By Zach Berman
It has now been nearly a week since the Eagles coaching search officially commenced, and the week has been marked by rumors, spin, whirlwind flights, interviews, and a lot of waiting.
Here is a quick tip sheet to catch you up...
- Chip Kelly has been at the top, or near the top, the entire time, as The Inquirer reported on Tuesday. Kelly coached Thursday's Fiesta Bowl, and said after the game he would listen to overtures from the NFL. That set off a competition for Kelly's services between the Eagles and Browns -- or, better said, Jeffrey Lurie/Howie Roseman vs. Joe Banner.
The Browns looked like the front-runner after a Friday meeting. However, the Eagles still flew to Arizona on Saturday to meet with Kelly. Lunch turned into dinner, and a marathon meeting enhanced the Eagles chances of landing the innovative college coach. Now, it appears Kelly is choosing between the Eagles and staying with the Ducks. Of course, if the past 72 hours revealed anything, it's that coaching situations are fluid. But the Eagles are in considerably better position for their top choice than it once seemed.
- As interested as the Eagles are in Kelly, they were also interested in Penn State coach Bill O'Brien. The Eagles even traveled to Massachusetts to interview O'Brien while O'Brien was on vacation. However, O'Brien ultimately elected to stay with at Penn State, and milked a nice raise out in the process.
- Although the college coaches received the bulk of attention, the Eagles also confirmed interviews with NFL coaches. The first group of coaches that the Eagles interviewed were Atlanta Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong (a Temple product) and defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. They also wanted to meet with offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, but he signed a contract extension to stay with the Falcons.
They are meeting Sunday with Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy, an intriguing candidate who has won with both Tim Tebow and Peyton Manning the past two seasons. Pay attention to McCoy if Kelly decides to stay at Oregon, although the Eagles might need to wait until the Broncos' postseason run concludes.
Speaking of concluded postseason runs, the Eagles have requested to meet with Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. The Bengals lost on Saturday in the wild card round, but the Bengals stll have not granted permission to the Eagles. Gruden is the younger brother of former Eagles offensive coordinator Jon Gruden. He has impressed with his work with young Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton.
The Eagles will also have their eyes on two Sunday games. They were granted permission to meet next week with Colts offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, a former Temple coach who was 9-3 as the Colts interim head coach this season. However, Arians is hospitalized for Sunday's game with nausea and headaches. Arians, 60, has worked with Andrew Luck this season and Ben Roethlisberger in recent seasons, and is the oldest coach the Eagles have considered.
They will also watch Seahawks defensive coordinator Gus Bradley, an intriguing name who is well thought of in NFL circles. Bradley, 46, oversees the top scoring defense in the NFL. Seattle plays in Washington on Sunday, and his defense will be on display against Robert Griffin III. Besides Nolan, he is the only defensive coach the Eagles have considered.
- That's the state of the search for now. The object of the Eagles' affection has been Kelly, according to league sources, and it appears the Eagles have the best chance if Kelly elects to go to the NFL. Beyond Kelly, pay attention to McCoy and Bradley.
The key thing to understand with coaching search is the situation is very fluid, and interest in the coach does not necessarily mean the coach is interested. There are dynamics with every candidate, and those dynamics are even more complicated with a coordinator on a playoff team.