Ranking the Head Coaching Vacancies in the NFL

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head coaching vacancies in the nfl
INGLEWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 27: Head coach Anthony Lynn of the Los Angeles Chargers looks on from the sidelines during the first half of a game against the Denver Broncos at SoFi Stadium on December 27, 2020 in Inglewood, California. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)

headAs it stands today, there are seven NFL teams looking for a fresh start with a new face as their head coach in 2021. Some teams are looking for more than that but making sure you have the right head coach is certainly part of that process.

We watched Bill O’Brien, former head coach for the Houston Texans, become the first of the coaching casualties that took place over the next three months. After him, they seemed to drop like flies, those coaches who had inherently bad teams, that decided enough was enough. So I feel it is my duty and obligation to rank the six head coaching vacancies in the NFL as those teams set their sights on the up and coming season.

Ranking the Head Coaching Vacancies in the NFL

7. Houston Texans

Despite the charisma that comes from Deshaun Watson each week, despite knowing that there is a good chance he will always come close but won’t get the cigar, there isn’t much for them to look forward to in the 2021 season. That struggle starts with one of the biggest head coaching vacancies in the NFL.

J.J. Watt is about the only constant they have had on that team if you can even call him that, as he has sustained a substantial amount of injuries in 2012, 2015, 2016, 2017, and 2019. When he’s on it though, he’s on it. But his injury report does span over half his seasons. There is no timetable on how much longer he will be in the NFL but given how prone he is to injuries, it may not be for very much longer.

The Texans traded their first-round pick to the Miami Dolphins for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills so they won’t pick until the third round in 2021. Although they may be able to get some quality players, it won’t be to the magnitude they’d like.

One positive for the Texans is Watson. Even during their lackluster season, he still gave the Texans 33 touchdowns and, outside of three games, managed a 91 passer rating or better. Whoever their new head coach becomes will have their work cut out for them. Another? Hiring their new general manager, Nick Caserio.

One head coaching possibility is Joe Brady.

6. New York Jets

After a dumpster fire of a season, the Jets parted ways with the former head coach, Adam Gase. They did manage two wins at the end of the season so they may be out of contention for Clemson quarterback, Trevor Lawrence (maybe they have faith in Sam Darnold that we don’t know about). Joe Douglas is noncommital on Darnold though so they may still have the opportunity to get Lawrence. Lawrence’s loss to Ohio State a week ago may have dropped his stock. Whoever gets this job will have their work cut out for them. When ranking the NFL head coaching vacancies in the NFL, this ranks number five.

Because they did win two games they ended up with the second overall pick. This is still good for the Jets because they have quality needs in other areas like a receiver for Darnold to throw to. Having that high a pick guarantees them their pick of the litter. They could end up with a guy like Alabama junior wide receiver, DeVonta Smith.

Despite playing a poor season decorated with just three games with a passer rating of above 90 percent, Darnold has always been considered a quarterback that you’d want your quarterback to go against. The biggest test for their new head coach will be trying to get his career back on track which may prove to be too tall a task. But he’s only 23 so who knows?

Ranking the six head coaching vacancies in the NFL in terms of importance, this one comes towards the beginning. But should they hire Brian Daboll, Buffalo Bills‘ current offensive coordinator, there could be a tide turn on the horizon for this team.

5. Detroit Lions

The Lions are in a unique position because even though their coach struggled for almost three seasons, there are still some pieces for the next head coach to play with.

The Lions stayed under .500 through the three seasons under former head coach, Matt Patricia. They only had two seasons over the last decade where they had double-digit wins. This puts a ton of pressure on the new head coach to get in there and get some wins under his belt.

Matthew Stafford is 32 years old and has yet to fulfill his duty as the franchise quarterback of that team. His best quality is longevity. Of his 12 seasons, Stafford threw at least 4,000 yards in eight of them. And of the same total amount of seasons, he has started all 16 games of nine of them. There is no doubt that he is a tough individual who will help this new coach come in and immediately get to work.

Daboll is a hot ticket and is therefore ranked first on the Lions’ potential-head-coach standings but another candidate to look at would be Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator, Arthur Smith. The NFL is trending toward the offense becoming the way teams win games. Smith created a vision for Ryan Tannehill to follow, which is what he did. He can do the same in Detroit.

Ranking these six head coaching vacancies in the NFL, this job gets number four on the list.

4. Atlanta Falcons

Dan Quinn, along with general manager Thomas Dimitroff, was released from their duties with the Falcons after their fifth straight loss of the season. After going to the Super Bowl in just his second season, and losing in the worst way, Quinn has become known as the one who let championships getaway. In ranking the head coaching vacancies in the NFL, this job gets ranked third.

