Tramel: Will OU football coach Lincoln Riley be enticed for Philadelphia Eagles' job?
Doug Pederson barely had been tossed from the Eagles’ nest Monday before speculation centered on Lincoln Riley as a possible successor.
For good reason. Riley is a heck of a coach. Football has swung offensive. A bright mind always will be attractive to and attracted by the National Football League.
And Riley is more than a bright mind. He’s the total package. If we didn’t know it before 2020, we know it now, as Riley has been a leading voice of wisdom in this pandemic-stricken season.
So will the Philadelphia franchise want Riley? Maybe. After Pederson was fired, a variety of outlets that cover the Eagles immediately tagged Riley as a prospect for the job, along with the likes of offensive coordinators Joe Brady (Panthers), Brian Daboll (Bills), Arthur Smith (Titans) and Eric Bienimey (Chiefs), along with Chiefs quarterback coach Mike Kafka. Anyone who works for KC coach Andy Reid, an Eagle icon, is a made man in Philadelphia.
Would Riley want the Eagles? Who knows?
Riley has played such speculation wisely during his four seasons as the Sooner coach. He’s too smart to be pinned down and too smart to make Oklahomans worry.
But Riley has enough of a track record that we can guess what he will do.
Riley has been linked closely with three NFL jobs: Cardinals two years ago, Cowboys one year ago and Browns both times.
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Dallas, we don’t know. The Cowboys hired Mike McCarthy. It seemed like a bonanza at the time and maybe it will prove to be.
Arizona and Cleveland, we probably do know. The Cardinals and Browns drafted Riley quarterbacks No. 1 overall in NFL Drafts. Seems likely that Arizona once and Cleveland once or twice took a swing at Riley.
The Cardinals ended up hiring Kliff Kingsbury to coach Kyler Murray. The Browns ended up hiring Freddie Kitchens and then Kevin Stefanski to coach Baker Mayfield. Kitchens was a disaster, Stefanski has been great and Kingsbury is somewhere in the middle.
Riley still coaches the Sooners, and it’s easy to figure out why. While Arizona, Cleveland and Dallas (with Dak Prescott) offered quarterbacking promise, all three jobs came with shaky ownership or management.
Michael Bidwill in Phoenix has sort of straightened out the Cardinals, but the Bidwill family for almost eight decades was the patron saint of NFL futility.
Jimmy and Dee Haslam have sown dysfunction in Cleveland since buying the Browns in 2013.
And Jerry Jones in Dallas has refused to hire a general manager, serving in that role himself, and it hasn’t worked since Jimmy Johnson’s departure in 1994.
Philadelphia is different. Jeffrey Lurie is a quality owner who has produced quality management for decades. Lurie has employed just four coaches in the last 26 seasons; all but Ray Rhodes (29-34-1) had a winning record.
But the Eagles are not set at quarterback, even though Philly has Riley’s latest NFL product. Jalen Hurts was a fascinating prospect leading the Eagles the final 4½ games of the season. But is he an NFL-caliber thrower? We don’t know yet.
Carson Wentz once was a Most Valuable Player contender, but his play in recent years has waned, and the next Eagle coach must determine if Wentz is salvageable. Pederson apparently broke his plate with Wentz, whose exorbitant contract casts a pall over the near Philadelphia future.
Riley didn’t jump at good quarterback/shaky management. Would he jump at good management/shaky quarterback?
My instincts say no. Why leave a great job for a job with holes? If Riley wants to coach the pros, you would think he would wait on a job with a quarterback and management you can trust.
But those jobs don’t come open often.
And if I had to choose, I’d always take good management over good quarterbacking. You can draft a quarterback. You can’t draft an owner.
So until the Philadelphia job is filled, Riley to the Eagles seems at least possible.
Berry Tramel: Berry can be reached at 405-760-8080 or at email@example.com. He can be heard Monday through Friday from 4:40-5:20 p.m. on The Sports Animal radio network, including FM-98.1. Support his work and that of other Oklahoman journalists by purchasing a digital subscription today.