlord. Reportedly, the Eagles have no more interviews for their coaching vacancy planned. If that means they’ve spoken to every candidate they have an interest in, there are some pretty notable names left off the list. Perhaps none more-so than oft-brought up former defensive coordinator Sean McDermott.
The most familiar candidate to Eagles fans and one of the first names mentioned when Chip Kelly was fired, McDermott is the Panthers’ Defensive Coordinator. But you may know him better as the Eagles’ Defensive Coordinator, from 2009 to 2010before he was fired.
Since then, McDermott has joined forces with another coach from the Andy Reid tree, Ron Rivera, in Carolina. You may remember them from their Week 7,27-16defeat of the Eagles. If not, you can catch them this weekend as the No. 1-seed in the NFC playoffs. McDermott’s defense led the NFL in interceptions and fumbles recovered, and ranked fifth and sixth in yards and points allowed, respectively.
The question here, is how much of it is McDermott’s defense, and how much of it is Ron Rivera’s. If we look at McDermott’s work under an offense-oriented head coach like, say, Andy Reid, his record suffers.
A fired coordinator returning as head coach would be pretty unique if it occurred. Apparently, the Eagles have no plans for it to.
The Bengals offensive coordinator oversaw a unit that finished fourth in the NFL in scoring this season. Jackson successfully used a tailback-by-committee approach with Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, something that should be appealing considering the Eagles’ roster. He comes with his players’ recommendation, a big consideration in post-Kelly Philadelphia. Jackson even won (by Oakland standards) in Oakland. In two seasons, 2010 as offensive coordinator and 2011 as head coach, Jackson went 8-8 with the Raiders, their only two seasons without losing records since 2002.
The weakness of Jackson as a candidate can also be traced to his tenure in Oakland. His year as head coach coincided with Al Davis’ death, and in the power vacuum that followed Jackson got caught up in the politics of playing GM. That’s also a pretty big red-flag for this organization right now, and may be the reason the Eagles are seemingly uninterested in what should be one of the most interesting candidates available.
It was reported that the Eagles would be interviewing Guenther, among others, but that batch of interviews, which also included candidates like Dirk Koetter and Teryl Austin, has yet to materialize. Guenther is the Bengals’ defensive coordinator, and in 2015 Cincinnati allowed 17.4 points per game, finishing second in the NFL in points allowed, behind just Seattle.
Guenther was the head coach of Ursinus College from 1997 to 2000 and was born in Bucks County, so he has the local ties to understand the expectations sitting on the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Guenther suffers a bit from the same problem as McDermott: he works for a defensive-minded head coach, Marvin Lewis, who has a reputation for putting good defenses on the field, and he inherited a good unit from predecessor Mike Zimmer.
The Eagles, judging from the candidates they’ve interviewed, also appear to be focusing on picking a coach from the offensive side of the ball. This is nothing new for Jeffrey Lurie, but with pieces like Fletcher Cox, Jordan Hicks, and Eric Rowe to build around on defense, and several other supposedly talented pieces, the defense shouldn’t be ignored.