Tuesday, January 8, 2013
On the Eagles and Lovie Smith
By Dan Graziano
The Philadelphia Eagles announced Tuesday that they will interview former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith for their head-coaching vacancy Thursday. In answer to some questions I've already gotten, no, it's not a "Rooney Rule" requirement that the Eagles meet with him, as they've already interviewed at least one minority candidate (Falcons special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong). It's safe to assume the team has legitimate curiosity about Smith. He's the most accomplished of the candidates currently on their list, as he was 84-66 (including playoffs) with four 10-win seasons and a Super Bowl appearance in nine years as head coach of the Bears before being fired last week.
I remain a little bit skeptical that Smith ends up being the choice, however, since most of the other candidates the Eagles have talked to or plan to talk to have offensive backgrounds while Smith's is as a defensive coach. Chicago's offense was a consistent, year-to-year issue during Smith's time with the Bears, even as the team brought in good new quarterbacks, wide receivers and offensive coordinators to try and address the problem. So it's not just that Smith has a defensive background, it's that he's shown an inability as a head coach to preside over a productive offense. If they hired him as head coach, the Eagles would have to know he was bringing with him a strong offensive coordinator to run that side of the game. And with serious question marks already at quarterback, it's tough to imagine hiring a head coach who doesn't have proven success with an offense.
That's just a theory, of course. It's possible the Eagles will see in Smith a strong, effective leader of men, which he showed himself to be in Chicago, and decide that they can find a quarterback and coordinator who can be successful under him. It's possible they like him and consider him for defensive coordinator if they hire someone else and he doesn't get a head-coaching job somewhere. Smith is a good candidate with a good résumé and surely deserves the interview. I just don't feel like he's a guy who immediately vaults into front-runner status just because he's now on the list. But we will see.