With only 7 available positions this off-season some of the hot coaching names are going to find themselves left out in the cold – we match up some of the frontrunners with the available positions to see who would be the best fit for each franchise.
Chip Kelly – Former HC, Philadelphia Eagles
The market currently seems to be surprisingly quiet for Chip Kelly as teams perhaps wait for the dust to settle following his shock dismissal as Head Coach of the Eagles. Kelly though, is a rare breed on the open market – a Head Coach with a winning record. He has, already, made it known that he is interested and available for certain roles and would be worth looking at on the basis that he looks to concentrate on coaching and not on personnel matters – his likely downfall in Philadelphia. Best Fit: San Francisco 49ers – If the 49ers brass intends to keep Colin Kaepernick in town, they could do worse than to hire Kelly to be their HC. Kaepernick’s skillset seems to be an ideal fit for Kelly system, providing the running threat at QB that makes his running game go.
Adam Gase, OC, Chicago Bears
It is a close run thing between Gase and Hue Jackson as to who would be the most sought-after candidate this year given their stellar work with QBs Jay Cutler, Andy Dalton and AJ McCarron. Gase’s work with Cutler may be the most impressive however as he has managed to cut down on the mental mistakes Cutler was so prone to making. Having come very close to landing a role after last season, Gase could easily be the first hire of this off-season. Best Fit: Philadelphia Eagles. With more talent on the roster than most teams with a vacancy, the Eagles are an effective passing game away from contention. Gase is most adept working with drop back passers and, with Sam Bradford a free agent, Mark Sanchez is someone who he could work well with in a similar way to Cutler, helping to cut down on the mental mistakes ‘the Sanchize’ is susceptible to.
Hue Jackson, OC, Cincinnati Bengals
Jackson is saying all the right things this week – that his focus is purely on the Bengals WildCard weekend opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers but, win or lose, he is in for a busy week of interviews following the game. Already, the Browns, Dolphins and 49ers have put in requests for interviews with the Browns getting the first shot this coming Sunday. Best Fit: Cleveland Browns. Whether he would accept the role or not is a different question but Jackson should be top of the Browns wishlist. He is a master at overcoming talent deficiencies and those certainly exist in Cleveland, especially at the QB position. If the Browns don’t fancy any of the QBs at the top of the draft don’t be surprised if they look and see if they can bring AJ McCarron along with Jackson.
Doug Marrone, Asst. HC – OL, Jacksonville Jaguars
Marrone is again a rare thing among NFL Head Coaches – someone who resigned from a role and was not pushed. While the circumstances surrounding his leaving the Buffalo Bills are something owners will want clarified there was no denying that the Bills team was trending upwards under his leadership. Best Fit: New York Giants – Marrone is a born and bred New York and has coaching ties to the area as well, having been the HC at Syracuse prior to his Buffalo stint. He would be the ‘steady’ kind of coach that the owners usually go for.
Matt Patricia, DC, New England Patriots
Patricia is often overlooked, walking in the shadow of Bill Belichick, but it is no surprise that savvy teams want to talk to him about their openings. Once again, New England has outperformed their talent level on defense, particularly in the secondary, and their ability to be so diverse is a reflection of the abilities of Patricia. Best Fit: New York Giants – As a member of the Belichick (and, by extension, Parcells) coaching tree there are ties to the Giants. Also, given the presence of Ben McAdoo running the offense, ownership in New York would be best looking to bring in a HC who can help a struggling defense that is low on talent. Patricia fits the ‘bill’ nicely.
Josh McDaniels, OC, New England Patriots
Reports suggest that McDaniels previous experience as a Head Coach, with the Denver Broncos, was a great, and humbling, learning experience for the young coach. Prevailing feeling around the league is that he will be much better second time around. There are no denying his credentials, as the offensive mastermind behind the most diverse offense in football McDaniels ability to scheme against opposing defences is a hugely desirable trait that, offensively challenged, teams are looking for. Best Fit: Tennessee Titans – The Titans need a coach who is an offensive mastermind to spearhead the continued development of Marcus Mariota, McDaniels is definitely that. He does need to be paired with a strong GM.
Mike Smith, Former Falcons HC
It is easy to forget that Smith led the Falcons to the franchise’s first ever back to back winning seasons, was AP ‘Coach of the Year’ in 2008 and made the play-offs 4 times in his 7yrs in charge. His message undoubtedly went stale in Atlanta, which led to his exit, but a coach who sits 17 games over .500 in his Head Coaching career deserves another shot. Best Fit: Miami Dolphins – Whether Smith will get the Dolphins job will likely hinge on who he can bring with him to help ‘fix’ Ryan Tannehill. Miami needs an experienced hand who knows how to get the players ‘on-side’. While not renowned as a strict disciplinarian, Smith is no pushover and would represent the kind of stable authority figure that is sorely needed in South Florida.
Sean McDermott, DC, Carolina Panthers
The continued progression of the Carolina Panthers defense under the stewardship of McDermott has owners sitting up and taking notice. His defenses have ranked in the top 10 of the NFL in 2 of the last 3 seasons for both yards and scoring and the 2015 unit led the league in takeaways. He is a ‘rising star’, the type that many owners covet. Best Fit: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – If the Buccaneers are able to retain Dirk Koetter as their OC then McDermott makes a lot of sense here. Tampa has struggled defensively for a few years and McDermott has deep knowledge of the NFC South so would be primed to turn around that unit.
Dirk Koetter, OC, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Koetter recently became the only NFL Offensive Co-Ordinator in the last 30 years to co-ordinate 3 different top 10 offenses, gaining top end production with QB’s David Garrard, Matt Ryan and Jameis Winston. He also has HC experience at the collegiate level, having been the HC at Boise State and Arizona State. He is drawing interest from the Dolphins, 49ers and Buccaneers. Best Fit: Tampa Bay Buccaneers – One of the only ways the firing of Lovie Smith makes any sense is if it was to promote Koetter rather than risk him leaving for another team. The work he did with Winston last year has endeared him to ownership and they are unlikely to want to break that partnership.
Ben McAdoo & Steve Spagnulo, Co-Ordinators, New York Giants
While not really sought after around the league McAdoo and Spagnulo will both get long looks from the Giants for their HC position. Ownership likes to hire coaches with ties to the franchise and have likely been impressed with the work these 2, McAdoo especially, have done in their current roles. Spagnulo of course, has previous HC experience having been HC at the Rams and, although he had little success, that experience might stand him in good stead come interviews. Best Fit: New York Giants