At the end of each season a few teams always find themselves competing to quickly attract the most sought after coaching talent, in the hopes of finding themselves the next long term coach to lead their team onto bigger and better things. But which teams currently holds the keys to the most attractive job? The Ferrari of available jobs. There’s six head coaching roles available currently, let’s break it down.
I’m going to look at 3 things for each team. Quarterback. Roster. Draft. Here we go:
The Falcons fired long term head coach Dan Quinn during the season and will now be looking for the next man up. So what kind of position are they in to attract a new head coach?
Matt Ryan, now 35, was actually up on last years QBR rating. in 2019, he copped a 92.1 rating. In the season just completed he’s up slightly to 93.3. I feel like the idea that Matt Ryan is slowing down is slightly off, but i do feel like the Falcons and Matt Ryan has become a little tired. He’s still a capable NFL quarterback. A fresh head coach might mean a fresh face at the position, but there are certainly teams in a more desperate situation. Ryan, not a free agent until 2024, would be a great mentor for a young quarterback, so maybe the new head coach will start to look into that upon arrival.
The Falcons have some great weapons. Julio Jones has been one of the greatest NFL receivers for years, and Calvin Ridley is emerging as a brilliant number two. Ridley is signed through 2021, where as Julio is signed to a heavy contract through 2023. Now 31 years old, there’s been talk of Julio being one piece the Falcons might look to trade, as it’s likely a rebuilding phase is coming for the team.
Todd Gurley was signed to a one year deal and a decision will need to be made on the running back side too. Do they resign him? Still only 26 years old, he totalled 678 yards and 9 touchdowns.
The defence has the talent to start building something great, however, they were one of the worst teams defensively last season, and gave up an unholy amount of leads, becoming the laughing stock of the league for throwing away leads in the second half. Drastic change is required, and the new head coach will have his work cut out overhauling a losing culture in Atlanta.
The Falcons hold the number four pick in the draft. A position that allows them to think about a quarterback if they wish to, or some sort of elite talent to help them restructure the defence etc. Plenty of options for a number four pick, which is most definitely a draw to the job. The problem is, there’s two teams with a draft pick better than this one… And the Falcons need more than one or two pieces to rebuild this team. There’s work to do. And that’s not the only issue.
Heading into 2021, the Falcons will be nearly $25,000,000 over the cap. Clearing house, starting again. Which is why Julio Jones etc are being considered for trades. Atlanta Georgia. One of the newest and most impressive stadiums in the league. Arthur Blank, worth over $5 billion, had the stadium completed for his team in 2017. It’s amazing. I’ve been. I wonder how much the location and facilities of an NFL team factors into the decisions made by the head coaches interviewing for the roles. But I find it hard to believe that a stadium like that to go to work in every week, wouldn’t be an attractive feature to any applicant…
Head Coaching Job Grade: C
The team isn’t in the most terrible mess. Yes it needs work. But you’re also inheriting Calvin Ridley, Julio Jones, Deion Jones, Keanu Neaul, Grady Jarrett etc. The makings of a good team are there. The 4th overall pick is also a nice sweetener to make a decision with, and the owner will allow you final say over the roster. The stadium is a real plus. A cherry on top I guess. Things need to be rearranged and you can reshape the team to be your own.
Praise all that is holy that Bill O’Brien is no longer running this franchise. Bad enough as a head coach. Even worse to also hold the reigns as a GM. But those days are over, and if you listen carefully you can hear a faint cry for help from Deshaun Watson. The Texans are also in total overhaul mode. So this one is a real rebuild from top to bottom too. A big project for a head coach.
Not much needs to be said here. If there’s one thing about the Houston Texans that’s going to draw a head coach to take the job, it’s that they have the second best performing quarterback in the league despite the world crashing down around him. Deshaun Watson is a modern era, dual threat quarterback that would make anybody with an offensive mindset light up. He’s the dream at the position, and he’s about the only thing on the team that absolutely needs nailing down and doesn’t need to be changed. Deshaun can take you to a superbowl. Massive plus for the available job.
The roster however, is in tatters. The David Johnson trade was a bad idea. For multiple reasons. Okay he hasn’t been bad, but he still doesn’t look like the long term running back of the future, and he’s getting paid another $9 million dollars next season. Do they cut him and start again at the position?
