The Giants kicked off firing season when they let Ben McAdoo go on Monday, so it’s time for some speculation about which assistant coach will be next to land a head coaching job.
Last year, it was Washington offensive coordinator Sean McVay, who became the youngest head coach in NFL history. The Rams fired Jeff Fisher before his fifth consecutive losing season with the team was even over. McVay came in and made a viable NFL starter out of 2016 No. 1 pick Jared Goff. Now, the Rams are 9-3 and leading the NFL in points per game.
Who will be this year’s McVay? Will Josh McDaniels make his way back to the head coaching ranks? Or what about the guys who could be getting head coaching jobs in another couple of years?
Our SB Nation team sites have all of the names you should be watching, either this year once Black Monday rolls around or in the future.
Been there, done that
These are familiar names in NFL circles. Most have had a shot at a head coaching job before, and their names might enter the mix again.
Baltimore Ravens: Associate head coach/special teams coordinator Jerry Rosburg
He’s not a household name, but Rosburg has been around for a while — and he’s had a ton of success as a coach.
Jerry has been a part of the NFL since 2001, first coaching special teams with the Cleveland Browns. After six years with Cleveland, and a one-year stint with the Atlanta Falcons, Jerry found himself working with the Baltimore Ravens in 2008. In that time, he’s produced outstanding talents, including the continued success of Matt Stover, Sam Koch, Jacoby Jones, Anthony Levine Sr., Albert McClellan, Morgan Cox and the greatest leg in the game, Justin Tucker.
Buffalo Bills: DC Leslie Frazier
There aren’t many candidates on the Bills staff, but Frazier has had some success as a head coach before.
Frazier has already served one term as an NFL head coach from 2011 to 2013 with the Minnesota Vikings. He was 21-31-1 on those seasons with a postseason loss. Frazier was hired on an interim basis in 2010 before assuming the full-time job the following year. He had one season at 10-6, turning around a team that went 3-13 in his first season, which led to Coach of the Year votes and a fourth place finish. He couldn’t sustain that success and was fired just one year later.
Since then, Frazier has had two stints at defensive coordinator for the Buccaneers and now the Bills and hasn’t interviewed for a head coaching job that we know of. But if you look at Buffalo’s staff, there aren’t a lot of up-and-comers.
Denver Broncos: Interim OC Bill Musgrave
Mile High Report hopes the Broncos keep him as OC next year.
Bill Musgrave actually has a more recent history of innovative offensive success. When he has a quarterback with talent. Musgrave took the Oakland Raiders Derek Carr and turned him into a Pro Bowl quarterback in an offense that exploded onto the scene in 2016. After he left, the Raiders and Carr haven’t been the same.
I say keep Musgrave around in 2018 and give him a quarterback that actually has NFL talent. In fact, why not keep most of the staff and actually give them the tools at quarterback they can work with?
Minnesota Vikings: OC Pat Shurmur
Yes, he went only 9-23 as the Browns head coach ... but he also still won nine games as the Browns head coach.
What Shurmur and his offensive coaching staff have done with the Vikings’ offense this season has been pretty incredible to watch. The injury issues and personnel changes that crushed this team a year ago are all being taken in stride, and while this year’s Vikings’ offense isn’t going to be mistaken for the 1998 team or anything like that, they’re doing an outstanding job of doing what they need to do, given that they’re more often than not bolstered by a great defense.
For more, check out the entire entry at Daily Norseman.
Seattle Seahawks: Assistant head coach/OL coach Tom Cable
Cable had a stint as the head coach of the Raiders before joining the Seahawks.
So, depending on how the remainder of the season plays out, not just for the Seahawks but for the rest of the league as well, those Seattle fans who have been clamoring for the organization to have someone, anyone in charge of the offensive line other than Tom Cable may just get their wish.
For more, check out the entire entry at Field Gulls.
New Orleans Saints: DC Dennis Allen
The former Raiders coach has been Sean Payton’s right-hand man since taking over for Rob Ryan.
The Saints defense has been one of the talks of the NFL in 2017, and it’s not by mistake. When you fix a wretched defense that was just laughable to watch during the past three 7-9 seasons, you’ll definitely turn some heads and have some interested parties.
New York Giants: Interim head coach Steve Spagnuolo
The Giants already put him in charge on an interim basis, and he’ll be considered for the permanent gig.
