For a head coach in the NFL, it’s only a matter of time before you’re fired. The 2017 regular season ended three days ago and already there are six head coaching vacancies. Five teams fired theirs during or just after the season, and former Temple head coach Bruce Arians stepped away from the Arizona Cardinals as he announced his retirement from coaching.
The list of changes in the top slot is expected to grow. The Cardinals, Chicago Bears, Detroit Lions, Indianapolis Colts, New York Giants and Oakland Raiders are all currently setting up interviews for new head coaches. The Cincinnati Bengals should have an announcement soon about their position, as Marvin Lewis and the team are expected to part ways after 15 years.
There were five new head coaches in 2017, six in 2016 and five in 2015. The Bears, Giants, Broncos, Bills and 49ers are or already have replaced coaches they hired within that span, which means that 19 NFL teams have made at least one coaching change since the end of the 2014 season and 24 men have been hired as NFL head coaches in the last four years.
That’s a lot of turnover, considering there are only 32 teams in the league!
Once all these vacancies have been filled, more than 150 coaches will have been hired since Bill Belichick was hired by the Patriots in 2000. It’s no surprise Oakland leads the list, and if rumors are true that Jon Gruden is going back to the Silver and Black, he’d be the 10th hire since the turn of the century — though just the ninth coach if you count him twice — for the Raiders.
The Eagles have had Andy Reid, Chip Kelly and Doug Pederson. And while many of us made the point that Jeffrey Lurie parting ways with Reid and going with Kelly was like a divorced dad trading in his minivan for a sports car, the switch back to the safe and sensible Pederson has proven to be a success.
So much so that Pederson’s staff is going to get poached.
Bookmakers have Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich as a favorite to get the Chicago Bears job. The only problem with that list is they might have the wrong Eagles offensive assistant. Both the Bears and Cardinals have reportedly requested permission to talk with Eagles quarterbacks coach John DeFilippo for their head coaching vacancies.
DeFilippo has been a hot name for two years with the Eagles. After last season, when Carson Wentz broke out as a candidate for Rookie of the Year, the Jets requested permission to interview DeFilippo for their vacant offensive coordinator job. The Eagles refused to allow him to interview — a terrible rule the NFL has in place allows teams to block coaches from interviewing with other teams for any non-head coach position. Then this year, DeFilippo had arguably the best season of his coaching career, with Wentz in line to win MVP before he got hurt.
In addition to DeFilippo, the Bears are also requesting interviews with Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels and Vikings offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur, who previously held that post for the Eagles.
McDaniels, who had a brief stint with the Denver Broncos between long stays with Tom Brady and the Patriots, is the leading candidate for most jobs. It seems if he wants to be a head coach again, a job will be there for him. But someone like DeFilippo could be a good fallback for a team that doesn’t land McDaniels. He was the Browns offensive coordinator after three seasons as QB coach with the Raiders. For a team like the Bears, who have a young quarterback many compare to Wentz, DeFilippo might have a strong sales pitch.
As for the Cardinals position, DeFilippo worked with Carson Palmer while they were both with the Raiders, but that team is in need of a long-term solution at quarterback, so his work with Wentz could be seen as a positive there as well. Having said that, he’s not the only Eagles coach the Cardinals are interested in interviewing.
Jim Schwartz has also been a hot name in NFL coaching circles for almost his entire Eagles’ tenure.
The former Detroit Lions head coach was rumored last season to have garnered interest from teams looking for head coaches, but nothing came of it and he returned to lead the Eagles defense to one of the best seasons in team history. The Birds’ run defense has been legendarily good this year, and Schwartz’s unit finished the regular season 4th in the league in scoring, 4th in total yards against and 1st in rushing, giving up 79.2 yards per game on the ground, best in the NFL by more than four yards per game.
Schwartz is also a candidate for the Giants job, as the team looks to hire a coach with experience after the Ben McAdoo debacle. Though some in the New York media seem convinced the Giants will hire either McDaniels or Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, unless Texans coach Bill O’Brien gets fired. Then he might be the guy for the Giants. Or, perhaps even before Schwartz, they’d go with Shurmur.
Round and round we go.
The one thing that could help the Eagles retain Schwartz is that his tenure in Detroit was not good. Yes, he took a team that was 0-16 the year before he got there and turned them into a playoff team in three seasons, but the Lions were a mess the two seasons after that — his last two as a head coach — and it might be hard for any team to look at his past experience as a head coach and put their franchise in his hands.
Reich’s name hasn’t been on as many lists as Schwartz or DeFilippo, but the guy is the offensive coordinator for a team that, until the quarterback got hurt, was one of the best red zone and third down teams in the league. He may be overlooked because Pederson calls the plays and because DeFilippo works more closely with Wentz, but he is on the list of “leading candidates” being talked about for all these openings. For what it’s worth, Reich worked for both the Colts and Cardinals in the past.
The other coach whose name has made some lists? Special teams coordinator Dave Fipp. Fipp does have aspirations to be an NFL head coach, and the Eagles special teams has been a strength in his tenure. While the team rankings may have dropped slightly this year, Fipp was working without his kicker and without a Pro Bowl special teamer for much of the season.
Will his work be enough to get a head coaching job this year? It could get him an interview. After all, there will be plenty of jobs available.
The Eagles could surely sustain the loss of one coordinator, but three? And their QB coach? It won’t happen this year, but the Eagles should prepare to lose at least one of those four coaches this season, and perhaps two. The toughest loss, however, could come in the front office, as vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas, who helped Howie Roseman reshape the Eagles roster in a matter of months, is the hottest name for several NFL GM positions. It’s only a matter of time before an owner hires him to run their team.