NFL Coaching Carousel: What to Expect on “Black Monday”

Walking Out the Door

John Fox, Chicago

Fox’s office should be cleared out by now. Chicago didn’t really do the head coach many favors by giving up so much to move up one spot in last year’s draft so they could snag Mitchell Trubisky. The question now becomes do the Bears want to get an offensive-minded coach to make their QB feel comfortable or do they go with a defensive-minded coach and then hire an OC who can help Trubisky along?

Possible Replacements: Bill O’Brien would be that quarterback guru, if Chicago chooses that route. Maybe Jon DeFilippo from Philly would be a good fit, too. Todd Haley might be an interesting fit, also. But in a division where the Bears may want to replicate the Vikings’ success, what better way than to steal Minnesota’s DC, George Edwards.

Dirk Koetter, Tampa Bay

This marriage has to end. Aside from Ben McAdoo in New York, Koetter in Tampa has yielded the most disappointing results in 2017.

Possible Replacements: Obviously, Jon Gruden will be hotly pursued. He lives in Tampa, his kid is about to be a senior in high school in Tampa, and whatever bad blood existed between Gruden and upper management when he left seems to have subsided. Let’s be clear: it’s Gruden’s if he wants it. Another top candidate would be Mike Smith, currently Tampa’s DC and former HC in Atlanta. Smith would be a decent fit, but everything depends on if ownership wants to clean house completely.

Chuck Pagano, Indianapolis

This should have happened a year ago when owner Jim Irsay brought in new GM Chris Ballard. Pagano has been on borrowed time.

Possible Replacements: Ballard’s past connections to Kansas City could lead him to hiring the Chiefs’ special teams coach, Dave Toub, or their OC Matt Nagy. My money would be on one of them. Frank Reich could be a dark horse.

Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati

It looks like Lewis wants to step down. And that’s probably best for all parties.

Possible Replacements: Reports are that Cincinnati would like to bring Hue Jackson or Jay Gruden back. Both could be on the market and both had a fair amount of success as OCs with the Bengals before. Cincy’s current defensive coordinator, Paul Guenther, should garner serious consideration.

Jim Caldwell, Detroit

The Lions appear to have gone as far as Caldwell can take them. Owner Martha Ford is on record stating her love for Jim Caldwell, but the fact that the story broke a few weeks ago detailing Caldwell’s contract extension was really only for a year is telling. Just as the Lions season seemed to be slipping away, a report breaks that Caldwell’s job may not be as safe as once thought? Hmmmm.

Possible Replacements: GM Bob Quinn needs to make his mark on this franchise. I’d expect the next head coach to have New England ties. Josh McDaniels and Matt Patricia will be very highly sought after. But Bill O’Brien could be the guy Quinn quietly targets.

The New York Giants Job

Of course the Giants got ahead of the curve by firing Ben McAdoo well before things got completely out of hand in the Meadowlands. This will be a very intriguing job, especially with former Carolina GM Dave Gettleman in that same role in New York. The Giants are a team that while their salary cap doesn’t look pretty and the quarterback situation with Eli is very short-term could be a playoff team in 2018.

Possible Replacements: The name that will be the most interesting is Josh McDaniels. With all of Bill Belichick’s connections to the Giants organization, it would be fitting for his top lieutenant to leave for New York. I fully expect that to happen. But if McDaniels wants to wait and succeed Belichick in New England — if that indeed is the plan, internally — I’d expect the Giants to consider Eagles coaches Frank Reich and John DeFilippo. If they choose to go defense with their head coach, New England disciple Mike Vrabel makes a lot of sense for many of the same reasons it makes sense for McDaniels.

Should Be Inquiring About Moving Companies

Vance Joseph, Denver

I’m not sure John Elway knows who he wants to lead this team — well, aside from himself. But I do believe he lacks confidence in Vance Joseph. Not much went right this season — and most of it, quite honestly, falls on Elway. He’s got two crucial decisions to make over the next couple months: who’s his head coach and who’s his QB?

Possible Replacements: If Frank Reich has Elway’s respect, that could be a nice fit. Reich did a great job with Carson Wentz in Philadelphia. But something tells me Elway goes outside the box with this hire. I think he wants to run the Broncos like Jerry Jones does and like Al Davis did. He’s going to be looking for a good coach who’s going to let Elway “coach” from the press box.

Jack Del Rio, Oakland

This thing got ugly quickly. Del Rio is excellent as a DC, but there’s something missing for him as a head coach. Too much talent in Oakland for the team to be this bad.

Possible Replacements: Oakland likes to set the trend when it comes to hiring coaches. This time around, they might want to follow the path laid out by the Rams. I think they’ll want to pair up an offensive-minded guy with Derek Carr and let him hire a DC that can maximize the talent on that side of the ball. Frank Reich could land out west; Harold Goodwin may be a fit; Todd Haley will get consideration; Pat Shurmur has done wonders with Case Keenum; and Bill O’Brien could help reinvent Carr.

Jay Gruden, Washington

Gruden has kind of stayed under the radar as of late. But his in-game decisions have been head-scratching to say the least and a lot of times he just seems to be in over his head. If you can find someone more equipped to coach, then you let Gruden go. And I think you can find many who are more equipped.

Possible Replacements: Washington always likes to swing for the fences with their hires. You just know Dan Snyder will be calling Bill Cowher and Jay’s brother John to gauge their interest. But Washington is not that attractive of a situation: Kirk Cousins will be gone so who’s the quarterback. Not to mention, the division looks to have gotten away from the Redskins for the foreseeable future. Maybe a Paul Guenther from Cincy or a George Edwards from Minnesota would want to cut their head coaching teeth in Washington. But let’s be honest: we all want Snyder to hire Jeff Fisher.

Bill O’Brien, Houston

I think both sides would like to part ways. I think this could be as mutual a break up as you’ll see in the NFL.

Possible Replacements: The head coach coming in to Houston must be able to (a) work with DeShaun Watson and (b) find a way to get that defense back to being one of the most tenacious units in the league. I think Jim Schwartz is the fit here. He’ll come with the defensive pedigree that helped him rebuild the Eagles defense. And the key might be that he brings OC Frank Reich or QB coach John DeFilippo with him to lead the offense. Both of those guys are young and have only proven in a small sample size that they helped in the growth of Carson Wentz — give one of them another year working as an offensive coordinator with Watson and a head coaching position might be their’s in 2019.

Mike Mularkey, Tennessee

It’s not too often we get treated to a playoff team firing their head coach. But that’s a very real possibility in Tennessee.

Possible Replacements: Jim Bob Cooter is the guy that I’d keep my eye on. The Lions OC was treated like a king in Detroit after helping bring Matthew Stafford into the fold as one of the league’s top 10 quarterbacks after the 2016 season. Some of the shine has faded, but Cooter has ties to the state; and if Jim Caldwell is gone in Detroit, then all his assistants will be looking for new jobs as well.

They’re Gone…. If This, This, and That All Happen

Bruce Arians, Arizona

A report surfaced after Christmas that Arians was opting out at season’s end. He’s since denied it, but no one would be shocked if he left. The question would be does he still want to coach in the NFL? If yes, you’d have to think more than a couple GMs would be calling Arians — the Colts might be the first ones.

Possible Replacements: This Cardinals job went from very desirable to now almost untouchable. The division is a pipe dream with the Rams and 49ers trending way up; the QB situation is not hopeful; and the team has really underachieved the last 2 years even though they have been plagued by injuries. An in-house promotion with OC Harold Goodwin might be the best way to go for the short-term. Or the Cardinals may look to pull Todd Bowles back to the franchise, where he grew as a DC before going to the Jets.

Hue Jackson, Cleveland

This Hue Jackson situation is so messed up. You’ll never ever find a coach who in 2 seasons with an organization has gone 1-30 (about to be 1-31) yet has other teams interested in his availability!!!! The Bengals are seriously interested in bringing Jackson back and reportedly will even trade a draft pick for him!!! Leave it to the Bengals and Browns to be the teams involved in this mess.

Possible Replacements: I’m so sick of hearing experts and reporters go on TV and talk about how “there are only 32 of these jobs available” and act like each organization is equally worthy of attracting a head coach. Like, who wants to really coach the Browns? If you’re a coordinator somewhere — especially in a good city and with a good franchise, why not stay put and wait another year or two? Why rush things just to go to Cleveland???!!!! I don’t know who’d take this job if it became available and I don’t even want to speculate on who might be stupid enough to do it. Maybe the league will collude against the Browns and not let them ruin another coach’s career by not allowing them to hire a head coach. We can hope at least.

Todd Bowles, Jets

Bowles deserves credit for the 2017 season. In a year where everyone thought the Jets were a 1- or 2-win team, Bowles had the Jets looking competitive for stretches this year. I don’t believe he’ll be fired, but he may want to leave if the Arizone job opens up.

Possible Replacements: I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Jets target Steve Spagnuolo from the Giants or Pat Shurmur from Minnesota.

Pete Carroll, Seattle

Here’s the crazy, nuts, no-way-this-happens hot take. But look at Seattle’s situation: (1) contracts are finally expiring so guys who have been stalwarts for the franchise during these dominant years will want to get paid and Seattle can’t pay them all; (2) guys are fighting with each other; (3) the offense — which has never been very good — is actually regressing; and (4) the division is no longer a given for them — the Rams have unseated them and the Jimmy Garoppolo Niners look to be the future. This just seems like the perfect time for Carroll to walk away before things get really ugly.

