Top 10: Eagles Assistants that Became a Head Coach

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Ranked are the Top 10 Eagles Assistant or Positional Coaches that went on to become NFL Head Coaches. These coaches rose the ranks in Philadelphia and the NFL, and have had success with other organizations by winning Super Bowls and NFL Coach of the Year awards.

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10. Dick LeBeau (CIN): Special Teams Assistant 1973-75

Photo Courtesy of Allsport

Head Coaching Record: 12-33 (26.7%)

Coaching Tree: Mike McCormack

Coaching Career:

Dick LeBeau immediately went into coaching after retiring as a player in 1973. The Eagles hired LeBeau as a Special Teams Assistant, and he spent three seasons with the Birds. LeBeau then moved to Green Bay to become the Packers Secondary Coach, where he stayed until 1980. Dick then shuffled through the league and was named the Interim Head Coach of the Bengals in 2000. He was named the permanent Head Coach in 2001 and went 6-10 in his first season. Cincinnati fired him following the 2002 season finishing with a 2-14 record.

The Bills hired Dick as the Head Coach’s Assistant, but he quickly took the Defensive Coordinating job for Pittsburgh in 2004. LeBeau’s first decent coaching stint was with the Steelers, and he was the Defensive Coordinator until 2014. After two Superbowls, he resigned and took his next role in Tennessee as Head Coach’s Assistant. After the Titans hired Vrabel in 2018, they decided not to retain Lebeau, and he retired as a coach. He won the Sporting News Coordinator of the Year in 2008.


Eagles Head Coach

9. Pat Shurmur (CLE/NYG): Tight Ends 1999-2001

Photo Courtesy of BleacherReport

Head Coaching Record: 19 – 46 (29.2%)

Coaching Tree: Andy Reid

Coaching Career:

Shurmur’s coaching career started with the Eagles in 1999 when Andy Reid hired him as the Tight Ends Coach. Shurmur helped shape Eagles’ Tight End Chad Lewis into a three-time Pro-Bowler but moved on to become the Quarterbacks Coach for Donovan McNabb. Shurmur and McNabb helped lead the Eagles to their first Superbowl appearance since 1980. The Rams hired Shurmur as the Offensive Coordinator in 2009 and lead Sam Bradford to a successful rookie year.

Shurmur was hired by the Browns in 2011 and became the Head Coach in hopes of molding rookie quarterback, Colt McCoy. After a terrible stint in Cleveland, the Browns fired him after the 2012 season, and he shipped back to Philadelphia to become the Eagles’ Offensive Coordinator. Shurmur was the Interim Head Coach for the final game of the 2015 season for Chip Kelly. Pat found his next Head Coaching job with the Giants in effort to fill the shoes of long New York legend, Tom Coughlin. Shurmur did the opposite, and after the 2019 season, the Giants fired him, finishing with a combined record of 9-23. He has since been hired as the Broncos Offensive Coordinator looking to develop a young, talented Drew Lock for the upcoming 2020 season.


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8. Leslie Frazier (MIN): Defensive Backs Coach 1999-2002

Photo Courtesy of The New York Times

Head Coaching Record: 21-33-1 (39.8%)

Coaching Tree: Andy Reid

Coaching Career:

Leslie Frazier began his coaching career in 1988 as the Head Coach of the newly founded Trinity College football team in Illinois. Andy Reid hired Frazier in 1999 as the Defensive Backs Coach until being appointed as the Bengals Defensive Coordinator in 2003. Frazier then moved on to Indianapolis as the Colts’ Defensive Assistant and Defensive Backs Coach. During his tenure, the Colts secondary had improved tremendously, and the franchise won a Super Bowl in 2006-07.

Four days after the victory, the Vikings hired Frazier as Defensive Coordinator and became the interim Head Coach in Week 11 of the following season. He was then engaged in 2011 as Minnesota’s full-time Head Coach, and the Vikings turned in their worst season since 1984, going 3-13. The following year the Vikings had improved and finished 10-6 making the playoffs. Frazier was nominated for AP NFL Coach of the Year and came in fourth, but the next season was not as pleasing. Minnesota finished 5-10-1, and Frazier was fired; he then was hired to become the Defensive Coordinator for the Buccaneers in 2014 until he was fired after the 2016 season. Bills’ new Head Coach and former Eagles’ Assistant, Sean McDermott hired Frazier as the Defensive Coordinator in 2017 and has since promoted him to Assistant Head Coach.


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7. Matt Nagy (CHI): Offensive Quality Control 2011-12

Photo Courtesy of USA Today

Head Coaching Record: 20-13 (60.6%)

Coaching Tree: Andy Reid

Coaching Career:

Matt Nagy started his coaching career as a High School Quarterback Coach at Manheim Central High School in Pennsylvania after he concluded his playing days at the University of Delaware. His road to the NFL is unique as he was an unpaid intern for the Eagles in 2008. He then returned to High School coaching until he was invited back to intern for the Eagles again in 2009. During the preseason of the 2009 year, Kevin Kolb was injured during a game, and to avoid having to play star QB Donovan McNabb the Eagles signed Nagy to play QB. The NFL would disallow this after a week, arguing that he was already a staff member and could not be making a player’s wage.

