The “Black Monday” purge has left head coaching positions available in Cleveland, Detroit, Minnesota, Tampa Bay, Washington, and the Houston job is already vacant.There could be even more open positions as Miami, Oakland, Tennessee, and Dallas, have not made it official that their coach will be returning. With head coaching jobs available and more possible coming, the rumors have started flying around about former coaches, college coaches, and coordinators that might be taking over and guiding these teams, to a hopefully promising future. So let us take a look at some up and coming college coaches and coordinators that might be getting their dream job and some former coaches that might be getting another chance in the league.
Brian Kelly – Notre Dame: Everywhere Brian Kelly has coached; he has made that team better. No NFL experience might sway teams to go the other way, yet with a record of 208-72-2 in college, somebody will be interested. Kelly has interviewed for the Eagles in the past, so you know deep down he wants his chance in the pros. Rumors are already swirling that the Lions are interested and more are bound to come. The Redskins and Browns are other potential fits, as Redskins owner Daniel Snyder and the Browns decision makers Haslam, Banner, and Lombardi have made brash decisions in the past, like taking a gamble on a college coach or trading a star running back in mid-season.
Bob Stoops – Oklahoma: A couple of years ago, the 53-year-old Stoops regularly had rumors swirling around that he would jump to the NFL, but nothing ever materialized, and now nobody mentions him when coaching positions come up. With Stoops, surpassing Barry Switzer in most wins by a Sooner head coach he might be ready to for a change, especially after coaching the last 14 years in Norman, Oklahoma. One thing hurting Stoops is that he has no NFL coaching experience; however, with the success of Chip Kelly, teams might be more open to hiring coaches with no prior NFL experience. Reuniting with Adrian Peterson in Minnesota might seem enticing; however, his salary of 4.3 million a season might keep him content in Oklahoma. With a record 159-39 in college, there should be an NFL team interested in paying him more.
Bill O’Brien – Penn State: Despite the fallout from the scandal, Bill O’Brien has kept Penn State afloat posting a 15-9 record in his two seasons there. Rumors have been floating around that O’ Brien aspires to become an NFL coach, and it probably does not satisfy his drive that the Nittany Lions are not eligible for the post-season for another two seasons. O’Brien also has NFL experience with the Patriots as he coached the wide receivers, quarterbacks, and was offensive coordinator in his time there, which helps on his resume. In addition, the way O’Brien took on the scandal and handled the media makes him appeasing as he has proved he knows how to say the right things. Rumor is that the Houston Texans are already working on a deal to make him the new coach and if this doesn’t happen any team looking for an offensive minded coach should be interested.
David Shaw – Stanford: David Shaw took over at Stanford in 2011, after Jim Harbaugh left for San Francisco, and has won two staright Pac-12 championships,while keeping the Cardinals in the top ten. Shaw also has NFL experience holding positions with the Raiders, Ravens, and Eagles in the past as a quality control and as a quarterback and wide receiver coach. Shaw already had his name thrown in the hat for the Texans jobs ,so expect more teams to have interest in him if he does not end up in Houston.
Darrell Bevell – Seahawks: Darrell Bevell was the man behind the scenes in Green Bay and Minnesota years earlier with Brett Favre, and now has groomed Russell Wilson into a star in Seattle. Bevell is only 43, and would be a great fit for a team such as the Browns who need to find a quarterback to guide them, or even the Redskins who need a good mentor for RG3. The only knock on Bevell is teams with interest will have to wait until the Seahawks lose in the playoffs to hire him, which will not be for at least two weeks; still he has this week to take interviews and impress team owners with the Seahawks clinching the first seed.
Ken Whisenhunt – Chargers: Ken Whisenhunt was on the chopping block last season in Arizona, but now he has teams interested after helping revive Phillip Rivers and the Chargers offense, which ranked fifth in total offense while averaging 24.8 point a game. Even though Whisenhunt could not establish a quarterback after Kurt Warner hanged up the cleats, he still guided the Cardinals one win away from a Super Bowl and gave Arizona their greatest season in the process. Teams like Detroit and Tampa Bay, which have quarterbacks who can sling it, but need guidance in Stafford and Gleenon, could benefit from having a coach like Whisenhunt on the sidelines.
Greg Roman – 49ers: Greg Roman has had success on offense with both Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick in San Francisco, while keeping the 49ers offense over a 20-point average per game for three seasons now. Romans also deserves some credit for grooming Andrew Luck in his freshman and sophomore seasons as he was his offensive coordinator at Stanford back then. Roman’s name has floated around for the past two seasons but with the 49ers playing deep into the playoffs the last couple years teams have not waited around on him. Still, teams looking for a bright offensive mind that can groom quarterbacks will definitely be interested in at least interviewing Roman to see if he is worth the wait again this year.
