Before we dive into the coaching. It’s certainly worth admiring Alex Smith. Smith is 2 year removed from the gruesome injury sustained whilst playing against the Texans and he finally made it back onto the field. It looked like he would never walk again and may even have his leg amputated, never mind be able to play, but instead with help of family, friends, and the NFL world he made it back onto the pitch.
I’d also like to hope for a swift recovery for Cowboys QB Dak Prescott, who suffered a devastating injury Sunday night playing the Giants. It looks like a broken ankle and he has undergone surgery. Prescott will almost certainly miss the rest of the year. Let us hope he follows the path of Teddy Bridgewater and indeed, Alex Smith, in making a full recovery back to the football field.
Now for the coaches. These are the 5 openings that are/will/should be open at the end of the season. Then there are the 5 coaches who should/will/ take up those openings in an ideal world. Therefore, the coaches picked are realistic replacements to take up the spaces that are/will/should be available (apart from the Jets because realistically, what coach would want to go there right now?).
Houston Texans: OUT – Bill O’Brien IN – Eric Bieniemy
Bieniemy (Chiefs OC) moves from Patrick Mahomes to Deshaun Watson – what a lucky guy. Watson will finally have a versatile, creative offensive mind to guide his talent that does not seem to have been fully utilized. Watson has started to miss some passes, throw some into the dirt instead of for the first down and is getting sacked … a lot. Watson has been sacked 17 times, that’s only behind Wentz (who has the most beat-up O-Line in the league) and Burrow (who is protected by Bobby Hart). Watson has the mobility of Wilson or Mahomes and has the same play-making ability. Bieniemy will utilize that. There are issues with the Texans, first the extreme lack of draft picks and young talent on the team. This is not a team that is built for the future. The defence is leaky, especially the run game but with a good GM (position is also open for hiring), these holes can be filled and Eric Bieniemy has the support of Watson and a good coach – QB duo leads to Superbowls.
Atlanta Falcons: OUT – Dan Quinn IN – Josh McDaniels
McDaniels (Patriots OC) is often considered as the man in waiting to Bill Belichick. However, Belichick keeps coaching and now his son, Steve Belichick is effectively joint DC with Jerod Mayo. Therefore, McDaniels should be looking for a way out. He has had experience of an immobile QB for many years (some guy called Brady) and was with the Patriots when they had receiving superstars such as Moss or Gronkowski. He will have a lot of fun drawing up plays for Jones and Ridley. Add to this that McDaniels has experience of being a head coach after his short tenure in Denver and can build on it. If you don’t think having an opportunity to learn from your first stint as a head coach – just look at Bill Belichick or Pete Carroll and what they are doing now. What makes the Falcons intriguing is that the talent is there, they just seem unconfident and therefore are losing games they shouldn’t, maybe some New England culture would help re-right the ship? Also, they also have a GM opening and McDaniels would likely relish the opportunity of being able to pick his GM (even though the GM should pick the coach but that doesn’t always happen).
The Teams That Still Haven’t Fired Their Coach
Jacksonville Jaguars: OUT – Doug Marrone IN – Dan Quinn
Quinn should be the only fired coach to land in the same rank at his new job and I will be banging the drum for it to be Jacksonville. I’ve always been more of a fan of defensive minded head coaches (and then get a young, creative OC) and Quinn is just that. Quinn was heralded as a genius leading up to Superbowl 51 before the 28-3 collapse. He helped (and may have been a lead part) in the creation of the Legion of Boom in Seattle. He revolutionized the game, opting for deadly zone coverage (mainly cover 3 or 2) with small/fast defenders with a few big-hitters (Kam Chancellor) sprinkled in the mix. Now look at the Jags defense. Fast players with a mobile LB corpse in Myles Jack and Joe Schobert with a young, talented D-Line which includes Josh Allen and rookie K’Lavon Chaisson. This defencse needs to be led by a veteran who has a proven scheme – that is what Quinn is. With a good OC in Jay Gruden, don’t expect the offense to decrease in output either – the move just makes sense.
Detroit Lions: OUT – Matt Patricia IN – Don Martindale
Martindale (Ravens DC) has revitalised the Ravens defence in his two-year stint. He has finished top 3 in point allowed in both seasons there, including one year allowing Za’Darius Smith to accumulate 8.5 sacks which led to the large free agency contract with the Green Bay Packers. If the Lions hold Jamie Collins and Jeff Okudah in front of Martindale, he may very well come running, especially if the Ravens make the Superbowl this year. After a heavy investment in their O-Line, the Lions are ready for a ground and pound game along with the explosiveness of Swift. Martindale is used to a run-first offense in Baltimore as well. The Lions have been perennially awful, but Martindale is the man who can turn this team around and potentially give Stafford one last go at getting the big prize – a Superbowl.
New York Jets: OUT – Adam Gase (ASAP) IN: Brian Daboll (sacrificial – hopefully he will survive)
Daboll (Bills OC) could take up the worst position in football, but that was said when Brian Flores took over AFC East rival Miami Dophins, and he is turning it around and looking like a top quality coach in the process. Daboll, like Flores, was once a Belichick disciple before moving onto Cleveland, Miami and Kansas City. Luck was not great through this period but two of those stints were in Cleveland and Miami – so is unsurprising. After spending time with Belichick (and wining Superbowl LI), Daboll coach at Alabama under Nick Saban. Therefore, Daboll is from the Belichick tree and Saban tree of coaching. This experience has paid off over the past 2 and a bit seasons. With some extra help from underrated coach Sean McDermott, Daboll has turned the highly talented, yet erratic, QB Josh Allen into a Superstar and the Bills into a legitimate Superbowl contender. If ever there was a young QB (even from the same draft class as Allen) who was erratic and needed a new coach and lease of life? Darnold would love Daboll – or Trevor Lawrence if they draft him. If they trade out of the NO.1 pick (they will have it, I guarantee) then Daboll will use the excess picks to build a defence around CJ Mosely, remember, Daboll was originally a defensive assistant. He coached with New England in that role between 2000 and 2002 (the great Bruschi and Milloy days). He would be a perfect fit, especially as he has coached at all 3 division rivals. Daboll would be one of the very few coaches that would be capable of powering up the Jets into a force to be reckoned with.