As you probably have heard by now, the Eagles have brought in just 2 potential defensive coordinator candidates for an interview so far. First Dennis Allen, who ended up taking the Bronco’s DC job, and now Jon Hoke, the current DB coach of the Bears. Hoke has coaching experience as a DC with a college team (Florida Gators) and as an NFL defensive backs coach (7 years with the Texans, 1 with the Bears). This past season the Bears ranked 20th in passing defense (based on yards allowed per game) but only gave up 14 TD’s through the air, which ranked 2nd. The Texans were never known for their pass defense…or any defense for that matter…during Hoke’s time there. So, that doesn’t build a whole lot of confidence in this candidate. I believe the Eagles are just doing their due diligence by interviewing Hoke while their true target is busy preparing for the Superbowl.
Here’s a quick look at the likely candidate pool from which the Eagles will actually choose from:
Ray Horton, Pittsburgh DB coach. The bulk of his coaching experience (6 years) has been for the Steelers under Bill Cowher, Mike Tomlin, and most notably, Dick Lebeau. He was also a DB coach for the Lions for 2 years and Bengals for 4 years. He apparently is well respected around the league and Dallas was said to be interested before they hired Ryan. However, Horton has close ties with Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt (former Steeler coach). Horton has been talking himself up some recently, saying he’s ready for a DC position and feels he can coach a 4-3 defense. He wouldn’t be a bad choice but I don’t see him as the Eagles’ guy.
Keith Butler, Pittsburgh LB coach. Has 11 years NFL experience as a LB coach, the past 7 with the Steelers and 4 years with the Browns before that. Also served 1 year as a DC for college team Arkansas State. Butler is a very intriguing choice given his penchant for helping develop multiple pro-bowl LB’s in Pittsburgh. However, he is considered the “heir apparent” to Lebeau as the Steelers DC when Lebeau decides to retire (which may not be for at least 1 more year). He also has experience with both the 3-4 and 4-3. Like Horton, he also has close ties to Ken Whisenhunt, maybe even moreso. Would the Steelers even allow him to interview? And could he be coaxed away? Not sure. While I think I’d like it if he were hired, I still don’t see him as the Eagles’ man.
Darren Perry, Green Bat Secondary (Safeties) coach. This has been a hot name being linked with the Eagles though nothing official. Interesting prospect in that he has experience under some pretty good defensive minds: Dom Capers, Dick Lebeau, Bill Cowher, and Rob Ryan. He has been credited with largely helping develop players such as Nnamdi Asomugha, Troy Polamalu, and Nick Collins andhas had a pro-bowl player under his guidance for 5 of his past 6 years. Many people tend to believe that the Eagles are looking for a DB coach, mainly because the 2 people we have actually interviewed were DB coaches. Plus, our secondary can certainly use all the help it can get. I believe Perry would be a decent choice and think the chances of him being the Eagles’ guy is about 50/50.
Mike Trgovac, Green Bay DL coach. This was the 1st hot name linked to the Eagles. I’m sure you’ve heard it all by now so I won’t spend too much time on him. He’s a great candidate and would fit pretty much every criteria I believe the Eagles are looking for: Experienced, accomplished, proven, and knows both 4-3 and 3-4. I believe the only reason why he won’t be our next DC is because of family circumstances (although he did recently state that he is NOT ruling out taking a DC position so stay tuned). One has to think that he is definitely towards the top, or at the top, of the Eagles’ list.
Winston Moss, Green Bay Packers Assistant HC and ILB coach. His resume mainly consists of 10 years coaching experience, all as a linebacker coach along with the last 2 seasons with the title of assistant head coach. He is highly regarded by Packers coach Mike McCarthy and has been instrumental in developing Packer LB’ers AJ Hawk, Nick Barnett, Brandon Chillar, andDesmond Bishop. In 2009 Moss went on a few interviews, most notably for the Raiders’ HC position, but never received an offer. At that time he stated he was willing to work for Al Davis “in whatever capacity”. Either he was brave, desperate, or dumb to even think that way. I mean, who in their right mind would want to work for Al Davis? But, anyway, Moss has a good reputation as a leader. Here is a quote from Moss as reported by Matt Mosley/Jeff McLane:
“The Eagles have some established talent there right now,” Moss said. “It would be fun to work with that group. They work extremely hard. They play on a fanatical level. They have some playmakers on that defense. In carefully looking at them and then competing against them twice [this season], that would be a fantastic opportunity.”
He said he likes the mindset of the Eagles organization.
“It’s a very tough culture there,” he said. “It’s a very aggressive culture there. It’s a very fearless culture. You can tell how Andy Reid attacks people from his offensive scheme that that’s what he wants. And I believe that I have that same passion. I have that same relentless, fearless desire to get a defense to want to be able to compete at that same level.”
It sure sounds like Moss is “selling himself” to the Eagles right there. He’s not my 1st choice, nor my second, but I believe Moss is certainly on the Eagles’ radar. He’s probably 2nd on the Eagles’ hit list, right after Trgovac. So unless Trgovac decides to go back on his promises to his kids, Moss is my official guess as to who ends up as our DC.
My preferred order out of these candidates is:
1. Trgovac 2. Butler 3. Moss 4. Perry 5. Horton