In 2016, the Philadelphia Eagles hired Doug Pederson to replace a head coach they hired out of colllege.
In 2021, the Philadelphia Eagles might hire a college head coach to replace Doug Pederson.
There’s already buzz that the Eagles are going to make a run at the University of Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley.
Ed Kracz reports the Eagles reached out to Riley “not long after” the team parted ways with Pederson on Monday. He also notes it “isn’t the first time the Eagles have talked to Riley about his potential interest in the Eagles.”
We previously knew that Riley had a relationship with Eagles general manager Howie Roseman. The Inquirer’s Paul Domowitch wrote about as much in early August:
Roseman and the Eagles have cultivated a good relationship with Riley, who is one of the nation’s top college coaches. Two years ago, the Eagles were considering drafting Oklahoma offensive tackle Orlando Brown in the second round, but viewed him as more of a right tackle than a left tackle, and they weren’t really interested in moving Lane Johnson back to the left side at this stage of his career. Riley agreed with their assessment of Brown and the Eagles ended up drafting tight end Dallas Goedert, who has quickly emerged as one of the league’s top all-around tight ends. […] Riley even had some influence in the Eagles’ decision to take TCU wide receiver Jalen Reagor in the first round. Riley had recruited Reagor when he was a high school star at Waxahachie (Texas) High School. His team also played against him for three years in the Big 12. He spoke glowingly of him to Eagles scouts when they talked to him about [Jalen] Hurts. He indicated that Reagor would’ve been a 100-catch-a-year receiver in Oklahoma’s offense.
These aren’t the only signs pointing to the Eagles’ interest in Riley.
Tim McManus wrote the following earlier on Monday:
Some believe the Eagles will make a run at Oklahoma Sooners coach Lincoln Riley. He coached Hurts at the college level, has majored in the QB position and is said to have a strong relationship with Eagles general manager Howie Roseman. It would probably take big money to lure Riley out of Norman, but they might view it as a wise investment.
Even more buzz emerged:
I suspect you’re gonna hear a lot of buzz about the #Eagles and Lincoln Riley in the coming days and weeks.
— Geoff Mosher (@GeoffMosherNFL) January 11, 2021
Big OU story brewing in Philly …
— fishsports (@fishsports) January 12, 2021
Eagles right tackle Lane Johnson, who played college football at Oklahoma prior to Riley’s arrival, potentially added more fuel to the fire:
Riley, who only turns 38 in September, certainly boats an intriguing profile.
He’s 45-8 overall as the Sooners’ head coach since being hired to replace Bob Stoops in 2017. Riley coached 2018 No. 1 overall pick Baker Mayfield and 2019 No. 1 overall pick Kyler Murray. Oh, and 2020 second-round pick Jalen Hurts, who was a Heisman runner-up.
Oklahoma has experienced offensive preeminence ever since Riley was originally hired as their offensive coordinator/quarterbacks coach six years ago. From his bio:
Since the start of the 2015 campaign, OU ranks first nationally in scoring (44.6 ppg; next most is 41.6), total offense (554.9; next most is 516.4), touchdowns from scrimmage (382), pass efficiency rating (189.0; next best is 168.1) and yards per pass attempt (10.7), second in completion percentage (69.1), third in passing offense (321.9) and ninth in rushing offense (233.0). With that kind of offensive production, it’s no surprise the Sooners have posted a 58-10 (.853) record since his arrival (41-5 in Big 12 play). OU’s overall mark since 2015 is fourth best nationally, with only Clemson (69-5), Alabama (66-6) and Ohio State (61-7) having better records.
If you’re looking for a slight against Riley, he’s only 1-3 in bowl games and 0-3 in the College Football Playoff. And there are obviously questions about whether his collegiate success will translate to the NFL, just as there was when the Eagles lured Chip Kelly away from Oregon in 2013.
It remains to be seen if the Eagles will be able to land Riley. The Lubbock, Texas native signed a six-year, $45.2 million contract extension through 2025 with Oklahoma last year. Jeffrey Lurie will likely have to put a lucrative offer in front of Riley to draw him out of Norman.
One must also wonder about what kind of responsibility he’s looking for when it comes to roster control. We all know the last college coach the Eagles hired staged a power play. Perhaps Roseman’s pre-existing relationship with Riley could allow the two to better be on the same page and avoid such conflict.
There’s been some thought that the Eagles wouldn’t have fired Pederson a week after the season ended if they didn’t already have a replacement lined up. If so, Riley just might be that guy.