Tom Coughlin would be mysterious hire for Eagles

The reports emerged on Thursday morning that the Eagles have now set their attention to potentially finalizing a deal to hire Tom Coughlin, the two-time Super Bowl winning coach that served as the Eagles rival for 12 seasons with the New York Giants.

This has been a trying search for the Eagles. Their admitted head start has backfired — three of the seven teams that had a coaching vacancy have filled the position — and now they are picking up the pieces on what would obviously be their third choice at best.

In addition, while there is some logic to the hiring of Coughlin, there are a lot of points that would make it a true head-scratcher.

Coughlin certainly brings the resume, and if the Eagles learned anything from the last coaching search, it's that a change of scenery can revitalize a veteran head coach.

Andy Reid spent 14 seasons in Philadelphia. He had a 130-93-1 record. He helped the Eagles win six NFC East titles. They advanced to the NFC Championship game five times. They advanced to one Super Bowl. The only thing they didn't do under Reid was win the big game.

That said, Reid was 22-26 over his final three seasons with the Eagles and hadn't won a playoff game since 2008 when he was fired and moved on to Kansas City.

With the Chiefs, Reid has a 31-17 record and last week won his first playoff game as coach of the Chiefs in his second playoff appearance.

Perhaps that's the thinking with Coughlin. He had a 102-90 record with the Giants. He helped them to three NFC East titles, two trips to the NFC Championship game, two trips to the Super Bowl and two Super Bowl rings.

Over his previous four seasons, he had a 28-36 record and missed the playoffs in all four seasons.

All the while, one of Coughlin's best qualities, right up to his final day as Giants head coach, is a great relationship with his players. That alone is a quality that the Eagles brass desires in the next head coach. Coughlin may be the best out there at relating to his players and getting to know them and "open his heart" to them, as Jeffrey Lurie said he was looking for.

This is where things get strange.

Yes, the credentials and resume are there for Coughlin. He has all the qualities as a person that the Eagles would want. But the move would be counter-productive to the Eagles current state and do Coughlin no favors in the process.

Coughlin has admitted he feels that he has two or three years of coaching left in him. If Coughlin were going to coach anywhere, Philadelphia would seem like a likely destination given that it is the only opening that would keep him close to New York and his family. Even so, at best, this would be a temporary move for a coach that has retirement plans in his near future.

Coughlin is set to turn 70 at the end of August. If any team hired him, it would indicate a win-now mentality. The Eagles are nowhere near a team that is ready to win now.

Additionally, to bring a coach like Coughlin, who has a lengthy past as a veteran coach, over a coordinator who would have no head coaching experience could always lead to another power struggle. Coaches with Coughlin's experience get positions of power. They get the trust of the ownership to make the team the best it can be. The Eagles do not want to venture down that road after the Chip Kelly fiasco.

There is also a lot to be said about the timing. This feels like a desperation play from the Eagles.

When the Eagles started this process, they set their sights on Adam Gase, the top coordinator candidate. He was hired by the Dolphins on Saturday. That was the same day the Eagles requested permission to interview Coughlin.

In the days that followed, the Eagles spoke with Coughlin, but seemed to set their sights on his offensive coordinator Ben McAdoo, who had interviewed with the Eagles last Thursday. The indication was that the Eagles were ready to officially hire McAdoo before the Giants came back with a better offer, which McAdoo is reportedly taking.

So Coughlin would be, at best, the Eagles third choice. Similarly, the timing of this is baffling because the Eagles are essentially pushing one candidate to the curb because they can't hire him immediately. Doug Pederson has always been among the leading candidates, but perhaps the wait for the Chiefs to bow out of the playoffs is too long for the Eagles.

All the while, it seems clearer that the Eagles never had any real interest in hiring from within if their third choice and essentially the last resort is Coughlin over Pat Shurmur and Duce Staley.

So Coughlin emerges, potentially as the favorite for a job that could be filled by the end of the day.

It's been a roller-coaster three days in the Eagles hunt for a new coach, not too different from the season before, but it may be ending in the unlikeliest of ways — with a former rival coach joining the Eagles. 

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

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