Blog Entry

Top Ten with a Twist: Potential head coaches

Posted on: December 8, 2011 10:55 am
Edited on: December 8, 2011 10:58 am
Zimmer (US Presswire).

By Josh Katzowitz

It’s getting to be about that time. Christmas? Yes, of course. Hannukah? Naturally. Festivus? It depends on your syndicated TV viewing habits. The carousel of coaches who are fired and hired, changing the courses of several franchises for the foreseeable future? Abso-freakin-lutely.

Personally, I hate to see any coach drawing the pink slip, but as Bum Phillips once said, “There’s two kinds of coaches, them that's fired and them that's gonna be fired." Jack Del Rio knows of what Phillips speaks -- he’s already been asked to vacate the Jaguars premises. And there will be plenty more firings to come.

As colleague Will Brinson pointed out in this week’s Sorting the Sunday Pile, at least seven coaches (Steve Spagnuolo, Andy Reid, Jim Caldwell, Raheem Morris, Tony Sparano, Todd Haley and Norv Turner) are on the hot seat, and that means there’s a strong possibility a whole mess of new coaches will be needed. Like last year, when I presented my list of potential coaches*, many of the candidates are career assistants who have never had a chance at a head coaching slot. Some you’ve seen in this role before. All, though, deserve a chance --- or another chance -- to run a team of their own. And who knows, maybe they’d be the one to turn around a franchise in need of a jump-start.

*Only two from last year’s list made it this list (Cowboys defensive coordinator Rob Ryan and Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer), and with Leslie Frazier, Jim Harbaugh and John Fox in new jobs, I’ve also dropped candidates like Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg, Giants defensive coordinator Perry Fewell and Ravens offensive coordinator Cam Cameron from consideration.

10. Bruce Arians: I had Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau on the list last year, though I figured that’s not going to happen at this point, but why shouldn’t teams take a look at Arians, Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator? He was the head coach at Temple in the 1980s -- his record is an unshiny 21-45 -- but the paradigm shift made by the team since he’s been offensive coordinator is impressive. The Steelers are no longer a smashmouth, pound-the-rock offense. No, with Ben Roethlisberger and a trio of talented young receivers, the Steelers have entered the 21st century with their offense. There was talk Arians was a contender for the Ole Miss job, and it sounds like these people also would be rooting for Arians to get a head coaching job.

9. Joe DeCamillis: Before you say, “Why in the hell would you hire a special teams coach to be your head coach?” remember that John Harbaugh followed a similar path -- he spent nine years as the Eagles special teams coach and didn’t spend one second as a coordinator -- and it seems to have worked out OK for the Ravens. Plus, as Pete Prisco said in a recent chat, DeCamillis, the Cowboys special teams ace, is organized and passionate. And if Prisco says he’s OK, it must be true.

8. Rob Chudzinski: He hasn’t spent much time as an NFL offensive coordinator, but he’s performed his finest work this year. Sure, he has some talent on his hands (Cam Newton and Steve Smith, obviously), but the work he’s done with Newton this season has been impressive. It’s difficult to remember this now, but Newton was considered a raw specimen with only one year of major college football before the Panthers took him No. 1 in the draft. But with Chudzinski’s help, Newton oftentimes plays amazing football for a rookie. It’s doubtful anybody will take a chance on Chudzinski at this point, but he’s one to keep an eye on in the future.

7. Chuck Pagano: While the Ravens offense has been in a state of flux this season, there’s little question about the effectiveness of Baltimore’s defense, which is ranked third in the league in points allowed and yards. Pagano is only in his first season as a coordinator, taking over this season for Greg Mattison, but the Ravens have been more effective this year (they were 10th in the league in yards in 2010). Pagano might need more seasoning, but he’s a guy who could ride Baltimore’s wave, particularly if the Ravens go deep into the playoffs, into a possible new job.

6. Brian Billick: There are plenty of reasons not to hire Billick. Like he said recently, he’s not young and he’s not cheap. But if you’re not necessarily looking to hire somebody for the next three decades and you have some money to spend, why wouldn’t you take a look at Billick? Yes, he’s pompous (though very good while being interviewed, and I like him on the NFL Network), but he’s also confident in his abilities. As well he should be. In nine years in Baltimore, he went 80-64, and you might remember that he won a Super Bowl title. It would take a special owner to turn to Billick, but I think it could be a very good choice.

5. Wade Phillips: The job Phillips has done in Houston this year has convinced me that Phillips deserves another chance at a head coaching job. Obviously, things didn’t end well in Dallas -- do they ever with Jerry Jones, though? -- but did you know he has a better winning percentage (.573) than Jeff Fisher (.542) and Brian Billick (.556)? And that in his nine full seasons as a head coach, he only had one losing record? There’s no doubt that Phillips knows what he’s doing as a defensive coordinator, and we know Phillips can win as a head coach as well. He’s deserving of another chance.
4. Rob Ryan: This is what I wrote last year: “We need – I mean, we NEED – another Ryan brother as a head coach in the NFL. Aside from being the most entertaining coach out there today – publically, at least – Rex Ryan has done a wonderful job turning the Jets into Super Bowl contenders. Now, Rob Ryan, the Browns (now Cowboys) defensive coordinator, needs to get his chance. With the marked improvement in Cleveland, does Ryan deserve the shot? Probably not at this point. But how awesome would it be if somebody gave him a job?” Indeed Josh from 2010, it would be pretty awesome.