Possible Replacements: Here’s a name that isn’t getting bandied around much — in fact no college names are really garnering much talk right now: David Shaw at Stanford. He’s done wonders at Palo Alto since Jim Harbaugh left, and all the talk for the last couple years is that he has the chops to coach at the next level. Is this the year he’d want to make the jump? If the Seahawks job opens up, I can’t imagine a better spot for him (outside of the Bay Area). He’d have some re-tooling to do, but he’s proven that he can win with less in the Pac-12.


Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.


So You Think the NFL is Bad? The NCAA Says, “Watch This”

Where did the purity go?

Aren’t college sports supposed to be some of the purest sporting events around? I know, the NCAA has changed all that — I’m mostly just thinking aloud right now. But imagine, for instance, a college basketball game. Any game, any team, any venue. If you’re of my generation or born anytime before 1980, let me try and guess what you thought of. Assembly Hall at Indiana with coach Bob Knight stalking the sideline? How about Cameron Indoor with the Duke fans screaming, right on top of opposing players? Maybe you went way back to the great John Wooden teams and pictured a jam-packed Pauley Pavilion.

Those places represent what college basketball is in our minds — that’s purity. Whether that’s a reality of the sport anymore is up for debate. Well, scratch that. It’s not up for debate — the game has devolved away from that. Now when kids think college basketball they think of the “one-and-dones”, who are nameless for the real fans because there’s no time for these players to build into our psyche and our encyclopedic minds; they think of Final Fours in these humungous domed stadiums, where the court looks completely dwarfed by the surroundings; they think of fast-paced, no defense, no fundamentals and everyone thinking they have the range of Steph Curry or the strength and force of LeBron James.

It’s a far cry from the college basketball I remember — the basketball that the purists fondly recall.

We could get into the countless reasons it’s gone, but who has that kind of time? From the creation of the 3-point line to the 30-second shot clock to the aforementioned 1-and-done rule, there are many factors that have left this game in the state it’s currently in.

Instead, let’s talk about what makes the NCAA, as an entity, absolutely laughable and examine one particular case that demonstrates how time after time after time the NCAA is driven by all the wrong things, consequently, ripping any remaining shreds of purity that may still exist in collegiate sports.

I’m going to throw a name out there — Jalen Hayes. Most won’t know his name even though he’s the best player on his team in Rochester, MI at Oakland University — and that’s how the NCAA likes it. (Well, they sort of like it — they like the headline that they handed down discipline, but they hope you don’t do any digging. God forbid fans get to the bottom of why student-athletes are suspended by the NCAA.)

Hayes missed the first four games of the season because, as I said, the NCAA suspended him. The 6’7″ forward took a class last Spring and only earned a 2.5 and the university requires a 2.8 in Hayes’s human resources development major. Because he failed to hit that expectation, the credit did not count, leaving Hayes short of the NCAA-required 18 credit hours (from Fall to end of Spring) — and, thus, the NCAA said he “failed to make satisfactory progress toward a degree”.

Mind you, Hayes did not fail the course — in lay terms he earned a C+ but needed a B-. But because he chose a major that actually has an academic expectation for its students (athletes included) — we see you North Carolina — the NCCA took the opportunity to pounce all over this case and rule Hayes ineligible for the entire semester.

Did I mention the young man is on track to graduate this month? Yet, according to the NCAA, he’s not making “significant progress”. Ok.

While the NCAA listened to the case and followed up on the specifics, they still mismanaged the situation by reducing the suspension to 4 games.

Why is he suspended at all?

For choosing a major that holds students to a high academic standard? For attending a university that is more concerned with graduating capable young adults than it is with making sure student-athletes have inflated grade point averages or are barely scraping by with enough credits just so their basketball program and those student-athletes are in the best position possible to make that university millions of dollars?

Ok, you want to argue that according to his major and the university he did in fact receive a mark lower than what earns a student credit? Fine. But the NCAA has a waiver process for this very reason. You can’t tell me Jalen Hayes’s case doesn’t warrant a waiver. If his doesn’t, just scrap the whole thing then because you won’t find any case in more need of one.

But upon hearing the details, how can the NCAA in good conscience not throw the entire suspension out???!!! This student-athlete remains suspended yet the University (and I use that term very loosely) of North Carolina invents classes for it’s basketball players to enroll in and no student-athletes get punished? No suspensions? No games missed?

But that’s the NCAA for you. Who wants to be bothered with ethics or morals or plain common sense when there’s money to be made.

And you thought the NFL was a mess.


Feedback is always welcome through the website in the comments box or on my Twitter feed, @brian22goodwin.