Will Fuller is a free agent in the offseason and may have already played his last game for the Texans, missing the latter portion of the season with a suspension. So the wide receiver room will consist of Brandin Cooks and Randall Cobb, and they will once again be looking to replace the void left by DeAndre Hopkins after possibly the WORST trade of all time. It’s close.
JJ Watt may also be a trade discussion as the Texans look to turn over a new leaf, and his $17 million dollar salary could be something the Texans need to shift.
The problem is that the Texans are going to be over the cap in 2021. So if they want to do anything, they need to shift some of that money from their roster. JJ Watt. Brandin Cooks. Somebody will have to move.
So for a new coach I guess you could see it two ways. Either it’s a massive mess, and you need to sort it out, or it’s an opportunity to clean house and start again.
This bit won’t help. Remember the Laremy Tunsil trade? Well it means the Texans have no pick until the 3rd round of this years draft. This roster clean up is going to take more than one year. The front office will need to have the patience for this which might explain why they’ve just signed their new GM, Nick Caserio, to a 6 year deal. They need to consider the future, the next several years. With no high draft picks, and a roster that needs trimming to sort the cap issues out, the Texans won’t be flying high anytime soon.
Sure you could argue that they traded for Laremy Tunsil and Kenny Stills, and the Dolphins might well use that 3rd overall pick from the trade to replace Tunsil with Penei Sewell, but still. Kenny isn’t on the roster any more. He was cut. The Texans could have found themselves still holding their early first round pick, and DeAndre Hopkins, had they corrected the Bill O’Brien situation sooner…
Head Coaching Job Grade: D+
About the only good thing about this team right now, is Deshaun Watson. He’s a bright spark in a dark tunnel. Glitter sprinkled on a pile of… dirt. If you believe you can reshape the team while holding onto Deshaun, then great. But it’s going to take patience, and I feel sorry for Deshaun Watson being cast into this situation. They still need offensive line, corners, pass rush, tight end, receiver and running back. At least. Plus the impossible task of trying to recreate what you had in the perfect quarterback/wide receiver connection. Once you take that away from your franchise quarterback, in my opinion unnecessarily, it frays the relationship. Do the Texans move Deshaun Watson and get themselves a massive haul of picks in exchange? Maybe. But Houston would burn if you took away the one good thing they have left… Certainly one to watch, but the job is bottom of my list
New York Jets
Ahh the aftermath of hurricane Gase. The Jets waved off Jamal Adams, the best draft pick they’ve had in several years, as Gase struck once again shipping off a superstar from one of his teams. The same thing with Jarvis Landry in Miami. Among others. Unfortunately, the Jets weren’t quite bad enough to secure the number one pick, and Jets fans everywhere were kicking themselves when it happened. But it’s not all doom and gloom.
Sam Darnold is… capable. It could be worse. The new head coach will have a decision to make on his quarterback when he steps into the building. Darnold is only under contract through the 2021 season, when the team will have to decide on his 5th year option. As Darnold was a first round pick, the Jets get to decide whether they pick up the option or decline it. For a quarterback, if they’ve done enough, they usually get a new deal by now. Darnold hasn’t done enough to warrant the team picking up the option. The opposite end of the spectrum is the situation of Mitchell Trubisky. The Bears declined his option, and he finds himself a free agent at the end of the season. This is how back up quarterbacks are born.
What I might suggest, is what the Browns did with Baker Mayfield. They hired a coach who specialises with quarterbacks and got the best year out of Case Keenum’s career. Bring in a head coach who is going to draw the best game out of your quarterback and assess how good that best game is. Is he capable of doing so consistently under a head coach that puts him in the best place to succeed? However, before any of that can be answered, the draft is approaching. I’ll come back to this.
The Jets have a few pieces they can build around. Quinnen Williams is a stud. Keep him. DO NOT let anybody trade him or even mention his name in such discussions. They seem to have also hit on first round tackle in the 2020 draft Mekhi Becton. A monster of a man, and a key position filled at left tackle.
