Eagles owner Lurie faces crucial coaching decision

That kind of thing will never happen again in the NFL.

Billick never could get a great offense going in Baltimore, despite being given seven more seasons to get it done, winning just one playoff game in that span.

Bill Cowher, who played here once, would come with a proven system and a personality that Eagles fans would obviously adore. But it took him 14 years to get it done with a much better organization in Pittsburgh. How long would it take with the Eagles?

Lurie should not want to go there.

Dungy may be the lone exception of the remaining champions club. He not only built a championship team in Tampa Bay, but coached one in Indianapolis as well.

Plus he has more than a clue about how to stop offenses. The Eagles, under Reid, do not anymore.

Among those who should bear the most serious consideration are Ray Horton, defensive coordinator of the Arizona Cardinals; Bruce Arians, interim head coach of the Indianapolis Colts; Chip Kelly, head coach at Oregon; and Steve Spagnuolo, defensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints.

Don't dismiss Spags just because he failed in St. Louis and now commands an awful defense in New Orleans. He still knows what he's doing, and many good head coaches, Belichick the most noteworthy, often fail in their first attempt.

Horton has helped make the Cardinals' defense formidable and is a Dick LeBeau disciple, which should be good enough for anyone.

Arians, the former Temple head coach, has done a remarkable job filling in for cancer-stricken Chuck Pagano in Indianapolis. He is 60 years old, however.

That brings us to Kelly, an innovator, to be sure, but someone without an ounce of NFL experience.

Kelly's no-huddle, spread offense represents the future of pro football, but without at least spending time as an assistant in the NFL, a direct leap to a head-coaching position in this league would be a disaster.

The Eagles cannot afford that at this time.

WHO CAN IT BE NOW?

A short list of the candidates, in order, owner Jeffrey Lurie should consider to replace Andy Reid, who is expected to be fired as head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles after this season:

1. Sean Payton, suspended head coach, New Orleans Saints. May not be available, but his contract is reportedly void at the end of this season.

2. Ray Horton, defensive coordinator, Arizona Cardinals. Has played for and been assistant coach on multiple Super Bowl champion teams. Is fast earning right to take final step.

3. Steve Spagnuolo, defensive coordinator, New Orleans Saints. He's had as many failures as successes, but in the right organization can still be a positive difference maker.

4. Bruce Arians, interim head coach, Indianapolis Colts. He has stepped in for first-year coach Chuck Pagano, who is battling leukemia, and guided them to a place few thought they could ever go.

5. Tony Dungy, TV analyst. He's built and coached Super Bowl champions. Would be a solid choice.

6. Jon Gruden, TV analyst. He can coach, but it will only be a matter of time before the players start tuning his too-intense act out.

7. Bill Cowher, TV analyst. See Gruden.

8. Chip Kelly, head coach, University of Oregon. Has devised great system that eventually will work in NFL, but he needs experience as an NFL assistant coach first.

9. Brian Billick, TV analyst. He needs to stay on TV.

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