Written by Dane Martinez
So remember Thanksgiving and how people are gearing up for “Black Friday” when the stores are jam packed with shoppers and deals start as early as 5am? Well, somehow that’s been moved up in the last few years and the deals now start as early as 8pm on Thanksgiving night! I call it the millennial in all of us that gets from place to place with Uber, has portions sent to them by Blue Apron, and needs all the information they can digest….now! Well the same thing happened to “Black Monday”, the day after the regular season when coaches on the hot seat get the axe. This year however, we knew 5 of the 6 current coach openings before the end of the Lions/Packers regular season finale. We’re hearing a ton of names of “hot coordinators”, “Up and Coming college coaches”, TV personalities and “Retread coaches”, even including 70 year old Tom Coughlin! But which job is best? Here’s one man’s thoughts going from 6 to 1, it may surprise you…
#6 – San Diego Chargers taking over from Mike McCoy
This job seems fine on the face of it – there’s some talent on both sides of the ball and you have a potential hall of fame quarterback. But look deeper and you find this job is fugazi – forgettaboughddit!
Dealing with a declining superstar is one of the hardest things for a coach to do and Phillip Rivers is coming of a season were his 21 INT’s led the league, and he’s not getting any younger. There’s no guarantee Rivers wants to change systems…or move to LA. Plus, the impending move can alienate a fan base, and you’re set to be the little brother in the Rams new stadium? I’ll pass…
#5 – Buffalo Bills taking over for Rex Ryan
So Doug Whaley not knowing that Rex would be fired and saying he had nothing to do with it, can someone say red flag? It also seems like the ownership wants to move on from Tyrod Taylor, but with no definitive option to replace him. Buffalo isn’t exactly the spot to attract free agents, and you still have those guys named Tom Brady and Bill Bellicheck in the division.
#4 – Denver Broncos taking over from Gary Kubiak
This looks like a great opportunity and there’s definitely some talent. That’s also the problem, with talent comes expectations and there are certainly some strong voices on the defense and in the front office. You also have to be a believer in either Paxton Lynch or Trevor Simien because it sounds like John Elway does…unless they go back to the well with another veteran to try to bring in a championship. It worked with Peyton Manning…Tony Romo, Drew Brees, the return of Jay Cutler?!? I see better options…
#3 – San Francisco taking over for Chip Kelly…and Trent Baalke
So obviously the talent isn’t the reason to be high on this job. The reason is twofold – Low expectations and a symbiotic relationship with the new GM. It’s rare for the NFL to be a new head coach and come in with a new GM and a shared vision. This cannot be understated. With a new regime and an owner who wants to re-establish a “winning culture” it sounds to me like you’ll have a few years to build from the ground up, after 4 head coaches in the last 4 years. Not too shabby….
#2 – Jacksonville Jaguars taking over for Gus Bradley
Don’t look now but there have been some investments on defense with Malik Jackson, Fowler, and 1st round pick Jalen Ramsey. The “Allen’s” and some other pieces on offense are encouraging as well, but then there’s the Blake Bortles issue. On one hand, ownership is saying the new coach doesn’t have to keep Bortles in place, but we’ve also heard news that “Bortles service” had two bad shoulders and a wrist injury.
If a new coach is ok with making a trip to London every year then this is a pretty decent job to interview for. You’re in a division that takes 9 games to win after all. Don’t be surprised if a “Quarterback whisperer” like Kyle Shanahan gets this job and takes Bortles, and the Jags to the next level.
#1 – Los Angeles Rams taking over for Jeff Fisher
Jeff Fisher’s ridiculousness actually makes this a great opportunity! Think about it, you have a low bar of expectations to improve on, a true stud at RB, and legit pieces on defense including All-Pro Aaron Donald. The franchise has some buzz with the move to LA and it’s an attractive market for free agents down the road. Your owner is investing in a new stadium and for it to get filled he’ll give you whatever you need to be competitive. The only question is Jared Goff. If he’s the real deal it’s another feather in the cap for this job, in a division where the 49ers are in the basement and the Cardinals are primed for regression. If not, you’re basically 3 years behind where the Jaguars are…are you the guy to develop the kid who doesn’t know where the sun rises and sets? If so, the city of angels is yours!