Chip Kelly is gone. This was not a dream/nightmare. Today Pat Shurmur walked into the NovaCare Complex as the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles. It is time to move away from the why and begin to look at what is next.The Birds need a head coach. This is a weird feeling for my generation of Eagles fans. All I know is Andy Reid and Chip Kelly. So who should be getting interviews?
Here are my top 5 candidates ranked 5th to 1st.
Why not the man filling in for a week? The casual fan may not have heard about Shurmur, even that he was on the Eagles coaching staff. Under the shadow of Chip Kelly, Shurmur has been the offense coordinator since the beginning. What is even less known is that Shurmur is the crafter of the Eagles passing game and led Nick Foles to his big season. Shurmur does have NFL head coaching experience spending 2 seasons in Cleveland purgatory. He really never had the chance to show what he is made of. Hiring Shurmur would lessen the blow to the organization and stabilize player relations going forward. Not a flashy hire but potentially a smart one.
So Chip Kelly didn’t cut it in the transition from college to professional. Why not give that path another shot. Unless Jim Harbaugh wants to leave Michigan (and he doesn’t), the only college coach Jeffrey Lurie should call is David Shaw. The Stanford head coach picked up right where Harbaugh left off and has led the Cardinal to 2 Pac-12 titles in 4 seasons. He is one of few coaches in college left running a pro-style offense. He would bring a conservative, run-based offense that also features tight ends. This would fit right in with current Eagle personnel. Could Lurie pry him away?
How about going back to an old Eagles coach? No, not Andy Reid but Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott. McDermott spent years in Philly but after taking over his long-time mentor Jim Johnson’s defensive coordinator position upon the legend’s shocking passing, the young coach was fired after the worst defensive season in the team’s history. Yet he arrived in Carolina and within 3 seasons had the Panther’s defense ranked in the Top 5. McDermott’s return would bring back the pressure defense of the Eagles’ glory years and bring an edge to the entire organization. It would be a smart hire for the owner.
Arguably the hottest name on the coaching market, Gase is the man who the legendary Peyton Manning loved. Gase runs an aggressive passing attack and not only oversaw Manning’s legendary 2014 season, but he has turned around the prospects of Jay Cutler in his first year in Chicago. The current Bears OC should have success with the talented Sam Bradford and undoubtedly return the Birds to their offensive success of the previous 2 seasons. If Lurie gets his man and Gase hires the right defensive coordinator, the Eagles will compete in a lukewarm NFC East.
But the man that Lurie needs to bring to the City of Brotherly Love is Sean Payton, the current head coach of the New Orleans Saints. If Payton decides to leave New Orleans, and there is a good chance he does, he will be the biggest name on the market. A Superbowl winning coach who revived a city and team and put Drew Brees in the Hall of Fame, Payton is the kind of coach that is a splashy yet also smart higher. He is a QB guru who made half decent receivers (Marques Colston, Kenny Stills, ect…) look like superstars. To me, Payton is the obvious choice. He can bring calm to the Chip Kelly fallout and immediately make the Eagles NFC contenders and a playoff nightmare for any team. He needs to be the next coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.