Sun, 24 Jan 2021

Looking at Jeffrey Lurie's head coach hiring history

Philadelphia Eagles
13 Jan 2021, 18:12 GMT+10

Dave Spadaro

There isn't a specific "type" of head coach that Jeffrey Lurie has in mind, at least not according to his history of hiring head coaches. Whomever becomes the 24th head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles (including interim head coaches) will have been thoroughly researched, interviewed, background-checked, and vetted in the most complete way. This is the fifth head coach Lurie will hire since purchasing the Eagles in 1994 and his past head coach discoveries suggest he's open to someone who has a host of impressive characteristics.

Lurie didn't divulge any secrets in particular when he met the media on Monday to detail the reasons for parting ways with Doug Pederson, but he did mention his interest in having a high-flying, dynamic offense.

"I'd rather not specify (characteristics), but I can tell you no matter who we have, it needs to be a leader of coaches, a leader of players, and someone who represents the organization in a great leadership way. We had a lot of that with Doug. Leadership is an important characteristic," Lurie said. "You brought up offense. I think there's a couple ways to skin that cat. You can hire somebody really steeped in offense or you've seen great offenses coached by head coaches coming from the defensive side.

"I don't think there's any predilection for one over the other, but I do think somebody that is constantly curious of where the league is headed and what you need to do to have really good units and again, without a really good elite offense, I tend to err on that side. But not that side of the ball for head coach. Doesn't matter."

Rather than guessing about who the Eagles might hire - there have already been reports of coaches in whom the Eagles have shown an interest - let's take a look back at the previous head coaches Lurie has hired as a more complete explanation of his interest in finding the right person, no matter that coach's background. The only apparent link to the four former head coaching hires from Lurie is that each man accepted his first NFL head coaching job with the Eagles.

Ray Rhodes, 1995

A long search that consumed 39 days ended with the announcement that Rhodes, the outstanding, no-nonsense defensive coordinator from the San Francisco 49ers, was the choice. Rhodes won five Super Bowls with San Francisco as an assistant coach, and the fact that he was from that organization, a model in the NFL at the time, very much impressed Lurie.

"They are a sort of organization I feel represents very much how a football organization should be run," said Lurie, who held the press conference announcement at the Four Seasons Hotel in Philadelphia.

Rhodes envisioned Randal Cunningham in the role of Steve Young, the star quarterback for the 49ers at the time. And as much as Rhodes wanted - and promised - a dynamic offense that would be overseen by whiz kid coordinator Jon Gruden, he reverted back to his roots when he spoke of winning a championship in Philadelphia.

"You entertain with offense," Rhodes said. "You win with defense."

Rhodes coached through the 1998 season, reaching the postseason in two seasons and winning one playoff game.

Andy Reid, 1999

Lurie and team President Joe Banner went outside the box for this one, hiring Andy Reid, who became the first quarterbacks coach without any coordinator experience in NFL history to become head coach. It worked out quite well as Reid enjoyed a 14-year run that included five NFC Championship Game appearances and one Super Bowl appearance. Lurie and Banner said at the time that they were blown away by Reid's preparedness - he arrived at the interview with copious notes and a binder that would be known as his "five-year plan" for the Eagles to win a Super Bowl.

"We all looked at each other and said, ''Wow, this guy really comes right at you,'" Lurie said then.

Reid was an offensive coach in Green Bay for seven seasons under Head Coach Mike Holmgren, part of a talented coaching staff instilled in the West Coast Offense. Reid worked with future Hall of Famer Brett Favre and he believed his system would work for the Eagles. It certainly did as Reid's tenure was the most consistently successful in the history of the Eagles, falling short only of winning a World Championship.

"I think I'm able to give this organization the offense that has won a tremendous amount of rings in the National Football League," Reid said. "I'd never put myself in a bad situation. I feel very confident that this organization can win."

He was right. The Eagles won and won and won. They just never won the game when Reid was here.

Chip Kelly, 2013

When Reid's time ended in Philadelphia, Lurie turned to the college ranks and recruited Chip Kelly from Oregon, where he had established one of the most successful and exciting programs in all of college football, compiling a 46-7 record in four seasons at Oregon.

"Chip Kelly will be an outstanding head coach for the Eagles," Lurie said at the time of the hire. "He has a brilliant football mind. He motivates his team with his actions as well as his words. He will be a great leader for us and will bring a fresh energetic approach to our team."

For most of two seasons, it sure looked that Kelly would revolutionize the NFL with his up-tempo approach to offense. The Eagles won the NFC East in 2013, losing to New Orleans in the first round of the playoffs after a 10-6 regular season. Then the Eagles were 9-3 in 2014 before the bottom fell out. Three consecutive defeats ruined the team's playoff chances before the Eagles won the season finale against the Giants.

Kelly's Eagles were 6-9 in 2015 when Lurie fired him. Pat Shurmur served as the interim coach for the final game of that season.

Doug Pederson, 2016

A former quarterback with the Eagles in 1999 who returned to the organization as an assistant coach, Doug Pederson was a familiar name and personality for Lurie and a franchise that needed some healing after Kelly's three seasons. The selection of Pederson was not a popular one with the media - NFL.com ranked it as the worst of the seven head coaching hires that offseason - and the fans weren't too jazzed, either.

But Lurie was impressed with what Pederson offered and he felt the lifelong offensive coach who came from Kansas City was the right fit.

"Doug is a strategic thinker, a compelling leader and communicator, and someone who truly knows how to get the best out of his players," Lurie said. "All of these factors were what initially attracted us to Doug, and we believe that he is the right man to help us achieve our ultimate goal."

Five seasons with Pederson produced three playoff appearances, two NFC East titles, and one Super Bowl victory. Lurie's feel was exactly right.

In fact, his track record of hiring head coaches is strong. It's just that there is no telling which way he is leaning now because history says Lurie is open to all candidates. He just wants to find the right person for the job of building the Eagles once again into a Super Bowl-winning team.

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