The Eagles interviewed a running backs coach, an interim head coach, an offensive genius and a living legend.
None of them had the appeal of Doug Pederson, who a source confirmed Thursday will become the next head coach of the Eagles.
That’s Pederson … Doug Pederson … the offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs? Played quarterback for the Eagles in 1999? Coached four years with the Eagles?
“Man, that’s a great hire,” texted veteran Brandon Graham, who spent three years on the Eagles with Pederson on the staff. “I loved his energy when he was here and I am sure not too much has changed over three years. I can’t wait to get after the 2016 season with him.”
Pederson, 47, cannot speak about, much less assume the post with the Eagles until he’s done calling plays for the Chiefs, who oppose the New England Patriots in the divisional round of the playoffs Saturday in Foxboro, Mass.
Earlier in the day, the Eagles’ head coaching search that began with a bang seemed to have ground to a halt.
Tom Coughlin, arguably the most qualified candidate on the list, pulled out of the running, according to an ESPN report. Instead of getting together with the Eagles for a second, more intimate interview Thursday, Coughlin basically took his two Super Bowl rings from his New York Giants days and his intentions home with him.
Within the hour, Chip Kelly, fired by the Eagles three years into a five-year contract, became head coach of the San Francisco 49ers. He has a friend there in senior consultant Tom Gamble, previously fired by the Eagles.
Pederson coached the Eagles from 2009-12, completing the tour as quarterbacks coach. He then followed Andy Reid, the all-time winningest coach in Eagles history, to Kansas City.
It’s not known whether Pederson will retain Pat Shurmur, the Eagles’ offensive coordinator, or running backs coach Duce Staley. Both interviewed for the head coaching job.
The 69-year-old Coughlin apparently will have to sit out the season, Coughlin produced a 170-150 (.531) record with the Giants and Jacksonville Jaguars. He thought his first interview with the Eagles went well per sources. Just the same, Coughlin, the Eagles’ wide receivers coach in 1984-85, also interviewed with the 49ers.
Coughlin was a proven winner with an intimate knowledge of the NFC East and a fairly good handle of the current assets around One NovaCare Way. The Eagles parted with a small handful of stars under the Kelly regime.
Coughlin didn’t have to introduce himself to the Eagles. With the Giants he went 11-16 versus the Birds, including a 35-30 loss in the 2015 regular season finale.
That was Coughlin’s last game with the Giants. He was beaten by Shurmur, who was interim head coach of the Eagles.
The Eagles’ search team of owner Jeffrey Lurie, president Don Smolenski and executive vice president of football operations Howie Roseman had been busy interviewing a handful of candidates for the head coaching job.
The last guy they met with was Pederson. That get-together was Sunday in Kansas City.
The Eagles previously interviewed Adam Gase, the Xs and Os genius who was named head coach of the Miami Dolphins. They also spoke with Ben McAdoo, Coughlin’s offensive coordinator the past two seasons with the Giants. McAdoo is set to become the new head coach of the Giants, per reports.
Gase, formerly offensive coordinator of the Chicago Bears, was reportedly offered the Eagles’ head coaching job. He, too, was slated for a second interview but it didn’t materialize when he joined the Fins, who gave him control over the 53-man roster.
The Eagles requested an interview with Paul Guenther, defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals, who were eliminated from the wild card round of the playoffs.
The Eagles also were interested in Dirk Koetter, the offensive coordinator who Thursday became head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
In terms of personality, the laid back Pederson is the polar opposite of Kelly, whose lack of social skills became a liability when the wins stopped coming in his third season.
The Eagles were seeking a fatherly type to relate to the players. Pederson played and coached in the NFL. In 1999, the year the Eagles drafted Donovan McNabb, Pederson opened the season at quarterback. McNabb, with Pederson’s help, moved into the starting job before the end of the season.
Pederson’s first rodeo, so to speak, will be measured against what Gase does in Miami and what might have been with Coughlin, whose 170 victories are tied with Mike Shanahan for 11th on the all-time NFL list.
Coughlin, however, is the only head coach to fail to reach the playoffs in four straight seasons after winning a Super Bowl. Why that happened almost certainly occupied a portion of his talk with the Eagles along with some of his coaching blunders, and the Odell Beckham Jr. meltdown. All of it left the Giants with a 6-10 record this past season.
Coughlin, during his tour as wide receivers coach of the Eagles helped develop Mike Quick, one of the team’s all-time great receivers. Marion Campbell was the head coach in that era.