For some reason, Jeff Lurie, Howie Roseman and Don Smolenski once again did not invite me to be part of the Eagles’ head coaching search committee.
Maybe next time.
But if I were part of the committee, I’d ask difficult, challenging questions that might make the candidates a little uneasy but would definitely provide plenty of insight into what kind of person and coach each candidate is.
Here’s my 10 questions for each candidate:
What’s your plan for Carson and Jalen? This is the single most pressing question facing the Eagles this offseason, and I want to know exactly how every candidate is going to approach the QB position. The new coach is going to need a clear, comprehensive plan on who to move forward with, who to trade if anyone and most importantly how to get Carson Wentz back on track assuming he’s still here, which he most likely will be. It’s not enough to say, “I’ll fix Carson.” You need to tell me how you’re going to do it based on film study.
Articulate the culture you want and how you’ll build it? Every coach talks about culture, but not every team has it. Doug Pederson’s greatest strength was building a powerful culture here, a culture where nobody ever complained about anything – injuries, playing time, stats, even getting cut – and just focused on working hard every day. I want to know each candidate’s vision for the Eagles’ culture and how he’s going to build it.
Describe your leadership style. Why will it be effective? How a coach leads is just as important if not more important than what plays he calls or what scheme he runs. Without true leadership, no coach has a chance. But a lot goes into that. There are quiet leaders and there are screamers and everything in between. I want to know what each candidate’s idea of leadership is and how he plans to get a new team with 53 guys who don’t know him to buy in.
How long will it take to get this turned around? I don’t want to hear anything about a five-year program or long-term plans. The last six Eagles head coaches won 10 games and reached the playoffs in either their first or second year. Doug won a Super Bowl in his second year. The expectations have to be immediate and astronomical. Anything short of that is unacceptable.
What will distinguish you as a play caller? Andy threw all the time. Chip ran tempo all the time. Doug went for it on 4th down all the time. What makes you unique as a play caller, whether you’re an offensive or defensive coach? We know Jeff Lurie is looking for innovation. I want to know what sets each candidate apart. What will he bring to the table that nobody else can? And why will it work?
What traits do you look for in assistant coaches and who do you have in mind? Andy Reid’s original staff included seven future NFL head coaches, and his overall coaching tree is up to 10 head coaches. Big Red did an incredible amount of research finding assistants who were character guys, hard workers, patient teachers, true motivators and worked well together. I want to see not only a list of potential assistants but I want to know what makes each one a good fit.
How much say do you want in roster construction? This is a loaded question but I want to see how each candidate answers it. You have an owner who has an increasing reputation as a meddler and a general manager who has an incredible amount of power. Are you going to sit back and let them dictate everything to you or are you going to stay firm and stand up for yourself and fight for what you believe to be right? Good luck navigating your way through that minefield as Lurie and Roseman stare you down!
Who was under-utilized on the 2020 Eagles and who do you want to get rid of? Every candidate needs to be intimately familiar with the roster and needs to be able to honestly express what players on the current team need to be gone ASAP and who needs to play more. The beauty of this question is that it gives you a honest appraisal of your talent from several outside sources and also gives you a sense of how much each candidate has prepared for the interview. What’s the greatest lesson you’ve learned from a coach you worked with and the greatest lesson of what NOT to do? This is something you can ask in any interview situation that’s really just designed to see how someone reacts to a question that makes them feel a little uncomfortable. Nobody is going to sit there and bash a former coach, but they will want to give an honest, insightful answer that shows their own growth from a previous situation. It’s a tricky balance and the way a candidate answers will reveal a lot about him.
What went wrong in 2020? Every candidate is going to familiarize himself with the previous season of each team he’s interviewing with. I’d want an honest, no punches pulled assessment of why the 2020 Eagles season was so ugly. What went wrong? Who was responsible? What would you have done differently? What’s going to be the hardest thing to fix? Set out the road map to start turning things around.