Eagle-eye view of Harbaugh

January 19, 2008 |

By now, if you’re as crazy as the rest of us, you’re already intimately familiar with John Harbaugh’s coaching bio. So there’s no point in re-printing it or linking to it here. What I will contribute, however, is the below entry from the official Philadelphia Eagles website. It’s written by Dave Spadaro (who, for lack of a better title, is basically the Eagles’ version of Kevin Byrne), and, though the piece is very Eagle-centric, I think it gives some interesting insights into Harbaugh.

I actually worked with the author in 2000 when I served as editor of the Eagles’ website (which was then produced by a now-defunct Baltimore-based dot-com) and found him to be a stand-up guy (even though he’s a HUGE Eagles fan). Anyway, here it is…

Eagles Lose A Coach As Reid Tree Grows
By Dave Spadaro

John Harbaugh spent nine years in Philadelphia. He knows you as well as you know him. And you know him as an energetic, highly-productive coach who now gets his chance at the big time: Baltimore hired Harbaugh on Friday night to be the team’s head coach, replacing Brian Billick.

While the Eagles are now faced with the challenge of replacing Harbaugh — for eight years the team’s special team coach who spent 2007 as the secondary coach — the more impressive fact is that another coach from Andy Reid’s tree sprouts into a head coach. Brad Childress is in Minnesota, gearing up a team that has playoff aspirations in his third season there. Harbaugh goes to Baltimore to turn around a talented team that won only five games last season.

There are plenty of questions, first and foremost how many — if any — coaches Harbaugh will take from Reid’s current staff. Harbaugh didn’t know the answer to that question when I asked him on Thursday at lunch at the NovaCare Complex. At that time, he had just learned that Jason Garrett had turned down the Ravens and Harbaugh was literally leaving the lunch table to go back up to his office hoping to get a second interview invitation from the Ravens.

He got it, and clearly the Ravens were impressed. Harbaugh touched a lot of people in his time here, and everyone who has ever met the man knows he deserves the shot and wishes him the best of luck. After narrowly missing out on the head coaching job at UCLA, Harbaugh lands in the NFL, in the AFC, with a Ravens team seemingly in transition.

As far as the Eagles are concerned, the immediate void is in the secondary. The Eagles worked in former NFL cornerback Otis Smith all of last season, so he is in line for a full-time role. Trent Walters just finished his fourth season with the team, working primarily with the cornerbacks. His future is undetermined, and there are whispers that he may retire.

Certainly, though, Reid has a succession plan. He understands things — heck, he is the one who advised Harbaugh to move away from special teams to better his chance to get a head coaching job. The plan worked perfectly, not just because Harbaugh coached a position at Reid’s suggestion, but because Harbaugh is No. 1 material based on his mind, his drive, his vision.

I am also looking forward to seeing how the relationship between the Eagles and the Ravens changes. The Eagles and the Vikings have already traded twice with Childress in Minnesota — the Eagles acquired Hank Baskett in exchange for Billy McMullen in a swap of wide receivers in 2006 and then the Eagles dealt quarterback Kelly Holcomb for a future draft pick in 2007 — so does this mean that the Ravens and the Eagles will suddenly strike up talks? The teams play in the regular season — at Baltimore — and so the familiarity will most definitely be there.

On this night, the feelings are mixed. I feel so good for Harbaugh, a coach I grew to know perhaps better than any in my time here. I wish him the best of luck. I think it is a good thing for the Eagles to have another assistant coach emerge from the Reid tree and become a head coach. And I wonder how the Eagles will fill the coaching opening, and what Harbaugh in Baltimore means for the Eagles when it comes to player moves. It has to mean something, doesn’t it?

Stay tuned. I have a feeling this won’t be the last time we hear from or about Harbaugh and the Eagles. He is moving just down the road. He is a phone call and a short drive away. The lines of communication are open.

And Harbaugh, a coach who became a Philly guy, gets a chance to have the spotlight to his very own.

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