One of NFL fans' favorite pastimes is discussing coaches on the bubble and wondering just when the axe might be falling and change taking place for teams whose seasons for all practical purposes have ended too early.
The roar came early in this NFL season from fans unhappy with Rex Ryan in Buffalo, Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati, Chuck Pagano in Indianapolis, Gus Bradley in Jacksonville, Mike McCoy in San Diego, Jim Caldwell in Detroit and Jeff Fisher in Los Angeles.
The talk has all but disappeared over Ryan, whose Bills have rattled off a four-game win streak; Fisher off a 3-1 start with the Rams; and despite how dramatically the Bengals have under-achieved, nobody really expected owner Mike Brown to move on Lewis.
Perhaps it’s just a coincidence but Pagano, Bradley, McCoy and Caldwell have all won a game or even two in the past couple weeks, so the predictors of doom have gone silent for the most part for now.
With that being the case, it’s occurred to me that for all the time we spend talking about who will be next to get fired among NFL coaches, we rarely focus on who the coaches out there most likely to replace them are.
What got me thinking about this were the multiple reports I’m hearing about one well-known coaching prospect who is apparently working the back channels like mad to make sure he’s a candidate when jobs start to come open.
Just days after the end of the 2015 season, New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin announced he was resigning after 12 seasons in charge.
It was pretty obvious to all of us that Coughlin didn’t really want to go and was most likely told by Giants ownership his choice was to resign or be fired, and he chose the less scarring option.
That was confirmed when Coughlin acknowledged being a candidate for the Eagles job just days later.
But Doug Pederson got that job and Coughlin seemed to go silent, until recently.
It seems that Coughlin’s “people” are now reaching out all over the league letting people know that the coach is not the retiring kind and that he hopes they’ll make him their first call should a job open up.
How his message is being received I can’t say, but Coughlin is definitely looking for work and we will be hearing his name come the 2016 season’s “Black Monday” and beyond.
One of the flavors of the month come January 2017 will definitely be Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator George Edwards. He has been overseeing the Vikings' defense since 2014 and has 26 years of coaching experience at the major college and NFL level, including stints coordinating the Washington and Buffalo defenses as well.
Mike Zimmer still makes a lot of his own defensive calls, and Edwards was arrested for a DWI in May, but he's done a great job with the Vikings.
Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels has turned down several interview opportunities in recent years, but we are hearing now that much like his mentor, Bill Belichick, he believes he’s now ready for his second crack at a top job and every team with an opening will probably be anxious to interview him.
This should also be the year that his teammate, Patriots defensive coordinator Matt Patricia, finally gets his due and becomes a popular candidate as well.
Another long-time assistant whose time is probably coming is Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, who currently has the Falcons offense flying high.
Carolina offensive coordinator Mike Shula and Philadelphia’s offensive coordinator Frank Reich are two more top assistants who should get multiple interviews as well.