Posted on: December 8, 2011 10:56 am
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Posted on: December 8, 2011 10:55 am
Edited on: December 8, 2011 10:58 am
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 CBSSports.com 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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Tags: Andy Reid, Bill Cowher, Brian Billick, Bruce Arians, Bum Phillips, Cam Newton, Carlo Sunlap, Chuck Pagano, Geno Atikins, Jack Del Rio, Jeff Fisher, Jim Caldwell, Joe DeCamillis, Johnathan Joseph, Josh Katzowitz, Ken Whisenhunt, Mike Tomlin, Mike Zimmer, Norv Turner, Raheem Morris, Rob Chudzinski, Rob Ryan, Russ Grimm, Steve Spagnuolo, Todd Haley, Tony Sparano, Top Ten, Wade Phillips
Posted on: November 29, 2011 11:07 am
Edited on: December 29, 2011 5:30 pm
Posted by Will Brinson and Ryan Wilson
Jack Del Rio's out in Jacksonville and that means it's time for everyone's favorite rollercoaster ride: the coaching carousel! JDR's been replaced by defensive coordinator Mel Tucker for the rest of 2011, and Jacksonville represents an interesting situation because most folks believe they're not capable of landing a "big-name coach."
However, all the usuals are on our list, as well as some names you might want to keep an eye on. If you think we missed someone who's a viable candidate, leave them in the comments or tell us on our new Facebook page.
Mel Tucker, DC, Jaguars
Tucker's the interim coach for the Jaguars after serving as defensive coordinator for Jacksonville for the past three years, and that gives him a leg up on everyone else in Jacksonville's coaching search. Tucker's teams haven't been top flight the entire time he's been in J-Vegas, but the Jaguars 2011 defense is one of the best in the NFL, ranking fifth in points allowed and fourth in yards allowed in the league. That's even more impressive considering how terrible the Jaguars offense has been. A strong close to the season could vault Tucker to the top of Gene Smith's list.
Dirk Koetter, OC, Jaguars
Koetter didn't get the interim coach label (it went to Tucker instead) for Jacksonville, which doesn't bode well for his future with the club. But he's got head coaching experience at the college level, running Boise State from 1998-2000 and Arizona State 2001-2006. Of course, the downside of Koetter is that he's been running the Jaguars offense since 2007 and, with the exception of 2008, it's been a below-average unit since he's gotten there. If Koetter can get Blaine Gabbert and the offense to show some life over the final five games, he'll be a strong candidate, if Tucker doesn't beat him out.
Jay Gruden, OC, Bengals
Even though Gruden's in just his first year as an NFL coach, he's already become a hot name as a possibility for future head-coaching jobs. His work with a Bengals offense that features two rookies -- Andy Dalton and A.J. Green -- as the centerpieces can't be ignored, and Cincy's success 11 games into the year vastly outweighs the fact that Gruden spent the previous decade or so years coaching in the UFL.
Rob Ryan, DC, Cowboys
Though Ryan has drawn a lot of attention for his mouth in Dallas, he's also drawn a lot of attention for the success of his defense. His brother is succeeding as a head coach in New York, obviously, and it's believed to be only a matter of time until Rob gets a chance. Don't sleep on him being the only coach who might actually increase ticket sales, too. The biggest question might be whether the Jaguars prefer an offensive guy heading up the team.
Rob Chudzinksi, OC, Panthers
"Chud" took his first coordinator gig this season when he followed Ron Rivera from San Diego to Carolina to serve as offensive coordinator of the Panthers. And he's drawn plenty of attention with the work he and his staff have done with Cam Newton, one of the most prolific rookie quarterbacks in NFL history. If the Jaguars believed Chudzinski could have the same effect on Gabbert as he did Cam in 2011, they'll certainly be interested in at least adding him to the short (?) list of potential candidates.
Jeff Fisher, former Titans head coachUntil he was fired last season by the Titans, Fisher was the NFL's longest tenured coach having been on the sidelines in Tennessee (and before they moved, Houston) for 17 years. He's well respected by his players and clearly capable of building a winner over the long haul. His background is as a defensive coach, but the Titans' offense had little trouble matriculating the ball down the field with the right personnel (see Eddie George and Steve McNair, for example). Xs and Os are important, but more important is motivating a team in dire need of direction.
Bill Cowher, CBS Sports NFL analyst, former Steelers head coachThe former Steelers coach said earlier this season that he had no plans on coaching in 2012, but like most things, plans can change depending on the circumstances. In this case, we're guessing Cowher would need 10 million or so circumstances to nudge him back onto the sidelines. Jacksonville isn't as glamorous as, say, Miami or New York, cities with other possible job openings at the end of the year, but presumably Cowher will be motivated by more than the local Zagat's guide. The Jags have played like an uninspired bunch in 2011 and while Cowher may not possess the tactical acumen of, say, Bill Belichick, he is, above all else, inspirational. Plus, there's a good chance Cowher will bring some of the Steelers front office with him wherever he ends up, which means built-in roster depth and salary-cap savvy.