Jay Gruden – Bengals: The 46-year-old Jay Gruden made his way to the NFL after becoming a legend in Arena Football where he won four championships as a player and two more as a coach. Since Gruden joined the Bengals as offensive coordinator in 2011, the offense has averaged 24.1 points a game while implanting quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green as rookies, and guiding Cincy to three consecutive playoff appearances for the first time in team history. While most will ponder if Jay’s brother John comes back, the likely outcome will be the little brother getting an opportunity somewhere. Potential fits for Gruden could be teams like the Lions, Bucs, and Browns who all might be looking for an offensive minded coach.
Brian Schottenheimer – Rams: Brian Schottenheimers‘ offense in St. Louis was ranked at the bottom, yet they did okay after losing quarterback Sam Bradford, and averaged 21.8 points a game for the season with running back Zac Stacy standing out. Another blemish on his resume is how things turned out in New York, where quarterback Mark Sanchez did not pan out, under his watch as offensive coordinator. Still a big reason he might get a job this season is that he is a coordinator that has garnered interest from teams in the past, and with the Rams not making the playoffs he is available now. Being only 40 year old should also entice teams, as well as being the son of Marty, which might give him enough connections around the league to land a head coaching position.
Matt Patricia – Patriots: While the Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels’ name comes up for coaching positions, the same can’t be said for defensive coordinator Matt Patricia. Patricia is only 39 and has been on the Patriots sidelines ever since 2004 and has been doing the play calling on defense for five seasons now, which shows he has an understanding for both sides of the ball. A knock on Patricia is that his defense has had problems through the years, as the secondary had issues in the past, and his defensive line got beat down this season, but did sustain a slew of injuries. What helps Patricia is that he is from the Belichick coaching tree and if a team is looking for a defensive minded coach that understands the offense as well, Patricia is one of few out there.
Mike Zimmer – Bengals: Mike Zimmer’s name gets brought up every year, because no matter what issues he faces his defense stays successful; despite this, he still has not be offered a job. Thus far, in his career he has had success on defensive with the Cowboys, where he coach in various positions including defensive coordinator from 1994- 2006, and now with the Bengals where he has been defensive coordinator since 2008. With his success in the past with Dallas, it could be a match made in heaven, although it does seems that Jerry Jones is still standing pat with Jason Garrett. Even if Dallas is not interested, a team looking for a defensive minded coach to roam the sidelines will surely be taking a closer look at Zimmer.
Vic Fangio – 49ers: Vic Fangio is the man who has guided the 49ers defense into becoming one of the toughest to play against for the past three seasons. Fangio has been around the league ever since 1986 and has had defensive positions with the Saints, Panthers, Colts, Texans, and Ravens while also coaching the defense at Stanford when Jim Harbaugh was the head coach there. So Fangio has been around and knows what it takes to succeed, he just needs a team that is willing to give him a chance as head coach. With the 49ers making to the Super Bowl last year and NFC Championship the year before, most teams have already hired their coach before his season was even over, so his chances of getting ahead position depend on how far San Francisco makes it this season.
Sean McDermott – Panthers: McDermott has been around the league since 1999 starting out as a scout with the Eagles and then having success as a Linebackers coach and Secondary coach until flaming out as their defensive coordinator. Since 2011, Sean McDermott has been the Carolina defensive coordinator, where he took a defense that was allowing 25.5 points a game in 2010, and now three seasons later, has them only allowing an average of 15.1 points. Someone with 11 years of experience under Andy Reid, that has made a defense so menacing like the Panthers, will unquestionably have a team interested. As long as the Panthers keeping wining the chances of him leaving lesson, so it is important that Carolina keeping wining if they want to keep him.
Mike Holmgren: Holmgren is a proven winner as he took Green Bay to the Super Bowl twice while winning one and also led the Seahawks to another. Now 65, Holmgren himself has admitted he stills has the itch to coach, after being stuck in the press box as the Browns crumbled with him as President. For a team to catch Holmgren’s eye they have to have a good nucleus of talent, and he most likely will want full control of team operations. This year the Bucs and Lions both that fit the bill and if Holmgren shows any interest I am sure, he will at least get an interview.
Lovie Smith: When you have guided a team like Lovie Smith has, to three division titles and a Super Bowl, and do not have a job, your name gets mentioned when opening positions become available. So far Lovie Smith’s name has been rumored around the Texans and Bucs and I will not be surprised if it is mentioned elsewhere. Having Smith go back to Tampa Bay, where he started out as a linebackers coach under Tony Dungy, does seem like a great idea, especially with his old GM Jerry Angelo rumored to be joining him. But we will have to wait in see if this happens.
About the Author: John Yeomans
Aspiring sports writer that is letting the world know my thoughts and predictions on the NFL.