With yesterday’s news that the Doug Pederson and the Eagles will be parting ways, Howie Roseman will be tasked with finding a head coach to lead the team through what promises to be a rather painful rebuild.
Whoever takes this gig is going to be in dire straights. The roster is old, overpaid, bad, and the man responsible for that fact is still in charge of roster construction. Chances are the next head coach won’t survive the next two seasons barring an incredible turn-around or a miraculous development in quarterback play.
For that reason, the Eagles need to take a shot on an up and comer with a high ceiling. The obvious choice is Lincoln Riley. Between his connection to Jalen Hurts and his status as a young gun with play-calling and leadership experience, the current Sooners’ coach would be the perfect hire.
I don’t buy that the Eagles truly believe they can fix Carson Wentz. I think he’s beyond saving and at his current cap number it behooves them greatly to trade him for whatever they can to pick up some more draft capital. Therefore, the starting quarterback next year should and will be Jalen Hurts. Who better to maximize the young dual-threat QB than the college coach that turned him into a Heisman candidate?
Someone like Lincoln Riley is a risk. Any time you hire directly out of college you take a chance that he is simply overwhelmed with the job and incapable of leading adults the way he leads college kids. That said, taking a safe retread this offseason such as Todd Bowles would be a complete waste of time. The only way this head coaching hire can stick around and return the Eagles to contention is through bold strokes and innovation.
Lincoln Riley’s offense at Oklahoma has soared over the past few seasons, and his two quarterbacks prior to Jalen Hurts (Baker Mayfield and Kyler Murray) both seem to be lock franchise quarterbacks for the future. The man knows how to develop college quarterbacks into NFL ready players. Jalen Hurts would benefit greatly from his prior relationship with Riley and his ability to bring out the best in young, talented, albeit flawed, quarterbacks.
An offense led by Riley, commanded by Hurts with Sanders in the backfield, Reagor and hopefully Devonta Smith outside and Goedert playing tight end has some serious juice potential. There’s a real chance that with the right amount of creativity and a huge step forward from Hurts that those pieces can be good enough to contend for the playoffs.
The worst case scenario in hiring Riley is that he gets here and has no idea how to run a football team and the offense looks stale and underprepared to face NFL defenses. If that happens, we’d know after one season and be able to move on quickly. The goal is not to win the division next year, but to set a foundation for the future. If Riley can’t set that foundation, we would be left with the exact same situation we are already in and some high picks in the 2022 NFL Draft. That’s not such a bad thing.
The floor for Lincoln Riley is low. It’s entirely possible that he’s simply not an NFL head coach. It’s also possible that he’s an offensive genius capable of turning Jalen Hurts into a legitimate franchise quarterback, which would move the rebuild Eagles’ timeline up exponentially. It’s imperative that the Eagles take a shot on a high risk, high reward guy because the risk for the Eagles is minimal to begin with. Things pretty much can’t get worse over the next season. If they stay the same, so be it. At least you tried.
I supported the decision to fire Doug because I didn’t trust him to develop a franchise quarterback. I don’t believe Carson Wentz can be fixed. The quickest way for the Eagles to have a franchise quarterback is for Jalen Hurts to become one. The best chance of making that happen is Lincoln Riley, and the Eagles need to take a home run swing and bring some juice to this entirely juice-less offense.