NOT EVEN an hour after his Chiefs fell in New England, incumbent Eagles head coach Doug Pederson moved to flesh out his staff.
The obvious goal: Familiarity and experience.
With only seven seasons as an NFL assistant, the first two spent as a 41-year-old intern, it is fair to question Pederson's bona fides as a coach.
Considering his wish list, it is hard to question Pederson's strategy as a hirer. He clearly wants to insulate himself with loyal, accomplished men.
A league source said Sunday that, if he has his way, Pederson's chief lieutenants will include a former teammate and two former NFL head coaches who, like Pederson, owe their NFL careers to Andy Reid.
Pederson's first choice as offensive coordinator is former teammate Frank Reich, a recent casualty in San Diego, where he was offensive coordinator the past two years and the quarterbacks coach the season before that. A year ago Reich's star was ascending; he interviewed for head-coaching vacancies with the Jets and Bills. This was the second straight year the Chargers' running game was among the league's worst. The Bills reportedly also are interested in Reich, a Panthers training camp teammate of Pederson's in 1995.
Pederson also is hopeful of attracting a defensive coordinator with similar credentials: current Giants DC Steve Spagnuolo, whose defense was the league's worst in 2015. Spagnuolo was an Eagles assistant from 1999-2006.
Pederson would love to land fellow Chiefs assistant Brad Childress to the mix. Childress was Pederson's quarterbacks coach in 1999, when the duo landed in Philadelphia with Reid. Childress held that position until 2003, when he became Reid's offensive coordinator. Five years as head coach in Minnesota and a stint as coordinator in Cleveland set Childress up to reunite with Reid in Kansas City, where he holds the ambiguous title of Spread Game Analyst. In fact, Childress was as instrumental as Pederson in guiding quarterback Alex Smith to his best run as a professional.
For that reason, Reid might not let Childress go.
So, each of the candidates has options and limitations.
If his first choices do not or cannot join Pederson, he is not averse to retaining offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur in some capacity, including in Shurmur's current role, especially since quarterback Sam Bradford has twice flourished with Shurmur as his coordinator. Bradford can be a free agent this spring.
Any offensive mind would, of course, defer to Pederson's presence. That's what usually happens when new coaches install new systems, at least for the first few seasons.
A defensive coordinator would be given considerably more autonomy, which makes Spagnuolo attractive. Spagnuolo left Philadelphia to spend two seasons as the Giants' DC, then was the Rams' head coach from 2009-11. He then coached the Saints' defense and spent two seasons as a Ravens assistant before returning to the Giants and Tom Coughlin in 2015. Coughlin's recent removal has left that organization in flux.
New Giants coach Ben McAdoo, recently promoted from offensive coordinator, appears set on retaining Spagnuolo.
McAdoo's argument: Spagnuolo could only do so much with a unit cursed by injury, not the least of which was the offseason fireworks incident that mutilated Jason Pierre-Paul's hand and cost him half the season. However, it might be unwise for McAdoo to retain Spagnuolo if Spagnuolo wants to coach elsewhere, especially with so many top candidates available, such as Lovie Smith and Jim Schwartz.
There was palpable eagerness in Philadelphia for owner Jeffrey Lurie to interview and perhaps hire Panthers coordinator Sean McDermott mainly because McDermott, a La Salle High product, was an Eagles assistant weaned on the blitzing schemes of former Eagles DC Jim Johnson. Of course, Spagnuolo blossomed as a coach after he adopted Johnson's tenets, and has expanded their exotic nature.
If Spags returns there likely would be some schematic alterations. The Eagles ran a 3-4 scheme under coordinator Billy Davis the past three seasons, but Davis and his alignment are almost certain to be part of the purge that began with the the firing of head coach Chip Kelly a week before the season ended. Most of the Eagles' current personnel could be converted to a 4-3 scheme, including outside linebacker Conner Barwin, who has 4-3 experience but was added in 2013 to better facilitate a conversion to the 3-4.
Adding Reich would be less remarkable, and, besides, he has the same excuse as Spagnuolo for his unit's uninspired performance. The Chargers' offense was ninth in yards gained but ranked 26th in scoring and 31st in rushing yards. Reich's attack was hindered by injuries to the offensive line and first-round rookie running back Melvin Gordon.
Reich is widely considered a scapegoat for Mike McCoy's sinking ship in San Diego.
McCoy's loss could be Pederson's gain.
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