By: Rajan Nanavati
Just like death, taxes, and obnoxiously expensive (and increasingly weird) commercials during the Super Bowl, the sweeping coaching changes that take place each year on “Black Monday” – the Monday after the final Sunday of each NFL regular season – is inevitable. In a given year, you’ll see anywhere from three to seven head coaching dismissals take place either on that one day, or in the next 24-48 hours following.
Given that this year will be no different, with the jobs that are going to become available looking more and more obvious, here’s an early ranking of just how appealing each one of those job openings could be, in the eyes of prospective candidate.
4. New York Jets — Whoever takes the New York Jets’ head coaching job (because there’s just no way Todd Bowles will get another year) will at least have a quarterback in place on offense in Sam Darnold, and a proverbial quarterback in place on defense in safety Jamal Adams. Along with defensive lineman Leonard Williams, those guys represent the foundation upon which this team will likely be rebuilt (yet again) in the direction the new coach desires. But otherwise, there’s plenty to accomplish here before the new person in this position can start accumulating some wins. The pass catchers don’t scare anyone, the running game is mediocre, the front seven on defense could use a serious infusion of talent, and the cornerback position is rather thin.
3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers — As currently constructed, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers roster is like buying a car with fancy tires, a nice paint job, and a really expensive interior, but you’ll probably have to replace the engine and transmission in the next year and the brakes don’t work whatsoever. But other than that, it’s a great car! If General Manager Jason Licht is able to keep his own job, then this opening becomes that much less attractive. While Licht has hit on a couple of his picks (Mike Evans, O.J. Howard, and Kwon Alexander, to name a few), he has some really bad whiffs as well, which is one of the reasons this roster is so flawed. Oh, and then there’s the fact that the quarterback position is a complete nightmare, in terms of choosing to roll with James Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick, or neither of the two, moving forward.
2. Cleveland Browns – Who would’ve ever thought you’d see the Cleveland Browns so high up on this list? But the simple fact is, the Browns – at least as of right now – finally appear to have a long-term answer at the quarterback position, and loads of young talent all over this roster. Perhaps more importantly, whoever comes into this job will have the benefit of working with a true “football-focused” General Manager in John Dorsey, who’s shown the ability to keep the personnel cupboard stacked with talent.
1. Green Bay Packers – This might seem like it’s the easy choice, but it’s far from a ready-made Super Bowl run for whomever takes over this job after Mike McCarthy is almost certainly dismissed. The front seven on defense remains undermanned, the team remains notoriously frugal in free agency (even under General Manager Brian Gutekunst), and the quarterback can get cranky when things aren’t going his way. Then again, you’ve got arguably the baddest quarterback in the NFL itching for a coach who can simply call the right plays. If they can get someone to make the most out of a defense that has a lot of young and talented pieces in the secondary, then look out.