CJ Mosley however, was a terrible free agency signing and the guy has barely played since he arrived. During Gase’s tenure. Leveon Bell and CJ Mosley were the two pinnacle free agency signings, penning their signatures to large free agency deals. Neither worked. At all. Gase came out publically making his feelings known about the situation, which led to all sorts of internal squabbles and the firing of Mike Maccaggnan. More disparity in the ranks. They need to get rid of Mosley before the 2022 season, where he’s due to receive $17.5 million dollars for the next three seasons. Thankfully, the Jets backloaded this contract. That’s smart. Now offload it before it’s too late.
Some of the rookies have shown promise. Denzel Mims is a solid receiver, Lamical Perine has looked good while sharing snaps with Frank Gore. But the roster leaves a lot to be desired. It’s very weak in a lot of places. Corners. Linebackers. Pass rushers. The entire starting secondary is heading to free agency this off season. Brian Poole (the only corner currently worthy of more than $800,000 dollars a season), is a free agent. Marcus Maye, the solid free safety, free agent. Bradley McDougald. Free agent. They need to totally rebuild the defence. I’d imagine a couple of these will resign, and at least the Jets have some cap to play with! But don’t be fooled by the large amount of salary cap being advertised as available. The Jets have a lot of free agents. So either they need paying, or replacing, both will eat into that number.
So the draft could be very good for the Jets. They have two first, including their own cemented at number two, and the Seahawks pick which will depend on how well they do in the playoffs. Depending on the decision the Jets make with Sam Darnold, they could bring Justin Fields into town, or Zach Wilson, and re energise the Jets organisation with a fresh young face of the franchise.
Or, in typical Jets fashion, you could go the dull route of sticking with Darnold, passing on the opportunity to take another top QB, and trading the pick away to accumulate more capital in the draft. More picks is good for a depleted roster, and the rookies are cheaper than signing free agents, so maybe this is a route they consider. But they should really go with Fields. Like really.
The Jets have options come draft day. Free agency will depict their mind set before the time comes, but whatever happens they have draft picks available to bring in more first round talent. Which is always a good thing.
Head Coaching Job Grade: C+
The Darnold option gives you some leverage. You can either move him and use the draft picks for other needs, or you could trade him/move him on and start again. The Jets roster while not great, doesn’t have the ugly contracts (Mosley and Crowder excluded), that the Texans & the Falcons have. Which means less headaches with the salary cap. Plus the number two pick makes it interesting. We all know (90%) that Trevor Lawrence will be first off the board. So even though you missed out, which was a problem yes, you then have the pick of the litter once that inevitable move is made. And if he’s not first off the board, then you get him yourself and you don’t blink in doing so.
Inheriting a rookie quarterback without the ‘rookie’ could be fun for a new head coach. The nurturing process and popping his NFL cherry with a season under his belt, is all already in the rear view mirror for Justin Herbert. Let’s take a look.
I am simply not in the business of making a condemning decision on a quarterback after one season. Those who do can easily look foolish. BUT. Justin Herbert seems to have the tools to be a successful NFL QB. He has the build, enough mobility, a cannon of an arm, and when you add him to a situation that has great receivers, a decent line, good running backs and a defence that can put him back on the field on a regular basis, things are looking pretty good.
Okay the quarterback decision has been made for you, but like i mentioned, he already got his feet wet. You’ll pick him up heading into year two with a solid outing behind him. He’s a gunslinger, he’ll throw a pick from time to time, but he can also launch the ball down the field. If you can nurture him into what he’s capable of becoming, then you’re in a pretty good spot. By and large though, the position is sorted, so tick it off the list.
Well it’s the best roster on the list by a country mile. Joey Bosa is a game wrecker. Then you have Casey Hayward, Derwin James and Chris Harris in your secondary. Add Melvin Ingram to the list of talent on defence. They plugged Kenneth Murray in at linebacker last year, solving a desperate need, and the young man looked good! And that’s just the defence. On offence you’ve got Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler, and Hunter Henry. But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows.
The offensive line was alright this year. Nothing crazy. But the problem is four of your best six offensive linemen are now free agents. Mike Pouncey, the vet centre, guards Dan Feeney and Forrest Lamp, and tackle Sam Tevi are all set to hit the market. Which leaves you with left tackle Bryan Bulaga, and the guard Trai Turner. So there’s three holes to fill there.
