As the search for the next head coach continues, an interesting piece of information has emerged from the Eagles locker room regarding which candidate has the “players vote” in winning the job.
According to a league source, several key members of the Eagles, both offensively and defensively, have been pushing for the team to hire interim head coach Pat Shurmur, and make him the full time head coach. There is apparently a lot of confidence in Shurmur, who is 1-0 as the interim head coach for the Eagles.
There is more than one reason players want Shurmur back, our source noted:
“Not only do players have a high level of confidence in Shurmur himself, but they have a lot of confidence in Sam Bradford, who has made it clear that the hiring of Pat Shurmur would cause him to seriously consider re-signing with the Eagles without testing the free agency.”
Note the players’ belief in both Shurmur and Bradford. Eagles players are convinced that that coach-quarterback combo could very well lead to success. It’s well known that Sam Bradford is a fan of the former Rams coach, having worked with him before in St. Louis. The confidence in Shurmur is important, and says a lot about his relationship with the players, an aspect Lurie highlighted when detailing what exactly he was looking for in a new leader.
Shurmur has a long history with the city of Philadelphia, having started his pro coaching carreer with the Eagles as the tight ends and offensive line coach in 1999. In 2002, Shurmur became the quarterbacks coach, and is often credited with helping mold Donovan McNabb into the most successful quarterback in Eagles history.
People often look at Shurmur’s lack of success in Cleveland as the reason he’s not worthy of a head coaching position. However, it’s clear the the players believe in him, and his other successes speak for themselves. This is a major development in the Eagles coaching search, because the support of the players may have just launched Shurmur into the lead to replace Chip Kelly.
Furthermore, Shurmur has always been an under-the-radar type person on his thirteen years on the sideline. This quality makes him a viable candidate based on the needs of the unpopular power structure in the Eagles’ front office.
Taking over for Chip Kelly in the last game of the season at Met Life Stadium, Shurmur had an opportunity. The Eagles players looked very comfortable and ready to play, and didn’t make the same mental mistakes they made under Kelly. Not to mention, DeMarco Murray and the running game got going in more pro style formations, seen when Murray ran straight up the middle for a 54-yard touchdown. Shurmur and the Eagles ended up securing a victory over the Giants, and, though the sample size was only one game, the team played with much more discipline and urgency than they did under Kelly.
Obviously, Shurmur is not the popular choice for new head coach candidate here in Philadelphia from a fans perspective, but he might make the most sense. Shurmur has the ability to keep continuity between him and the players, as he has worked hard to develop player relationships with leaders such as Bradford, who ultimately could stay if his mentor is promoted.
With the players wanting a coach who they have strong personal relationships and belief in, and with power structure of Lurie, Roseman and Donahue wanting someone who they can leave out of the decisions table, the best fit may indeed be Pat Shurmur.
Sean Matthew contributed in reporting for this story.
Photo: Young Kin-Philadelphia Inquirer