The Philadelphia Eagles made a splash when Brian Kelly joined their list of coaching candidates. But while speculation about the Eagles and Kelly spread, the team also worked to bring former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith in the mix. He officially met with Philadelphia on Jan. 10, according to ESPN, and will now wait while the team talks to other candidates.
Smith got his chance to meet with the Eagles before a rather busy time period. Philadelphia is allegedly set to talk to Gus Bradley, Bruce Arians and Jay Gruden sometime soon, with another interview supposedly set for Kelly as well.
The Eagles have a slew of options, but out of these four candidates, only Arians has professional head coaching experience -- and he got it on an interim basis with the Indianapolis Colts this past season. If Philadelphia wants a veteran head coach, then Smith appears to be its top and only choice, unless someone like Jon Gruden re-emerges as a possibility.
Smith would be the easiest candidate to land, since other teams will likely make a run at Arians, Bradley and Gruden, while Notre Dame will fight to keep Kelly. Despite Smith’s nine years and one NFC title with the Chicago Bears, no one else appears anxious to bring him on, so the Eagles would have free reign.
This should give Philadelphia pause, especially since it just got rid of a long-time coach who never won a Super Bowl. Compared to a hot college coach like Kelly, and coordinators like Bradley and Mike McCoy who are aiding Super Bowl favorites, hiring Smith may make the Eagles look like they are settling.
But the organization has to keep its options open, especially with the uncertainty around Kelly and the other candidates. Smith set the bar on Jan. 10, and now Kelly, Bradley, Arians and Jay Gruden will get their chances to jump over it in the next few days.
Under normal circumstances, Smith would be the big favorite for the Eagles on experience alone. But these are not normal circumstances for Philadelphia, and the wild plot twists may only increase in the days ahead. If they get too wild for the Eagles, then at least they know that Smith is there as a safe -- albeit still questionable -- option.