The Philadelphia Eagles are rumored to be taking a big swing with their next head coach, with Bill Cowher emerging as a dark horse candidate to take over for the recently fired Chip Kelly.
Kelly was cut loose this week after an up-and-down tenure with the team, one that ultimately fell apart due to Kelly’s questionable personnel moves. But the Eagles may have an even bigger name coming in to take over.
Merrill Reese, the voice of the Eagles, opened up the suggestion of Bill Cowher coming in when talking about potential candidates. Though Reese noted that he doesn’t have any insider information, he did take note of a connection with player personnel director Tom Donahoe.
“I do know they named Tom Donahoe, the former Pittsburgh Steelers general manager as their acting player personnel director,” Reese said (via 247 Sports). “And Tom Donahoe has a strong connection with Bill Cowher. I’m not saying that it’s going to happen, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Tom Donahoe investigated Bill Cowher’s interest in returning to coaching.”
If this year is anything like the past few, then the rumors of the Philadelphia Eagles chasing after Bill Cowher will remain just that — rumors. Cowher’s name has come up in relation to many high-profile coaching vacancies, but the former Steelers coach has always denied wanting to come back. Instead he seems comfortable with his spot on the NFL Today on CBS, where he has had a spot since 2007.
That hasn’t stopped the rumor mill from churning, however. Last year, Cowher was spotted in the Buffalo airport just hours after Bills coach Doug Marrone turned in his resignation papers. It ended up going nowhere, and the Bills picked Rex Ryan instead as their coach.
But the Philadelphia Eagles rumors could have more meat than a possible airport sighting in Buffalo. The team has a real connection to Cowher now through Donahoe, and if Cowher does want to come back then Philadelphia could be a good landing point.
— Dick Vitale (@DickieV) January 1, 2016
A source said Chip Kelly would have been interested in Navy job, odd for a man who said he “burned the boats” https://t.co/n0kI1OYsY3
— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) January 1, 2016
For one, the Eagles have already shown that they are willing to give a coach greater power when it comes to player personnel decisions. Chip Kelly had greater control over his roster than the average coach, though it was ultimately his questionable moves like shipping away LeSean McCoy and DeSean Jackson that helped lead to his departure. But for Bill Cowher, the ability to play both the roles of coach and general manager might be an extra incentive to leave the comfort of the television booth.
And Bill Cowher has shown a willingness to return to the NFL if the job is right.
Bill Cowher (@CowherCBS) says there’s “nothing to” the rumor he’ll return to coaching, but the “door is never closed.”
— CBS This Morning (@CBSThisMorning) January 3, 2014
As ESPN noted, the Eagles are in a bit of a transitional phase where there are no clear-cut roles, so if they were to bring in Bill Cowher, now would seem the most appropriate time.
The report noted,
“Now begins a search for a new coach and a new general manager, or it very well could be a director of player personnel who evolves into the GM. Howie Roseman, who was ingloriously pushed aside to formally give Kelly the control he desired a year ago, will remain as the vice president of football operations. But as of now, Roseman will not be the general manager again. Tom Donahoe has been promoted to head the personnel department, but he has no desire to serve as the GM at this stage of life.”
If the Philadephia Eagles rumors regarding Bill Cowher are true, then the timing of Chip Kelly’s firing could be important. The NFL coaching carousel usually starts spinning the Monday after the season is over, but the Eagles now have more than a week of a head start on finding their next coach.
[Picture by Mitchell Leff/Getty Images]