The other issue is that a decision needs to be made on Hunter Henry. He’s one of the best tight ends in the league, and the franchise tagged him last season, but you’re going to need to pay him if you want him to stay.
The Chargers 7-9 record resulted in the LA outfit holding the 13th pick in the draft. Easily being able to address the tackle spot here makes a lot of sense, as there are a couple of great tackles in the draft who would be a good fit around this spot in the draft. Not the most exciting draft to talk about, because it’s more obvious what they need. If the Chargers resign Henry, which they should, i’d be surprised if the pick here was anything other than offensive line, and mainly a tackle to pair with Bulaga.
Head Coaching Job Grade: A-
This is the best job available. You’d be moving to LA and playing in the brand new billion dollar SoFi stadium. You’re inheriting a young quarterback with all the tools to help you succeed. You have multiple pro bowlers across the roster. I’d be licking my lips at Derwin James, Joey Bosa, Keenan Allen etc. It’s a great team, they have a lot of the pieces they need in place. If you can fix the o line, and add a couple more pieces, this is a play off team.
It arguably should have been a playoff team this season. The Chargers were small margins away from winning a bunch more games, so with the right hire, and a couple of tweaks, I’d expect to see this become a strong team in 2021.
Jacksonville is about to be totally transformed. Who’s going to take the reins? I hear whispers of Urban Meyer on social media. But i do wonder if the idea that owner Saad Khan came out and confirmed he would still hold full roster control is off putting to candidates? Still. Let’s have a look at the team.
Well they don’t have one. Ahh Minshew mania. A flash in the pan. A media circus that I despised from the moment it began because the man was undeserving of the attention. Famous more for his moustache, and way less for his ‘talent’, Minshew burst onto the scene, played a couple of good games and all of a sudden he’s the saviour of their franchise. Fast forward to today, and he finds himself benched for Mike Glennon. Life comes at ya fast.
The Jags hold the number 1 pick and therefore the keys to the draft. Surely this has to be Trevor Lawrence, and i’m sure fans are already getting excited about the idea! However, i don’t think it’s a total lock just yet. Let’s say Urban Meyer does take the job. He has a connection to Ohio State. Maybe he reaches out to Ryan Day, they discuss Justin Fields. It’s a slim chance, but not totally out of the question!
Either way, there’ll be a new face in town for whoever takes this job. Taking a job with the number one pick is a thrill for any new head coach i’m sure.
Needs some work but it could be worse… Their key pieces are all locked in. There’s been an overhaul happening in Jacksonville for a while now, as that defence was slowly taken apart piece by piece and shipped off to other teams. Jalen Ramsey, Calais Campbell, Yannick Ngakoue, AJ Bouye. The Jags have leaked talent for a few years now. The new head coach needs to employ a new culture in Jacksonville that they’re not just bleeding out for the benefit of other teams. They need to hold onto their stars.
That work has been done, or doesn’t need doing yet, which is an advantage. You’re going to rebuild this team around the new QB1. Then DJ Chark still has two years left on his rookie deal. Laviska Shenault (who could really be great), three years. Promising running back James Robinson two more years.
Myles Jack is already signed, they added Joe Schobert on a long term deal in last years free agency, and Josh Allen still has two years left. That’s three great defensive players. A strong core. Then first round rookies CJ Henderson and K’Lavon Chaisson both showed some ability as rookies, and I loved the Jags selections in the draft when it happened. They’re rebuilding, and these were great picks for the purpose.
The offensive line is largely in place, although they will need a new left tackle if they don’t resign Cam Robinson, who hasn’t exactly been great. But the rest is manageable for now.
You do however need a new tight end, another running back, safeties, and another corner unless you resign DJ Hayden. So it’s a good job the Jags have a reported $80 million dollars to spend. Expect them to add a couple of big free agents in the off season!
Not much needs to be said here. You get the number 1 pick and therefore either Trevor Lawrence or your alternate choice of the new face of your franchise. The Jags also hold the Rams pick as a result of the Jalen Ramsey trade, so will be picking again likely somewhere in the 20s, unless the Rams go on a fine run to the super bowl.
