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January 19, 2021

What they're saying: Lurie not sold on McDaniels? Anyone want to coach Eagles? A Deshaun Watson trade?

Just when we thought the Eagles' head coaching search was nearing a conclusion, with all signs pointing to Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels being named Doug Pederson's successor, it appears we might need to slow our collective roll.

A day after the team reportedly interviewed McDaniels for more than 12 hours at Jeffrey Lurie's home in Palm Beach, the owner and his search committee welcomed Todd Bowles in for an interview. And on Tuesday, reports began to come out about more candidates getting interviews, like Dennis Allen, Nick Sirianni and others.

With McDaniels gaining so much momentum in recent days, it's surprising to see that the Eagles are continuing to expand their search. But at this point — unless they 100% already know who they want and even then there's little harm in being patient — the Eagles have the luxury of taking their time in this process. Five of the seven head coaching vacancies have been filled, with only Philly and Houston remaining. 

With the number of candidates the team has brought in, it seems unlikely that the Texans will steal "their guy" away from them. And even if they do, there has to be a Candidate 1A. Otherwise, why wouldn't the Eagles have made a move already?

Perhaps their reported request that any new hire try to rehabilitate Carson Wentz is scaring them off. Or perhaps it's Jeff McLane's report from over the weekend. Or any of the other numerous reports that have outlined the dysfunction at the top of the organization. And that's not even taking their salary cap troubles or aging roster into consideration.

That's where we'll start today's edition of What They're Saying about the Eagles... 

🎶 No one likes us 🎶

Ed Kracz | Sports Illustrated

In our first of three different SI stories spread across three different properties, Ed Kracz asks the question(s) that need(s) to be asked right now: What they hell is taking the Eagles so long ... and why are they casting such a wide net?

There nothing wrong with doing due diligence on coaches, but it is beginning to appear as if nobody wants this job, even though there are just 32 of them. [...]

If [McDaniels isn't hired soon], well, then the question is, did the man who hasn’t had a known head coaching interview since stiffing the Colts for their head coaching job in 2018 decide the Eagles’ situation wasn’t desirable?

And if that’s the case then that opens the Pandora Box of so many other questions, such as:

Is it the Eagles’ reported insistence on finding a way to “fix” Carson Wentz and what happens with Jalen Hurts?

Is it Roseman, who has not been held accountable, at least publicly by Lurie, and whose total control over personnel has either directly or indirectly has helped lead to the dismissal of both previous coaches, Chip Kelly and Pederson?

Is it Lurie, who has seemingly become more involved with the decision-making more than just his self-described involvement of simply asking questions?

Or was Lurie revealing that this is a rebuild situation scare anyone away?  []

Honestly, this all stinks of a team that two weeks ago had no idea it would be looking for a new coach and is scrambling a bit. 

RELATED: WTS: Wentz's impact on Eagles coaching search, when it might end, and who they might hire

Split decision

Adam Hermann | NBC Sports Philadelphia

But maybe it's not the candidates are slowing this down. Maybe only one of the two men in charge of the coaching search (Lurie and Howie Roseman) are on board with McDaniels, and the other still needs a bit of convincing. 

Here's more from Mike Florio and Chris Simms of Pro Football Talk, courtesy of old friend Adam Hermann... 

On Tuesday morning's episode of Pro Football Talk, NBC Sports' Mike Florio dropped an intriguing nugget that he picked up amid the growing McDaniels buzz that provides some new insight into the front office's view of the Patriots offensive coordinator:

"I also heard yesterday - look, McDaniels ran the show in Denver. Howie Roseman has a major seat at the table in Philly. How do these two co-exist? My understanding is, Roseman is fine with it. It's just a matter of talking the owner, Jeffrey Lurie, into it." [...]

For what it's worth, former Broncos quarterback Chris Simms - who played for McDaniels in Denver in 2009 - said on PFT that he thinks McDaniels is a perfect fit for the Eagles job right now, precisely because of the fit with Roseman:

"I think, in a lot of ways, for Josh McDaniels and the Eagles, I think it would be the perfect fit. Josh is the guy you want to build with, and build around. He is - I don't say he's a GM, but he's got a lot of experience in that he did that stuff in Denver, and I think at the very least he understands the team-building aspect of what to do, to where he can conversate with Howie Roseman and go, 'Listen, we're going to build this type of offense, and I need these types of players.'"  []

It seems strange that Lurie, and not Roseman, is the one who needs convincing here, when from the sound of it, Roseman is the one who should be worried about a potential power struggle with a coach who would seemingly prefer to have control over the roster, like his mentor Bill Belichick does in New England. Does he forget how Chip Kelly banished him? Or does he believe that was enough of a dumpster fire that Lurie would never allow it to happen again?

