Now that Black Monday has befallen us and the New Year has come and gone, it's time to get back into some offseason football talks.
For those teams who won't be sharing in the festivities of the playoffs, New Year's Eve was a time of pure turmoil. Thirty-five percent of teams who failed to make the postseason this year fired their head coaches, and a few of them are leaving with the teams' GMs.
So now begins the search for new coaches of front office gurus for teams to attempt to ascend to the mountain top and win a title...in 2013, of course. So, let's check out some of the hottest rumors we're hearing from around the league.
This is a rumor that I especially love and I think is a match made in heaven.
Both situations make sense for Smith. Arizona and Buffalo have shown that they can play some defense (the Bills when they want to) and maybe just need a little direction. But that's why I especially love the fit for Smith with the Bills.
Buffalo has some of the best defensive talent in the league, starting with a defensive line that boasts Mario Williams, Kyle Williams and Marcel Darius, and back to a secondary who should have lended a Pro Bowler in safety Jarius Byrd.
A coach like Smith could get the most out of these guys.
The problem for Smith, and the Bills for that matter, is on the offensive side of the ball. A Pro Football Talk report recently surfaced quoting Bears GM, Phil Emery, as saying that the team parted ways with the long-time head coach because of his failure to build an offense. That's something he's going to have to do in Buffalo.
This time around, Smith would be wise to find himself a little better of an offensive mind than Mike Tice to run that side of the ball. With minds like Ken Whisenhunt and Norv Turner floating out there, Smith could build something special in northern New York.
In a rather quiet fashion, CBS analyst and Cowher-colleague Boomer Esiason hinted that he thought that Bill Cowher would be interested in coming out of retirement if the right situation arose.
He specifically mentioned the job in Chicago.
There hasn't been a lot of talk about just how good a job the Bears situation could be for a coach. They were a 10-6 team this season whose offensive line probably lost them close to four games. If that positional unit can be shored up, this team is a Super Bowl contender.
Couple this with the fact that a few of Cowher's former cohorts are currently unemployed and we could be seeing a reenactment of the 2005 Steelers.
Cowher has the potential to add an offensive line coach in Russ Grimm, who could help shore up one of the league's worst units. Add in a coordinator like Ken Whisenhunt or Chan Gailey (both former Cowher coaches) and you've go the makings of a pretty good staff to go along with a very talented team.
Right now it appears the Bears are honed in on an offensive mind, which isn't Cowher's specialty. But can they really pass up an opportunity at a name like that?
After 14 seasons of good to above-average football, the Philadelphia Eagles have decided to part ways with long-time head coach Andy Reid. The decision seemed obvious after the head coach's "dream team" or "dynasty" compiled a rather pedestrian 12-20 record over the last two seasons.
Philly's job opening has been linked to big names like ESPN's Jon Gruden and Oregon's Chip Kelly for some time now, but the question remains: is this Eagles team ready to win in the near future?
The end of the Andy Reid era wasn't just painful on the field, but in the Eagles books as well. And now the team seems to be stuck with some big-money contracts they'll be hard-pressed to get out of.
As it stands, the Eagles would go into next season with about $18 million in spending money. It seems as though the team will ditch quarterback Michael Vick for next to nothing, seeing as they'd pay him $15 million if they didn't.
But the team still has tons of money invested in guys like Nnamdi Asomugha ($38 million, three years), Trent Cole (34 million, four years) and DeSean Jackson (43 million, four years). (All numbers provided by Eaglescap.com.)
The Eagles are going to be cutting a lot of guys this offseason, especially the ones who clearly didn't give it their best effort. So what's left for a coach when this is all said and done?
This has all the makings of a cap nightmare for Philadelphia. One that could kill a franchise for years to come. That doesn't seem like a situation a big-name coach is going to want to come into.
There's no questioning that the job Bill O'Brien and his staff did at Penn State this fall was one for the ages. Amidst all the off-field struggles and turmoil within the football program itself, O'Brien pulled the Nittany Lions together and pulled off one heck of a season.
So, of course, questions are going to be coming his way about making the leap back to the NFL, where he was the former offensive coordinator for one Tom Brady.
According to Fox 29 in Philadelphia's Howard Eskin, O'Brien is on is on a short list of candidates for the Eagles job. ESPN's Adam Schefter also pointed out that the Cleveland Browns could make a run of the Happy Valley head man.
O'Brien would be a good fit in Philadelphia, where that locker room could use a makeover after it became apparent that the players there quit on the team and then-coach Andy Reid. Cleveland has a slew of young players who would most likely respond well to a college-minded coach.
But there's also the looming elephant in the room of the $9 million buyout that comes with O'Brien's Penn State contract. Couple that with the fact that O'Brien seems content riding the situation out in central PA and who knows if a team would be able to lure him away.
Bill O'Brien will be one of the most interesting names to watch this offseason. He's a very good coach and would probably find success at the NFL level. It's just a matter of making the leap.
After cleaning house of GM Rod Graves and head coach Ken Whisenhunt on Monday, Arizona is in the market for a new leader. And they might not have to look too far.
One of the big names for new head coaches this year is coming straight out of the desert. Cardinals defensive coordinator Ray Horton is a great football coach and an elite defensive mind. He got an Arizona defense to play as well as anybody in the league despite the offensive troubles.
So he'd be the obvious choice to replace Whisenhunt and Co., right?
Well, not so fast. If Horton were the obvious successor, the Cardinals probably wouldn't have granted other teams permission to talk with their current defensive coordinator.
As the Cardinals search develops, it almost seems as if the team isn't willing to hand the reigns over to a defensive-minded coach, but rather an offensive guru. Enter Andy Reid.
According to Pro Football Talk, Cardinals team President Michael Bidwell informed the media that the team would be interviewing the former Eagles head coach for their vacancy. Bidwell also added Broncos offensive coordinator Mike McCoy to the list of candidates.
Reid makes sense, given his background with quarterback Kevin Kolb (who he dealt in favor of Michael Vick) and the current players on the Cards roster would lend to his style of offense. But he'll have to do something he failed to do following the passing of Jim Johnson, and that's finding a defensive coordinator.
If Reid or anyone else comes in, the Cardinals probably won't be able to hang on to Horton. He'll get interviews elsewhere and will most likely blow someone away. Best case scenario for Arizona is to keep Horton where he is and sign an offensive coach like Reid. But the odds of that are slim to none.
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