NFL Coaching Carousel: Updated Projections for Who Lands Where
It is this time of year when the NFL head coaching carousel starts to spin fastest.
The usual suspects will again be targeted by general managers. Guys like Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher and Brian Billick will be the most sought after coaching prizes, while most teams will be forced to look in other directions.
So, what exactly are those other directions?
This year there are six teams that are almost guaranteed to make changes on the sideline (and yes, that finally includes the San Diego Chargers).
Let's grab some darts and throw them at the board as we project who will land where in the coming weeks and months.
Buffalo Bills: Hue Jackson
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Hue Jackson got the short end of the stick during his one season as head coach of the Oakland Raiders, but he could be exactly what the Buffalo Bills need.
Jackson coaches with the type of fire that has not burned out of Buffalo in awhile, and at 47 he already has decades of experience at the pro level.
Jackson is currently a defensive coach for the Cincinnati Bengals, but this is an offensive mind that could maximize talent out of guys like C.J. Spiller and Stevie Johnson. Jackson spent time with the Baltimore Ravens and has obviously seen the right way to do things.
He brought the Raiders to within one game of the playoffs last season and would bring instant optimism to a Bills franchise that is not exactly a top landing spot for elite coaches.
Carolina Panthers: Mike McCoy
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Not every head coaching vacancy is going to be filled with a name immediately recognizable to the football world.
Enter Mike McCoy for the Carolina Panthers.
McCoy is currently the offensive coordinator for the Denver Broncos. That may not seem to hold much weight when you consider that Peyton Manning is basically an on-field coordinator, but consider McCoy's past.
He worked with the Panthers during the John Fox regime and therefore knows how the organization functions and the fanbase that comes along with it. McCoy has worked with a plethora of QBs, ranging from Jake Delhomme and Kyle Orton to Tim Tebow and eventually Manning.
This range of signal callers means that McCoy could be one of the few men that would know how to run a Cam Newton offense from day one.
He may not be the most exciting choice, but McCoy is the right guy for the Panthers.
Cleveland Browns: Josh McDaniels
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No team's head coaching rumor mill has been hotter in recent weeks than that of the Cleveland Browns.
First, ESPN Cleveland reported that Michael Lombardi may be the new director of personnel after this season, per Boston.com. Later, the Boston Globe reported that Josh McDaniels is on a short list of coaching candidates.
This is somewhat surprising considering McDaniels tumultuous run with the Denver Broncos, but Lombardi is high on him and McDaniels does have a solid offensive track record.
McDaniels is an Ohio native and went to school near Cleveland at John Carroll University. So, clearly he knows the area and the team. The question is if all this speculation will have a chance to take place or if Browns management will keep things as they are now.
The projection is that Cleveland cleans house and the Lombardi/McDaniels era takes shape. It may not be a popular choice, but it has the most steam at the moment.
Kansas City Chiefs: Chip Kelly
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Imagine for just a moment a Kansas City Chiefs offense led by Chip Kelly.
That offense has potent playmakers in Jamaal Charles and Dexter McCluster. KC then drafts Geno Smith out of West Virginia to create a high flying, speed based attack much like the one Kelly currently runs at Oregon.
The Chiefs already have a defense loaded with potential, ranking ninth in the NFL against the pass this season.
Kelly could come in and run things his way. A drastic change in mentality is clearly needed in KC and no one would provide a greater shift than Kelly. He would need to surround himself with a coaching staff that knows the intricacies of the NFL, but this could be a perfect match.
Philadelphia Eagles: Jon Gruden
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Eventually, whether he will admit or not, Jon Gruden is going to find a job opening exciting enough to bring him back to the sidelines.
Why not the vacancy set to open up for the Philadelphia Eagles?
Gruden spent three years in Philly as an offensive coordinator back in the 1990s. He knows the city, the fans and is one of the best offensive minds out there.
Gruden would be the perfect mentor to a young Nick Foles or whoever else the Eagles decide to make their franchise quarterback. His West Coast offensive style would be well suited to guys like DeSean Jackson, LeSean McCoy and Jeremy Maclin.
Gruden would take advantage of the speed on the roster while also instilling a sense of trust and stability that has been lacking in recent seasons.
It is time for a fresh start in Philadelphia behind a coach that the fanbase will immediately believe in. The answer is Gruden.
San Diego Chargers: Andy Reid
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Reid may consider a year off from coaching after his recent struggles with the Eagles, but the San Diego Chargers job has to at least be intriguing to him.
Reid runs a West Coast offense that may be able to revive the career of Philip Rivers. He is a well respected coach that would likely be able to attract other good coaches to join his staff and attempt to reverse years of failings under Turner.
Philadelphia's problems in recent years certainly fall on the shoulders of Reid, but this is still one of the best coaches in the NFL and a change of scenery may be all that is required to turn things around.
There are few places with more enticing scenery than San Diego.