The Eagles then hired Nagy full-time the following year as the Head Coach’s Assistant. Nagy became the Quality Control Coach in 2011, filling the shoes of Doug Pederson, who had become the Quarterbacks Coach. When Andy Reid was named Head Coach of the Chiefs, he brought Nagy and Pederson with him to Kansas City. He once again filled Pederson’s shoes in 2016 as the Chiefs’ Offensive Coordinator.

Nagy was hired for his first Head Coaching job in 2018 by the Bears, and led Chicago to a 12-4 record and a NFC North title. The Bears lost to Nagy’s beloved Eagles in the Wild Card Round after Cody Parkey’s “double doink”. Nagy won the AP NFL Coach of the Year Award in 2018 and looks to rebound the franchise after a rough 2019 stint.


Eagles Head Coach

6. Jeff Fisher (TEN/LAR): Defensive Backs Coach 1986-88

Photo Courtesy of USA Today

Head Coaching Record: 178-171-1 (51.0%)

Coaching Tree: Buddy Ryan

Coaching Career:

Jeff Fisher was injured during his 1985 season with the Bears and became a player-coach to assist Defensive Coordinator Buddy Ryan. The Eagles hired Ryan as Head Coach the following season, and he brought Fisher along as the Defensive Backs Coach. The Birds promoted Fisher to Defensive Coordinator in 1988 at the young age of 30. In the following season, the Eagles led the NFL in Interceptions and Sacks. Fisher took the Defensive Coordinating job for the LA Rams in 1991 and bounced around the league until he was hired as the Interim Head Coach of the Oilers in 1994.

After relocating to Tennesee, Fisher led his team to a 13-3 record and a Super Bowl berth in 1999. The Titans would go on to lose to the Rams in a game decided by “The Tackle.” In 2003 Fisher led the franchise back to the playoffs and lost to the Patriots. Fisher was fired following a stretch of terrible seasons in 2011. The Rams hired him for the following season. His coaching career was downhill from there, and he holds the NFL record for most regular-season losses as Head Coach. In December of 2018, the Rams front office canned Fisher, and that was all for his head coaching career. Fisher was named the Maxwell Club Coach of the Year in 2008 and was a Super Bowl Champion player-coach in 1985.


Eagles Head Coach

5. Sean Mcdermott (BUF): Scouting Coordinator, Defensive Quality Control, and Defensive Backs Coach 1998-03

Photo Courtesy of USA Today

Head Coaching Record: 25-25 (50.0%)

Coaching Tree: Andy Reid

Coaching Career:

Sean Mcdermott began his young coaching career in 1998 as an Administrative Scouting Coordinator for the Eagles. Mcdermott worked his way up the ranks in Philadelphia as he was promoted to Head Coach Assistant in 1999. He then became the Defensive Quality Control Coach for a few years before transitioning to the Defensive Backs Coach, where he saw his two safeties, Brian Dawkins and Michael Lewis, be named to the All-Pro teams. After serving as Johnson’s interim Defensive Coordinator, Mcdermott took over the role in 2009 and was later fired in 2011. He moved on to become the Panthers Defensive Coordinator in 2012 and led the team to four years of Top 10 Defenses.

In 2017 the Bills hired Mcdermott as Head Coach, and he led Buffalo to its first playoff appearance in 18 seasons. After a disappointing 2018, the Bills found themselves fighting for the AFC East title in 2019. They fell short but still managed to clinch a playoff berth. Buffalo played Houston in the 2019 Wild Card Round and lost heartbreakingly in overtime. The Bills are stacked in 2020 and are favored to win the AFC East for the first time since 1995. Mcdermott was nominated for AP NFL Coach of the Year in 2019, but John Harbaugh won.


Eagles Head Coach

4. Ron Rivera (CAR/WAS): Linebackers Coach 1999-2003

Photo Courtesy of The New York Times

Head Coaching Record: 79-67-1 (54.1%)

Coaching Tree: Andy Reid

Coaching Career:

Ron Rivera’s coaching career began with the Chicago Bears in 1997 as he was the team’s Quality Control Coach. After a quick stint with Chicago, Andy Reid and the Eagles hired Ron as a Linebackers Coach in 1999. Rivera led a top tier linebacker corps that eventually led the Eagles defense to the Super Bowl. He went back to Chicago in 2004 to become the Bears Defensive Coordinator after finding much success in Philadelphia. Rivera coached in back to back Super Bowls and was the first assistant coach to appear in consecutive Super Bowls with different organizations.

