The Head Coach Search 2015
This post has been my Apocalypse now. As I write this at 22:45 I’m on my 3rd re-write. What’s frustrating is there is already a fair few posts on the same thing, so what I hope in this is to add some personal perspective. Anyway despite this potential minefield let’s look at the Head Coaches who will be vying for the handful of Head Coaching jobs in the NFL, starting with the Coaches that have already been given jobs.
Rex Ryan- Head Coach of the Buffalo Bills.
If you had to describe Rex Ryan’s 2014 Season in one word, it would be ‘unwinnable’. His Secondary was decimated & had him playing backup Safeties at corner against what seemed like an endless stream of elite Receivers. He had a Quarterback situation that there was simply no right answer to. Vick didn’t look like the electric player he was a couple of years ago & Geno just seemed to have a long succession ‘face-palm’ moments, both on & off the field. So it would be unfair to judge Rex on this. Despite it being obvious that he can still make a difference, it was time for a change in New York so Rex was fired. It should say everything that he can leave that job & walk into another with the Jets Division rivals. Whatever your views are of Rex, there is no denying the Bills, with that Defence will be a lot of fun to watch. As for the Offence, new OC Greg Roman is up against it. QB Kyle Orton retired, leaving EJ Manuel as their starting QB & lacking a 1st Rd pick thanks trading up in the draft to pick Sammy Watkins, in a year where there really aren’t many options. The Bills do have $25m in cap space but when you see the players they need to give contracts to, picking up a QB in a QB starved world looks near impossible. Jerry Hughes, Fred Jackson, Brandon Spikes, Da’Norris Searcy, CJ Spiller all needing new contracts this year, then next year, Marcell Dareus, Stephon Gilmore & Cordy Glenn. The Bills might have to be patient if they want any kind of Playoff success.
Todd Bowles- Head Coach of the New York Jets
Replacing Rex will be the Defensive mind that kept the Cardinals relevant & was instrumental in getting them to the Playoffs. Bowles was who I wanted for the Bears (yup, Bears fan), but really the Jets is a pretty good fit. Bowles is a master at counteracting the modern Offence. He rarely lines up in base packages & instead brings in as many as 7 Defensive Backs, with 3/ 4 big lineman causing havoc up front. The extra Defensive Backs will be big guys that can fill in at Line-backer, players that can Rush the Passer just as well as play in Coverage, making them perfect for countering no huddle Offences. If you look at the personnel the Jets have on Defence it looks pretty set to play the Todd Bowles way & could be set for pretty dynamite 2015 with a fresh look the Jets desperately need. Chan Gailey seems favourite for the OC job, which could be due a massive overhaul. Actually the team could be due an overhaul, but with nearly $50m in cap space & Percy Harvin being the only big name that could dent that; they could be able to make a run at a QB, maybe even a Cutler. The Jets are due a rebuild & I believe have the Coaching personnel & cash to do it & become a force in the AFC East.
Jack Del Rio- Head Coach of the Oakland Raiders
The Raiders claimed they were after a “rock star”, but whilst they might be going for Steven Tyler, it feels like they’ve ended up with Steve Brookstein (look him up kids). Jack Del Rio was always their guy though, which is evident in the way that they didn’t let him leave the facility. I’m not the biggest Del Rio fan. Yes he’s done a good job in Denver with an exceptional Defence, in Jacksonville he had a mediocre run leaving with a 68-71 record. But really towards the end the team was in a terrible state, which could mean his poor run at the end was more of a GM issue, but still it is worth noting that he was fired by the Jags. Del Rio takes over Raiders team that is actually in surprisingly good shape despite last Season’s record. For starters they’re staring down about $50m in cap space, with barely any dead money. Remember all those Veteran’s Reggie McKenzie signed to one year deals? Remember how we criticized the signings for lacking ambition? Well it’s meant the Raiders are in a prime position to make moves on some of the leagues to talent, whilst retaining any players that over-performed. Add this to the Raiders having 2 of the more expensive positions covered, in Left Tackle & Quarterback & you could see the Raiders making a run on Suh & whatever Wide Receiver is deemed surplus to requirements in Denver. It could be a good year to be a Raiders fan; Jack Del Rio just has to be the Coach they want him to be, not the Coach that we saw at the end in Jacksonville.
