Who will be the hottest NFL head-coaching candidate this offseason?

Rick Gosselin

Mike McCarthy is out as head coach of the Green Bay Packers and there will be more openings in the weeks and months to come. The NFL is a win-now league and if you don’t, your job is in jeopardy. Since 2010, there have been an average of 6.6 NFL head coaches replaced each season. The Browns, Raiders and 49ers have hired four head coaches apiece since 2010.

So who will be the hottest head-coaching commodities this offseason? That’s the subject of our weekly Talk of Fame Network poll. There are several attractive options – head college coaches, former NFL head coaches and current NFL offensive coordinators. Which one do you prefer?

Bruce Arians. Current: NFL color commentator at CBS. Arians spent 20 years as an NFL assistant before finally getting the chance to become a head coach with the Arizona Cardinals in 2012. He has called plays in his career for Peyton Manning, Ben Roethlisberger, Andrew Luck and Carson Palmer. He won a Super Bowl with Roethlisberger and the Steelers in 2008 and went to the NFC title game with Palmer and the Cardinals in 2015. He retired after the 2017 record with a 49-30-1 career record but has expressed an interest in returning to the sideline.

Eric Bieniemy. Current: offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs. Bieniemy is in his first season as offensive coordinator of the Chiefs. But his genes are attractive. NFL teams have hired the offensive coordinator off Andy Reid’s staff in two of the last three offseasons – Doug Pederson by the Eagles in 2016 and Matt Nagy by the Bears in 2018. Pederson has already won a Super Bowl and Nagy is one of the front-runners for NFL Coach of the Year this season for the NFC North-leading Bears. Reid has an eye for coaching talent and a knack for developing it.

Pete Carmichael Jr. Current: offensive coordinator of the New Orleans Saints. When Sean Payton arrived in New Orleans in 2006, he hired Carmichael as his quarterback coach. In 2007 Carmichael was promoted to passing game coordinator and in 2009 he became offensive coordinator. The Saints won their only Super Bowl that season. There have been nine 5,000-yard passing seasons in NFL history and Drew Brees owns five of them, all during his tenure with Payton, Carmichael and the Saints.

Pat Fitzgerald. Current: head coach at Northwestern. With all these offensive gurus on this list, let’s mix in a candidate with a defensive background. Fitzgerald is a former Big Ten Defensive Player of the Year for his play at linebacker and a draft pick of the Dallas Cowboys. He served as a position coach at Northwestern for five seasons before his promotion to head coach in 2006 at the age of 31. He has posted a 95-70 record and taken the Wildcats to eight bowls in his first 12 seasons. It should be noted that Northwestern only went to six bowl games in its first 123 seasons of football before Fitzgerald’s hiring. He took Northwestern to its first Big Ten championship game this season.

Jim Harbaugh. Current: head coach at the University of Michigan. Harbaugh is a former quarterback at Michigan and first-round draft pick of the Chicago Bears. He quarterbacked the Colts to the AFC title game in 1995. He has enjoyed success as a coach everywhere he’s been since then. He coached San Diego to back-to-back 11-1 seasons at the FCS level, then took Stanford to a Rose Bowl during his four-year stint there. He took the 49ers to a Super Bowl during a four-year stint there and has taken Michigan to an Orange Bowl during his current four-year stint at his alma mater.

Mike McCarthy. Current: unemployed. McCarthy won six NFC North titles and a Super Bowl in his 12 seasons as head coach of the Packers. He took Green Bay to four NFC championship games and also set a franchise record with 15 victories in 2011. He won 61.8 percent of his games before his firing this month. He served as an offensive coordinator for both the San Francisco 49ers and New Orleans Saints before his hiring by the Packers.

Josh McDaniels. Current: offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots. McDaniels bookended two highly successful stints as offensive coordinator of the New England Patriots around a short, disastrous stint as head coach of the Denver Broncos. He was a great play-caller with Tom Brady in New England and a not-so-great play-caller with Kyle Orton in Denver, posting an 11-17 record and getting himself fired before he could complete two seasons. He called the plays in 2007 when the Patriots finished 16-0 and Tom Brady passed for 4,806 yards and 50 touchdowns.

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Lincoln Riley. Current: head coach at the University of Oklahoma. Riley served as offensive coordinator at Oklahoma for three seasons before being promoted to head coach with the retirement of Bob Stoops in 2017. Riley has posted a 24-3 record as a head coach and has the Sooners in the College Football Playoff this post-season. He called the plays that won Baker Mayfield a Heisman Trophy in 2017 and made Kyler Murray a Heisman finalist in 2018.

David Shaw. Current: head coach at Stanford University. Shaw spent 11 seasons as an NFL assistant coach before being hired by Stanford in 2007 as offensive coordinator. He was promoted to head coach when Jim Harbaugh left for the 49ers in 2011. Shaw has won three Pac 12 championships and taken the Cardinals to three Rose Bowls during his eight-year tenure as head coach. He has posted an 81-26 record, including a 12-2 mark in 2015 when the Cardinal finished third in the nation. He coaches quarterbacks, wide receivers and tight ends during NFL stints with Philadelphia, Oakland, Baltimore and San Diego.

So who do you like? Give us your opinion in our “Comments” section.


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