Whichever of the coaching candidates that decide to take on this test will definitely have to come in with immediate rebuilding on their mind. The same way Matt Rhule came into Carolina with the Panthers and created his way of playing the game is the same way a coach will have to come into Atlanta.

The new head coach will have some weapons to work with; the challenge will be keeping them healthy. Julio Jones is set to get paid a monster deal over the next two to three years, according to sportrac. With a $15,000,000 base salary this year, Jones has a lot of proving to do. He doesn’t shy away from the yards or the touchdowns but six of his ten seasons he’s missed at least one game. Their new head coach needs to nurture that relationship if they want to get the most out of the rest of his time in Atlanta.

Their defense has potential with a mostly-young group of guys. 12 interceptions for the team, 29 sacks, and 679 solo tackles means that the guys are committed to whoever comes in with the vision. Trust the process if you will. Whoever the Falcons decide to choose as their head coach has plenty to work with.

3. Philadelphia Eagles

As of Jan 11, the Eagles have moved on from their former head coach, Doug Pederson, who won them their only super bowl in 2017. They wanted to believe that Carson Wentz would be the long-term answer to their problems but he ended up playing poorly in an already-putrid division. And even when Pederson decided to bench Wentz and go with Jalen Hurts, he still failed.

The Eagles have a good team when everyone is healthy. The biggest culprit of their downward spiral fell on the injuries they obtained through the course of the year. When it comes to hiring a new coach for this team, it’s more than likely that they’ll stick with a defensive-minded coach because although they struggled, they still believe that this is how they will win games.

There are going to be a significant amount of changes for them in the offseason. The biggest of those being their quarterback. Will they stay with Wentz, move on to Hurts full time, or will they try to get a new face? That is a major question that should be answered fairly quickly so they can start adding the necessary pieces around him. If we’re being honest though, this rebuild won’t be quick.

Ranking the coaching vacancies, I give this one the number three spot.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars put themselves in the best possible position by tanking in 2020. For whatever reason Gardner Minshew was not the savior–though he had the hairdo for it–that they thought he would be. After winning just one game this season and just one season at or above .500, it was time to part ways with Doug Marrone. Ranking the head coaching vacancies in the NFL, coaching the Jaguars is ranked number two.

Of the candidates that appear to be under-the-radar, according to DK Tyler of Big Cat Country, Marvin Lewis rings a clear bell. One mark I have against him is that he was head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals from 2003-2018 during which time he produced not one playoff win. How will this time be different? Hopefully, he would use the time to improve on what he couldn’t do with the Bengals. The challenge for Lewis would be to figure out how to get a playoff win.

The best part about Lewis is his track record as a defensive coordinator which is something the Jaguars could benefit from. With the number one pick in the NFL draft, they are likely to take Lawrence as their guy which means Lewis would be allowed to put a large amount of focus on the defense.

This is a premium spot to be in as a head coach. Though there’s a lot of work to do, getting the top pick gives them a real chance for improvement over the next few years.

1. Los Angeles Chargers

The Chargers have the most lucrative head coaching position available in 2021. They let go of Anthony Lynn after four years in which only two were above .500. They have a gem of a quarterback–rookie out of the University of Oregon, Justin Herbert, who has become a force in just his first season.

Whoever takes the job with the Chargers will inherit a young team with so many playmakers. On offense alone, Herbert threw to nine different receivers for a combined 3,907 yards. He does not shy away from throwing the ball and with players like Keenan Allen and Mike Williams, he could have a monster season in 2021.

Again, Daboll’s name comes up as a main player for the head coaching position but again he is a hot commodity and all the teams want him. Another candidate, Brandon Staley, appears to be the other frontrunner. As a defensive coordinator, he would bring another level to their defense. Obviously in doing that, keeping Joey Bosa healthy would be his top priority. Bosa led the team in sacks with 7.5 so he is vital to this team’s success.

This is the best possible position for a new head coach. In ranking the head coaching vacancies in the NFL, this job takes the number one spot.

The Only Coaching Requirement

All of these teams have some sort of rebuilding that they will have to encounter as they take on a new head coach. The main thing for all these men to understand is that they have to be exactly who they have always been. Take a note out of Rhule’s book, he hasn’t really changed his style from college and that works for him. Ron Rivera, when he came to the Panthers in 2011, was one that wanted to teach his players not only how to be great players, but also to be great men. Ranking the head coaching vacancies in the NFL is tough because every team needs something different.

As long as these coaches stay true to the principles that mean something to them, they should all be successful. The teams that are seeking these guys, they should make sure they find ones who are truly compatible with what the overall vision of the team is.

Main Image: Embed from Getty Images

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