In this week’s episode of The MMQB NFL Podcast—oh wait; you’re not a subscriber? Download here, and be sure to subscribe for all the best NFL discussion every week—we kicked off the show by talking about the most desirable head coaching job openings that will come about this winter.
We grouped jobs that may be available into two categories: The locks, or openings that are very likely (Cleveland, Green Bay, Tampa Bay, New York Jets and Baltimore) and the jobs that could, maybe, possibly become available depending on how the season finishes out (Cincinnati, Arizona, Denver).
Co-worker Albert Breer went with the only official opening as of right now—the Cleveland Browns—as the best opening. Baker Mayfield is certainly enticing for an offensive-minded head coach, while new general manager John Dorsey seems to have poured some cement and laid a foundation of sanity and professionalism.
Editor Bette Marston, guesting for Jenny Vrentas this week, said that Baltimore would be her choice given the young talent emerging on offense, especially quarterback Lamar Jackson.
Assuming we’re throwing all eight teams into the mix, here’s how I’d rank them (and why):
1. Cincinnati: This drew chuckles on the podcast, but here’s why I’m serious: This organization has proven they’ll be (overly) patient and won’t meddle. If you’re a young coach with a family and kids in school looking for job security, this is gigantic. EVP Katie Blackburn has proven to be a strong negotiator and cap planner. Assuming Marvin Lewis doesn’t ascend to some nebulous front office role where he’s able to meddle in decision-making (a big IF), you can plan on being there for a little while. You’ll have time to burn whatever is left to the ground, but will still have a year or two of A.J. Green’s prime left to work with.
2. New York Jets: Another job where ownership seems to have taken more of a pragmatic view. Christopher Johnson has taken the reigns from his brother, Woody, to rave reviews. He gave Todd Bowles room to work, and though it didn’t work out, I’m not sure Bowles will have much to complain about on his way out. You’ll walk into a job that has a promising but relatively blank canvas at quarterback (Sam Darnold) and a boatload of cap space.
3. Cleveland Browns: Dorsey seems like one of the better general managers to work under and the young talent on this roster is insanely good. This is both the attraction and the drawback: If you’re good, you could easily reach the playoffs in your first two years with a boatload of stars still on their rookie deals. If you’re not good, the Browns will find someone else to elevate Baker Mayfield.
4. Baltimore Ravens: A good mix of young talent and a quarterback in Lamar Jackson who provides some exciting possibilities for your offense. Another ownership group that seems patient, and the football world has nothing but rave reviews for incoming GM Eric Decosta.
5. Green Bay Packers: Fun for the right coach, but difficult for someone who may not be used to a quarterback that pushes back and likes to run the show. Having Aaron Rodgers for the remainder of his prime is the best part of this job, but also comes with myriad stresses. Dig into Packer teams over the past decade and you’ll find that it takes a brain surgeon type to match wits with the franchise quarterback.
6. Arizona Cardinals: You have a good, young quarterback who can develop into something special and a great receiving back. The defense has some pieces, too. The division is loaded, but the roster rebuild should buy a good coach some time to tinker.
7. Denver Broncos: An old roster that is going to be plucked apart. Starting over (again) at the quarterback position. A demanding, Super Bowl-winning personnel head in John Elway. This job can be one of the best in the NFL if things are going your way, but it can get tense pretty quickly when the losses stack up.
8. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: You’re likely starting over with a new QB or thrust into the middle of a blind evaluation on Jameis Winston before his fifth-year option is up. Outside of Mike Evans, O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate, are you salivating to work with the assembled personnel? And do you feel you can make headway in a very good NFC South?
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3. Tom Coughlin speaks out amid Jaguars meltdown.
4. Mike Vrabel’s quarterback did a cool thing Monday, but he’s more worried about the losing.
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6. Washington’s statement on Foster, which has drawn heavy criticism for it’s obvious tone deafness.
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