Brian Billick, FOX Sports NFL analyst, former Ravens head coachBillick got his job with the Ravens because he was hailed as something of an offensive mastermind during his OC-ing days with the Vikings (not hurting that perception: Cris Carter, Randy Moss and Randall Cunningham). He's not much into developing quarterbacks he was also responsible for drafting, but Gabbert's already there. Maybe he'd have better success if he wasn't actually burdened with selecting the player, too. Either way, Billick was a winner in Baltimore even if it wasn't always pretty. He's been out of coaching since 2008 but it's only a matter of time before he gets another chance.
Brian Schottenheimer, Jets OCThe list of hot young coordinators isn't as long as it once was. Crash-and-burns from the likes of Eric Mangini and Josh McDaniels tempered some of the "let's go young!" enthusiasm temporarily favored by owners and front-office types. But Schottenheimer, despite the annual criticism, is considered an up-and-comer with the Jets. That offense, with Mark Sanchez under center, is far from high-powered, instead built around the run. They've had success with that philosophy, twice making it to the AFC Championship game, but the "ground and pound" approach relies on a stout defense. The Jags have the makings of that, although it's not clear Schottenheimer would be able to get the most out of Gabbert or Jacksonville's offense.
Russ Grimm, Cardinals associated head coachJust over four years ago, Grimm was in line to replace Cowher in Pittsburgh and widely considered head-coaching material. He lost out to Mike Tomlin for the Steelers gig and has been the associate head coach in Arizona ever since. He was an offensive lineman during his playing career and he would bring a certain toughness the Jags have lost this season. He's not a top candidate but there's no guarantee the Jags will be able to land their No. 1 choice.
Wild Card: Tom Coughlin, Giants head coachApparently, Coughlin's on the hot seat in New York, although that seems silly given that the Giants have been besieged with injuries and bad luck. It's not like he's lost the team, but should he get canned, Coughlin could be worth a long look to return to the place where it all started for Jacksonville. He was the franchise's first coach, from 1995-2002, and he led them to two AFC Championship appearances, and in 1999, a 14-2 record.
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Posted on: June 28, 2011 7:28 pm
Edited on: June 28, 2011 7:38 pm
Posted by Ryan Wilson
Here's a headline that should surprise absolutely no one: "Arizona Cardinals could be interested in Ike Taylor."
A lot has to happen for the Cardinals to land the soon-to-be free agent cornerback who spent the first eight years of his career with the Steelers, but since Ken Whisenhunt became coach in 2007, the Pittsburgh-to-Arizona player pipeline has flowed freely.
Before getting the head coaching gig with the Cards, Whisenhunt was the Steelers offensive coordinator. In the four years since he arrived in Arizona, the Cardinals have signed Joey Porter, Sean Morey, Alan Faneca, Jerame Tuman, Bryant McFadden, Brian St. Pierre, and Dan Kreider -- all former Steelers. And there's Whisenhunt's staff: Russ Grimm (an assistant under Bill Cowher) is the Cardinals assistant head coach, Ray Horton (an assistant under Mike Tomlin) is the new defensive coordinator, and Deshea Townsend (a Steelers cornerback from 1998-2009) is the new defensive backs coach. (We won't even mention the Steelers-Cards ball boy connection.)
Ike Taylor's immediate future is contingent on many things, chief among them: the owners and players settling on a new collective bargaining agreement. Beyond that, it will come down to demand and, of course, money. At various stages of the offseason Taylor has hinted that he wanted to stay in Pittsburgh but that he wasn't interested in giving any hometown discounts to do so.
We suppose there's a chance Taylor lands in Arizona (affectionately known as Pittsburgh West), but a lot will have to happen before it gets to that point. Sports 620 KTAR radio's Ron Wolfley (who also calls Cardinals' games, and whose brother, Craig, is a sideline reporter for the Steelers radio network) breaks out the hypotheticals:
"Let's say they deal [Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie] and bring in Kevin Kolb as their quarterback," Wolfley said, according to ArizonaSports.com. "Does Ike Taylor make sense at the corner opposite of Patrick Peterson? I can tell you it makes perfect sense for so many different reasons. Number one, we're talking about a grizzled veteran. A guy who is a true players pro. He's a professional. A guy that would mentor a young Patrick Peterson. A guy that has been in the league nine years and he's been durable as well. He's missed three games in nine years.
"This is a guy who would be a perfect fit because he already knows Ray Horton's defense. He'd have to be brought up to speed on the terminology but playing corner is not exactly the same as playing quarterback in the National Football League if you get my drift. Ike Taylor could do it. You could bring him in. He'd be the perfect guy in this system."
But Taylor wouldn't come cheap (not to mention DRC for Kolb isn't likely). He'll be one of the most sought-after cornerbacks in free agency after Nnamdi Asomugha. And then there's this: recent history suggests that 31-year-old cornerbacks, even those coming off solid seasons, usually see their productivity drop off a cliff in subsequent seasons.
