January 13, 2021   7 MIN READ

Inside The Birds: Full-Court Press For Riley?


The search to identify Doug Pederson’s successor has begun, and the Eagles are officially on the clock.

In the latest Inside the Birds podcast, Eagles insiders Geoff Mosher and Adam Caplan discuss a crucial hurdle the team must overcome to sustain future success and provide insight on a few intriguing coaching candidates.

Eagles chairman Jeffrey Lurie will be seeking his third head coach since the start of 2012.

Draft philosophy

One of the franchise’s key sticking points, which could potentially obstruct a path to prominence if not rectified, is the apparent micromanaging throughout the draft evaluation process.

As Joe Banner has stated before on ITB TV, team owner Jeffrey Lurie asks a lot of questions. While the inquiries are good from a strategic standpoint, and to develop a profound understanding of the day-to-day operations, the line must be drawn to ensure the evaluators can effectively do their job without interference.

Furthermore, it behooves the team to prioritize communication throughout the ranks during pre-draft process to eliminate a potential disconnect in the war room on draft day.

Adam Caplan: “The one issue I do have, Roseman and Weidl should never feel pressure from the owner to draft a certain player. I don’t care who he likes, I don’t care if he’s sitting in a meeting – I’m not privy to what exactly he does with the draft, but, I know he’s sitting next to these guys — you can actually see it over the years. He can give his opinion, if he’s watching tape, he can say ‘That player looks really good.’ That’s fine, that’s great, but no one from any NFL team should be pressured to draft a player. Bill Polian would always say to me, ‘Owners own, general managers manage’.

“I understand he wants analytics. As Joe Banner told us, analytics should play very little or no part in the draft. I got a problem with it, if analytics is heavily involved — this is what I was getting at — I get he owns the team, but they cannot feel pressure to counteract their tape study. You can’t do that. Analytics are a tool; I love analytics, I especially love it on game day and game planning — I think it’s essential. But there’s only so much you can use numbers for.”

Geoff Mosher:“There’s nothing that should happen at the draft that takes anybody by surprise, or as you said, nobody should feel pressured at the last minute to take one guy over the other,” Mosher said. “The whole point of that month or two or whatever leading up to the draft of research, figuring things out, question-asking and then meetings Adam, we know that there are draft meetings upon draft meetings upon draft meetings. The whole point of that is so that by the time you get to the draft, you have a board set.”

Coaching nuggets

With the unexpected Eagles’ coaching search beginning a week late, the club undoubtedly has some catching up to do.

It’s no secret that Lurie and general manager Howie Roseman are keen on bringing in a sharp offensive mind to align with their vision, so Bills’ offensive coordinator Brian Daboll — one of this year’s top candidates — should be among the frontrunners.

Daboll, the architect who crafted the juggernaut Bills’ offense, offers a lengthy resume and wealth of coaching experience at the pro level. Depending on what the Eagles decide to do at quarterback, a critical draw could include Daboll’s remarkable development of quarterback Josh Allen — whose traits virtually mirror those of Carson Wentz — over the past three seasons.

Adam Caplan: “The nice thing about him – and it’s not good when someone’s been fired – but he’s been through a lot of job adversity. He’s been fired, he went through an issue with the Browns, he was a very young offensive coordinator — 33-34 years old. Spoke to a guy who’s coached with him before, said he grew up in the business – he’s worked for Saban, he’s worked for Belichick, Super Bowl winner. The guy is ready to be a head coach, there’s no doubt about it. Really good temperament, can get after it, coaches hard. This is a guy you want to talk to – this is a guy you should be talking to. I met him at the Combine, I got two minutes, I couldn’t make an evaluation. I talked to the Bills about him, they raved about him – they don’t want to lose him.”

On Tuesday, ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported that the Eagles have requested to interview Titans offensive coordinator Arthur Smith. Smith, 38, has held the OC title in Tennessee for the past two seasons. More importantly, however, Smith has directly overseen quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s revitalization, who in many ways, experienced a similar career trajectory as Wentz.

When Smith assumed the role in 2019 to replace Matt LaFleur, the previously paltry Titans’ offense that mired among the depths of professional football was beginning to emerge from the rubbles of Mike Mularkey’s prehistoric, predictable offense. However, within two years, Smith quietly transformed the Titans offense into one of the NFL’s elite.

Adam Caplan: “You know what I liked about him? His first half of his first year calling plays didn’t go very well, and he did a phenomenal job in the second half. Way more aggressive. When I say aggressive, it wasn’t the pass-run ratio, it’s the type of plays he was running. The concepts are really good. He does a good job of understanding who his smart coaches are on his staff, which a Titans guy told me. He goes, ‘He does a great job of understanding who the guys are who he should be gathering information from, make sure they’re heavily involved in helping with the script and put stuff together’.

Now, as a head coach, the guy that I talked to said he’s great, he’s got command and he knows how to delegate.”

There’s also a distinct possibility the Eagles turn to the college ranks to find Doug Pederson’s successor specifically Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley.

Riley, a brilliant offensive mind who has helped groom Baker Mayfield, Kyler Murray and Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts into heralded pro prospects, also has a good relationship with general manager Howie Roseman. Shortly after parting ways with Pederson, ITB’s Geoff Mosher reported the Eagles reached out to Riley on Monday.

Geoff Mosher: “When the Eagles wanted Chip [Kelly], they put a full-court press on for Chip, You know how much they were infatuated with Chip even before Andy got fired. That’s a guy that was on their radar. So, Lincoln clearly is a guy who has been on their radar, because they talked to him and they know him and have a relationship with him – I mean, look how quickly they reached out to him. If Lincoln is kinda happy being at Oklahoma and he’s the King of Oklahoma there and the governor of the state – whatever you wanna call it – but Jeff and Howie really like this guy, we’ll see if they put a full-court press on him. When they identify somebody that they really think fits their criteria, they move on it. So, we’ll see what happens.”

– Andrew DiCecco (@ADiCeccoNFL) is a Staff Reporter/Content Producer for InsideTheBirds.com.

Listen to the latest “Inside The Birds” podcast with Adam Caplan and Geoff Mosher:

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