While the Eagles continue their endless search for a new head coach, it is becoming painfully obvious that their more urgent need is a new owner. Jeff Lurie is a terrible fit for Philadelphia.
Lurie moved from his beloved Boston when he bought the team in 1994. Unfortunately, his heart didn’t accompany him here. As someone who spent the first 32 years of his life in New England, I can spot a Bostonian from 300 miles away. They have the same love of sports that we do, but not the ornery attitude that goes with it.
Lurie orders osso bucco at posh eateries with extensive wine lists and valet parking. Eagles fans inhale cheesesteaks and then wipe their mouths on their sleeves. Lurie talks publicly a few times a year. Fans never shut up.
And what we’re seeing during this two-weeks-and-counting search for a new coach is a glaring example of major disconnect. So far, the Eagles’ power troika — Lurie, GM Howie Roseman and president Don Smolenski — has bumbled its way through interviews with 11 candidates — hour upon hour of prattle involving one man who knows football and three who don’t.
The situation became so embarrassing Saturday that the team issued a statement after the latest snub, Brian Kelly of Notre Dame, claiming that the interview was another example of how extensive the search has been. This was pure baloney, as usual. Kelly used the NFL’s version of “The Three Stooges” to leverage a better deal out of his school.
Almost identical were the circumstances surrounding Oregon’s Chip Kelly. In their statement, the Eagles said they realized it was a “remote possibility” that any of the college coaches would leave for the pros, yet they interviewed Chip Kelly for nine hours. Nine hours? Asked what they talked about, Roseman said: “Everything.” Is it any wonder Chip Kelly said no?
Unlike the team, Eagles fans know who fits best here. From the time when Ron Jaworski said his former ESPN booth-mate Jon Gruden wanted to be considered for the job, the customers have screamed their approval for Jon — not his less accomplished brother Jay, who interviewed yesterday.
All of the qualities that attract Eagles fans to Jon Gruden, like his combative style, his boundless energy and his Super Bowl ring, are the very same characteristics that terrify Lurie. The owner hates employees who don’t bow their heads upon his arrival. Jon Gruden, who knows football, would never be able to restrain himself from uttering the one word Lurie will never tolerate: No.
Jeff Lurie doesn’t fit Philadelphia. He speaks constantly about his love for the fans, then proves the opposite with every illogical interview he conducts. Eventually, one of these unproven candidates will win his gushing approval — and, more importantly, will be desperate enough to deal with him.
The Eagles will have a new head coach soon. But as long as Jeff Lurie owns the team, will it really matter?
– Angelo Cataldi is host of 94 WIP’s Morning Show, airs weekdays 5:30-10 a.m.
Collins lucky to be flying under the radar
Doug Collins is very lucky. His underachieving Sixers are so bad, they don’t even merit the attention of fans. As a result, nobody seems to care how horribly Collins is coaching.
From the time he arrived here two-plus seasons ago, Collins’ performance has been overrated, for a variety of reasons. After Eddie Jordan, a braying jackass on the sidelines would have been a marked improvement, never mind a Philadelphia icon with a championship ring and a fiery style.
But the sad truth is, Collins has been talking a much better game than he’s been coaching. And now he’s talking himself right out of the NBA again. His commentary during the current 6-16 slump is counter-productive for his players and insulting to his fans.
His team can’t rebound (thank you, Rod Thorn, for giving up Nik Vucevic and Reggie Evans), they can’t defend the three-point shot and their outside shooting isn’t the new weapon they thought it would be. In other words, they stink.
Collins isn’t blaming his underachieving players. He’s blaming the schedule. The road trips are too long and the back-to-back games have drained his team of all its energy. Yeah, right. And all the other teams face no such obstacles. Please.
The coach’s nightly laments are a smokescreen for the real story, that Collins is losing his effectiveness in the locker room and his enthusiasm for the job. The only hope left is the debut of reluctant savior Andrew Bynum.
Unfortunately, thanks to Collins, by then the Sixers might be in worse shape than Bynum’s knees.
Bet the over on Phillies
Just when I was pondering my annual Vegas bet on how many games the Phillies would win, Ruben Amaro, Jr. called into my WIP radio show —unsolicited, no less — to provide some welcome optimism as spring training approaches.
This year, Las Vegas has the over-under win total for the Phillies at 87, down from 92 last year and 97 in 2010, when I won $1,000 by betting the over. OK, Ruben. Over or under?
“Well, obviously I expect us to go over that number,” he said.
Here’s his logic. The Hamels-Lee-Halladay top of the pitching rotation is still the best in the game, barring injury. Cole Hamels did have an arm twinge a few months ago, but he’s OK. Halladay had a bum shoulder at the end of the year, but he has passed every medical test since then.
New reliever Mike Adams should end Charlie Manuel’s chronic problem getting through the eighth inning, Michael Young will be a major improvement at third base (Amaro was sure of this) and there are a few million dollars left to spend when the right corner outfielder becomes available.
Amaro has been known to spin the truth shamelessly during his tenure as GM, but I’m a believer this time. The Phillies will contend with Washington and Atlanta for the division title, and they will win more games than Vegas is predicting. In other words, take the over. And then say a prayer for good health.
Idle thoughts from Cataldi
» The latest name to surface in the Eagles’ coaching search is Brian Billick, a Super Bowl champion in 2000 and a regular on my radio show for the past two years. Billick is smart, organized, a tireless worker and has no tolerance for incompetence. GM Howie Roseman would drive Billick insane.
» Andy Reid is making some very interesting decisions already in Kansas City. The coach bypassed Marty Mornhinweg as offensive coordinator and picked Doug Pederson, brought back ancient Tom Brasher as defensive-line coach and hired Britt Reid as quality-control coach. Yes, Reid added his younger son to the staff. Wow.
» Before Brian Kelly renewed his vows with Notre Dame, he said: “Leaving is not an option. I’ve got the best job in the country, NFL, college, high school, whatever.” Two days later, he interviewed for the Eagles’ job. One of the things the Birds loved about Brian Kelly was his integrity.
» The best thing about the Flyers resuming play Saturday against the Penguins is our return to the wild and zany world of goalie Ilya Bryzgalov before and after games. The worst thing is Bryzgalov actually playing in the games.
» ESPN forced broadcaster Brent Musberger to apologize last week after he gushed over the beauty of Miss Alabama, Katherine Webb, during the national-title game. ESPN had no choice but to take action. It has a very strict policy against telling the truth.