Jim Tomsula- Head Coach of the San Francisco 49ers
The Niners have made a bold move here. They have had pretty much every Head Coach available in the building including Todd Bowles & Adam Gase & they’ve ended up promoting internally. However Tomsula has been the rumour all Season & has actually been the interim Head Coach after Mike Singletary got fired. What they’re getting in Jim Tomsula is a Coach that is loved by the players, something that the Niners haven’t had in a very long time, if rumours are correct. Tomsula could be the Coach to calm down a team that has an endless run of locker room issues. Is he the right man for the job? I think so, so long as he can keep Fangio as his Defensive Coordinator & pick up a decent Offensive Coordinator. Tomsula however isn’t taking over a problem-less team here. Niners are currently over their estimated Cap limit by $3m, meaning it is likely that they’ll have to cut a few players before he can make any free agency moves, this could be a problem. Also I think that Trent Baalke & Jed York believe they already have the talent in the team, which once again could be a problem, especially as a large chunk of that team is beginning to get up in age. Tomsula might be the right guy for the Niners, but he might struggle to stay grounded in what could be a pretty big storm heading his way.
John Fox- Head Coach of the Chicago Bears
I liked the Bears for Todd Bowles, well I hoped the Bears would go for Bowles, but when the Bears hired Ryan Pace, they specifically made a point of saying they want to hire a “Head Coach with experience”. So is this a good move? I don’t think so; I think it’s a sideways step. If the Bears are to compete with the teams like the Seahawks, they need a modern thinking Defensive mind, which is not what I think John Fox is. Is he a good Head Coach? Very much so, I just don’t think he’s the right one. Aside from Fox not being the Coach for the Bears, Fox himself is not entering the greatest of situations. When Fox hits the podium for his first press conference, the no. 1 question that will be on every reporters mind will be, “What’s going to happen to Jay Cutler?” & it’s a fair question. Cutler has displayed obvious physical ability, but after a Season like the last one, the Bears have to decide if they still want to keep the league’s most expensive QB or move on. The only problem there is, there is no-one out there to replace him. So more than likely, Fox is tied to the QB. I’m concerned about the rumours behind the Coordinators too, both Offence & Defence, with Kyle Shanahan being rumoured for the Offensive Coordinator job & Dennis Allen being touted for the Defensive Coordinator job. Dennis Allen I’m not too concerned with, he had an excellent record as Coordinator, yes he had a poor run as the Raiders Head Coach, but I think he might be okay. However the rumour of Kyle Shanahan as Offensive Coordinator is a worry, especially after his rumoured history with RG3. If Kyle Shanahan struggled to find a connection with the Washington QB, he’d be in for a fun ride with Cutler. When you look at the Fox hire it boils down to one thing. He is the best available & wanted to be with the Bears. Maybe I should whinge about this a little less.
So let’s look at the remaining teams looking for Head Coaches…
Shortlist: Dan Quinn, Teryl Austin, Keith Armstrong, Doug Marrone, Josh McDaniels, Adam Gase
The Falcons are taking a huge chance here, but it looks almost certain to pay off. The Falcons were in for Ryan & Bowles, but they’ve been picked up. They interviewed Doug Marrone, Teryl Austin & Adam Gase too, but there seems to be little or no buzz around them. That leaves Quinn & McDaniels. It seems that the Falcons have their heart set on a Defensive Coach, which leaves Quinn who has stated that he would like to be the Head Coach of the Atlanta Falcons. So what’s the hold up? The Falcons can’t interview him until Monday, after the Conference game, so it’s a risk, but it seems to be done deal.
My Pick: Dan Quinn
Outside Bet: Keith Armstrong
Shortlist: Adam Gase, Doug Marrone & Gary Kubiak
This is a good team… a great team in fact. But it’s a team that was very specifically geared up for a Super bowl run this Season, after getting so close last Season. It feels that this year could very well be a rebuild for Denver as this year they took a step back. So what does that mean for Peyton? I still think he has potential for at least one more year, but the Broncos need to draft a QB that can come in instead of Peyton when he almost certainly hangs up his boots next year. Gary Kubiak is someone the Broncos have tried to convince to move from his OC job in Baltimore, with the prospect of coaching a Playoff calibre team, but I just don’t think they’ll manage it. I don’t think the team has any real interest in Doug Marrone, which leaves Adam Gase. In the Play Off hunt Gase has been the bell of the ball, but has seemingly failed to impress in interviews. With the Broncos it’s fairly simple & comes down to 2 factors. They know what he can do & he’s the guy that can keep Peyton on the team in a QB starved year. Elway will have been doing somersaults when he saw Tomsula be announced as Niners Head Coach. Gase is the perfect hire.
My Pick: Adam Gase
Outside Bet: Pep Hamilton
I come to the end of what has been an epic journey into coaching, after numerous re-writes thanks to the Niners & the Raiders, but there will undoubtedly be more changes in the process of this going up. I can feel the Bears are almost certainly going to announce John Fox & the Broncos probably with Adam Gase. So to you people I say I’m sorry & did I get it right?