3. Russ Grimm: He was finally elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame last year as a player. Now he deserves his own team to run. He was nearly selected to follow Bill Cowher in Pittsburgh -- and some believe he was offered the job before the Steelers rescinded the offer and gave it to Mike Tomlin -- and for now, Grimm is an assistant head coach to Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona. You’d think Grimm would get his chance eventually, but he has to wonder how much longer he’ll have to wait.

2. Jeff Fisher: If you were going to hire a former head coach and you had an infinite amount of money to woo even the most resistant of people, you might go with Bill Cowher as the first choice. But my second choice probably would be Fisher. For 17 seasons with the Oilers/Titans, he recorded a 142-120 record, and he came ever so close to a Super Bowl victory. Aside from Cowher, I’m not sure there’s another former head coach out there that would command as much instant respect as Fisher.

1. Mike Zimmer: After a one-year slip-up, when the team was ranked 24th in the NFL in points allowed, the Bengals, once again, are one of the top units in the league. This, even after losing top cornerback Johnathan Joseph to the Texans and after failing to re-sign starting linebacker Dhani Jones. Zimmer has received effective play from youngsters Carlos Dunlap and Geno Atkins, and though there are no legit stars on defense, somehow Zimmer keeps making the case why somebody (anybody?!?) should give him a job. It’s time for Zimmer to have his shot.

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Since: May 25, 2009
Posted on: December 9, 2011 12:33 pm

Top Ten with a Twist: Potential head coaches

In my opinion, Jim Tressel will be the next head coach of the Indianapolis Colts. He's good friends with the owner and is a better option to be a top potential head coach then most of the people listed in this article.

Since: Sep 11, 2006
Posted on: December 9, 2011 11:12 am

Top Ten with a Twist: Potential head coaches

As a Rams fan I can say with 100% certainty that you CANNOT hire a head coach based solely on his success as a coordinator.  Two totally different jobs.  I was hoping this article would dig a little deeper and give examples of leadership, and other HEAD coaching traits, instead of rankings of offensive or defensive units.  For instance, should knowing that "Rob Chudzinski does great things with young QBs" make me want him to coach the Rams and Bradford?  Well as a head coach he wouldn't have much influence on Bradfords growth.  So no, makes no differnece, unless they were hiring him to be the QB Coach.  In other words, his ability to coach QBs means squat when running a team.  Spags is proof of that on the defensive side.  BTW, best thing for Spags would be to return to Philly as the DC for Andy Reid.  Spags is a great guy and deserves to have success - which he could have in Philly - but he obviously doesn't know how to push the correct head coaching buttons (and Devaney doesn't know who to draft, sign and keep).  And of course, as a Rams fan, I was VERY interested in reading this article, but came away impressed with nobody on the list (at least based on possible success as a HEAD coach - now if these guys were available for coordinator spots, that would be a different story).

The only exception is the blurb on Joe DeCamillis (who I believe was also great as a ST coach in Buffalo?) so I guess he's the guy I'd keep an eye on based on this article.  From that "organized and passionate" one liner, he sounds like he could be a Dick Vermeil type and DV is obviously my favorite head coach of all time.

Since: Mar 22, 2007
Posted on: December 9, 2011 10:51 am

Top Ten with a Twist: Potential head coaches

Why Wade Phillips would be hired to be a head coach a fourth time is beyond me. In each of his three head coaching stops, the pattern in the same: First season, great, team makes playoffs, after that, team slides season-by-season until Phillips is fired. Consider also that Phillips has been an interim coach for two other teams that DIDN'T hire him as head coach.  Phillips has had plenty of chances to be a top-flight head coach and has failed.

I've never understood why Billick hasn't been hired by a team that has a head coach opening in recent years.  He's proved that he can lead a team to a Super Bowl and didn't need a high-powered offense to do it.  A team should take a chance on him.

The other fellows are top-flight assistants that probably deserve a chance though the luster on Grimm has probably faded a bit with the downfall of the Cardinals the last couple of seasons.

Bottom line: don't hire Wade Phillips. He's had his chances.

Since: Jul 25, 2008
Posted on: December 9, 2011 10:34 am

Top Ten with a Twist: Potential head coaches

It's spelled Hanukkah.  Glad to see the spellcheck is up and running.

Since: Dec 9, 2011
Posted on: December 9, 2011 9:01 am

Top Ten with a Twist: Potential head coaches

Zim is an excellent coach and certainly deserves a shot. He can really inspire players. As a Bengals fan I'd hate to see him go, but I would root for any team that picks him up.

Since: Jun 16, 2007
Posted on: December 9, 2011 12:27 am

Top Ten with a Twist: Potential head coaches

OMG This actually thinks Prisco is smart. The rest of this article I couldn't read after that. It's pointless.

Since: Dec 8, 2011
Posted on: December 8, 2011 2:40 pm
This comment has been removed.

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Since: Aug 24, 2006
Posted on: December 8, 2011 12:43 pm

Top Ten with a Twist: Potential head coaches

wade phillips should never become a head coach again.  He's a great defensive coordinator but that's it.  he's had two chances and failed at both.  The cowboys were his best chance to make it to the super bowl and they flopped.  Sepcial teams coordinators are actually regarded as the best guys to become head coaches because they need to know a little bit about every position.  Cowher was a ST coach as well. 

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