Well ... we're back ... in the car again. ~ Tim, Jurassic Park (1993)
Like Tim, Redskins fans are out of breath in the car driving on another coach search. Fans always go for most-famous-name in these efforts. Daniel Snyder is a fan. Daniel Snyder always goes for the most famous name, so word that he twice visited Bill Cowher in recent weeks excite Cowher-to-the-Redskins crowd.
Hog Heaven is not one of them. Joe Gibbs, because he is Joe Gibbs, is the only coach we welcomed back to coaching after a long NFL layoff.
Cowher is not current enough to be a good fit. And he is not the only candidate who can bring what the Redskins need.
Other Redskins fans look to the college ranks in hope of finding the next messiah coach. They point to Chip Kelly's worst to first success with the Eagles as what can be accomplished by a college reach.
Hog Heaven has his doubts, but that got us wondering what made the Kelly experiment seem to work.
The Eagles' front office is far more stable than the Redskins have been under Mr. Snyder. They have more division titles and a Super Bowl appearance than Snyder since 2000.
The Eagles surrounded Kelly with NFL talent at coordinator.
Dave Fipp was a special teams assistant with the 49ers and Dolphins before joining the Eagles as Teams coordinator.
Pat Shurmer falls straight from the Andy Reid coaching tree. He was the long-time Eagles quarterback coach before moving on to the Rams and Browns. Philadelphia brought him back as Kelly's OC.
Bill Davis' NFL resume dates to 1992 with Bill Cowher's Steelers then snakes through seven other NFL clubs before arriving in Philly as DC. Davis may be more responsible for the Eagles' success than Kelly. The Eagles defense never performed as badly as predicted.
An Eagles blogger explains Chip Kelly
Good friend Tom Jackson from Eagles Eye Blog shared his thoughts on Kelly's success. They weren't what we expected.
"I'm really not sure I would anoint Kelly a 'success' just yet," says Jackson. "There is such a thing as beginner's luck, and I think Kelly was lucky to come into the NFC East exactly when the Redskins, Giants and Cowboys were all having a tough year at the same time."
"Everyone seems to think Kelly's success so far is due to his 'innovative' offense. Funny, but that innovative Oregon-style offense looks more conventional each week as the NFL imprints its harsh cleat marks into it.
"To me, Kelly succeeds because of his organizational skills and his personnel skills. Despite a schedule that's basically choreographed as much as his team practices are, Kelly is available to his team and to the press and actually seems to enjoy interacting with people. He's engaging and when he makes promises to his players --- like guaranteeing an open competition for playing time --- he keeps his word.
"All of Kelly's mannerisms as a head coach are refreshing to not just the fans but also the team. His players genuinely seem to like him.
"Kelly's also made some wise decisions on which free agents to pick up and which younger players on his roster to promote."
Whether from college or pros, leadership and people skills are more critical to head coach success than scheme. Tom pointed me to a 2009 article by NFL scout Tom Marino who believes special teams coaches have better organizational skills to be head coachs. (Danny Smith hopes Bruce Allen sees this.)
So far, the Redskins "wide net" is being cast inside the NFL. Probably due to league rules n playoff schedule must get done first.— Anthony Brown (@SkinsHogHeaven) January 2, 2014
BCS, Better College Suspects
Fathers, tell your sons to coach in the NFL early. ~ Hog Heaven
Redskins fans hoped Bill O'Brien would lead the Burgundy & Gold. Houston signed him first.
We suspect that Nick Saban is the only BCS coach who would appeal to Snyder. Saban isn't taking calls until after tonight's Sugar Bowl.
Saban is an acorn from Bill Parcells' coaching tree. His Crimson Tide bears a strong resemblance to the 1980s Giants. Saban spent time as an assistant with the old Houston Oilers and Cleveland Browns and spent two seasons as Dolphins head coach.
Nick Saban's heart isn't in the game because he's mentally house-hunting in Ashburn.— Matt Terl (@matt_terl) January 3, 2014
Saban is 62, a year older than Mike Shanahan, although he doesn't look it.
Stanford's Davis Shaw lists Philadelphia, Oakland and Baltimore in his pedigree. He claims disinterest in returning to the NFL.
Finally, there are NFL veterans now in the college ranks who could return to the league. UCLA's Jim Mora is the best example. Steve Spurrier is another.
I threw Spurrier in there for laughs.
Lateral head coach moves from college to pros have little chance for success unless they move to a very stable team like Baltimore or San Francisco, each hired a Harbaugh brother, or teams that surround the college coach with NFL assistants.
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Enjoyable article, Anthony, and thanks for the mention... I think many Eagles fans are just as fascinated with the head coach search in Washington as some of my Redskins fan friends... As you point out, it is a far more complex challenge to match up the "right guy" with the "right owner" and the "right franchise" than we normally give much thought to...Your article has inspired me to think of finding the right fit for head coach as more of a Rubik's Cube problem to be solved. A lot of moving parts have to line up in several dimensions...