Before you dismiss the notion out of hand, please allow me to play Devil's Advocate:An ESPN Insider/Magazine article from 1 year ago looked at the most common characteristics shared by the most successful NFL coaches. Most of them possessed at least 1 of following 4:
- Between the ages of 41 and 49.
- At least 11 years of NFL coaching experience.
- Were assistants on teams that won at least 50 games over a 5-year span.
- Had only 1 previous NFL head coaching gig.
Now, of course you don't hire a Head Coach based solely on these criteria. So, let's look at what he's done in his current gig in Philadelphia:
For the past 5 seasons, Mornhinweg has been offensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles. He's the first OC to whom Andy Reid has delegated play-calling duties. The past 2 seasons the Eagles have scored 416 and 439 points. He's coached 3 different starting QBs (McNabb, Kolb, Vick) and produced with all of them. Michael Vick has evolved into a more complete QB under Mornhinweg's watch. Hey, don't we have a young QB with great upside who needs further development?
Sure, you might say, that's impressive and all, but there's a difference between being a successful coordinator and a successful Head Coach. Look at his failure in Detroit. A very valid point.
Mornhinweg came into Detroit as a hot 30-something coordinator (sound familiar?) and floundered his way to a 5-27 record before being fired after 2 seasons. Not exactly encouraging. But remember many successful coaches were fired in their first stint (i.e. Belichick, Shanahan, Coughlin) before finding greater success the second time around. And we're talking about the Lions who, until just very recently, were a hopeless franchise.
The question is: Would Mornhinweg be any better in a second Head Coaching gig? Here's a paragraph from the ESPN article:
For his part, Mornhinweg has spent the past seven years learning from the mess in Detroit. By watching Reid, he's figured out how to become a more consistent leader. He has a better sense of owners and prefers those who talk directly with their coach, which didn't happen with the Lions. He now takes a smarter approach to running a team, from cap management (sign three lesser-known guys at a position instead of overpaying for one big name) to the draft (build offensive and defensive lines first) to the types of trainers and equipment guys he would hire. He maintains a binder with the names of 10 top assistants for every job, should he one day have openings. Despite his secondary role, he preps for press conferences so that he's a more disciplined spokesman. During each session, he mentions specific characteristics of upcoming opponents so that his players will remember them if they hear his quotes. And, finally, a few times a day Mornhinweg meets with his boss to discuss the rationale behind each of Reid's decisions, from benching players to planning practices. "I'm prepared for almost any situation," he says.
Sounds like what McDaniels should be doing until his next HC shot. Andy Reid himself thinks Mornhinweg has earned another chance as a Head Coach.
Now, I'm not prepared to say Mornhinweg or bust. We should do our due diligence on as many qualified candidates as we can. But I believe that we would be wise to bring him in to kick the tires and hear from the man himself how he would approach the job, especially how it would differ from his Detroit experience. And we should do it before Holmgren yanks him off the market and diminishes our candidate pool further.