It’s all but certain that Carolina, Houston and Cincinnati will be looking for new coaches this offseason, and it wouldn’t be surprising if San Francisco, Miami, Cleveland, or Oakland joined them.And of course, Dallas and Minnesota currently have interim coaches with no guaranteed future. And who knows, Bud Adams could be forced to can Jeff Fisher if he wants to stick with Vince Young. Oh, and if the Giants endure another second half collapse it’s possible that Tom Coughlin could move on.
The point is that, like every year, there will be several NFL teams looking for new coaches over the winter. Some experts believe teams will be far more likely to promote from within their organisations because of labour uncertainty, but will owners really be able to resist reeling in a big fish like past Super Bowl winners Bill Cowher or Jon Gruden? Beyond those two obvious choices, there are a host of very strong head coach candidates that could be available.
Frazier hasn't coached his first game with the Vikings yet, but if he has any level of success he may finally get a head coaching job after the season in Minnesota or elsewhere. Frazier has come close to landing a lead job a few times but hasn't sealed the deal. Now he'll get the chance to learn on the fly with players he's familiar with in Minnesota.
- Lead candidate for jobs with the Rams and Broncos in 2009
- Vikings defence ranked sixth in the league in 2008 and 2009
- Learned under Tony Dungy and Jim Johnson
Garrett is off to a terrific start in Dallas where Wade Phillips couldn't get the talented Cowboys to play for him. Now with two wins to start his coaching career, it appears that Jerry Jones might not even consider an external candidate and wants to stick with Garrett. Some NFL pundits even think Garrett will lead the Cowboys to the playoffs this year.
- Longtime NFL backup quarterback
- Quickly transformed Dallas' offence in 2007 and received offers from Baltimore and Atlanta in 2008
- Career record of 2-0
Schottenheimer coached in Washington for one year before joining his father in San Diego. He has overseen a resurgent Jets' offence over the last couple years and has been instrumental in the development of quarterback Mark Sanchez. He has a strong work ethic and has held up under the intense scrutiny of the New York media.
- Interviewed for the Jets' head coaching job in 2009
- Jets offensive coordinator from 2006-2009 and previously was the quarterbacks coach for Washington and San Diego
- Son of Marty Schottenheimer
After a long career in the NFL Harbaugh began his career helping to recruit players for Western Kentucky University and then became an assistant coach with the Oakland Raiders in 2002. In 2004 Harbaugh became head coach at the University of San Diego and in 2006 he moved onto Stanford which he led to the Sun Bowl in 2009 and a top 5 ranking this year.
- Long career as an NFL quarterback
- Interviewed with the New York Jets in 2009
- Career record of 46-26 (college)
Grimm, a former offensive lineman, has a typical attitude for that position; hard-work and little recognition. Grimm has coached on very successful teams and seems like a logical choice of an assistant ready to step into a lead job.
- Four-time Super Bowl Winner, four-time Pro Bowler, four-time All Pro, member of the NFL Hall of Fame
- Has coached in Washington, Pittsburgh, and Arizona
- Was considered by Chicago in 2004 and Pittsburgh in 2007
Fewell got a taste of being the head man last year with Buffalo and did a respectable job with a bad team. This year he's been instrumental in transforming an atrocious Giants defence into one of the league's top units. He has a reputation for being a players coach and is very vocal on the practice field.
- Helped the Giants' defence improve from 13th in yards against in 2009 to second in 2010
- Defensive coordinator for the Buffalo Bills from 2006-2009 and interim head coach at the end of last season
- Career record of 3-4
Mornhinweg's long coaching career finally resulted in a lead job with the Detroit Lions in 2001, but the forgettable experience ended after two seasons. Still, he has a strong reputation and has rebuilt the Eagles' offence on the fly into one of the NFL's top units.
- Has coached with the University of Montana, University of Texas at El Paso, Northern Arizona University, Southeast Missouri State University, the University of Missouri, the Green Bay Packers, San Francisco 49ers, Detroit Lions, and Philadelphia Eagles.
- Career record of 5-27
Despite a rash of injuries and abysmal special teams play the Chargers are in the playoff picture in large part due to Rivera's top-ranked defence. Rivera has been a hot 'next-in-line' coach in recent years and appears likely to earn a head coaching job after this season.
