COMMENTARY | Dear Jeff,
First off, I want to commend last year's decision to retain Andy Reid as head coach for the remainder of his contract through this past season. Though the decision ultimately proved to be a bust, I still maintain that it was the right one, that Andy deserved one final go at a Philadelphia Super Bowl. Last year's team was still Andy's team, for better or for worse, and Capt. Reid had earned the right to steer to this ship to safety or sink to the bottom right along with it.
Alas, difficult though it surely must have been to sever ties with arguably the most successful head coach in the history of the Philadelphia Eagles, the Big Red era is now but a distant blob in our rearview mirror; the time has come to rebuild, reimagine, and re-inspire a future dynasty.
We've survived the apocalypse. The year 2013 is upon us, and with it, an entirely new Philadelphia franchise. From the very beginning, Reid was like the octopus king of this organization - a tentacle tightly wrapped around every administrative pillar - and it will require a true visionary to come in and overtake the empire he has built.
As such, it is no surprise that you have prolonged the Great Coaching Hunt of 2013 as long as you have, though certainly not for lack of effort. Nay, you have unturned every stone in the search for our next great leader. You have sifted through the college greats - Chip Kelly, Bill O'Brien, Brian Kelly - but to no avail. These men are proven leaders within their profession, with Chip also being the most prolific offensive mind in college football, and I can certainly sympathize with the disappointment of Philadelphian's over our failed pursuit of these men (save for Brian Kelly, whom I found about as undesirable a candidate as Norv Turner).
Unlike my Philly brethren, however, I do not feel any sense of loss over these missed opportunities. These men were but brief flirtations along the path to the only man right for the job of Philadelphia Eagles head coach: Mr. Gus Bradley, defensive coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks.
While the Seahawks certainly have some impressive defensive players, it's Bradley's system that has truly worked wonders with them. He was beloved as an assistant in Tampa Bay, and Monte Kiffin personally recommended him for the defensive coordinator job in Seattle when Jim Mora, Jr. took over as head coach. Even after Mora was fired, Pete Carroll opted to keep Bradley as the lone remaining assistant of the previous staff, and he has continued to prove his worth ever since.
Admittedly, Gus Bradley lacks the headline grab of a name like Brian Billick or any of the other Super Bowl-winning coaches who have resided in broadcasting for the better part of the last decade. Hell, even Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden may spurn more excitement simply as the younger brother of John Gruden, another name that has cropped up as a potential candidate.
Now, Jeff, I certainly understand why someone like Brian Billick, whom I continue to read about as a lead candidate, may intrigue you. He has a Super Bowl to his name and the connections to pull in some impressive assistants. But as someone who is not only a franchise owner but also an award-winning film producer, let me offer you the following scenario:
You are seeking a director for your next film, and you are torn between two candidates: one is Benh Zeitlin, an up-and-comer whose first feature (the indie sensation Beasts of the Southern Wild) dominated the festival circuit and is now an Academy Award nominee; the other is M. Night Shyamalan, the iconic writer/director of The Sixth Sense but also someone who has not made a good film since 2002 and has hardly even worked over the last few years.
In our case, Brian Billick is M. Night Shyamalan. Gus Bradley, on the other hand, is Benh Zeitlin.
There's clearly something special about the young Bradley, which is why you spent such extensive time interviewing him over these past few days. Fourteen years ago, you took a chance on a young offensive mind-the renowned position coach of Brett Favre - and that risk paid off to the tune of 140 career wins. It seems only fitting that you begin this new Eagles' era with a similar move, only on this time from the other side of the ball. Because while offense wins games, defense wins championships - an adage Andy proved better than anyone.
Matt Meier is a Los Angeles-based Philadelphian, a freelance writer, and a life-long follower of the Philadelphia Eagles.
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