The 57-year-old Spagnuolo was head coach of the St. Louis Rams from 2009-2011, compiling a poor 10-38 record. He has, however, had success with the Giants as a coordinator and is a popular figure in the organization.
For more, check out the entire entry at Big Blue View.
Tennessee Titans: OC Terry Robiskie
He’s on the Fritz Pollard Alliance list of candidates, but Music City Miracles doesn’t think he should be.
You could interest me in George Edwards or Steve Wilks, but let’s be honest, Terry Robiskie doesn’t belong on this list. His offense is vastly under performing the talent and expectations it had coming into the season. Robiskie has a 3rd-year quarterback in Marcus Mariota who has regressed in a season where he should have taken a huge step forward. How does that make you a person that deserves a shot a becoming a head coach?
Pittsburgh Steelers: OL coach Mike Munchak
He’s got a good enough resume that he should be fielding calls.
Munchak has everything an owner would want in a head coach. He was a Hall of Fame player, has head coaching experience, is loyal to a franchise and has done a tremendous job turning the Steelers’ offensive line into one of the best units in all of football.
Someone tell me why Munchak shouldn’t be getting some interviews? The only reason I can fathom for him not being considered for some of these potential openings would be if he simply doesn’t want to be a head coach anymore.
Oakland Raiders: OL coach Mike Tice
Silver and Black Pride put it to a reader vote, and Tice has the edge.
Tice in particular was once given his shot at being a head coach in Minnesota. That lasted five seasons, ending in 2005 and he hasn’t gotten another opportunity since. He was an offensive coordinator in Chicago for one season in 2012.
Names you hear every single year
What would a head coaching search even be if these guys weren’t connected to it?
Detroit Lions: DC Teryl Austin
Is this the year a team does more than flirt with Austin?
While Austin has had his fair share of issues this year, he’s undoubtedly the Lions coach with the best reputation. For the past few years, Austin’s name has continually come up in the head coaching carousel as other teams look to fill their vacancies. In 2016, Austin scored interviews with four different teams—though he only believed he was a serious candidate for two. Last year, the Chargers and Rams requested interviews with the defensive coordinator.
Though we’re still a month away from the annual coaching searches across the NFL, Teryl Austin is already being named as one of the more prominent candidates to score a promotion.
New England Patriots: OC Josh McDaniels
Every January, the one-time Broncos coach is one of the most sought-after names in the NFL. The Patriots’ staff has other coaches who could get attention, too.
We already know offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is going to be the hottest ticket for the third straight offseason and reports are already connecting him and Patriots director of player personnel Nick Caserio to the Giants jobs ... and defensive coordinator Matt Patricia will be one of the top five options, especially after this year’s defensive turnaround.
For more, check out the entire entry at Pats Pulpit.
The hottest names
Every team wants to find the next superstar coach who can actually take the team from worst to first. These might just be the guys.
Carolina Panthers: DC Steve Wilks
Wilks interviewed for the Rams’ opening last season, so the Panthers might not be able to hold onto him for much longer.
Since Wilks has been a part of Carolina’s coaching staff, the Panthers have only finished outside the top ten in total defense one time (2016). To be fair to Wilks, in 2016 he was working with a completely re-built secondary consisting of two rookie cornerbacks who were thrown into the fire after the departure of free agent Josh Norman.
His impressive defenses aren’t just limited to Carolina, either.
Cincinnati Bengals: DC Paul Guenther
Guenther may actually get his very first shot at a head coaching job with the Bengals.
Guenther has done a pretty great job at keeping the defense from falling off a cliff. At worst they have been a middle of the road defense when the roster wasn’t quite up to snuff. Other than that, the Bengals have been a very good defense year in and year out.
Guenther also coached under Mike Zimmer before filling in for the former Bengals defensive coordinator when he became the head coach in Minnesota. Guenther was never as aggressive as Zimmer was with blitzing—the Bengals rank among the teams that blitz least in the NFL—and he also didn’t adopt that signature old school coaching style that Zimmer learned under Bill Parcells. Guenther isn’t afraid to call a player out, but he isn’t like Zimmer in that aspect.
For more, check out the entire entry at Cincy Jungle.
Dallas Cowboys: Assistant director of player personnel Will McClay
Blogging the Boys took this in another direction, because they think McClay is most likely to get hired by another team ... as a GM, not a coach.
