The Philadelphia Eagles started their head coaching search with Chip Kelly right after New Years. But after the Eagles thought that Kelly would return to Oregon, just like everyone else did, they looked at a wide variety of candidates. Yet after going though almost a dozen names, Philadelphia still snatched up Kelly when he changed his mind on Jan. 16, as ESPN first broke.
The Eagles went through a lot of potential suitors before their first choice finally came to them. Back in the beginning, the next most likely choice appeared to be another college coach, in Penn State’s Bill O’Brien. However, unlike Kelly, O’Brien stayed in school and seems unlikely to leave until 2014 at the earliest.
When Kelly and O’Brien both appeared to be unavailable, the Eagles turned to pro coordinators like Mike McCoy, Mike Nolan and Keith Armstrong. Jay Gruden and Bruce Arians were also bandied about, yet Philadelphia only talked to Gruden. Another college coach was briefly considered in Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly, but things petered out, leaving at least one Kelly likely to still coach in college next season.
In the final days of the search, the Eagles seemed to turn towards former head coaches. Lovie Smith was the first such candidate to emerge, after years of service to the Chicago Bears. But his resume of no championships and just one Super Bowl appearance was too similar to Andy Reid’s.
The Eagles also talked to former Super Bowl winner Brian Billick in a secret meeting, and spoke to former Arizona Cardinals nemesis Ken Whisenhunt as well. But in the end, these all appeared to be second choices to Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley.
Right up until the time Chip Kelly was hired, it seemed inevitable that Bradley would take the job, especially since he took two interviews with the Eagles. But after talking to Jeffrey Lurie at his mansion on the night of Jan. 15, he left without making a deal. However, Bradley was expected to choose between the Eagles, Seahawks and Jacksonville Jaguars in the next few days -- and then Philadelphia revealed its true plans.
A dozen people were linked to the Eagles’ coaching search, yet they could never move on from the first one. However, if Kelly doesn’t pan out and one of the runners-up excels with another team, Philadelphia may wish it had taken more time to decide.