Head Coaching Job Grade: B+
The roster isn’t there yet. There is work that needs doing. However, you have some great pieces to build a team around, and when you add a young QB with all the talent in the world, the future does look bright for the Jags. 80 million in cap, the number 1 pick, Myles Jack, Josh Allen, DJ Chark and Trevor Lawrence (probably)… Not a bad foundation. But they need to make the right hire…
Matt Patricia wasn’t good at the job. Bottom line. The Lions are a better team than their record shows, and finishing 5-11 is a little harsh on their abilities as a team. There’s some things here that need to be discussed. And the future is not looking good for Detroit. I’m worried for them.
So the rumours that Matt Stafford needs to be traded so the Lions can start again are up in the air at the moment. Many disagree, myself included, if assessing it fro a talent perspective. Stafford is still a fine NFL quarterback. He’s 32 years of age, with a good few years left in the tank. You could be doing a lot worse, and the fear is trading the QB you have in hopes of finding a better one, but end up with a Josh Rosen or a Dwayne Haskins. It’s a risk they’d need to be willing to take.
I don’t see why you’d let Stafford leave and go after someone like Trubisky in free agency. If you’re going to pay a quarterback you might as well just keep the one you’ve got.
The problem is that Stafford’s contract jumps $10 million dollars in value as of this season ahead. He’d be making $33 million dollars in 2021, which is the biggest spike in his current deal. It drops again to $26 million in 2022, before his deal is up.
The Lions don’t have much at all in the way of available cap space. Reportedly around $10 million… but what about the rest of the roster?
There’s a reason the Lions don’t have much in the way of available cap space. And it’s largely due to a few horrible contracts. For starters, they signed tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai to a $50 million dollar contract, despite him never being a full time starter in the league. He was the Eagles back up right tackle. Unsurprisingly, he didn’t have a great year. The contract is utterly horrendous, and he’s due $10 million in 2021. Apparently, according to NBC, it would cost. theLions even more to cut him. Good work Detroit.
Then Patricia’s affection for ex Patriots starts to shine through. Defensive end Trey Flowers signed a $90 million dollar deal in 2019, and he’s due $20 million in 2021, then Jamie Collins will be costing them another $11 million next season too.
Desmond Trufant’s contract is also horrible as he comes off an injury, then signs with the Lions. Costing them $12.5 million in 2021. He’s somebody they should look to cut. I loved Trufant in Atlanta, but they paid him to replace Darius Slay, and he hasn’t done so. Doesn’t look like the same player.
Does it get better. Well no not really. The Lions entire receiving core are going to be free agents this off season. Marvin Jones, Kenny Golladay, Danny Amendola and Jamal Agnew are all unrestricted. So you can keep Stafford, but you need to pay to keep a couple of these, and you won’t be able to afford to keep both Jones and Golladay, so it’s a rough off season ahead for Detroit.
They need out of some of these contracts, and if Matt Stafford ends up being on the block so they can tear down this mess and start all over again, I won’t be surprised.
However, there are some gems on this team. D’Andre Swift has been great. While first round corner Jeff Okudah struggled at times. Umm that’s about it. I really don’t have much good to say about this roster.
The silver lining is the number 7 pick in the draft. Although not high enough to get one of the top two QBs off the board at least, you might be able to snag the third. Honestly I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Lions make a big move for a Justin Fields type, if that’s the direction they decide to go in. They need drastic change. They tried to accumulate picks last year because they knew that, and they failed, so selected Okudah at number 3. Which when you look back at it, was poor execution across the board. They should have traded down, found a partner who wanted Tua or Herbert etc. They failed and it cost them. Maybe this year they trade up?
Head Coaching Job grade: F
F you say?! Yes F. Big old F. It’s a mess. All of it. The roster. The contracts. The QB situation is a handful. Whoever takes this on is going in with the need to clear up the mess left behind by Patricia and his crew. The overpaid Patriots, the literally empty wide receiver room. This is the biggest dumpster fire for a head coach to be taking on, and don’t be surprised when they don’t get one of the top guys available. Unless somebody wants to work with Stafford that badly… and catch footballs for him too? Still, D’Andre Swift is good…
Hold onto your hats Detroit fans. Bumpy ride incoming.
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