There isn’t an NFL front office man who doesn’t know what McClay does. He isn’t a secret, and neither is his success.
While some would call it over-glorified, McClay has done an excellent job of scouting and evaluating talent for the Cowboys, drafting well and avoiding potential disasters. He’s a worthy general manager, which is why he’s literally being recommended as one.
Houston Texans: DC Mike Vrabel
The former Super Bowl champion is climbing up the coaching ranks fast.
Vrabel’s first year calling the shots for the Texans’ defense hasn’t been without challenges. He’s seen his defense ravaged by injury, most notably to J.J. Watt and Mercilus, and there has undeniably been a bit of a learning curve as Vrabel learns on the job. Nevertheless, it still seems like he’ll be in charge of a team in the NFL sooner rather than later.
Kansas City Chiefs: Special teams coordinator Dave Toub
It’s probably only a matter of time before a team hires Toub.
Toub has had head coach interest in the past. He has a connection to Chris Ballard in Indianapolis so I wouldn’t be surprised at all to see him get some interest there. His name will likely be out there even with a down year for the Chiefs special teams. When you coach special teams, you’re taking players from offense and defense and throwing them together and actually coaching them. It’s a hard job and to do it among the league’s best year after year shows you are a good teacher. Toub should get head coaching consideration this offseason.
Philadelphia Eagles: QB coach John DeFilippo
The Eagles have several coaches who could leave, but the guy behind Carson Wentz’s MVP candidacy is the one most likely to be hired.
The New York Jets had interest in hiring Flip as their offensive coordinator following the 2016 season. But Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie ultimately blocked the move, which is the team’s right.
The Eagles can’t block Flip from interviewing as a head coach, however. And given the success of potential Coach of the Year candidate Sean McVay, who is only 31 years old, teams might be less hesitant about hiring a younger head coach such as the 39-year-old DeFilippo.
Coaches to watch for the future
This probably isn’t their year. But make a note, because these may be the rising stars of the next coach hiring cycle.
Arizona Cardinals: QB coach Byron Leftwich
The former QB, who has coached Blaine Gabbert into competency, will be a head coach one day.
It is not often that a coach, in his first true NFL coaching job, begins with the hyperbole of being an up-and-coming head coach, but that is exactly what has been said about Byron Leftwich since he joined the Arizona Cardinals staff.
Chicago Bears: OC Dowell Loggains
Dowell Loggains could be a good match for a team — just probably not in the NFL.
I think 37 year old Dowell Loggains could end up running a college team in the next few years.
It might do Dowell good to distance himself form the stink of the John Fox philosophy he’s been working with this season, and don’t forget, earlier this year Loggains was mentioned as a possible up and comer in the coaching ranks by ESPN. Loggains has that rah-rah energy that could fit in college, and after ten years in the NFL, a change to the NCAA may do his career good.
Atlanta Falcons: DC Marquand Manuel
It might not happen this year, but soon teams will be sniffing around for Manuel.
Manuel is a well-regarded coach and former player who is known for communicating effectively with his players and has done masterful work with secondaries in Seattle and Atlanta. His work in Atlanta as a defensive coordinator has been a bit of a mixed bag, but he has still improved the unit over his predecessor Richard Smith.
For more, check out the entire entry at The Falcoholic.
Cleveland Browns: DL coach Clyde Simmons
Simmons won’t be a head coach candidate just yet, but his success in Cleveland can’t be ignored, either.
It can't be lost on people that Simmons has helped lead a very young defensive line group, contributing to the Browns' drastic improvement against the run in 2017. Heading to Week 14, the Browns are 6th in the NFL in allowing 96.9 rushing yards per game, but 1st in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per play (3.32 YPC). Those marks were actually better prior to DE Emmanuel Ogbah suffering a season-ending injury.
Green Bay Packers: CB coach Joe Whitt Jr. or WR coach Luke Getsy
There’s not an obvious head coach candidate on this staff right now, but maybe in a year or two it’ll be one of these two coaches.
Someone further down the Packers' coaching ladder could emerge as a viable head coach in the future. Certainly, few knew about Sean McVay four years ago when he coached tight ends in Washington. Perhaps one of Green Bay's position coaches like Joe Whitt Jr. or Luke Getsy might become a viable candidate down the line.
