Three days after the Super Bowl, Chip Kelly and the Philadelphia Eagles are still mum on their search for a defensive coordinator. I had thought that since there wasn’t too much happening beforehand, that they were just waiting until after the Super Bowl to make a move for an assistant on either San Fran or Baltimore.
However, it appears that they could be waiting for something I was relatively unfamiliar with…something called “National Signing Day.”
That day was today, the day high school football players from around the nation sign their letter of intent to the college they chose. Apparently, it seems that there is the possibility that if a college coach was planning on leaving their program, they may not announce it until after their recruits sign.
If they did, it could hurt their recruitment. This practice seems borderline unethical, but it’s probably not viewed as bad when it’s a coordinator or assistant position coach that is leaving (as compared to the head coach).
This is what leads us to Georgia DC Todd Grantham.
Grantham was rumored very early-on as a potential DC candidate only to eventually ease back into obscurity. Now, his name is popping up all over the place again after an initial tweet from Ian Rapoport last night when he mentioned him as “still a potential Eagles hire.”
This, of course, gained steam overnight and all through today, especially when people viewed Grantham’s comments today as being non-committal about staying at Georgia.
I never really gave Grantham much consideration as a potential coordinator because, for one, I thought they would have at least interviewed him long before now and technically could have hired him by now.
For two, I didn’t really want to see him as a candidate because I was more interested in getting someone with a solid NFL experience being that Kelly is an NFL virgin.
However, now that his name is resurfacing — and there appears to be no buzz about a defensive assistant on one of the Super Bowl squads — I figured I’d do a little background check on Grantham.
Grantham has 11 years of NFL experience under his belt. He came into the NFL as a defensive line coach with the Colts in 1999. He lasted three years there and worked under HC Jim Mora and DC Vic Fangio.
He followed Fangio to the expansion Houston Texans in 2002 and worked as their DL coach there under Dom Capers (and Fangio) for three years. Seen as a “rising star” in the coaching ranks, he parlayed that job into a shot at being a DC in Cleveland under head coach Romeo Crennel.
After three unsuccessful seasons there, he was ultimately fired by Crennel and the Browns after a disappointing defense was seen as the culprit for missing the playoffs in 2007. Grantham then joined Dallas for two years as a DL coach before taking the DC job in Georgia in 2010.
As a defensive coordinator, here is how Grantham’s defenses ranked:
- 2005: 16th in yards, 11th in points
- 2006: 27th in yards, 22nd in points
- 2007: 30th in yards, 21st in points
In Cleveland, his defenses were terrible against the rush and relatively mediocre against the pass.
Grantham is being credited with turning Georgia’s defense around in the past three years, with his best season coming in 2011 when the Bulldogs boasted the 5th-ranked defense in college football.
Unfortunately, that national ranking slipped down to 32nd this past season.
It’s difficult to evaluate a coaching candidate based on college football unless the coach has a long track record. The players are recruited every year and the talent-level can make coaches look better or worse than they actually are.
The Saints are also interested in interviewing Grantham so at least there appears to be more interest in him besides just the Eagles and Chip Kelly.
I don’t know whether or not he’s a real candidate for the Eagles, but after looking at his background, I didn’t really come away all that impressed. There’s some good mixed in with some bad (though his stats lean more towards the mediocre-to-bad side).
With that said, he still has a good reputation in coaching circles and is well liked and respected.
Chip Kelly did go on record as saying he wanted a defensive coordinator with “vast NFL experience” and I suppose Grantham’s 11 seasons would qualify. The early favorite for the job, Ed Donatell, is the guy with the vastest (is that a word?) NFL experience out of the remaining rumored candidates.
However, Donatell was apparently blocked by the 49ers from interviewing with the Saints. Therefore, he won’t be leaving the Bay Area after all.
One thing is for sure, Kelly is taking his time hiring his most important coach. I just hope he picks the right guy.