- Linebacker for the Chicago Bears for nine years
- Linebackers coach with Philadelphia and defensive coordinator with Chicago before joining San Diego
- Oversees the league's top defence in yardage in 2010
Ryan comes from an unparalleled coaching family and seems like a good bet to get attention this offseason given the success of his brother in New York. Like Rex, Rob has a boisterous personality and could thrive with the media and as a motivator. Like all the Ryans, Rob is a defensive guru and student of the game.
- Son of Buddy Ryan and brother of Rex Ryan
- Has coached at Western Kentucky University, Ohio State University, Tennessee State, Hutchinson Community College, Oklahoma State, and in the NFL with Arizona, Oakland, New England and Cleveland.
Williams is considered to be one of the best defensive minds in football and his units are known for their relentless pressure and ability to force turnovers. Williams struggled, especially on offence, in his first head coaching stint with Buffalo but might be ready for another shot.
- Has coached with Houston/Tennessee, Buffalo, Washington, Jacksonville, and New Orleans
- Won Super Bowl XLIV with the Saints and lost with the Saints in Super Bowl XXXIV
- Career record of 17-31
Things have gotten so bad in Carolina that Fox chose to start a quarterback on Sunday that Carolina signed just one week before. Fox may get a pass from league executives as it has become clear that with their abundance of injuries the Panthers just didn't have the talent to compete this season. Fox is a lame-duck coach as his team knows that Carolina won't be bringing him back when his contract expires following the season, but that doesn't mean another job won't be waiting to snatch him up.
- Led the Panthers to the Super Bowl in 2003
- Defensive coordinator for the New York Giants during Super Bowl XXXV
- Career record of 72-66
Lewis was the AP Coach of the Year last season but didn't get a contract extension and for whatever reason, the Bengals have imploded this season. The Bengals have been up-and-down under Lewis, but he's proven to be a very versatile coach, starting off as a defensive mastermind and then over-seeing a high-powered offence in Cincinnati.
- Led one of the great defenses of all time (2000 Baltimore Ravens) to victory in Super Bowl XXXV
- Has coached at Idaho State University, Long Beach State, the University of New Mexico, the University of Pittsburgh, and in the NFL with Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Washington, and Cincinnati
- Career record of 58-63-1
Capers' name is bandied about every offseason it seems, but he hasn't had a head coaching job since 2005 with Houston. But, Capers seems to have success wherever he goes as a defensive coordinator and his work ethic and knowledge of the game are matched by few. He is one of the great teachers of the game and could be an attractive choice for a young team.
- Has coached at Kent State, Washington University, the University of Hawaii, San Jose State, the University of California, the University of Tennessee, and in the NFL with New Orleans, Pittsburgh, Carolina, Jacksonville, Houston, Miami, New England, and Green Bay
- Led the expansion Carolina Panthers to the playoffs in just their second season
- Career record of 48-80
Billick was dismissed in Baltimore in 2007 after a 5-11 season, but the year before the Ravens were 13-3. It's unclear whether Billick is interested in returning to coaching, but he's had great success in different situations. He's also adept with the media and would be a good choice for a talented, but under-achieving team like Minnesota or Dallas.
- Led the Ravens to victory in Super Bowl XXXV
- Coached at BYU, San Diego State, Utah State, Minnesota Vikings, and Baltimore
- Career record of 80-64
There are mixed reports on whether Gruden is content to stay at ESPN or is itching to coach again. One thing is for sure, Gruden won't even consider coming back unless it's to a really good situation. He's a fiery guy that loves working with quarterbacks, so a team with a young arm may be appealing. Gruden may have surpassed even Bill Cowher in terms of his appeal to NFL teams.
- Led the Buccaneers to victory in Super Bowl XXXVII
- Replaced Tony Dungy in Tampa Bay via trade in 2002 that included two first-round picks and two second-round picks
- Career record of 95-81
Cowher resigned as coach of the Steelers in 2007 less than a year after winning the Super Bowl in order to spend more time with his children. He has worked with CBS in recent years but seems content to stay out of the spotlight. Like Gruden, if Cowher were to return it would only be for the most ideal circumstances. Cowher has repeatedly stated that he's not interested in coaching at the present time, but he does happen to live in North Carolina where there will soon be a vacancy.
- Super Bowl appearances in 1995 and 2005, won in '05
- Two time winner of Sporting News Coach of the Year (1992 and 2004)
- Career record of 149-90-1
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