Indianapolis Colts: QB coach Brian Schottenheimer
What Schottenheimer has done with Andrew Luck and Jacoby Brissett the past two seasons has been one of the lone bright spots for the Colts.
My money would be on Schottenheimer to get a go at OC for either the Colts or another organization and make a run at a head coaching job as his next step. With his name, his NFL history and his understanding of what it takes to mold the most important position on the roster, it seems quite plausible that Schottenheimer could get his big shot at some point in the future.
For more, check out the entire entry at Stampede Blue.
New York Jets: OC John Morton
He’s the best candidate for a head coaching job, but Gang Green Nation doesn’t think it will happen.
Among Jets coordinators, Morton stands out more than anybody else. He has worked under a number of successful coaches and has done a solid job working around limited offensive talent with the Jets this season. His playbook is well-designed, and he has done solid work as a playcaller.
To be honest, I think it is more likely than Morton will never be a head coach in the NFL. He still has a long path to get there that will likely include developing a quarterback the Jets draft. Brian Schottenheimer and Marty Mornhinweg are recent examples of Jets offensive coordinators who got a lot of love for beating minimal expectations in year one but ultimately failing.
Jacksonville Jaguars: DC Todd Wash
When you’re in charge of the best defense in the NFL, teams could start calling.
Wash stuck around on the Jaguars staff after Gus Bradley was fired and Doug Marrone was officially hired, as the defense did show improvement when he was given more control in 2016. Heading into Week 14, Wash is pulling the strings on arguably the league’s best defense who is on a historical pace. Sure, a lot of it has to do with players, but the Jaguars defense has morphed from the stock defense they ran from 2012 through 2015, and even evolved from 2016.
Los Angeles Rams: QB coach Greg Olson
McVay won’t be able to keep the staff together forever, and Greg “not tight end Greg Olsen” Olson has done a terrific job with Jared Goff.
But I’m going to go with Greg Olson. QB Jared Goff looks the part of an NFL quarterback, something that exactly 0 people could say in 2016. He held offensive coordinator duties for 13 years. A willingness to come to LA and take a step down just to develop Goff suggests a professional humility, something that McVay has ridden at every media opportunity himself deflecting praise and accepting blame at every turn.
Miami Dolphins: Associate head coach/special teams coordinator Darren Rizzi
Rizzi has stayed with the Dolphins through three head coaches. Maybe he’ll get his turn one day.
The Dolphins special teams under Rizzi seem to always find ways to make plays. Whether it is Michael Thomas making a key tackle, Terrence Fede blocking a kick, or Cody Parkey executing an onside kick, they seem to be able to come up with a play when needed. Rizzi is a big part of all of that.
Would a team look to Rizzi as a possible head coaching candidate? In a league of offensive minded coaches having the easiest path to the top job, a special teams coordinator is usually well down the list of targets, but Rizzi could be a different type of coach for a team looking to shake things up.
For more, check out the entire entry at The Phinsider.
San Francisco 49ers: Defensive quality control coach DeMeco Ryans
It won’t happen yet, but Ryans will be a name to watch in the future.
Let’s take a look at someone further down the radar. Defensive quality control coach DeMeco Ryans will not get a head coach interview yet, but he should be firmly on the radar as a coach destined for big things. Ryans retired from the NFL after not getting signed for the 2016 season. After taking a year away from the league, the DQC job is his first as an assistant coach.
For more, check out the entire entry at Niners Nation.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers: OC/WR coach Todd Monken
The Bucs’ defensive performance keeps Mike Smith’s name out of the mix.
Instead, wide receivers coach/offensive coordinator Todd Monken is the most likely choice to become a head coach. Maybe at the college level—he was reported to have been approached for the Mississippi State job, though the Bucs denied that happened. But it makes sense: he was very successful as an offensive coordinator in college, has done a good job with the Bucs’ receivers, and has helped Jameis Winston improve every season.
For more, check out the entire entry at Bucs Nation.
Washington: DB coach Torrian Gray
Could he be the next Sean McVay?
I see Gray as a man that the players respect and listen to, and his experience at the collegiate level with the University of Florida and Virginia Tech means he has worked with elite athletes for longer than the one season in the league he has under his belt. He doesn’t have to wear the entire performance of the defense or team on his sleeve if and when he is ever considered for promotion, despite the incredible importance of the secondary in this era of football.
For more, check out the entire entry at Hogs Haven.