Ranking the Eagles’ best coaching candidates to replace fired Doug Pederson

By | January 12, 2021

Doug Pederson led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl victory only three years ago. That didn’t stop Philadelphia from firing its head coach, a week after “Black Monday,” after a disappointing, tumultuous season in which the team fell from NFC East champions to out of the playoffs at 4-11-1.

While Pederson ends his five-year tenure with the Eagles with a 46-39-1 record and three playoff trips, owner Jeffery Lurie and team officials dive late into the search for a new coach. Pederson’s mismanaging of Carson Wentz, Jalen Hurts and the quarterback situation eventually cost him.

Now the Eagles will look for the best replacement hire with the Jets, Jaguars, Falcons, Texans, Chargers and Lions also going after the top candidates. Here’s a ranking of the ideal targets for Philadelphia to interview:

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1. Brian Daboll, Bills offensive coordinator

Daboll, 45, is on everyone’s hot list after his bang-up job with Josh Allen. He’s got big-time experience in the past with both Bill Belichick and Nick Saban. He’s ready to make the jump as an organized leader and strong schemer. The Eagles need to fix quarterback, whether they are rolling with the skill set of Hurts or Wentz. Daboll could have a great influence on either/both as athletic passers.

2. Duce Staley, Eagles assistant head coach/running backs coach (age: 45)

The Eagles do have a strong in-house candidate to be elevated in the wake of Pederson’s departure. The former Eagles’ running back is well respected and liked by all the players. He’s a good communicator and teacher. Staley can create some coaching continuity with a needed big boost in motivation.

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3. Lincoln Riley, head coach, Oklahoma

The Cowboys and Riley, 37, didn’t really become a consideration but don’t sleep on their NFC East rivals. Would the potential to be reunited with Hurts, one of his star Sooners passing pupils, be enough to lure him from the college ranks, knowing his offensive mind would translate really well into the NFL? If the Eagles want to push hard for the Kliff Kingsbury route, this is the best possible solution for a long-term keeper.

4. Eric Bieniemy, Chiefs offensive coordinator

The Eagles shouldn’t want to totally abandon the Andy Reid tree, which still has been pretty good to them without Reid. Bieniemy, 51, who replaced Pederson and Bears coach Matt Nagy as the man to work closest with Reid, has done exceptional work with Patrick Mahomes. He’s long overdue for a job, but there’s also a sense he might not leave in this wave, either.

MORE: Andy Reid’s NFL coaching tree has more successes than failures

5. Nick Sirianni, Colts offensive coordinator

The Eagles haven’t had the same kind of quarterback play ever since Frank Reich left Pederson’s staff to become the head coach of the Colts. Sirianni, 39, joined Reich after strong stints coaching all aspects of offense for the Chiefs (before Reid) and Chargers. Reich has brought along Sirianni well and they are in lockstep with offensive acumen.

6. Brandon Staley, Rams defensive coordinator

Yes, Sean McVay can also produce young hot-shot proteges who aren’t offensive-minded. The Eagles can flip to the other side of the ball for their overall leader and it may be more critical with Jim Schwartz choosing to leave as defensive coordinator before Pederson was fired. This Staley, like Daboll, is making the rounds on the interview circuit with the other teams.

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7. Arthur Smith, Titans offensive coordinator

Smith, 38, has spent a long time with the Titans’ staff and has proved to be a terrific asset for Derrick Henry, Ryan Tannehill and the rest of the offense since replacing Packers head coach Matt LaFleur as Tennessee’s savvy play-caller last season. Here’s yet another appealing candidate for Hurts and/or Wentz.

8. Mike Kafka, Chiefs quarterbacks coach

His name has appeared as a sudden wild card because of the fact he’s next in line behind Bienemy on Reid’s mighty offensive tree, working directly and bonding so well with Mahomes. The 33-year-old former Eagles backup QB has been groomed well by Reid. The Northwestern grad is well versed in scheming and can be an empowering players’ coach in the LaFleur mold.