One of the more intriguing Head Coach candidates the Eagles have interviewed just happens to be coming from the team that Eagles Owner, Jeffery Lurie, admires the most: the San Francisco 49ers. defensive coordinator Robert Saleh was interviewed by the Eagles brass last night.
Saleh is arguably the top defensive mind available, which may not sit well with the crowd who are hoping for a Coach that can dedicate to rebuilding Carson Wentz. Fortunately, however, he brings something that Jeffery Lurie specifically asked for in a head coach.
In Lurie’s press conference on Monday, the Eagles owner specified that “In terms of the characteristics, I’d rather not specify, but I can tell you no matter who we have, it needs to be a leader of coaches, a leader of players and someone who represents the organization in a great leadership way. We had a lot of that with Doug. Leadership is an important characteristic.”
A leader of coaches and players’ is a phrase that sounds like it was spoken by one of Saleh’s defensive standouts. Richard Sherman praised Saleh last season on his ability to get the most out of his players despite his defense continuing to get hit with injury after injury.
The Eagles have a rampant front four and a star cornerback in Darius Slay. The rest of the defense could use some reinforcement, but it would be hard to imagine Saleh coming to the Eagles and this unit not surging back to the level of dominance we once saw under Jim Schwartz. He embodies everything this City prides itself on and would help a once-tenacious defense find its heart again.
Robert Saleh could well bring more than just leadership to Philly though. He’ll bring something that Lurie really wants to get his hands on. The 49ers’ style of offense.
After adding a team of offensive minds in a bid to replace Mike Groh as the team’s offensive coordinator worked out terribly last season, Jeffrey Lurie has to ensure his next offensive coordinator is the perfect move.
Obviously, the Eagles can’t hire Kyle Shanahan to be their offensive coordinator, but they can hire the next best thing which would be one of his two disciples: Mike McDaniel or Mike LaFleur.
McDaniel has been the 49ers run game coordinator for the last few seasons and has received nothing but praise due to the amount of work he has put in. The 49ers rode their run game to the Super Bowl on the back of Raheem Mostert. McDaniels has mastered blocking schemes to help the offense surge to second in the league in rushing last year, averaging 153.5 yards per game.
LaFleur, on the other hand, comes with a little bit of skepticism. As the passing hame coordinator, the league hasn’t seen anything spectacular out of the 49ers passing game. The fact that they haven’t had a healthy QB back there in quite some time could be a reason as to why. But if you’ve studied the Shanahan’s for the last decade or so, then you’ll know that Kyle is the mind behind the passing attack for all of his teams.
LaFleur is responsible for what happens to his QB inside the pocket, while Shanahan and McDaniel coordinate the wizardry we see outside of it. He’s still in his coaching infancy, and as Grant Cohn notes, his passing-ideals are relatively simple as a result.
LaFleur’s passing game generally doesn’t feature many triangles or progressions. Instead, he usually calls passes designed to beat specific coverages. He calls “Cover 3 beaters” or “man beaters.” Meaning he guesses what coverage the defense will use. If he guesses correctly, the play works. If he guesses wrong, the play doesn’t work.
For a team needing to overtly simply things for a deeply regressive quarterback of his second-year protege, this oddly doesn’t sound like the worst thing in the world.
Jeffery Lurie has continuously stated that he wants a top 5 offense. If that’s the case then I can’t see how McDaniel doesn’t come with along Saleh. The Eagles have a budding star in Miles Sanders and QB in Carson Wentz that could benefit from a prolific running game. A running game that has been begging to be ignited.
The big issue that many people had with Doug Pederson’s offense this season was the lack of consistency on the ground a real inability to roll Wentz out of the pocket. If the run game can establish itself, then Wentz, or Hurts, could once again dominate the league with on play-action looks.
Only time will tell who the next Eagles head coach will be but there’s a lot about the potential of a Robert Saleh hire that should entice Lurie and his team.
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