NFL Coaching Carousel: Ranking The Best and Worst Available Gigs

Paul Augustin, Jr.Senior Analyst IJanuary 3, 2009

There are currently six franchises without a full-time head coach.  Two of those franchises, Oakland and St. Louis, have interims in place. 

I have ranked the six available coaching gigs from one (best) to six (worst).


6.  Oakland

You see that man on the right in the picture above?  Why would anyone want to work for him?

This is the worst job in the NFL, hands down.  For years now there have been more than just whispers as to who is really the head coach in Oakland despite official titles.

Five men have been named head coach or interim head coach since Jon Gruden left the team after the 2001 season.  Those five men have gone on to average less than five wins per season.

Al Davis has had a notorius quick hook.  Since Gruden went to Tampa Bay, coaches in Oakland have lasted an average of 22 games.  No one has lasted more than two seasons.

There is some talent on this team.  JaMarcus Russell showed improvement over the last six or seven games. 

The running game is adequate with Justin Fargas, Darren McFadden, and Michael Bush. 

The Raiders do need help at receiver.  Only tight end Zach Miller is a reliable target for Russell. 

If the passing game can improve and sustain drives, then improvement defensively will result as a by-product.  Oakland converted less than a third of their third down attempts. 

As a result the defense was on the field for over 32 minutes per game.

Despite the talent in Oakland, few coaches will want this job as long as Al Davis is calling the shots.


5.  Detroit

This is probably the least talented team in the NFL.  Any coach who comes to Detroit has a project on his hands. 

But at least he should have some time.  When an owner keeps one of the worst GMs in recent memory for as long as he did, there's hope for job security.

The Lions' need a major roster overhaul.  The defense is the worst in the NFL.  The offense ranked near the bottom and would be the worst if it weren't for Calvin Johnson and Kevin Smith. 

The good thing for the Lions' next coach is that there is no where to go but up.


4.  Cleveland

The Browns have had no real success since re-entering the NFL in 1999.  Last year's 10-6 mark was fool's gold. 

The good thing for the new coach is that he potentially has a franchise quarterback on his hands.  It will be his job to create an offense that will allow Brady Quinn to succeed. 

Even if he can turn Quinn into an above-average NFL quarterback, the new coach will have to challenge Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow to become consistent targets.

The new coach is going to have to re-tool a defense that doesn't have many play-makers.  He can build the defense around D'Qwell Jackson and Brandon McDonald.

The city of Cleveland is desperate for a winner.  If the new coach can win in the next few seasons, the city will embrace him.


3.  St. Louis

While the Rams lobbied for interim coach Jim Haslett to become the permanent head coach, I don't think it's going to happen.

After winning the first two games of the Haslett era, the Rams proceeded to lose the last 10 games of the season.

While injuries derailed this team, a shake up in the roster is necessary. 

Quarterback Matt Bulger's production has declined in each of the past two seasons.  Steven Jackson has experienced a lot of wear and tear.  Torry Holt is getting old. 

The Rams have some good pieces on defense, but allowed just about five yards per carry. 

The Rams have not had a winning record since 2003.  If any team can go from worst to first in the division next season, it's the Rams because the NFC West is so bad.


2.  NY Jets

If one thing is certain with the Jets, they are willing to take risks and spend money.  In the last off-season, the Jets made trades and signed a number of high-priced free agents, including acquiring what's his name at quarterback.  

The Jets have a lot of pieces in place.  They didn't go 9-7 by accident. 

The new coach may be the determining factor if that guy at quarterback will be back next season.  Depending on which Jets' fans you ask, that could be a good thing or the downfall of the franchise.

The new coach will be asked to manage the offense better than it was managed last season and to improve a defense that was near the bottom of the league in passing yards allowed.

Unlike the Rams, the Jets are in a division where three teams, including the Jets, battled for a playoff spot on the last day of the season.


1.  Denver

This is without question the best available coaching gig.  Denver is one of the marquee franchises in the NFL.

Even though Mike Shanahan deserves a good portion of the blame for Denver's historic collapse, he didn't leave the orange and blue cupboard bare.

Jay Cutler is one of the best young quarterbacks in the NFL.  Brandon Marshall is one of the best receivers. 

The defense will need some major re-tooling.

The front seven only had 12 sacks.  The secondary only had six picks.  Opposing offenses gashed them for five yards per carry.

With some improvement on defense, the Broncos could easily participate in the post-season in 2009.


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