Eagles News: Potential Candidates to Replace Chip Kelly as Head Coach


Jan 4, 2014; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles head coach Chip Kelly talks with New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton prior to playing the game during the 2013 NFC wild card playoff football game at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

In a move more stunning than any Chip Kelly had his fingerprints on during his tenure in Philadelphia, the Eagles announced they have released him from his contract and will once again start the process of finding a new head coach. While the list of potential candidates is based somewhat on speculation, given the fact that the season is still in progress and coaches have yet to be released from their contracts, there have already been a handful of names of potential replacements for Kelly. Here are a few possibilities:

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Pat Shurmur-Eagles Offensive Coordinator: 

Pat Shurmur will fill in for Chip Kelly as the team’s head coach for its final game of the season. He has head coaching experience and a relationship with Sam Bradford, if the team sees him as the quarterback of the future. It is difficult to imagine Lurie going with a member of Kelly’s regime as his replacement, but Shurmur is by no means attached at the hip to Kelly. He is much more seasoned in terms of running a traditional offense and cannot be blamed for the deterioration of the Eagles offense during Kelly’s tenure. Shurmur would be a longshot, but certainly not out of the realm of possibility.

Sean Payton-Saints Head Coach: 

The only currently employed NFL head coach on this list appears to be nearing the end of his leash in New Orleans. Sean Payton has a successful track record as both an offensive coordinator and a head coach. The Saints have seen their status as one of the NFL’s consistent contenders go by the wayside in recent years due to an inability to stop teams on the defensive side of the ball and a miserable salary cap situation. Payton is still under contract, and will likely be in high demand for several teams with coaching vacancies. With that being the case, the Saints might even be able to trade Payton for draft picks and recoup some value for the head coach. While this could tie the Eagles hands to a certain level, Payton still appears to have good years ahead of him as a coach and would likely be a top candidate.

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Hue Jackson-Bengals Offensive Coordinator

Hue Jackson has emerged as perhaps the hottest name among NFL coordinators in regards to his attachment to pending head coaching openings. One could argue he did not get a fair shake as a head coach in Oakland, getting axed after just one 8-8 season. Since then, he has established himself as one of the top offensive minds in the NFL and a major reason for the Cincinnati Bengals emergence as a year-in, year-out playoff contender. Jackson has coached nearly every position group on the offensive side of the ball leading up to his time as an offensive coordinator and is widely respected around the league. One could make a case that the Eagles decided to make this decision because top-end coaching candidates will be scooped up quickly when the season ends. Hue Jackson would be one of those candidates, so keep an eye on him.

Sean McDermott-Panthers Defensive Coordinator: 

Sean McDermott has ties to Philadelphia and has paid his dues as one of the top defensive coordinators in the NFL since his departure. The Jim Johnson disciple would almost certainly focus on the defensive side of the ball, which would endear him to Eagles fans almost immediately. Prior to his arrival in Carolina, McDermott spent his entire NFL coaching career in Philadelphia and likely has a mutual respect with Jeffrey Lurie that no other candidate can boast. With the Panthers having emerged as a Super Bowl contender and their defense being a primary reason, McDermott has garnered substantial praise in league circles as the next coordinator to get his shot at a head coaching gig.

Adam Gase-Bears Offensive Coordinator: 

Being held in high regard by Peyton Manning goes a long way in the NFL, and the 37-year-old offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears earned that distinction when he was with the Broncos. Despite his youth, Gase has been a part of NFL front offices since the early 2000s and has a strong grasp of the modern NFL offensive game. He has worked alongside a veteran head coach in John Fox for some time now and has helped Jay Cutler resurrect his game to a certain extent with the Bears. May peg Gase as a young talent in the league whose shot at landing a head coaching job is an inevitability. For that reason, the Eagles have to be considered a potential suitor to take a chance on him.