If Jeffrey Lurie, the owner of the Philadelphia Eagles, is to be believed, then he really does not have to look far to find the next coach of his team. Lurie can grab a pair of binoculars, walk outside of his office at Lincoln Financial Field, and look four miles up North Broad Street. If he can see past City Hall, his guy is just north of there.
That’s where he will find Matt Rhule, the current head coach of the Temple Owls, who seems to fit all of the criteria Lurie outlined when he described his vision for the next Eagles’ coach. If Lurie was carrying a notepad around, Rhule certainly would earn a lot of checkmarks.
Smart, strategic, thinker? Check. Communicator who understands Philadelphia fan base? Check. Attention to detail and NFL experience? Check. Personal style of leadership that relates to players? Check.
No one knows if the NFL is in Rhule’s future, but he gave a clue in a four-hour appearance on 97.5 Thursday. A caller asked him if he’d rather have the Alabama job or the New York Giants’ job and he didn’t flinch. “Giants,” he said. “Temple is the only college job I want.”
With all the clowns Lurie is bringing in for an interview–including a Chicago Bears’ assistant who is four years younger–he’d be crazy for not picking up the phone and making a local call before the Giants do.
Lurie said he wanted a smart, strategic, thinker, who looks out for the long-term interests of the organization, and Rhule certainly has proven to be that in taking the Owls from 2-10 to 10-4 in three years. He did it by recruiting two- and three-star athletes, giving most of them a red-shirt year to get stronger and faster and he sacrificed short-term gain for long-term goals. There are no redshirts in the NFL, but the thought process should be appreciated.
Lurie also said he wanted a communicator and anyone who saw Rhule talking to Sam Ponder on ESPN College Football’s Game Day knows Rhule certainly is that. He wanted someone who knows what it is like to coach the Eagles, and understands the fan base of Philadelphia, and Rhule gets a checkmark for that as well. If you can concentrate enough to give a coherent answer while looking at Samantha, you are a great communicator.
Lurie mentioned attention to detail and, as an assistant to Tom Coughlin in 2012 with the New York Giants, Rhule said that was his biggest takeaway, an attention to detail. Lastly, Lurie wants a personal style of leadership that relates to players and is not aloof.
With those comments, Lurie made clear he was looking for the anti-Chip Kelly—in other words, Matt Rhule.