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Which newly fired NFL head coach would you give a second chance?

Eight coaches got the ax in 2018. So who deserves to get right back to work?

New York Jets v Cleveland Browns Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

Black Monday came calling for the jobs of six NFL head coaches. The 2018 regular season claimed two more heads.

And, like clockwork, those fired coaches waded right back into the candidate pool as those eight teams begin the search for their next sideline leader.

Hue Jackson got his interview with the Bengals. Adam Gase got the chance to talk to the Cardinals about their open position. Mike McCarthy’s talked with executives all over the league after his late-season dismissal.

Some of these guys will get a second opportunity to be a head coach and thrive. Some will get a shot to change their legacy and fail miserably. And a few others will be relegated to coordinator roles for the rest of their coaching careers (good afternoon, Steve Wilks).

But if you had to stake the future of your team on one of the eight men who were fired during or immediately after the 2018 season, who would you choose? Would you bank on McCarthy’s Super Bowl-winning background? Roll the dice with the offensive firepower of Gase or Dirk Koetter? Set the stage for a rebuild be acquiring back-to-back No. 1 overall picks by hiring Jackson?

There are plenty of ways to go with this year’s crop of recently fired head coaches. Here’s who we’d roll with.

The case for: former Buccaneers coach Dirk Koetter

Any team hiring Koetter will have to deal with a huge caveat; he needs to be cantilevered by an extremely strong defensive coordinator. His undoing in Tampa Bay was a deficient defense with an aging core and few playmakers. Under Koetter, the Buccaneers ranked 23rd, 32nd, and 27th in the NFL when it came to yards allowed.

But Koetter’s offenses improved from 18th to ninth to third when it came to yards gained, a tremendous feat accomplished with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston at quarterback and a running game led by Peyton Barber (3.7 yards per carry) and Jacquizz Rodgers. The former offensive coordinator found a way to build around his flawed quarterbacks, using Winston’s season-opening three-game suspension to turn Fitzpatrick into one of the league’s most prolific passers and transforming Winston from a player who threw 10 interceptions in his first four starts to a steady hand who recorded a 100.1 passer rating over his final seven games.

In a league where quarterback play has never been more important, Koetter has proven he can do more with less. While having a lead wideout as talent as Mike Evans has been a bit of a cheat code, he’s also turned players like Chris Godwin and Adam Humphries into 800+ yard receivers thanks to his dynamic, pass heavy offense.

You could hire him in Denver, give him a talented running back in Phillip Lindsay, and see if Case Keenum can reclaim his 2017 glory. You could hire him in Green Bay and see just how crazy Aaron Rodgers can be. Or you could throw him in with Baker Mayfield, Josh Rosen, or Sam Darnold and see if they can reach their potential in an offense built around their passing prowess.

Koetter didn’t get a fair shake in Tampa, sunk by an awful defense and doomed to back-to-back five-win seasons. But opponents knew the Bucs were going to throw the ball nearly 40 times per game with a pair of flawed QBs, and they still struggled to stop it — the team’s 8.2 yards per pass was the second-most efficient mark in the league in 2018. That’s enough to convince me Koetter deserves a second chance — just get him a running game and a defense first. — Christian D’Andrea

The case for: former Broncos coach Vance Joseph

Find a coach that would be successful with Trevor Siemian, Paxton Lynch, Brock Osweiler, and Case Keenum at quarterback in a two-year span. This isn’t to excuse the results (11-21 in those two seasons), but having extremely poor quarterback play is hard to overcome. According to Football Outsiders’ DVOA metric, Denver had the 31st-ranked passing offense in 2017 and the 24th-ranked passing offense this season.

Joseph was the defensive coordinator for the Miami Dolphins before getting hired by the Broncos and the defense was effective under Joseph. In 2017, the Broncos defense was ranked 10th in DVOA and they were fifth this past season. Joseph has proven that he can coach defense — the offensive side of the ball just needs some work.

Outside of the offensive struggles, Joseph did have some issues with in-game management. Joseph could be conservative in his approach, often opting for difficult field goals that didn’t greatly increase win probabilities. Most notably, settling for a 51-yard, last-second field goal against the Houston Texans that was missed, causing them to drop to 3-6.

Perhaps Joseph would’ve shown more confidence in his offense if the offense had a reason to trust them. Joseph’s biggest issue was picking his offensive coordinators. He hired Mike McCoy as his offensive coordinator during the season in 2017, fired him toward the end of the season, and then brought Bill Musgrave on as the offensive coordinator through the end of the 2018 season. It’s been a while since those names have had real success at the NFL level — McCoy was fired again as the Cardinals’ offensive coordinator in 2018.

If Joseph can nail an offensive coordinator hire, he has a shot to do well in his second stop. — Charles McDonald

The case for: former Jets coach Todd Bowles

The Jets juuuuust missed the playoffs in Bowles’ first season. They came up short against Rex Ryan and the Bills (talk about rubbing salt in the wound) in their season finale and were left on the outside of the playoff picture at 10-6.

The Bowles era still looked like it was off to a promising start. But then, the Jets went just 14-34 the following three seasons and to no surprise, Bowles was ousted on Black Monday.

It wasn’t unfair of the Jets to fire him. He made questionable decisions and didn’t seem to know how to manage games. He didn’t always have a lot to work with, though. I’d still like to see what he could do with a team that had real offensive weapons and was a little less dysfunctional. Bowles might not have been able to do much with a young, rebuilding roster, but Sam Darnold showed some growth over the season and the players seemed to respect Bowles.

With Bowles’ strong background as a secondary coach and then as a defensive coordinator, he should get him another job in the NFL, even if it’s not as a head coach. That’s probably for the best. Let him regain his reputation as one of the league’s best defensive minds, like he had when he was the Cardinals defensive coordinator. Then someday after that, maybe he’ll get his second chance. — Sarah Hardy

Which former head coach do you think deserves another shot?


Which recently fired NFL head coach would you be most willing to give a second chance?

This poll is closed

  • 6%
    Dirk Koetter
    (76 votes)
  • 3%
    Vance Joseph
    (45 votes)
  • 27%
    Mike McCarthy
    (311 votes)
  • 4%
    Todd Bowles
    (54 votes)
  • 4%
    Steve Wilks
    (46 votes)
  • 15%
    Adam Gase
    (181 votes)
  • 3%
    Marvin Lewis
    (40 votes)
  • 33%
    Hue Jackson
    (381 votes)
1134 votes total Vote Now