This is the time of year when NFL coaches get fired and management goes looking for a new man to captain the ship, so to speak. As usual, there are many head coaching vacancies and I’m going to list them in order of desirability. In my opinion, of course and that’s always subjective.
The 49ers are the top destination for a head coach that wants to win immediately. Why?
Well, Colin Kaepernick may or may not be the answer at quarterback, but they have the basic ingredients needed to be back in the postseason next year with their defense and running game. They averaged just 19.1 points per game (25th) but averaged 136 yards per game (4th) with the always reliable Frank Gore and promising youngster Carlos Hyde, plus Kaep running when needed. If Gore can continue to produce at a good level they can still be a contender, but they might want to lighten his load a little. After all, he is 31.
Their passing offense slipped to 30th, but they were never an elite passing offense (low 20-ish in passing ypg) when they were making it deep into the playoffs so that isn’t a huge concern if they get the right people in place to make some adjustments.
The defense wasn’t as good as previous seasons, but they still have a top 10 unit (allowing just 21.3ppg, 10th) and will return Aldon Smith. This job has to be on the top of the list for coaches looking for a new position.
The immediate success they had in Mike Smith’s first five seasons (56-24) set a standard they couldn’t sustain and after two down seasons (mainly due to a bad defense) he took the fall for it. Atlanta has an offense that can score (12th in points per game with Matt Ryan, Roddy White, and Julio Jones) so they need a coach that can coach defense or bring with him a capable defensive coordinator (the Falcons allowed 26.1 points per game, 27th in the league).
An upgrade at RB might also help so Ryan doesn’t have to impersonate Aaron Rodgers on a nightly basis because he just isn’t that type of player. The running game averaged just 93.6ypg (24th) and Steven Jackson is no longer an every down back. Jackson has had a solid career, but he’s approaching the end of the line. Devonta Freeman and Jacquizz Rodgers aren’t the answer either so adding a RB might be a must this offseason (weather it be FA or the draft).
The only reason I have them listed above Buffalo and Oakland is because of the market they are in. Being New York makes this job more appealing than it would actually be in any other city, if you can win here you are a God. On the flip side, if you struggle like Rex Ryan did the last few seasons…..you’re demonized. And that’s why some coaches may not want the job, the limelight of the New York press.
The team actually had a good running game, they averaged 142.5ypg (3rd) with a platoon of Chris Johnson and Chris Ivory plus Geno Smith’s scrambling ability. The defense was good against the run as well, allowing just 93.1ypg (5th).
New York needs to decide if Smith is the present as well as the future. A lot of people will say he isn’t, but he showed a little improvement this season when it comes to turning the ball over. In his rookie season, he threw 12 TD’s and 21 INT’s, this season he threw 13 TD’s and 13 INT’s. Smith had a nice four game finish to the season where he completed 65.1% of his passes for 250.3ypg, 9.2ypa, six TD’s and just two INT’s.
Most importantly, the team went 2-2. They might want to draft a QB and give Smith one more season to show he can be a legit NFL QB, but his future will most likely be determined by who gets the job.
Michael Vick clearly is gone, he showed very little when he had the opportunity to start.
I’ll be the first to say they are a mess, but they won three of their last six games and Derek Carr showed signs of being a franchise QB (21 TD’s to just 12 INT’s). The team played hard for interim coach Tony Sparano and they upset three teams that were fighting to make it to the postseason.
A promising young QB is usually always a great building block for any organization that wants to restore their former glory. Carr’s poise and ability to read an NFL defense were his main strengths during his rookie campaign, despite posting mediocre passing yards per game, yards per attempt, and Passer Rating.
His lack of offensive weapons (especially at wide receiver and tight end) at his disposal were obvious, but he did play better over the final six games (eight TD’s to three INT’s as opposed to 13 TD’s to nine INT’s in the previous 10 games) when running back Latavius Murray showed vast improvement over the other RB’s they had on the roster.
The defense needs some work, but they have a lot of salary cap space to pursue free agents and the NFL draft to add players.
I would have listed them above the Raiders….but then Kyle Orton decided to retire.
They have a very good defense, but an average running game with backs that seem to be injury prone (Fred Jackson and CJ Spiller both missed time with assorted injuries). They’ll be looking for a new QB, unless they decide to roll with EJ Manuel. They have a decision to make there and that will be a key one for management and the new coach. Orton showed a capable and veteran QB can mean all the difference in success, they went 9-7 one season after going 6-10.
As of Sunday, reports were Rex Ryan is expected to be named as their next head coach. This should come as no surprise since Ryan is known as a defensive coach (when he was the DC with the Baltimore Ravens and when the Jets were making it to the AFC title games).
The Bears are a franchise in turmoil and ended the season on a five game losing streak after starting 5-6. The offense is a mess (23rd with 19.9ppg), Brandon Marshall isn’t expected back and Jay Cutler may not be either.
The only constant is Matt Forte (third straight 1,000 yard rushing season and a team-high 102 receptions) but he is approaching 30 years of age. Alshon Jeffery’s emergence as a quality #1 WR (85 catches, 70.8ypg, 17 plays of at least 20 yards, and a team-high 10 TD’s) will help offset the loss of Marshall.
The defense is a complete mess and needs to be overhauled, they allowed 27.6ppg (31st) and may be the best reason for them to keep Cutler. It’s unreasonable to expect an offense to outscore the other team week in and week out. Regardless, this is the team I think most coaches would want to avoid.
Tiny URL for this post: