As the NFL Combine approaches, there are always a few high profile players who opt not to attend or to only partially participate. For some of the elite players, they feel they can only hurt their draft stock by a bad workout so they decide to let their play and pre-draft hype speak for itself self.
Cam Newton, who held a “media only” workout recently, announced this week that he plans to fully participate in the upcoming combine which is a surprise to many. Many experts believed that the “media only” workout may have been Newton’s opportunity to showcase his talents and that he wouldn’t want to participate in the combine to avoid being potentially exposed in some of his weak areas and to avoid the pervasive interviews about the scandal surrounding Newton at Auburn.
For Newton, the workout he had for the media accomplished what it was meant to accomplish. It generated a great deal of hype and those at some prominent media outlets immediately began to gush over his workout and move him up the mock draft boards. So, with the incredible hype already surrounding him, is it a good idea for Newton to fully participate at the combine?
When asked about his decision to participate, Newton said that he wants “to be transparent” through the whole draft process. He also added:
“I don’t have nothing to hide, and I’m a competitor. I’m going to go out here and do what I’ve been working on this whole time and preparing for this moment right now.”
Cam Newton has been working with a QB coach in San Diego and has received mentoring from Hall of Famer Warren Moon. Newton is already projected to be a top 10 pick, but there are many landmines between now and the draft that could significantly hurt his draft position.
Personally, I think it’s a great idea for Newton to participate in the combine despite some of the dangers. Physically, he’s an imposing individual and I believe that once NFL scouts and executives actually see him in action up close and personal they will struggle to hold back their excitement. Newton is already a more polished passer than Vince Young or Tim Tebow and Sam Bradford helped to dispel the myth that QB’s coming from spread offenses cannot adjust to an NFL scheme.
It is troubling, however, the number of fans and analysts that immediately say that Newton will struggle to pick up an offense and may lack the football IQ due to the system in which he played. No such questions surrounded Tebow or Bradford and so they should not be tagged on Newton. Will it be a long process for Newton to learn to play under center and learn an NFL offense? Of course. But not necessarily any more so than with any other QB prospect in the last 10 years, including Bradford.
Physically, I find it nearly impossible for Newton to have a bad outing. He is just that athletic that I am willing to assume that he will perform well as far as the physical tests. My biggest concern is the interview process. If NFL executives get the feeling that Newton isn’t fully invested in the game of football or that he’s not being completely honest and forthright with them regarding the scandal, it could scare a lot of teams away.
To this point, Newton offered the following:
“That’s nothing I’m worried about. I understand that everybody’s entitled to their own opinion, and I just feel like if I have an opportunity to speak with a person or let a person evaluate me as a person, not something that has been stereotyped, I think their perception about me will change, and I’m willing to take that risk.”
Even despite the massive drama surrounding Newton and Auburn this past season he performed brilliantly each and every week. He said all the right things in all the interviews and even though he refused to answer certain questions in a Mark McGuire type way, he handled the scandal relatively well. He continues to say all the right things, but only he knows the truth about the situation with his father.
I believe he will continue to say the same things and I think participating in the combine will significantly improve his already high draft stock. I think it is a great decision on his part to participate especially given that rival draft prospect Blaine Gabbert has already decided not to throw at the combine later this week.
Let’s just see how high this kid goes…
News came out yesterday that Carson Palmer has requested a trade from the Cincinnati Bengals and if the team doesn’t comply he will consider retirement. I don’t believe Palmer would actually retire, but it’s the only leverage he has since he’s under contract. The only way the Bengals would feel compelled to trade him is if there is a threat that he can walk away from the game and they would lose out on any compensation.
Palmer was once considered one of the brightest NFL stars and he was quickly rising to top of the QB heap. Then he was hit by Kimo von Oelhoffen which blew his knee up and he hasn’t been the same ever since. I don’t personally put it all on Carson although he has been putrid because he happens to play for one of the top 5 most dysfunctional NFL franchises in my opinion.
But he has been awful and there is no sign that he will be able to get his career back on track with the Bengals, so I actually think a change of scenery would benefit both Carson and the Bengals. So with that being said, where are the best landing spots for the once great QB?
These are based on my opinion only and I have not heard anything regarding interest for either side. But I do believe that each of these spots would love to get their hands on Palmer and I think Palmer would love to play for each of these teams to a varying degree.
3. Arizona Cardinals:
The Cardinals have perhaps the worst QB situation in the NFL and despite being only a couple years removed from a near Super Bowl victory, their QB play was awful this season that they were one of the worst teams in the league. The offense, with even a competent QB, could be devastating with weapons like Larry Fitzgerald (who, oh by the way is about to be a free agent and the Cardinals need to make a move in order to keep him) and others.
The Cardinals, with even marginal QB play could have easily won the awful NFC West after we watched the Seahawks win the division with a 7-9 record. Carson Palmer may never again be an elite NFL QB, but what better opportunity for him than with one of the top 3 WR’s in the NFL, in a weak division, and with an offensive minded coach? I truly believe Palmer could thrive in Arizona with the offensive weapons that are in place.
2. Minnesota Vikings:
The Vikings put their entire hopes for success on Brett Favre for the last two seasons and after failing miserably, it ultimately cost Brad Childress his job. They were one awful Brett Favre pass away from the Super Bowl last season and the team is stacked on both sides of the ball. Childress unthinkably went into the season with absolutely no contingency plan should Favre get hurt or fail and it ultimately ruined the Vikings hopes of even competing for a division title, let alone making a Super Bowl run.
This team is absolutely stacked on offense with Adrian Peterson, Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, and Visanthe Shiancoe. The defense, barring all the Favre turnovers, was still a top defense in the league. With reasonable QB play, this team could make a serious run for the Super Bowl. Again, it’s a great situation for Palmer as well to revamp his career with all those weapons and with such a strong supporting cast around him.
1. San Francisco 49ers:
Carson is obviously a west coast guy, growing up in California and playing at USC. Similarly to the Cardinals, the 49ers have a very good team and with marginal QB play they could have seriously contended for the division and beyond. The 49ers don’t have quite the offensive weaponry that Arizona does, but they’re not far behind them. Frank Gore, Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree and others isn’t a bad supporting cast to start off with. If they’re able to add another weapon through the draft or free agency, they could get dangerous in a hurry.
Not to mention, the acquisition of Carson Palmer would remove the immediate need to draft a QB in the first round which would open up that pick to fill other needs whether it be another running back (which I think they desperately need), a WR, or a defensive player. Frank Gore can be great, but he is often injured. They can likely get a quality back later in the draft though to add depth and share the load.
The 49ers have a dynamic defense lead by the best linebacker in the NFL in my opinion in Patrick Willis. If Carson Palmer can regain his form or even get close to his former self, this can be a dangerous team. Add to the equation, the hiring of Jim Harbaugh who is likely to be perceived as a bonus for Palmer.
I don’t know if Palmer will end up getting moved and if he does I’m not sure where he’ll go. But I do think both he and the Bengals need to part ways immediately. He is regressing each year and no one is benefitting from this relationship any longer. The 3 teams I laid out fit in my opinion on both sides. They are great opportunities for Palmer to get his career back on track and Palmer, even at the level he played this season, would be an upgrade to the QB’s these teams had last season.
Other teams I considered were the Miami Dolphins, who are desperate need for a QB, but I’m not sure that’s a great situation for Palmer. The Dolphins catapulted into one of the most dysfunctional teams after their horrific handling of the Jim Harbaugh interview and how they treated Tony Sparano. They undercut Sparano and set him up for failure.
The Oakland Raiders are another possibility because they need a QB and they’re a west coast team, but if I were Carson, I wouldn’t want anything to do with the Raiders. They are a team that made great strides this season, but as long as Al Davis is involved, I wouldn’t go anywhere near that team.
People in Cleveland will immediately call for a trade to bring Palmer to the Browns, but I don’t think it’s a good fit on both sides. For Palmer, why would he want to go to the Browns and be in a similar position where he was in Cincinnati. For the Browns, why would you want a veteran QB who has regressed each year for the last 5 years or so and hurt the development of Colt McCoy.
The Washington Redskins need a QB badly after the McNabb experiment appears to have failed. It’s still a possibility that they bring McNabb back and give him a chance to succeed, but given Shanahan’s treatment of McNabb, it’s unlikely. Shanahan doesn’t want McNabb there and McNabb likely doesn’t want to be there. Palmer will likely be desired by Dan Snyder and the Redskins, but I don’t think it would be a good situation for Palmer. They could throw a big extension at him though to seal the deal and I wouldn’t rule them out. This is likely Palmer’s last chance to revive his career and earn a big extension or new contract.
Tennessee is another possibility that I seriously considered. The Titans are in desperate need of a quality QB and they seem to have enough pieces in place to make a serious run for the post-season, if not the Super Bowl. They are a good team and they do have weapons in place that could help Palmer revive his career. Jeff Fisher is also a USC guy so there’s definitely a connection there. After parting ways with Vince Young, they certainly need a veteran QB that can help them win now. I would actually consider them on the same level as the other 3 teams I mentioned and I have them as my sleeper right now.
Mike Singletary and the San Francisco 49ers have had a disappointing season after being projected as favorites to run away with the NFC West. Things have not gone according to plan and Singletary has been forced to flip flop QB’s several times between Alex and Troy Smith. Neither have been great.
During the 49ers loss to the St. Louis Rams, Troy Smith threw an interception and was hit pretty hard during the return. His frustration with his play and the 49ers season finally broke through as he exploded on the sideline during a discussion with Mike Singletary. High School & College teammate, Ted Ginn Jr. intervened to attempt to calm the situation down. Video below….
Derek Anderson and the Arizona Cardinals have not had the greatest year so far. The Cardinals are struggling mightily with the transition from Kurt Warner to their heir apparent. After running Matt Leinart out of town, the Cardinals have been forced to go with Derek Anderson for most of the season. Despite a great 2007 campaign with the Cleveland Browns, “DA” has left much to be desired.
In his last year with the Browns, he had the 2nd worst completion % of ALL TIME and had the worst QB rating in the NFL. He hasn’t really improved in Arizona either as the Cardinals have gone from a SuperBowl team to a laughing stock in just a couple seasons.
The Cardinals woes continued last night as they faced the San Francisco 49ers on Monday Night Football. If you missed it, analyst and former SuperBowl winning coach, Jon Gruden called out DA for laughing it up on the sidelines during their embarrassing blowout defeat. A loss in which DA went 16 of 35 with 1 INT and no TD’s.
After the game in the post-game press conference a reporter “foolishly” questioned DA about the great time he seemed to be having with one of his linemen. DA’s response is both hilarious and epic almost on a Denny Green scale.
I’ll give you the full, uncut version of both the Monday Night Football video as well as the full tantrum by DA and then, of course, I added a little extra for your enjoyment.
Check it out and enjoy!
Josh McDaniels learned under the tuteledge of the great Bill Belichick as QB’s coach and then Offensive Coordinator in New England. McDaniels got his shot as a young Head Coach in Denver and has since shown that he’s trying to mimic the Patriots system as much as possible. News from the Denver Post is just another example of that as a Denver Broncos have been accused of taping their opponents.
Chief Operating Office, Joe Ellis confirmed to the paper that the NFL is reviewing accusations of filming the San Francisco 49ers back in week 8. Broncos Director of Video Operations, Steve Scarnecchia, is on what is being termed a “personal leave of absence” while the investigation takes place.
The game in question is the annual NFL game in London England where the Broncos lost 24-16. Accusations say the Broncos taped a walk-through practice session the day before the game.
McDaniels certainly learned a great deal from one of the best coaches in the NFL and apparently he minored in espionage in addition to his football studies. We’ll see how this plays out, but at the very least, there is some smoke coming from Denver Colorado.
By now you’ve heard about Vince Young‘s antics yesterday during and following the Tennessee Titans loss to the Washington Redskins. There have been numerous posts about Young’s immature behavior and his previous issues with immaturity and lack of leadership. So after allegedly throwing his pads into the stands after being booed by the home crowd and leaving the locker room before Coach Jeff Fisher addressed the team, the Vince Young era in Titans football is likely over.
Now they may not make any roster moves during the season, although it’s entirely possible that they might just waive him given his recent behavior, it certainly appears that Jeff Fisher will be looking for a new QB of the future. So barring a major change, Vince Young will be looking for a new team to take a chance on him.
When taking a look at where he might land, I’m evaluating the team’s need for a QB, overall situation (contender, rebuilding) as well as their historical willingness or aversiveness to risk.
My top 5 potential landing spots for Vince Young are as follows:
5. Miami Dolphins:
The Dolphins, who were thought to at least challenge for the loaded AFC East, suddenly have significant QB concerns. The team bounced back from a 1-15 season under the leadership of the great Bill Parcells and have since constructed a very solid team. They have the pieces to legitimately contend year in and year out. Well… they thought they did anyway. The Dolphins selected QB Chad Henne from Michigan 3 years ago and while he’s shown some promise, he’s quickly fallen out of favor.
Henne won the starting job from the oft-injured Chad Pennington but struggled this year and then went down with a knee injury. The injury forced Chad Pennington into action and predictably, Pennington made it about 3 plays before suffering a season-ending injury. The Dolphins were then forced to start Tyler Thigpen against the Bears this past Thursday and they were shut out.
Henne will return and may even play again this year, but I’m not sure if he’s the long-term solution at QB for the Dolphins. He’s been average at best and the team needs more out of their QB position. Now I’m not saying that Vince Young can give them what they need, but it doesn’t mean the Dolphins won’t take a look at him as a backup and even to compete with Henne for the starting job.
4. Seattle Seahawks:
The Seahawks have been pretty bad over the past few years and a big cause is the lack of consistency at the QB position. Matt Hasselbeck is a very good NFL QB, but he rarely stays healthy for an extended period of time. After losing Seneca Wallace to the Cleveland Browns, they also lost a veteran backup with years of experience with the team. And while Hasselbeck might be able to come up with a good year or two, he’s very close to the end of his career, leaving the Seahawks with no long-term solution in sight.
Pete Carroll is also enamored with Vince Young, especially after VY torched his Trojans in the BCS Title game. It might make sense, depending on compensation, to bring Young in to learn under Matt Hasselbeck for a year or two. Vince Young definitely needs to develop as a QB, a teammate and a leader and it might serve him well to spend some time as a backup behind a veteran QB. Yes, I know he learned under Kerry Collins, but that clearly didn’t work. Maybe a change of scenery will wake Vince up and he’ll actually take advantage of his next opportunity.
3. San Francisco 49ers:
The 49ers drafted Alex Smith #1 overall out of Utah and passed on Aaron Rodgers. That decision has haunted them ever since as Alex Smith has been mostly underwhelming and their investment in him has caused them to give him far too many opportunities. Troy Smith did give the 49ers a spark with a couple wins, but I’m not sold on him as a long-term solution at QB.
Again, I don’t know if Vince Young can be a starting QB in the NFL long-term for any franchise, but I’ll be surprised if the 49ers don’t at least consider him. He definitely has immaturity issues, but he has been mostly successful in the NFL, at least in terms of wins and losses. I don’t know if the 49ers will try to draft another QB as well, but it would be at least a good temporary solution to bring Vince Young in as he’s better than anything they have at this point.
2. Minnesota Vikings:
The Vikings are obviously not real excited with any of their QB’s not named Brett Favre (and after this season, that exclusion probably doesn’t apply). But after two seasons of completely destroying his credibility, Brad Childress made it abundantly clear that he did not trust Tavaris Jackson or Sage Rosenfels. Now it’s likely that Chilly will be out maybe even before the year is over, but I have to believe that others in the organization are less than pleased with the QB situation in Minnesota as well.
At a minimum, the QB’s that will be on the roster at the end of the year are unproven and inexperienced and the Vikings will need to address the position. Minnesota is stacked with talent on both sides of the ball and despite a complete failure this season where Favre and Chilly are mostly to blame, this team is very close to competing for a title. If Vince Young can get his head straight, he could be very dynamic with this offense. Can you imagine Vince Young, Adrian Peterson, Percy Harvin, and Sidney Rice? That would be an incredibly dynamic offense, potentially only rivaled by Mike Vick and the Eagles.
1. Arizona Cardinals:
Just a couple years removed from a near SuperBowl victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Cardinals find themselves as one of the worst teams in the NFL. And not for lack of overall talent, but because their QB’s are horrendous. They released 1st round bust, Matt Leinart earlier in the year after he was unable to beat out Derek Anderson and Max Hall. Which is pretty sad considering Max Hall was undrafted and Derek Anderson is consistently one of the worst QB’s in the NFL and likely won’t be an NFL QB for very long.
The Cardinals have playmakers all over the field, except at the QB position and after Kurt Warner’s retirement, they are left with literally no one to play QB. Vince Young obviously has his issues, but if Ken Whisenhunt can get him to commit and focus, he’s absolutely a better option than anything they have at this point. Not to mention, with a healthy Larry Fitzgerald, it doesn’t take all that accurate of a pass to get the job done. Vince Young has actually done fairly well with longer passes but struggles with short and intermediate throws as well as reading defenses. With Beanie Wells, Larry Fitzgerald and Steve Breaston, Vince Young could thrive in this offense.
The Cardinals would need to draft or acquire another QB as a contingency plan or develop Max Hall due to Vince Young’s volatility, but they have a good enough team that they need to do something. FAST!
Carolina Panthers: I’m not sure that they would be willing to pull the plug on Jimmy Clausen yet, but they are in desperate need of a QB that can actually play. Maybe they bring Vince in and let Clausen develop as a backup, but they need to do something as they’re one of, if not THE worst team in the NFL this year.
Washington Redskins: You would think the Redskins would be all set at QB after signing Donovan McNabb to a 5 year extension, but after learning about the details of the deal it’s clear that the Redskins are able to dump him after this year. With the way Shanahan has treated McNabb, nothing would surprise me. Dan Snyder has no problem spending money or taking risks, so it is entirely possible for Vince Young to wind up in D.C.
Oakland Raiders: The Oakland Raiders are actually very close to competing in the AFC West after years of futility. They have a very good running game and for years have had a pretty good defense. They brought in Jason Campbell who has gotten a bad wrap since entering the NFL with the Redskins but it appears that the Raiders are not all that excited about Campbell. The team has gone back and forth with Campbell and Gradkowski and if they’re not sold on either, it might make sense to bring in VY. After all, Al Davis has no issues as well with spending money or taking risks on guys.
Cincinnati Bengals: This is a big time sleeper as the Bengals have serious time and money invested in Carson Palmer. But Palmer has steadily regressed since his knee injury in the playoffs against the Steelers. Prior to the injury, he was one of the better QB’s in the NFL but he has been awful this season and seems to be getting worse. The Bengals are a complete mess and failure and they’re right at the level of the Cowboys and Vikings in terms of dysfunction and failure. Bengals Owner, Mike Brown doesn’t like to spend or waste money that’s already invested, but it might be better for both the Bengals and Palmer if they parted ways. If this were to happen, or even in a backup capacity, Vince Young could be a fit in Cincinnati.
Jacksonville Jaguars: David Garrard has been very inconsistent with the Jaguars and while he’s been “ok” but he’s definitely not a long-term solution for the Jags. The Jaguars have certainly gotten an up close look at Vince Young over the years as division rivals and that could either bode well or very badly for Young. They may have seen enough on film of his lack of development and immaturity that they won’t be interested. But if they’ve seen enough raw ability and potential that they’re willing to take a chance on him, it could be a good fit. If nothing else, he can backup Garrard for a couple years and they can re-evaluate. With Young, MJD, Marcedes Lewis, and Mike Sims-Walker, they could be a dynamic offense.
Obviously this is all speculation and wherever Vince Young lands he will need to drastically change his ways if he wants to succeed in the NFL. He has been given countless second chances by Jeff Fisher, but by all accounts he’s out of opportunities in Tennessee. Given Mike Vick’s resurgence and development as a QB as he’s taken complete advantage of his second chance, someone will give Vince Young an opportunity. I’ll be watching very closely to see who shows interest.
There has been plenty of discussion this season about all the great Head Coaches that are available and rightfully so. With names like Tony Dungy, Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher, Mike Holmgren, and Brian Billick lurking around. Add to that, a list of good young coordinators who teams are dying to get ahold of to turn into the next Mike Tomlin or Raheem Morris like Leslie Frazier, Rob Ryan, and Perry Fewell and there is even more of a coaching frenzy. To top it all off, you have teams like the Cowboys, Vikings, and Bengals who have been incredible failures and you have teams like the Bills and Panthers and all of a sudden many teams are already writing off this season and are now hoping to land a new coach for the upcoming season.
So while all the discussion has been about what coach each team wants, let’s take a look at where the coaches might want to go. Obviously, the caveat is that the labor situation will make teams less likely to make a coaching change due to the uncertain economics of the league. And there are some teams that SHOULD have a head coaching change but likely won’t such as the Redskins, but the list of teams that have a good possibility of having Head Coaching vacancies are as follows:
Chicago Bears: I don’t think the Bears’ problems are necessarily Lovie Smith’s fault, at least not all of it. But the reality is, while he took the team to a SuperBowl in a fluke year, he has been mostly unsuccessful. The team has talent and has made efforts to bring in talent with Cutler, Peppers, and Taylor, but it’s just not resulting in wins. If the Bears continue to struggle, as it appears that they will, this job could easily open up.
Minnesota Vikings: The Vikings have been one of the most disappointing and mismanaged teams in the NFL this year. From what I can see, they were equally mismanaged last year, but the incredible success of the team overshadowed and hid it. The bottom line is that Chilly has screwed this team up beyond repair for this season. He has lost the locker room, he has destroyed relationships, he has made awful roster moves, and he’s mismanaged in game situations.
I wrote weeks ago that they should’ve dumped him to see what they have in Leslie Frazier and to lock him up as he just might be pursued by other teams as a head coach next year. It still may happen, but if Chilly is able to finish the year, I don’t see a scenario where he keeps his job for next year. This job better be available next season.
Carolina Panthers: John Fox has been on the hot seat for what feels like years but he somehow has managed to keep his job. With the Panthers struggling more than ever, chances are that John Fox has run out of chances in Carolina. Barring a miraculous second half (and I’m not sure even that will matter), this is probably a job that will be open.
Dallas Cowboys: Obviously Wade Phillips was just fired and Jason Garrett was named as the interim Head Coach. Garrett has long been considered the “Coach in Waiting” for the Cowboys and Jerry Jones has paid him very well to keep him there. But as the Cowboys offense continued to underperform and Garrett has been called out for questionable play calling and game planning, he has fallen out of favor.
The conventional wisdom is that Garrett has very little chance of keeping the job going into next year. Especially with the big name coaches out there that Jerry Jones may want to sign in order to make a big splash. Look, the issues with the Cowboys isn’t solely coaching, we know that. But Jerry is Jerry and likely won’t change. The end result will most likely be that the Cowboys will be in the coaching hunt this off-season.
San Francisco 49ers: The 49ers have been on the cusp of the playoffs for a couple years as they’ve had some good drafts and play in a weak division. Mike Singletary was a popular choice for the 49ers when they replaced Mike Nolan and there have been high expectations for the team. The 49ers were considered a virtual lock for the NFC West this season and were a sexy SuperBowl pick. As we know, they have struggled mightily and have been one of the bigger disappointments in the NFL as the NFC West is WIDE OPEN. I like Mike Singletary, but I can’t see him staying in Frisco beyond this season.
Cincinnati Bengals: This one is tricky as Mike Brown, the Bengals Owner is VERY frugal and really never pays two coaches at the same time. This has worked in Marvin Lewis’ favor for years as he’s been on the hot seat several times. This is obviously exacerbated by the pending labor issues and it might just be enough to keep Marvin Lewis around for another year. However, the Bengals have been a tremendous failure after sweeping the tough AFC North last season.
I was one of the few people who thought the acquisition of Terrell Owens didn’t make them an immediate SuperBowl contender, and while their failure is not entirely his fault (he’s having an incredible season), the bottom line is they are 2-6. I don’t put that much blame on Marvin Lewis as I believe T.O. was forced on him and his QB is playing awful, but someone will need to be held accountable. There is a good chance he ends up getting fired.
Jacksonville Jaguars: I think Jack Del Rio is a good coach and the Jaguars aren’t having a terrible season. But after storming onto the scene a couple years ago and making the playoffs they have struggled. They’re playing in one of the better divisions in football and making the playoffs is unlikely. They could certainly end up over .500, but Del Rio certainly isn’t totally safe.
Even though I’m listing them, I honestly don’t think he’ll lose his job due to the labor issues and due to the Jaguars’ struggles with attendance and overall performance. It’s my opinion that he’s done just enough to keep his job, but you never know. They do have talent, and sometimes a coach doesn’t have to be doing anything wrong but a change of pace can make a big difference.
Houston Texans: I don’t think Gary Kubiak is in imminent danger, but the Texans have been on the brink of the playoffs for years. Every season they come back with more talent and more experience and everyone keeps waiting for them to have their breakout season. After a strong start and the resurgence of a running game, many thought that this might be that breakout year. Especially with the injuries the Colts have faced, the Texans had a perfect opportunity to steal the AFC South.
For whatever reason, they have stumbled and now are in danger of not making the playoffs yet again after a 4-4 start. I doubt they will struggle enough to cost Kubiak his job, but they continue to underperform and his time will run out soon.
Buffalo Bills: I don’t think the Bills will make a coaching move at this point despite their winless record at the halfway point. The Bills are playing incredibly smart, physical and intense football but they just don’t have the talent to break into the win column yet. Because the team is playing so hard and coming so close, unless they completely fall apart, I doubt a move will be made. Not to mention, Chan Gailey was just hired this season and it’s unlikely he’ll do anything to preclude him from getting at least a 2nd try.
San Diego Chargers: The Chargers are consistently one of the more unprepared, undisciplined and poorly coached teams in the NFL. They routinely have an incredibly talented roster but they get out to the WORST starts year in and year out. If this happens in any given year due to injury or new acquisitions causing the team to lack cohesiveness or something that’s understandable. But for this to happen every single year points directly at poor coaching. Norv Turner is one of the best Offensive Coordinators in the game but he has failed as a Head Coach at every turn.
The Chargers problems aren’t solely placed on Norv as A.J. Smith is one of the most immature and unprofessional GM’s in the game and he deserves just as much blame, but Norv will likely take the fall. The Chargers have had SuperBowl aspirations for years and their window appears to be closing as they get further and further away. A coaching change may due wonders for this team.
Denver Broncos: Josh McDaniels was hired only last year so he’s going to have money left on his contract, but he has been a tremendous failure in Denver. After a 6-0 start last season, his team has completely collapsed and there doesn’t seem to be any positive signs going forward. McDaniels butchered his relationship with Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall and shipped them out the door. He also traded Peyton Hillis who is playing incredibly well for the Browns in exchange for Brady Quinn who has looked like ANYTHING but an NFL QB. He then spent his 1st round pick reaching for Tim Tebow who is a questionable prospect at the QB position. McDaniels seems to be trying to be another Belichick Clone and so far it has backfired. He, like Mangini, would be better served being themselves and putting his stamp on the team instead of trying to be exactly like his mentor.
It remains to be seen how some of his roster moves will end up. In the short term, Kyle Orton has played much better than Jay Cutler and Orton certainly seems to fit McDaniels offensive system better than the big armed and inaccurate Cutler. The reality is, however, that the team has been awful and he may be running out of time in Denver. He may be bailed out by the labor situation, but if they continue to struggle as bad as they have, that may not be enough to save his job. I’d put his chances at 50/50 at this point.
Obviously each coach will have his own list of priorities and things that will factor into the decision as to where he ends up, but just speaking in general, here are the top 5 Coaching jobs that might be available next year:
5. San Francisco 49ers:
This might be a bit of a surprise given that the team has struggled for years and doesn’t have anything even resembling a QB of the future, let alone a legit Franchise QB, but I think there are some very appealing aspects of coaching this team.
The most appealing area for me, is the young talented defense lead by Patrick Willis. The NFL has changed quite a bit and you can no longer expect to win solely based on defense, but I’ll take my chances going into a game if I have Patrick Willis on my side. This young man is an incredible talent and he’s only going to get better. The 49ers have a lot of other very good defensive players, and many are young players that could be there for years to come. They just drafted Taylor Mays and while there are questions about him, he has the physical skills that no other safety in the NFL has. If they get lucky, he could wind up being a complete freak.
The 49ers also have good young talent offensively with Vernon Davis, Michael Crabtree, and a solid offensive line. While he’s injury prone, if Frank Gore can stay healthy, he’s one of the best in the business and if they can figure out their QB situation, this could be a dangerous offense and a dangerous team with the right coach in place.
Mike Holmgren and Jon Gruden both have ties to the 49ers and they’re both proven coaches with SuperBowl victories. If I were the 49ers I wouldn’t go the coordinator route as they need a strong, proven figure to get them back on track. Holmgren has had great success in identifying and developing young QB’s so he just might be the perfect fit even though he’s currently under contract with the Cleveland Browns and I don’t think he’ll leave.
Jon Gruden is often said to be great at developing young QB’s (ESPN constantly tells us this), but that’s actually a myth. As a Head Coach, he has never developed a young QB. If you recall back in Tampa Bay, he was actually obsessed with various veteran QB’s who were well past their prime and couldn’t play anymore. He was extremely reluctant to play, let alone develop, a young QB.
4. Houston Texans:
This job probably won’t be available, but if it were to come available, I think it represents a great opportunity for a Head Coach. While Matt Shaub isn’t an elite QB, he’s above average and you can definitely work with him. They have Andre Johnson and other good, young WR’s and they have found a legit RB in Arian Foster. The offense has been highly potent for some time and it should only get better.
Defensively they have some very good players with Mario Williams and Brian Cushing and Demeco Ryans when healthy. The secondary obviously needs to be improved, but they have had some great drafts and if they continue to make good roster moves, this team should be very close to competing. The reason I have them listed is because they do have such great talent and they continually come up short. I think Kubiak is a good coach, but at what point to do make a move? They’re always considered one of the teams that will break out but they never do.
I’m honestly not sure about this one. You can make the argument that the Texans need a proven head coach to get them to the next level or you can make the argument that a good young coordinator might be able to get them over the top. If Bill Cowher would be interested in this job, I think his attitude and philosophy would do wonders for the Texans and could maximize their talent. I have no idea where Cowher is likely to end up because the only thing I ever here is where he’s NOT going. The prevailing thought used to be that Cowher would end up in Carolina, but I’m now hearing that Carolina is out. Those close to him have also said that he won’t go to Dallas, but I have no idea where he WILL go or where he’s open to going.
If Cowher isn’t interested or if the Texans wouldn’t pursue him (and who knows, Kubiak may be safe), Leslie Frazier could be a good fit for them. He is a great defensive coach and he might be able to get the most out of the young defense.
3. Minnesota Vikings:
The Vikings don’t have a QB of the future and that’s a big negative, but it’s really one of the only negatives to this position. The team has incredible talent on both sides of the ball and they’ve been very close to the SuperBowl for the last couple years. They have arguably the best RB in the NFL, a good offensive line, and a good WR corps when Sidney Rice returns.
The Vikings have a dominant defense when playing at its best and have very few holes on the roster. Obviously, the QB situation needs to be addressed quickly, but the team is very close to competing for a division title. While the Lions are improving fast, the only true competition in the NFC North at this point is the Packers so there is a great chance for success within the division.
Mike Holmgren, for the same reasons as with the 49ers could be a good fit here. The Vikings have utilized a variation of the West Coast Offense for years and Holmgren learned from Bill Walsh, who took Paul Brown’s offense and created what we now know as the “West Coast Offense”. Systematically, there would obviously be a seamless transition. He is also very capable of identifying and developing young QB’s which the Vikings are in desperate need of.
The other obvious fit for the Vikings is their current defensive coordinator, Leslie Frazier. He will be a Head Coach somewhere and soon so why wouldn’t the Vikings want to keep him in place. He is obviously already familiar with the personnel and the players are familiar with his system and philosophy and have largely thrived under his leadership.
2. Dallas Cowboys:
The Cowboys are a high profile team, with high profile players, a high profile new stadium and a very high profile owner. There is a lot of prestige and fanfare associated with this position and the roster is loaded with talent. Tony Romo may not be an elite NFL QB, but he is in the top 10 and with the proper coaching I think he could be pretty special. They have a stable of RB’s and a very talented WR corps. The offensive line needs serious work and some of their key players are aging.
The defense is pretty stout and they have some incredible young talent with DeMarcus Ware and Anthony Spencer. The defense is aging, however, and the secondary is a huge concern. Terrence Newman is a good corner and Mike Jenkins showed flashes of brilliance but has since struggled. The team has holes, but is not that far off from truly competing.
The issue with the Cowboys is the immense and immediate pressure to win due to the team, the owner, and the talent on the roster. The other issue is that while you’re held accountable for the results, you probably won’t have control or authority to ensure things are done correctly. The players haven’t respected most Cowboys Head Coaches because they know that at the end of the day Jerry makes the decisions. Jerry has been far too involved in roster decisions, game planning, and day to day issues. Look, he’s a great owner and can and will do what he wants. But it’s definitely a concern for head coaches as they know they will likely be undermined and won’t have the authority they require to do things the right way. If not for Jerry’s involvement and unlikeliness to change, the Cowboys would easily be the top job out there.
Not all coaches will want to deal with Jerry Jones getting in their way and honestly most of the higher level coaches will be turned off by this. But Jon Gruden is an extremely strong personality and energetic coach who might be up for the challenge. The team has a lot of talent and a lot of big personalities so a guy like Gruden might be able to reign them in and harness their potential. Gruden also runs a variation of the West Coast offense and I think Tony Romo would thrive in that system due to his mobility and their weak offensive line. Romo is talented but hasn’t met expectations and a system change and an offensive guru like Gruden could really take him to the next level.
John Fox is commonly linked to this job as Jerry Jones is said to think very highly of him and Fox will likely be out of a job. Fox is also a coach that Jerry can control and we all know that is one of Jerry’s priorities. That’s the one thing that may keep a guy like Gruden or Cowher from getting this job and Fox is a good compromise hire for the Cowboys. The fans desperately want the big name coach and Jerry wants a doormat he can control like Wade Phillips. Fox is somewhere in the middle as he’s been a good coach in the past but he isn’t considered to be a top flight coach and might be the odds on favorite to land the job.
I would consider Brian Billick to be one of these compromise type coaches as well as he’s been successful, he’s won a SuperBowl, but he has struggled to find a job since leaving the Ravens. He’s taken heat for being too arrogant and not working well with people, but he might jump through hoops for Jerry to land this job.
San Diego Chargers:
The Chargers have their fair share of issues, but there are some serious positives for this job. They have an incredible QB in Phillip Rivers and while he hasn’t yet gotten the respect and recognition of some of the elite QB’s in the NFL like Manning, Brady & Brees, I think he’s very close to those guys. Honestly, at this point I’d only put Manning and Brady above Rivers as I think he’s not only a great statistical QB but he’s a good leader. The team has a solid offensive line and despite missing some of their offensive weapons, the team continues to thrive under Rivers and it doesn’t really seem to matter who plays WR. It remains to be seen if Ryan Matthews can come close to replacing Ladanian Tomlinson, but it hasn’t slowed them down this year on offense.
There are some huge holes on defense, but the Chargers have somehow managed to play extremely well statistically this season. The secondary is weak and they haven’t gotten the same pass rush that they used to with Merriman and Phillips.
The Chargers have been great statistically on both sides of the ball this season, but the main issue has been coaching and discipline which is why this job SHOULD open up. A.J. Smith is extremely difficult to work with for the Head Coach and he will sabotage your roster out of a personal vendetta with a player (Vincent Jackson). In a perfect world, A.J. would be shown the door at the same time Norv is let go, but I don’t know if that’s likely. A.J. is certainly a negative when considering this job, but the overall talent, the top 5 QB, and the relatively weak division they are in makes for a good situation for the right coach.
This team definitely needs a coach with a strong personality and someone who will command respect and implement a system of discipline and accountability. This team has a vertical offensive philosophy and I think their personnel fits this system extremely well (obviously, just look at the stats). For this reason, I don’t think one of the West Coast Offense guys would be a good fit despite the obvious geographic consistencies. Rivers could run any offense you asked him to, but the big, physical WR’s and TE wouldn’t necessarily fit the short passing game. They’re at their best when they’re stretching the field vertically and going up and making plays down field, not catching a 4 yard pass and turning it into a 30 yard gain.
Again, I have no clue where Cowher is considering or who he’s already ruled out, but I think he’d be a good fit here. Logistically, it’s doubtful though as his family is back on the east coast and he’s always had east coast ties. I also consider Tony Dungy to be a very good fit for this team but I have heard even less about where Dungy would consider coaching and I’m not even sure if he’s ready to coach again.
Leslie Frazier is certainly a possibility, as is Brian Billick as his offensive system would be a great fit for Rivers and the San Diego offense. Honestly, while I consider it as the overall #1 job, I don’t have the first idea who will end up coaching the Chargers. This one is as wide open as any job, but the Chargers better get it right. They have been very close to the SuperBowl for years and their window will begin to close, at least temporarily. With Rivers, the team will always be close to competing, but they’re going to run out of chances with this current roster very soon.