The Eagles have officially fired now-former head coach Doug Pederson. While the decision unfolded quickly over the last 24 hours, we can expect an equal level of impatience in the search for Doug’s replacement.
Though a number of strong candidates won’t be able to interview until their current teams are eliminated from the playoffs, as soon as the team is able to meet face-to-face with all the prospective candidates on their list they’ll move fast to name Pederson’s successor.
Here’s a list of three candidates who will absolutely be on Howie and Lurie’s short list for head coach:
1. Brian Daboll, Bills OC
Daboll is a popular choice to land a top job this offseason due to his success engineering a surging Bills offense and the development of Josh Allen from project to MVP candidate. It’s hard to knock what Daboll has done with the Bills offense, and a lot of evaluators see the similarities between Allen’s skillset to Wentz’s and figure he can work similar magic here.
Daboll comes from the Belichick/Saban coaching tree, beginning his career as a graduate assistant at Michigan State under Saban before moving on to a seven year stint as an assistant in New England. After following Eric Mangini (former Belichick asst.) to New York and Cleveland, Daboll eventually found himself back in New England as the TEs coach from 2013-16. A one year stint back with Saban as the OC of Alabama in 2017 allowed him to bolster his resume with a National Title, and he’s been in Buffalo ever since.
Daboll has coached receivers, tight ends, quarterbacks, and been the offensive coordinator at four different NFL stops. He’s dipped his toes in the college ranks, and has won at both levels. Given the resume there’s a lot to like beyond “this is the guy calling plays for Patrick Mahomes” and he’s easily my preferred candidate.
2. Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs OC
Bieniemy is the current Chiefs offensive coordinator and has been a hot name in coaching circles for a while—as the latest Chiefs OCs tend to be. For now he’s still available and it doesn’t appear that he’ll get the nod for any of the other head coaching vacancies (that could change), though the Eagles will need to wait at least another week to interview him.
There was a time where it didn’t feel like going back to the Andy Reid coaching tree was an option in this scenario, but as we sit here now it’s clear that Lurie wasn’t fading Doug’s “system” so-to-speak, but instead his overall philosophy and open need for control. It’s possible Lurie will go right back to that well given the success of Pederson’s initial offense, and you could make a strong argument that straying from the current offensive structure would create too much risk in fixing Wentz.
3. Lincoln Riley, Oklahoma HC
Riley is the current head coach of the Oklahoma Sooners and has compiled a 45-8 record there at the ripe age of 37. His resume includes developing two future NFL quarterbacks in Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray, and a handful of offensive weapons to boot. It wouldn’t be correct to say his offenses are revolutionary (they’re not) but he’s definitely on the right side of innovation.
I don’t think this name is as likely as the other two listed, but Riley’s desire to make the pro jump sooner than later, and his reported strong relationship with Howie Roseman means he can’t be left off a list like this. His reputation as a highly-successful innovator at the college ranks gives off shades of Chip Kelly—after all, his genius doesn’t boil down to anything more than pace and simplified decision-making—and I would be a little surprised if Lurie ever gives someone like that a chance again, but it shouldn’t be ruled out.