Joe Amon/The Denver Post via Getty Images


  • With eight NFL head-coach openings out there, there's a good chance we'll see some second-time candidates. Who is most likely to be hired as an NFL head coach again?
By Conor Orr
January 02, 2019

If you spent the last two days in the requisite champagne-induced haze, and the resulting wicked, sugary hangover cocoon, allow us to catch you up on everything happening on the coaching carousel in 2019: It’s weird out there, a lot of familiar names are going to pop up again and Bruce Arians likes all the jobs.

With the absence of a star college coach like David Shaw, Lincoln Riley or Brian Kelly ascending to the professional ranks for now (more on that down below), the prevailing theme during the mad interview dash so far has been assessing the crop of second-time candidates. Two reasons why: First, because there isn’t a massive wave of qualified first-time candidates out there, and second, because there’s usually a mistake or two made when nearly a quarter of the league gets fired at once.

So let’s size up that group in a top-five ranking, with a special focus on those who have been linked to other jobs already.

1. Vance Joseph: I think if you’re an owner breaking down the field, you have to feel for Joseph, who was handed a roster pickled with end-of-the-run veterans and no quarterback but still expected to compete for the Super Bowl. Yes, you don’t put up a losing record in back-to-back seasons in Denver and survive, but Joseph’s circumstances are unique. He’s already on his way to Cincinnati, though one might fear he’s entering a startlingly similar personnel situation for his second opportunity.

2. Mike McCarthy: It’s wild to think that this is only McCarthy’s second head coaching gig, but when you hold the first one from 2006 to ’18, you tend not to need another crack at it. With plenty of quarterback-needy teams looking for head coaches, his name will come up often. He was already linked to a full personnel control situation in Arizona but reportedly turned it down. That means there’s something he likes better out there.

3. Josh McDaniels: It’s amazing that we’ve come this far; that McDaniels has gone full circle and is a sought-after name again. While the Colts debacle may have been rooted in something understandable, will other teams feel OK about making the hire? Green Bay has been linked to McDaniels most closely, which makes sense. There are not many coaches on the market who can deal with the demands and schematic whims of their future hall-of-fame quarterback.

4. Adam Gase: While there are apparently some off-the-field issues to get sorted out here, I have a hard time believing that a coach who made the playoffs with a Ryan Tannehill-led team is not above average when it comes to play design and play calling. Is Gase a little rough around the edges? Yes. But there are markets where that plays, with Arizona seeming like a nice fit. The Cardinals are going all-in offensively with their search so far.

T5. Todd Bowles: If I had a veteran team with a good quarterback who could basically steer his own offense, I wouldn’t hesitate to hire Bowles. (and apparently, a few other teams feel the same way). There are some inside the building who felt the team was a different offensive coordinator and a game-management czar away from being special. Yes, that’s a lot of IF’s. But it’s not easy to find coaches with NFL playing experience who can connect to their locker rooms as well as Bowles can. A rebuild may not have been the best first-job option.

T5. Bruce Arians: Bruce Arians wants the Browns job, though I can’t really see that happening. He might be interested in the Buccaneers job, too, which makes a little more sense. Age and health are certainly concerns, but what I like about hiring Arians is that he leaves a trail of qualified coaches behind him. Bryon Leftwich took a massive leap under Arians. He elevated Harold Goodwin to the point where Goodwin was getting looks for head coaching jobs. If you’re a team like Tampa Bay, maybe you make that move knowing that he’ll leave a successor behind whenever he’s done.

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NOW ON THE MMQB: The fallout from Antonio Brown’s reported blowout in practice. … How the Bears became fun again. … MMQB VOTES: Staff picks for MVP and other awards.

WHAT YOU MAY HAVE MISSED:case for the Browns to keep Gregg Williams and Freddie Kitchens. … The winners and losers of Black Monday in the NFL. … Drawing Inspiration: The story of Desmond King and his brother, Devon.


1. Would Brian Kelly go to the NFL? The Buccaneers may have emerged as a potential suitor.

2. John Elway goes deep on his recent turmoil in Denver, but defends his record.

3. The fun-to-say offensive coordinator name rankings will need to be shuffled a bit. Jim Bob Cooter has been let go in Detroit.

4. Who have been the best rookies of 2018? Pro Football Focus takes a stab.

5. Would the 49ers trade for Odell Beckham?


Welcome to 2019, which, so far, seems a hell of a lot like 2018.

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