That's not a guarantee that a similar fate awaits Taylor. (Champ Bailey and Charles Woodson have defied the odds. Of course, Taylor was at no point in his career as good as either Bailey or Woodson, so that's worth keeping in mind, too.) But it's a lot of money to spend on a cornerback with his best days likely behind him. Even if he's expected to mentor rookie Patrick Peterson.
By the way, by most accounts, Peterson is a high-character guy who doesn't seem to need much in the way of mentoring. (And if he does, Townsend would be perfectly suited for that role.) Using that logic, Taylor would make perfect sense in Baltimore. But we're pretty sure that ain't happening.
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Posted on: February 11, 2011 4:24 pm
Posted by Will Brinson
Now that the Cards have filled their defensive coordinator position, the Steelers have just one obstacle to retaining their own DC Dick LeBeau: retirement.
It appears they'll have an answer soon, too. NFL Network's Jason LaCanfora reports that the Steelers -- who got the "only you" nod from LeBeau recently -- are "hopeful about formalizing a new contract" with LeBeau sometime next week.
"It looks very positive," LaCanfora's source said.
If LeBeau returns -- and it seems pretty likely based on LaCanfora's report -- that's tremendous news for the Steelers, as he's the guy (outside of the players) who makes their dangerous defense works.
It might have made sense for LeBeau to bounce after a Super Bowl victory, too, but considering that the Steelers are probably primed for another big season -- if they can boost the offensive line and hold onto a few key defensive players -- it makes a lot of sense for him to return and make another run at a title.
And provided he does return, it's more than likely he'll receive a one-year contract; the Steelers wouldn't allow Arizona to interview linebackers coach and likely DC-in-waiting Keith Butler, which means he's not far off from taking LeBeau's spot.
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Posted on: January 23, 2011 4:28 pm
Posted by Will Brinson
We hear all the time about players who are potential free agents. (Case in point: Peyton Manning, who doesn't have a contract for 2011 ... yet.) But what about the coaches? Case in point: Dick LeBeau, who's contract will reportedly expire following the 2010.
LeBeau, the Hall of Fame player (there's a distinction, and he's in for playing, but "not for coaching") who also happened to architect Pittsburgh's vaunted defense, will be a free agent after this season, according to ESPN.
There appear to be three possible outcomes from LeBeau hitting the market. One, he returns to the Steelers. Two, he retires. And three, he heads to Arizona.
The return to Pittsburgh is obvious, because he's had so much success there and the personnel in place is ideal for his system.
The retirement is a possibility because, as youthful as LeBeau still looks, he's 73.
And Arizona makes sense, because the Cardinals were terrible on defense in 2010, have former Steelers coaches Ken Wisenhunt and Russ Grimm on staff in the desert and don't currently have a defensive coordinator. (Also, old people go to the desert when they want to step away from work and play more golf, so that makes sense too.)
If LeBeau did jump to Arizona, he'd have his work cut out for him, but engineering a turnaround for that defense would be possible -- just not easy -- and would provide a pretty nice cherry on top of LeBeau's already superb career.
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Posted on: October 29, 2010 11:03 am
Edited on: October 29, 2010 11:06 am
Here’s one writer already making a case for John Fox to coach the Cowboys.
Posted on: October 28, 2010 9:40 am
Posted by Josh Katzowitz
- Jets owner Woody Johnson is trying to solve the Cablevision/Fox conundrum so New York's fans can, you know, actually watch the game. Yeah, good luck with that, Woody. By the way, the title of this post is in homage to 30 Rock. Kabletown doesn't actually exist. Or does it?
- George Atallah, the NFL Players Association’s assistant director of external affairs, plays off the Cablevision/Fox fight and says it’s similar to where the NFL owners and NFLPA labor dispute is headed.
- Tremendous news for a guy down on his luck. Seahawks RB Stafon Johnson – who had the whole crushed larynx thing last year and the terrible leg injury/reconstructive surgery in the preseason – is possibly only a few weeks away from beginning to run.
- Carl Johnson, the league’s vice president of officiating, told the NFL Network on Wednesday that the officials blew the Minnesota TE Visanthe Shiancoe touchdown catch/reversal from last Sunday. Yet, Vikings coach Brad Childress’ $35,000 fine will stand. No reversal on that.
- Eagles defensive coordinator Sean McDermott might be in some trouble. With his job. Not with the law or anything.
- Armando Salguero thinks Sean Smith should be starting at CB instead of Jason Allen. He might get his wish this week.
- Cardinals QB Max Hall thinks he can be so much better than he played last week when he went (gasp) 4 for 16 for 36 yards and a pick. Arizona hopes so. Sounds like Hall is going to start this week, despite suffering a concussion last Sunday.
- Here’s how Cowboys WR Miles Austin is trying to correct his “drops” problem. By focusing more. That's a pretty good idea.
- Tampa Bay’s Cody Grimm will face off this week against his father, Russ Grimm. Well, Russ Grimm won’t be playing. He’s a coach now for the Cardinals. Hopefully, though, Cody can score a free dinner off his old man.
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