PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Seven down. Who’s next?
Lovie Smith interviewed with the Philadelphia Eagles on Thursday as the team continued its search to replace Andy Reid, who was fired after a 4-12 finish.
Smith is the seventh candidate to meet with owner Jeffrey Lurie, general manager Howie Roseman and president Don Smolenski. The Eagles haven’t announced who they plan to interview next, but they received permission to speak to three assistant coaches.
Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, Seattle defensive coordinator Gus Bradley and Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden are on the list.
Gruden, the younger brother of former Oakland and Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden, interviewed with Arizona on Thursday. He said he may interview with the Eagles next week.
Bradley’s interview could take place this weekend before the Seahawks play at Atlanta.
“Well, it’s flattering. And I know people talk about our entire focus is on Atlanta and it really is,” Bradley said after practice Thursday. “It’s so important to us. We worked so hard to get to this point and our whole message to the team is to keep raising the bar and getting better and better every week. They’re talking that and we’re talking that so it’s easy to stay focused on it. It’s flattering as you’ve all heard before. But our entire focus is on Atlanta and trying to get one step closer.”
Smith was the second former head coach to meet with the Eagles, joining Atlanta defensive coordinator Mike Nolan. Smith was fired last Monday after going 81-63 in nine seasons with Chicago. Nolan was 18-37 in 3½ seasons with San Francisco.
The Eagles interviewed Notre Dame’s Brian Kelly on Tuesday, a day after the Fighting Irish lost 42-14 to Alabama in the BCS national championship game. Penn State’s Bill O’Brien and Oregon’s Chip Kelly interviewed with Philadelphia last week, but chose to stay at their schools.
Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and Atlanta special teams coach Keith Armstrong also have interviewed with the Eagles.
Since the start of the process, Lurie has emphasized the key is to get “the right guy” regardless of how long it takes. If the Eagles choose one of the coordinators on a playoff team that reaches the Super Bowl, they’ll have to wait until February.
Smith, however, is another story. If he’s the guy, the Eagles can finalize a deal much sooner. Smith led the Bears to three division titles, two trips to the NFC championship game and a loss to Indianapolis in the Super Bowl following the 2006 season. Despite winning 10 games this season, Smith lost his job after the team went 3-5 following a 7-1 start and missed the playoffs.
The 54-year-old Smith interviewed last week with the Buffalo Bills, who hired Doug Marrone to replace Chan Gailey.
Smith’s teams had double-digit wins four times and only three losing seasons out of nine. But the Bears reached the postseason just three times and didn’t earn a playoff berth in five of Smith’s last six years.
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