The Philadelphia Eagles seemed to have their week of coaching interviews already set. Jay Gruden, Bruce Arians and Gus Bradley were already leaked as Eagles candidates, yet a coach that is more experienced than any of them has joined the list.
According to the Associated Press on Jan. 8, former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith will talk to the Eagles on Jan. 10. He instantly becomes the most experienced name on Philadelphia’s radar, having spent nine years in Chicago and having reached one Super Bowl and two NFC title games.
Previously, it was thought that if the Eagles were going to lure a former pro coach, it would be Jon Gruden or maybe Bill Cowher. Unlike those names, Smith has never won a Super Bowl and has spent several years failing to get over the hump. That is partly why the Bears fired him despite racking up a 10-6 record in 2012, which still wasn’t enough to make the playoffs.
Smith did help give the Bears a fearsome defense, which is what the Eagles have desperately lacked in the last few years. Despite all the focus on whether they could get an offensive guru like Chip Kelly, the Eagles are just as desperate to fix their tattered defense as well. Yet Smith’s Bears were never known to have an explosive offense, so he wouldn’t be able to fix everything.
But just because Smith is a veteran head coach and a proven winner doesn’t mean he is the automatic front runner. Arians and Bradley are still scheduled to interview with Philadelphia this week, and each of them have made more waves this past year.
Arians actually coached the Indianapolis Colts to a playoff berth while regular coach Chuck Pagano was fighting cancer, while Bradley is the defensive coordinator of a Seattle Seahawks team in the thick of the playoffs. These prospective candidates are new and exciting, while Smith ultimately wore out his welcome in Chicago -- albeit not to the extent that Andy Reid ruined his legacy in Philadelphia.
With Kelly no longer in the running and Jon Gruden’s status still uncertain, the Eagles’ coaching search is very much up in the air. All Smith has done is make it more interesting, but that hasn’t won him the job quite yet.