Last night, two teams that are on a march toward next season put their play on display for all to see. The Eagles and Panthers both are likely to have new coaches next year, for different reasons. For Philadelphia, the end of the line almost certainly is here, as Andy Reid is in his 14th season. The team has now lost seven games in a row, and it has been almost a decade since the Eagles made a Super Bowl appearance. For Carolina, GM Marty Hurney has already been fired. Ron Rivera could be retained by a new GM, but has he really done enough to demand that a new GM keep him on rather than start fresh? His team has repeatedly underperformed and failed in key spots, and his decision making has played a role.
In addition to those two, three other jobs seem likely to be open this offseason. In Kansas City, Romeo Crennel looks inept as the Chiefs now have the worst record in the league. It’s his first full season in Kansas City after taking over, but more often than not, coaches who look this bad in year one don’t get another opportunity. Last Sunday’s loss to Baltimore would appear to be the final straw for the Norv Turner era, though he has survived so many that its hard to fully declare him gone. Finally, Cleveland, like Carolina, has a new decision maker, and Pat Shurmur hasn’t done enough to merit another year.
Fans in other venues will surely cry out, but those are the five most likely. Which would be most attractive to a new coach? Several factors come into play here, existing personnel, especially at quarterback, cap room and roster flexibility, and the ownership and expectations.
1. Carolina Panthers: I’m putting Carolina #1. They’ve underperformed in close games. That’s something that is notoriously fickle. They’ve got a young quarterback with a team-friendly contract in place. The expectations and media crush isn’t like Philadelphia. Sure, the defensive back end needs additions, and the receiving group will need an upgrade soon as Smith gets older, and the offensive line can stand some adds. Those are areas that if a new GM can handle, a coach has a chance at a quick turnaround.
2. San Diego Chargers: How attractive is having Philip Rivers in place at quarterback at this point? The Chargers are a worse team than they were three years ago, Antonio Gates is aging quickly, the outside targets have been a problem until Danario Alexander has emerged recently (but he’s always a few games away from an injury, talent never the problem).
3. Kansas City Chiefs: This ranking is dependent on Scott Pioli being gone too. With him there, this job is dead last because who wants to be his third hire in five years, and then trust the man that stuck with Matt Cassel forever to make a quarterback call? Now, for the positives. There is some talent on defense. The quarterback situation is a black hole, but the cap space is there, and you will likely also have the #1 pick and options to address it. If this was last year, it would be the #1 option given those factors, but a true franchise passer this year is not as clear at the top of the draft.
4. Cleveland Browns: New ownership, and a pretty good base of talent on the offensive line, and at running back, and in certain defensive positions. You have to immediately make a call at quarterback, but money doesn’t prevent you from bringing someone else in and having Weeden at back up.
5. Philadelphia Eagles: This would have looked like a great job two years ago. After Juan Castillo was jettisoned, the defense has just looked worse. The Eagles finally went “play for now” mode on defense, signing several players now over 30. It hasn’t worked. The offense has dropped to 31st in scoring, unfathomable a few years ago. The offensive line injuries will bounce back. Michael Vick has to be gone, though, and Nick Foles isn’t the answer. In this market, where fans are spoiled by success, will a new coach get time for the rebuild that needs to occur after a long run, while comparing them to the Redskins and Giants?
[photo via US Presswire]