Mike Kafka

Despite interest from Eagles, Mike Kafka reportedly returning to Kansas City

Despite interest from Eagles, Mike Kafka reportedly returning to Kansas City

Another day, another name to cross off the Eagles’ list of potential offensive coordinator candidates. 

Chiefs quarterbacks coach Mike Kafka is going to be back in Kansas City next season, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. 

It is interesting that the Eagles didn’t even bother to put in an official request to interview Kafka but it does explain why we haven’t heard anything about a potential interview in the last couple days after the Chiefs advanced to the Super Bowl. 

It’s not surprising that Andy Reid and the Chiefs would have blocked a request to talk to Kafka. The 32-year-old is an OC-in-waiting for whenever current OC Eric Bieniemy finally gets hired by an NFL team as a head coach. Reid wasn’t going to let Kafka go. 

From the Eagles’ perspective, it would have made plenty of sense to be interested in Kafka. He played under Doug Pederson in Philly when Doug was an assistant and they both come from the same coaching tree and have a similar understanding of offense. 

And Kafka has been a quick-riser in the coaching world. His background as a quarterback was likely attractive for the Eagles, who should try to maximize Carson Wentz’s potential as he enters what should be the prime in his career. 

To recap some top candidates: 

Mike Kafka: Reported interest, but staying in Kansas City as QBs coach with a possible added title 

James Urban: Interviewed with Eagles but staying in Baltimore as QBs coach, working with Lamar Jackson 

Graham Harrell: Reportedly interviewed with Eagles but staying at USC as their offensive coordinator 

Kevin O’Connell: Reported interest from the Eagles but joined the Rams as their offensive coordinator in a position similar to the Eagles’ OC, in that the OC doesn’t call plays 

Jim Caldwell: The Eagles had some reported interest in the 65-year-old former head coach, who is no longer with the Miami Dolphins

Aside from those names, the Eagles also have a couple internal candidates in Press Taylor and Duce Staley. And there are other names of intrigue, including Jay Gruden, Ben McAdoo and others. 

But it’s now Day 13 of the Eagles’ coaching search and their brass is in Mobile, Alabama, for the Senior Bowl without and offensive coordinator. This is taking a little longer than many of us expected. 

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Eagles reportedly interested in Mike Kafka as candidate for offensive coordinator job

Eagles reportedly interested in Mike Kafka as candidate for offensive coordinator job

On Friday, we heard about the Eagles’ interest in an outside-the-box candidate to become their next offensive coordinator.

This next name is firmly inside the box. 

According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, the Eagles are expected to request permission to interview Chiefs QBs coach Mike Kafka for the job. 

But there’s a chance, according to the report, that Andy Reid blocks that interview request to keep his quarterbacks coach around. This offseason there was a reasonable possibility that Kansas City’s offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy would get a head coaching job. That didn’t happen but if he were to ever leave, Kafka would be the next guy up. So while Reid has always helped his assistants move up in the coaching world, it would make sense for him to want to keep Kafka around. 

Even if the Chiefs win today, the Eagles would still have a window to interview Kafka before the Super Bowl if Reid grants permission. 

This was a link that was easy to find early. 

Kafka, 32, was one of the first and most obvious names to surface after Mike Groh was fired. 

Kafka has been a quick riser in the coaching world and there’s a ton of familiarity between him and Doug Pederson. While they didn’t coach together in Kansas City, Kafka played for Pederson in 2010-11 and his time under Reid means that he came up very much like Pederson did. 

The Eagles drafted Kafka in the fourth round out of Northwestern back in 2010 but he didn’t have much of an NFL career. His only action with the Eagles came in 2011, when he played in four games, completing 11 of 16 passes. He bounced around to many different teams in the next few years after that. 

When his playing days were over, Kafka became a graduate assistant at Northwestern in 2016 before Reid hired him as a quality control coach in 2017. He has been quarterbacks coach in KC for the last two seasons. 

There are two schools of thought for this offensive coordinator job. The Eagles can go with familiarity or they can go with innovation. Either could work but there’s probably a little more risk going with innovation. 