The Panthers hired Rivera as Head Coach in 2011, and he went on to be the all-time winning Head Coach in franchise history. He led the Panthers to Super Bowl 50 but lost to the Denver Broncos. Rivera won NFL Coach of the Year in 2013 and 2015 with Carolina. The Panthers’ front office fired Rivera midway through the 2019 season, but because of his prowess and reputation, Rivera was immediately hired as the Redskins Head Coach coming into the 2020 season.


John Harbaugh

3. John Harbaugh (BAL): Special Teams and Defensive Backs Coach 1998-2007

Photo Courtesy of USA Today

Head Coaching Record: 128-81 (61.2%)

Coaching Tree: Andy Reid/Ray Rhodes

Coaching Career:

Harbaugh started his career at the college level as an assistant for Western Michigan, Pitt, Morehead State, Cincinnati, and Indiana. His first NFL job was with the Eagles in 1998 as the Special Teams assistant. Andy Reid took over at the helm and kept only two coaches from the previous staff, one being Harbaugh. He held the role until he was promoted to Defensive Backs Coach in 2007.

Following the 2007 season, Harbaugh was hired as the Ravens third Head Coach in franchise history. Harbaugh led the Ravens to an 11-5 record in his first season, and this landed them in the playoffs. Baltimore made it to the AFC Championship Game before losing to their AFC North division rival, Pittsburgh. Harbaugh led the organization to the playoffs in five consecutive seasons, and in 2012, the Ravens made it to Super Bowl XLVII, where he faced off against the 49ers led by his brother Jim in what is known as the “Harbowl.” Baltimore won 34-31 and hoisted the organization’s second Lombardi Trophy.

John was at the lead of the NFL’s most exciting show on turf in 2019 and won the AP NFL Coach of the Year Award. Harbaugh and the Ravens are looking to bounce back in 2020 after being upset by the Titans in the 2019 Divisional Round.


Eagles Head Coach

2. Tom Coughlin (NYG): Wide Receivers Coach 1984-85

Photo Courtesy of NBC Sports

Head Coaching Record: 182-157 (53.7%)

Coaching Tree: Marion Campbell

Coaching Career:

Tom Coughlin began his coaching career as Head Coach of Rochester Institute of Technology in 1970. After RIT, Coughlin went on to become the Offensive Coordinator at his alma mater Boston College in 1974. Coughlin leveled up to the NFL when hired as the Wide Receivers Coach for the Eagles in 1984. The stint in Philadelphia was quick as he moved on to Green Bay, then eventually the Giants. He was part of two Super Bowl-winning seasons with the Giants, and his resume boasted him enough to be hired as the first-ever Head Coach of the Jaguars who was an expansion team in 1995. Under Coughlin’s rule, the Jags made four consecutive playoff appearances and found themselves in two AFC Championship games. The Jaguars fired Coughlin in 2003, and he took a year away from the sport.

The Giants hired Coughlin in 2004 as the Head Coach. He famously led a 10-6 NYG team to a Super Bowl victory in 2007-08 against the undefeated New England Patriots. Then, the Giants and Patriots squared off again in 2012’s Super Bowl LII, and the NYG got the best of the Patriots once again. At the time, Coughlin was the oldest Head Coach to win a Super Bowl in NFL history. This was the peak of Coughlin and the Giants, and he ended up resigning from his position in 2016. Coughlin found himself back in Jacksonville as the Vice President of Football Operations, but after a dismal grievance filed by Dante Fowler, management fired Coughlin.


Eagles Head Coach

1. Sean Payton (NO): Quarterbacks Coach 1997-98

Photo Courtesy of U Bleacherreport

Head Coaching Record: 139-84 (62.3%)

Coaching Tree: Ray Rhodes

Coaching Career:

Payton first burst onto the coaching scene in 1988 as an Offensive Assistant for San Diego State University. He coached at Indiana State, Miami, and Illinois until being hired as the Eagles Quarterbacks Coach in 1997. During his tenure with the Birds, Payton served under Offensive Coordinator Jon Gruden. The front office cleared house following the season, and Payton moved on to coach division foes, NYG and Dallas. Payton became the Head Coach of the New Orleans Saints in 2006. The season before Payton’s arrival New Orleans was 3-13 and the worst team in the NFL; NOLA was recovering from Hurricane Katrina, and football was the last thing on the city’s mind.

Payton and his new star Quarterback, Drew Brees, quickly turned around the franchise. They gave the city something to look forward to. In Payton’s first year, the Saints finished 10-6, won the NFC South and clinched an opening-round bye. The top-seeded Bears beat New Orleans in the NFC Championship, but the future of the Saints was bright. Payton went on to lead the organization to a franchise-best, 13-3 record in 2009. The team led by Payton and Brees won the Lombardi Trophy by beating the Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl XLIV. Payton holds an impressive 139-84 record and won the NFL Coach of the Year Award in 2006. He remains the Saints Head Coach going into the 2020 season.


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