It looks like Carolina has escaped the want or need to make any changes
this year, and I'm going to guess that, for now, they won't lose anyone
to upward mobility either.
But, other teams, of course, are going to have changes. I find that
type stuff interesting, so excuse the non-Carolina nature.
I don't know if Gary Kubiak makes it through this mess in Houston.
It's a good team, and if they can keep Wade Phillips, they probably
become pretty good again. This might be a unique place to throw in a
young college with a read option/packaged play type setup, since the
West Coast and Matt Schaub appear to both be out of the picture soon as
well. Since keeping Phillips has to be a top priority, that gets rid of
the potential of a Lovie Smith or a pro defensive coordinator; I don't
have a lot of hot OCs on my radar, but I tend to lean away from the pro
guys right now with the college game taking a greater hold. I also
think that dropping Phillips into the job would be as big a mistake as
letting him leave for a new staff.
Jacksonville could be spared. Gus Bradley's very slowly starting to
turn things around and they're already on coach three of three years.
Just throw the QB under the bus and go.
I think Atlanta isn't going to make any moves; I hope they don't cut a
coordinator, because I think their defensive deficiencies and Mike Nolan
are an advantage for Carolina (but, I'd bet they do something there).
Tampa seems to be staying the course here in the late part of the year,
too. People have seen that Josh Freeman isn't necessarily this
incredibly talented player they threw away, and that there's no 'good
guy' or 'bad guy' in this. Greg Schiano's undeniably unlikeable, but if
his team seems to buy in, they get what they pay for. That works for
Carolina - an experienced coach coming in would probably whip that team
into shape and possibly dump doofy Mike Glennon.
Washington? That might end up being fiscal. Mike Shanahan hasn't
really managed things well over time. His saving grace would be
dropping DC Jim Haslett - Shanahan's never been afraid of firing a DC
but he's never been good at picking them, either.
New York Jets? I think this might be it for Rex Ryan. And with new
coordinators, he's got nothing existing to lay on the line, not that I
love the idea of dropping a coordinator to cover yourself anyway. It's
a mess out there, and even though they show plenty of life, the
inconsistencies have to be maddening and they have a new GM.
When your specialty is sagging and you're a middling team anyway, it
might be time to get your guy to go under good circumstances. Minnesota
isn't in good circumstances. It's not working. The defense is sagging,
and sure it's because of the QB, but they haven't had a QB for a long
time. If nothing else, Frazier (who I'd bet to end up on Lovie Smith's
staff depending on how Rod Marinelli fits in) has had time to make
things happen. Can they dump Bill Musgrave and find something more
viable? Could, along with a QB change. That's what I'd do to beg for
my job, too. But I don't see the defensive longevity to build on,
An outside shot might be Mike Munchak - they show life, but it's just
odd the way they bounce in and out of playing well so easily. I think
Dennis Allen gets another shot and maybe a steady vet QB to buy a year.
As for coordinators I haven't addressed, I don't see a way Monte Kiffin
isn't going to retire and Dallas starts over again. That probably kicks
the assistants out, too, as I've thrown in above with Marinelli. That's
the only assistant of a head coach I would expect fired, at first sight.
If I had to guess at hires - and who knows, because I didn't see the
success in Greg Schiano or Doug Marrone in a lesser conference to
suggest they were guys you had to hire - here's what I'd anticipate.
*Jack Del Rio has obviously set himself up for a rebound coaching job.
I'd say someone will look for Lovie Smith to right a ship. Both have
similar challenges, like setting up a good offense and being less
conservative, both are guys that players love and both have a chance of
rebounding with a different GM**.
*Jon Gruden will flirt but not put out. Bill Cowher's not coming back
to the league. I think the remaining retread coaches you'll see are
guys who might get fired - Rex Ryan, maybe Kubiak. Ken Whisenhunt, I'll
guess, gets an interview.
*I think it's probably the year for Mike Zimmer. He's had a top
defense four of the last five years, he's well liked and hard nosed but
he's not a complete tool. If I were hiring a pro DC, right now, that's
probably my guy.
*Two other guys who have made heavy waves are Todd Bowles, whose Philly
struggles were apparently a hiccup as he has the Cardinals' defense
doing some top notch work, and Ray Horton. Horton was the architect of
that Cards' D, and left because he was passed over as the head guy, so
at the least that will get him an interview. Horton's in-house
replacement would be former Panther DL coach Brian Baker, I'd assume.
Still kinda miss that guy here, FWIW.
*Horton and Bowles, I'll guess, become Rooney candidates for some
teams, replacing that always awkward Perry Fewell interview (the Ron
Rivera Emeritus interview, so to speak, though it's a Sherm Lewis thing
historically). Outside Lewis, there aren't other good minority
candidates, and the league likes defensive interviews, so both of these
guys probably travel a lot in January.
*I'm hoping that Carolina will dismantle the Saints' defense enough
that Rob Ryan doesn't get interviews, but he's doing some creative stuff
out there. If anyone's going to put together the blueprint for the
future defense that will stop all this flag football stuff being put
into the rules to go with the spread, read option, packaged play future
of the NFL, it could be Ryan. I don't know if he's there yet. He's
also undeniably weird.
*Of the college guys, I'd anticipate all-offense, and that's been the
trend. I like David Shaw and love Kevin Sumlin, but both are guys who
seem legitimately ready to stay where they are for the duration. You
could always see something funky, like Art Briles in Washington or Gus
Malzahn, but with the ups and downs of Chip Kelly and the weekly "is
this dead?" questions from media about the read option or Kelly's unique
spread stuff, I don't know if the time is right for a Malzahn or
something nuttier like Dana Holgorsen, both ridiculously interesting
spread coaches; Holgorsen's shine has come off a bit with a down year,
but he's undoubtedly talented.***
*Mark Roman of the 9ers is a guy I like. If I were hiring an offensive
coach right now for Carolina, it'd be him, though the later struggles of
the 9ers and Colin Kaepernick probably pull him out of getting
interviews for now. I don't know if Jay Gruden has the shine on him
that he used to; a lot of the other good offenses are head coach-built.
It becomes the Pete Carmichael instance - where you might try out an
assistant to see what he can do out from under a signal calling head
coach, but then they got to see Carmichael for a year and it didn't
*in the end, it still comes down to reputation, interview, and your
network of coaches. If Shanahan is fired, Kubiak has a leg up since he
has a his guys plus Shanahan's guys to draw from. Smith's stock goes up
a huge deal being able to pull from the Dallas staff, since his guys had
moved on when Smith took a year off, but he seals a job quickly if he
can pull off association with an offensive coach he hasn't worked with.
**I will spare you the full-on GM situation, and there's not always
rhyme or reason to whether GMs get fired with coaches, but I do still
like Marc Ross and Lake Dawson.
***remember that John Fox was hired here coming off a 7-9 NYG season in
which his defense finished 14th points/16th yards. You get opportunities
based on your body of work sometimes, not just the last year.