The Eagles already interviewed USC offensive coordinator Graham Harrell, a coach who uses the Air Raid offense and could bring a fresh set of ideas to Pederson. But there would also be some obvious benefit in sticking with the safe route and hiring a guy like Kafka, who is also a young and fast-rising candidate. 

Either way, the Eagles’ next offensive coordinator will not call the plays. That job still belongs to Pederson. 

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8 candidates to replace Mike Groh as Eagles offensive coordinator

8 candidates to replace Mike Groh as Eagles offensive coordinator

A day after Doug Pederson said the Eagles would bring back offensive coordinator Mike Groh, the Eagles have fired Groh and WRs coach Carson Walch

So now Pederson is entering Year 5 and will be looking for his third different offensive coordinator, following Frank Reich and Groh. 

Here’s a quick list of some possible candidates: 

Duce Staley: Before the Eagles hired Groh, they also interviewed Staley and didn’t hire him. Instead, they kept Duce in his role as running backs coach and tacked on the title of assistant head coach, which hasn’t really meant much. 

During his seven years as a running backs coach, Staley has done a phenomenal job. He’s highly regarded in that position, but it’s worth noting that the Eagles have been hesitant to promote him to OC, opting for a passing mind the last time they had a decision to make. If Staley, 44, doesn’t get the OC job this time, he’ll probably have to go elsewhere if he wants to move up in the coaching world. 

Press Taylor: This wouldn’t be a popular pick but he’s the only other internal candidate who really makes sense. Taylor is still just 31 and has been the Eagles’ QBs coach for two years now after the Eagles promoted him to replace John DeFilippo. The next offensive coordinator will need to have a close connection to Carson Wentz and we at least already know Taylor has that. 

For a while, it was looking like Taylor might be on the hot seat, but Wentz was fantastic down the stretch in the 2019 season. Was Wentz good enough to get his position coach promoted? Maybe. But maybe this OC hire needs to come from outside the building.  

Mike Kafka: The 32-year-old former quarterback is a hot name. Right now, he’s the Chiefs’ quarterbacks coach under Andy Reid. The thought here was that Eric Bieniemy was going to get a head coaching job and Kafka could then replace him. But that hasn’t happened, so Kafka might have to leave Kansas City to find his next job. 

Kafka actually played for Pederson in 2010-11 with the Eagles while Pederson was still an assistant. So if Doug is looking for someone he knows well and who understands what he wants offensively, Kafka makes sense. It’s been a quick climb for Kakfa, whose coaching career began in 2016 as a graduate assistant with Northwestern before Reid brought him to Kansas City. 

Jay Gruden: If the Eagles want to get away from the Reid tree, Gruden is an option. The former Redskins’ head coach was the Bengals’ offensive coordinator from 2011-13. He spent over five years with the Redskins and had a 35-49-1 record but it’s hard to win in Washington with all that disfunction. 

The 52-year-old will need to take an OC job if he wants to get back to a head coaching job. A fresh perspective might help the Eagles too. 

Pat Shurmur: Don’t laugh. Shurmur hasn’t been a very good head coach at his two stops but he’s been a pretty good offensive coordinator in the past. He was obviously the OC under Chip Kelly here in Philly but he comes from the Reid tree and has familiarity with Pederson and the basics of the offense.  

Marty Mornhinweg: Another retread of sorts, Mornhinweg is a longtime member of the Reid tree. He was the OC and assistant head coach in Philly from 2006-12. He’s been a former head coach and was most recently the Ravens’ OC from 2016-18. He’s 57 now but Mornhinweg has always been a good offensive mind.  

Mike Shula: If you want one more name from outside, how about Shula? He’s still technically with the Giants as their OC and QBs coach but there’s a new head coach in New York, so the 54-year-old might become available. He’s been around for a long time in the NFL and briefly as the head coach at Alabama. He was the Panthers’ OC from 2013-17, when they went to the playoffs in four of five seasons. 

James Urban: With the Ravens, Urban has done a great job in the last two years with Lamar Jackson and the 46-year-old has a history with the Eagles. He was actually the Birds’ QBs coach before Pederson in 2009-10, when Pederson joined the staff as an offensive quality control coach. These two worked very closely during those years. 

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