Candidates for Coach: Potential coaches for Eagles top job

Until Tuesday night, there were about five things you could have listed as top priority for the Eagles offseason.

With Chip Kelly officially out in Philadelphia, the head coaching search takes over as top priority.

There are several candidates that will be considered as the next head coach of the Eagles and Jeffrey Lurie — who will help select the next coach along with Don Smolenski and Howie Roseman — has said that all categories of coaches will be analyzed.

Here then are a few coaches from all categories that the Eagles could consider for the head coaching vacancy.

NFL Head Coaches

  • Sean Payton (NO) – It's still a big if, but if Sean Payton does indeed become available, it would make a lot of sense for the Eagles to take a shot at bringing him in. Two of Payton's former players, RB Darren Sproles and S Malcolm Jenkins, are on the roster and Payton has a Super Bowl title on his resume.
  • Dan Campbell (MIA) – In the interim role for Miami, Campbell has done a solid job, going 4-7 with a team that started 1-3, with one of those wins coming against the Eagles. If the Eagles go with a current NFL head coach, Payton will be the more attractive option, but if Campbell is available and the potential Payton sweepstakes doesn't fall the Eagles way, it wouldn't be a surprising option for the Eagles.

NFL Coordinators

  • Sean McDermott (DC – CAR) – At least in the early going, this might be the prime target for the Eagles. He's a successor of Jim Johnson's tutelage on defense and a former, much-maligned, defensive coordinator in Philadelphia already, but has really matured as a coach in Carolina, now running one of the league's best defenses. He will almost definitely get a look from the Eagles simply as one of the attractive names around the NFL for coaching vacancies.
  • Adam Gase (OC – CHI) – Gase is a prime candidate to get a coaching job somewhere in the NFL for 2016. Among coordinators, he would be the prize if a team could make him head coach. A strong offensive mind with a knack for quarterbacks, Gase should be on the top of the Eagles wish list.
  • Hue Jackson (OC – CIN) – Another great offensive mind, Jackson has done it all at every level. He served as head coach of the Oakland Raiders for one season, was brought in by Marvin Lewis and made a return to Cincinnati in 2012 originally as a secondary/special teams coach. Another top candidates among coordinators, he should be getting many calls this offseason.
  • Josh McDaniels (OC – NE) – His first stint as a head coach for two seasons in Denver did not go well, resulting in an 11-17 record, but in his time as New England offensive coordinator from 2006 to 2008 and again starting in 2012 has build up quite a resume under Bill Belichick
  • Greg Roman (OC – BUF) – Roman has emerged as a candidate under Rex Ryan, but the Bills really fell hard out of the playoff race this season, and in a loss to the Eagles, were a very undisciplined group. You wonder if that win will sit in Lurie's mind when considering a future coach. Some teams will be calling for interviews, but this is one candidate who may still be with his current team next season.
  • Teryl Austin (DC – DET) – Not only has Austin helped elevate the Lions defense in his tenure under Jim Caldwell, but he had interviews for coaching positions last season. Though never really a front-runner there, this season could certainly be different. As a player, he attended Pittsburgh and followed that up by serving as a graduate assistant at Penn State in 1991 and 1992 before eventually making the jump to the NFL in 2003 with Seattle.
  • Darrell Bevell (OC – SEA) – Bevell has a ton of experience as an offensive coordinator, serving in Minnesota from 2006-2010 and then joining the Seahawks in 2011, where he remains today. Bevell played a huge role in the Seahawks drafting Russell Wilson and taking Seattle's offense from 28th in the league in 2011 to a Super Bowl title in 2013. 
  • Frank Reich (OC – SD) – The son of the legendary Penn State center and linebacker, Reich has traditionally gone where Ken Whisenhunt has. After serving under Whisenhunt as an assistant with the Cardinals in 2012, he went to San Diego in 2013 with Whisenhunt. Whisenhunt was since hired and fired by the Tennessee Titans. Reich took over as offensive coordinator for San Diego when Whisenhunt left for Tennessee.
  • Pat Shurmur (OC – PHI) – Simply by being the choice for interim head coach for the final game, consider that an audition of sorts for Shurmur. He will almost certainly be considered a candidate, having been with the team for many years, from 1999-2008 as an offensive position coach and returning in 2013 as the offensive coordinator under Kelly. His two years of head coaching experience in Cleveland did not go well, just a 9-23 record, but he has experience with the role already. 

College Head Coaches

  • Jim Mora (UCLA) – Chances are, the college path isn't one the Eagles will travel again, not after getting burned as bad as they did with Chip Kelly. But, if they do explore and take some interest in current college coaches, Jim Mora has to be one of the prime targets. With head coaching experience in Atlanta from 2004 to 2006 and another season in Seattle in 2009, he brings a 32-34 overall record and a 1-1 playoff record to the table. It isn't the greatest resume, but unless the Eagles tap into the retired coaches category or go after Sean Payton vehemently, then Mora is the coach that offers the most experience.
  • David Shaw (Stanford) – Unlike Chip Kelly, Shaw has previously worked as an NFL assistant, serving as an Eagles coach in 1997 and serving as an offensive position coach with Oakland, Baltimore and San Diego from 1998-2006. Shaw then went on to Stanford, where he started as offensive coordinator and took over as head coach in 2011. He has a 53-14 record since taking the head coaching job, three bowl game wins, including his New Year's Day triumph in the Rose Bowl over Iowa, and three Pac-12 titles.
  • Brian Kelly (Notre Dame) – Two things here: if the college path doesn't scare Lurie away, the thought of another "coach Kelly" might. That said, Brian Kelly has emerged as potential name for an NFL coaching candidate in almost every season since the Eagles last coaching search. Overall, Kelly has a 226-80-2 record in college football, including a 55-22 record with Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish went 10-3 this season, ending with a 44-28 loss to Ohio State in the Fiesta Bowl.

Retired Head Coaches

  • Jon Gruden – Gruden has been away from the sidelines for seven seasons now after being fired by Tampa Bay in 2008. But remember, in his early years of coaching, he was an Eagle. After starting with San Francisco in 1990 and moving to Green Bay from 1992-94, Gruden joined the Eagles as offensive coordinator from 1995-1997. In 1998, he was hired by the Oakland Raiders and remained there until 2001 before moving on to Tampa Bay, where in 2002, he beat the Eagles in the NFC Championship game on the way to a Super Bowl. If Gruden is interested in getting away from the booth — he's been at ESPN since 2009 — definitely expect the Eagles to at least reach out.
  • Bill Cowher – Like Gruden, Cowher has been an analyst on CBS since 2007 after he retired from coaching. Cowher was a legend in Pittsburgh, serving as the Steelers head coach from 1992-2006 and winning a Super Bowl in 2005. Cowher was also an Eagle as a player in 1979 and again in 1983 and 1984. Again, if there's interest on his part to make a return to the sidelines, expect the Eagles to be calling.
  • Brian Billick – From 2008-2013, Billick was a broadcaster with FOX and before that, longtime coach of the Baltimore Ravens from 1999 to 2007, which included a Super Bowl in 2000. Probably the most unlikely of the three retired coaches to make a return to coaching, he's still someone the Eagles could consider.

Kevin Durso is managing editor for Eagledelphia. Follow him on Twitter @Kevin_Durso.

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