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A disaster in the making?

Albert Breer | MMQB

Speaking of Josh McDaniels, Albert Breer builds on what Simms said about the two working together and brings up a good point that McDaniels and Roseman have very different strengths personnel-wise, although I still struggle to see how the guy who drafted Tim Tebow in the first round and the guy who has continually missed on draft picks in recent years will suddenly combine into some football Megazord, but perhaps the whole will be greater than the sum of its parts. 

It also feels like the makings for a power struggle well beyond whatever went down with Pederson, and the phrase "if everyone is reasonable" is doing a ton of heavy lifting here... 

• I can say the Eagles are doing extensive background on Patriots OC Josh McDaniels. That doesn’t mean he’s getting the job, but I do believe that Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman are intrigued with what McDaniels might be able to do, and he’s an easy answer to a question they’re trying to confront: Which available coach is best equipped to build an offense that works for our quarterback(s)? I also believe this one can work because Roseman and McDaniels have different strengths. Where they’d have to bridge gaps would be in how the organization would set up structurally, since both guys have a very defined vision for that. But I think, in a certain way, both guys here could be really good for each other, if everyone is reasonable. I also think that Roseman’s experience, and belief that his job first and foremost is to go and get players for the coaches, borne of his experience with Andy Reid, would go a long way in melding coaching and scouting, if McDaniels is the guy.  []

MORE: Making sense of the Wentz drama: A 'rogue' QB, a 'pissing match' with Pederson and no accountability

Voted off the island

Andrew Brandt | Sports Illustrated

Andrew Brandt of Sports Illustrated, who has worked for the Eagles in the past and still lives in the area, did his best to explain why the Eagles opted to go with a broken and expensive Wentz over their Super Bowl winning coach. To hear him tell it, it sounds like it was more of a choice between Doug and and Wentz/Roseman combo. And Doug never stood a chance in that one... 

Spinning back to the Eagles, Wentz’s performance was not only a problem for him, but a bigger problem for Pederson and the coaching staff. Wentz was a player who had previous success, performing at nearly an MVP-level play just a couple years ago. And with Pederson’s insertion of second-round pick Jalen Hurts late in the season, the “Wentz question” became front and center. Due to the investment, his past performance and the cap-killing ramifications of him not being there, Wentz needed to be fixed, not traded. And if there became a choice between Wentz and Pederson, I certainly knew who was winning that battle. [...]

Many have asked why Pederson was removed in Philadelphia, while longtime general manager Howie Roseman—the person most responsible for the composition of both the aging roster and the albatross of the Wentz contract—got to stay.

Owner Jeffrey Lurie has developed unconditional trust in Roseman, irrespective of a year-by-year scorecard. Beyond Lurie's personal affection toward Roseman, the owner has great faith in Roseman’s institutional knowledge of the inner workings of the NFL: its systems, its rules and regulations and its cap intricacies. Roseman has a wide network of coaches, scouts and front-office contacts. Lurie can change coaches (and has) much more easily than he can change his point person for the sausage-making of the NFL.

Thus Pederson was sacrificed as the person most susceptible in this equation. The Eagles chose Wentz, and to a lesser extent, Roseman, over Pederson.  []

Wentz for Watson?

Glenn Erby | The Eagles Wire

While the Eagles are reportedly telling coaching candidates they'd prefer to fix Wentz, there's always a chance they still decide to move on from the 28-year-old quarterback. The could potentially try to trade for a disgruntled DeShaun Watson, but that's honestly a pipe dream at this point.

With the salaries nearly matching up and Wentz still seething from his four-game benching, the Eagles, like 26 other teams around the NFL, could look to swap quarterbacks and picks for Deshaun Watson.

If the Eagles truly want a fresh start, the deal would allow Jalen Hurts the opportunity to continue to grow while learning behind Watson.

Jeffrey Lurie referred to both his quarterbacks as assets and Hurts could also fetch Philadelphia another second or third-round pick as they dive deep into a long-term rebuild.

The Eagles have interest in Eric Bieniemy and if such a swap would happen for quarterbacks, Philadelphia’s newest quarterback would already be on board with their potential new head coach.  []

Wentz may already own a home in Houston, but as Erby also pointed out, the trade would cost the Eagles a lot more than just Wentz, including multiple first-round picks and at least one highly-regarded player. Oh, and there's also that dead money that would still count against the cap. 

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