Getty Lincoln Riley
The most exciting name in the mix to become next head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles might be Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley. The “undisputed wunderkind” has a built-in relationship with quarterback Jalen Hurts, plus he’s the flashy offensive mind that the franchise loves to show off.
Riley, a self-assured Texas native, bares a striking resemblance to another former hot-shot college coach named Chip Kelly who preceded Doug Pederson in Philly. His Sooners offenses have averaged a mind-blowing 40 points per game for four straight seasons. The 37-year-old phenom is certainly worth bringing in for an interview and GM Howie Roseman has reportedly already reached out.
But does Riley want to leave Oklahoma? He’s making $6.5 million per year and the Sooners are returning a loaded offense. According to ESPN’s Sal Paolantonio, Riley is “happy” at the college level and the only NFL job that might lure him away from campus is — wait, take a deep breath — the Dallas Cowboys. Here is what Paolantonio revealed on Tuesday:
What I am hearing is that Lincoln Riley is happy at Oklahoma. He thinks he’s got a good job. He’s making 6.5 million dollars per year. He’s making more money now than Doug Pederson would be at the Philadelphia Eagles. And Doug has two more years on that contract.
But if he were interested in going to the NFL, it would probably be to go to the Dallas Cowboys, that is a job that he has been linked to. So the questions is whether or not they go for Lincoln Riley, right? I mean if you go for Lincoln Riley, that means you’re all in on Jalen Hurts and you’re out on Carson Wentz.
“What I’m hearing is that Lincoln Riley is happy at Oklahoma.”
Sal Paolantonio on the Eagles’ interest in hiring the #Sooners Coach: pic.twitter.com/YbKbk2gSBE
— Cayden McFarland (@caydenmc) January 12, 2021
Follow the Heavy on Eagles Facebook page for the latest breaking news, rumors and content!
Riley Talked to Roseman Before the NFL Draft
General managers often talk to college coaches before drafting players from college programs, but the relationship between Roseman and Riley appears to be stronger than the normal fact-checking mission.
According to Sports Illustrated’s Ed Kracz, the Eagles consulted with Riley before selecting Hurts in the second round and the Oklahoma coach helped “sway” the team to take Jalen Reagor in the first round. Joe Giglio of NJ Advance Media has shared similar insights on the relationship there and connected him to the Eagles taking Dallas Goedert in 2018.
According to Ed Kracz, Lincoln Riley talked to Howie Roseman about Jalen Reagor prior to the 2020 NFL Draft.
Jalen Reagor played three games against Oklahoma. 3 receptions, 48 yards, and 1TD were his stats.
— Philly Nation (@Philly__Nation) January 12, 2021
That could be either a ringing endorsement or a reason to stay away, depending on how you view those players. One thing is certain: Roseman respects Riley’s opinion and likes his offensive approach. He’s most likely getting a phone call.
Owner Expresses Desire for Offensive-Minded Coach
While it’s no slam dunk the Eagles will take an offensive-minded coach, it surely aligns with their overall philosophy. The organization has talked about being a “quarterback factory” and put up 538 yards of total offense in Super Bowl LII.
Lurie: “I don’t think there’s any predilection for one over the other. … I tend to err on [Offensive] side. But not that side of the ball for head coach. Doesn’t matter.” — It’s lip service but that’s what he said
— John McMullen (@JFMcMullen) January 12, 2021
Remember, Andy Reid and his pass-happy offenses jump-started a fading franchise when owner Jeffrey Lurie first took the reins. Lurie has an affinity for high-octane offenses and it’s something he didn’t sugarcoat on Monday when addressing the ongoing coaching search. That doesn’t mean he wouldn’t be open to a strong defensive coach — assuming he surrounded himself with smart offensive minds.
“I don’t think there’s any predilection for one over the other,” Lurie said when asked about offense versus defense, “but I do think somebody that is constantly curious of where the league is headed and what you need to do to have really good units and again, without a really good elite offense, I tend to err on that side. But not that side of the ball for head coach. Doesn’t matter.”