PHILADELPHIA -- There is a pattern developing in the Philadelphia Eagles' coaching search now that it's in full swing following Monday's firing of Doug Pederson: almost all the candidates they're being tied to are young.
Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Joe Brady is 31. Dallas Cowboys O-coordinator Kellen Moore is 32. (As one Eagles devotee pointed out on social media, both are younger than 33-year-old center Jason Kelce.) New England Patriots inside linebackers coach Jerod Mayo is 34. The list goes on. Outside of Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles (57), all of the confirmed outside candidates for the Eagles' opening to date are 41 or younger.
Taking on such a big job with so little experience is a tall order, especially in a tough market such as Philly, but targeting younger coaches is in line with the latest NFL trend. While the average age for the 32 NFL head coaches was 50 in 2020, five current coaches are in their 30s -- Brian Flores (39), Kevin Stefanski (38), Joe Judge (39), Zac Taylor (37) and the youngest of them all, Sean McVay (34) -- while Kliff Kingsbury (41) and Kyle Shanahan (41) are not far ahead. The youth movement is one of the reasons cited for why veteran coaches were reluctant to opt out this season amid the pandemic, fearing that if they got out of line, they might lose their spot permanently.
It also speaks to Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie's thirst for fresh ideas and innovation, particularly on offense, saying he wants somebody who is "constantly curious of where the league is headed."
Let's take a closer look at the team's candidates:
Joe Brady (age 31), Panthers offensive coordinator
It's been a meteoric rise for Brady, who shot from New Orleans Saints offensive assistant (2017-18) to LSU passing game coordinator (2019) to Panthers offensive coordinator under Matt Rhule, and is now drawing interest from just about every team with a head-coach opening. His work with Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow during LSU's championship season sent his stock soaring. Brady interviewed with Philadelphia this week.
Arthur Smith (38), Titans offensive coordinator
It's hard to ignore the work Smith has done with quarterback Ryan Tannehill and the Tennessee attack, which finished fourth in the NFL in points scored (30.7 PPG) in 2020. He has been with the Titans since 2011, starting on the defensive side of the ball as a quality assistant before switching to offense. Smith has been in high demand this coaching cycle. He flew to Florida Thursday to meet with the Eagles' brass following a second interview with the New York Jets.
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Jerod Mayo (34), Patriots inside linebackers coach
Mayo has only two years of coaching experience. The former Pro Bowl linebacker and Super Bowl champion with the Patriots joined coach Bill Belichick's staff in 2019 and has quickly distinguished himself as an up-and-comer. While it feels early for Mayo to make the leap to head coach, Lurie is clearly intrigued. Mayo is reportedly slated to interview with the Eagles on Friday.
Kellen Moore (32), Cowboys offensive coordinator
Philadelphia is crossing into rival territory to talk with Moore, according to ESPN's Todd Archer. A former quarterback for the Detroit Lions and Cowboys, Moore has three years of coaching experience, starting as Dallas' QB coach in 2018 before being elevated to his current role. Like Mayo, it seems a bit early in his career to jump to head coach, but he's done some good things with Dallas' offense, which finished sixth in scoring (27.1) and second in passing yards (297 YPG) in 2019 before some major injuries, including to Dak Prescott, made for tougher sledding this past season.
Todd Bowles (57), Bucs defensive coordinator
Bowles, a Temple product, served as secondary coach and interim defensive coordinator for the Eagles in 2012. The Bucs' defense finished in the top 10 in takeaways (25), yards allowed (327 YPG) and points allowed (22.2 PPG) this season. He has 21 years of coaching experience in the league -- by far the most of the known candidates -- including four as head coach of the Jets.
Duce Staley #NextManUp !!! Every time he stood in front of the team he had the attention and respect of everyone in the room. The embodiment of what it means to be an 🦅 @Eagles , in a coach. I'm good where I'm at lol BUT, In another lifetime I'd love to play for him!— Malcolm Jenkins (@MalcolmJenkins) January 11, 2021
Duce Staley (45), Eagles assistant head coach/running backs coach
Lurie said Staley would likely be interviewed, calling him "a great representative of the Eagles" who "knows our values." Staley, a former NFL running back for the Eagles and Pittsburgh Steelers, has a sound knowledge of multiple offensive schemes, having worked under three different coaches during his time in Philadelphia. He has the deep respect of his players.
The Eagles have reportedly shown interest in Oklahoma coach Lincoln Riley (37), Ohio State coach Ryan Day (41), Buffalo Bills OC Brian Daboll (45) and Kansas City Chiefs passing game coordinator Mike Kafka (33), though nothing formal has materialized as of yet. Since the Eagles waited until Monday to part with Pederson, they missed the initial window to interview coaches in the postseason. They'll have to wait until the desired candidates are done with their respective playoff runs before meeting with them.