NFL Assistants Who Are Developing into Legit Head Coaching Candidates

Giancarlo Ferrari-King@@GiancarloKingFeatured ColumnistJuly 13, 2014

NFL Assistants Who Are Developing into Legit Head Coaching Candidates

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    If there's one thing we know about the NFL, it's that this league is predicated off of change.

    With each passing season, franchises dismiss and hire head coaches with the hopes that these men will be able to bring stability to the forefront of some of the league's most prominent organizations.

    Judging by the hires that went down this past offseason, there's only one constant in an NFL team's hunt for a head coach: They can come from just about anywhere.

    Though we are still months away from the start of the 2014 regular season, it's never too early to examine some of the NFL's top assistants who have a shot to become a head coach in 2015.

Sean McDermott

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    Carolina Panthers defensive coordinator Sean McDermott is a perfect candidate to kick off this list.

    At just 40 years old, McDermott has already garnered 16 years of coaching experience in the NFL.

    He spent the first part of his career with the Philadelphia Eagles when Andy Reid was the head coach.

    A student of the legendary defensive mastermind Jim Johnson, McDermott has helped turned the Panthers defense into one of the top units in the NFL.

    Finishing the 2013 season as the second-ranked defense—right behind the Seattle Seahawks—the Panthers gave up just 301.2 yards per game.

    The wheels have already started to turn when it comes to McDermott's chances of becoming a head coach.

    According to Joseph Person of The Charlotte Observer, he scored an interview with the Washington Redskins back in January.

    Even though he missed out on that opportunity, being a young, creative defensive mind will bode well for his head coaching chances moving forward.

Greg Roman

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    It's just a matter of time before San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman becomes a head coach.

    Immersed within the walls of the 49ers organization, Roman has been bred from a winning culture.

    The biggest draw for an interested team when it decides whether or not to hire Roman as a head coach has to be his experience working with Alex Smith and Colin Kaepernick

    Building an efficient offense around two quarterbacks with contrasting skill sets is an accomplishment that can't be taken lightly.

    To date, the 41-year-old coach has yet to landing a coaching gig in the NFL. Despite interviewing for a bevy of jobs, he hasn't stuck with a team just yet.

    All of that is bound to change.

    His pedigree as an offensive coordinator, age and experience working with a winning organization is a rare combination that teams will have a hard time passing up next offseason.

Adam Gase

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    Transitioning from one of the game's most productive offensive minds to another, Denver Broncos offensive coordinator Adam Gase may be the hottest coaching candidate of them all.

    With Peyton Manning at the helm, the Broncos offense obliterated the history books last season, putting up staggering numbers.

    Guiding the Broncos offense to obscene heights isn't the only reason Gase is being considered as an NFL head coach.

    As CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora put it, "Gase's coaching roots go back to Alabama coach Nick Saban—deeply respected in NFL circles—and he's spent time on the scouting side, developing talent-evaluation skills, and has also worked with coaches like Mike Martz, and Steve Mariucci."

    Gase already had a realistic shot to be the Cleveland Browns head coach before he decided to withdraw his name from the search this past offseason.

    Honing his craft and working with Manning for another season will send Gase's stock through the roof by the time 2015 rolls around.

    One of the biggest talking points next offseason is going to be the pursuit of Gase. Anything short of him not becoming a head coach will be utterly shocking.

Vic Fangio

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    When San Francisco 49ers head coach Jim Harbaugh took over the team back in 2011, the first thing he did was assemble a brilliant group of coaches to surround him.

    One of those guys is current 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio.

    Fangio is an established, longtime NFL assistant coach.

    Dating back to 1995, he's served as the defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers, Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans.

    But it wasn't until he linked up with the 49ers and Harbaugh that his career really took off.

    With an exuberant group of personnel to help run his aggressive 3-4 scheme, the 49ers instantly became one of the top defensive units in the NFL.

    The MMQB's Greg A. Bedard summed up Fangio's transformation of this defense when he said:

    The year before his arrival, the defense ranked 16th in points and 13th in yards allowed. In his three years on the job, the unit has never finished worse than third in points or fifth in yards. His team has gone to three straight conference championship games. This coach has an even more expansive résumé, having been in the NFL for 26 years, 14 of them as a defensive coordinator.

    Considering the NFL is an offensive league by nature, that increases the importance of having critical thinkers on the defensive side of the ball.

    Fangio's experience with the 49ers alone has earned him the right to be considered as a head coach.

Dan Quinn

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    You really can't give Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll enough credit for the job he's done.

    Of all his achievements, one of the most overlooked portions of his tenure with the Seahawks has been the caliber of coaches who have emerged from the organization.

    It started with current Jacksonville Jaguars head coach—and former Seahawks defensive coordinator—Gus Bradley.

    But another name to look for in the future is current defensive coordinator Dan Quinn.

    Helping guide Seattle's No. 1-ranked defense to a Super Bowl title instantly put Quinn's name on the shortlist as one of the top head coaching candidates in the NFL.

    Unfortunately for all of the other NFL franchises looking for a new coach, because of the team's Super Bowl run, Quinn's attention was focused solely on the job at hand.

    That tone will drastically change at the start of the 2015 offseason.

    The Seahawks are set for another big year, and Quinn will be one of the biggest benefactors of that success.

Dave Toub

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    Out of all the names on this list, Kansas City Chiefs special teams coordinator Dave Toub is probably the one guy who most people don't know about.

    For starters, Toub has never been a head coach in the NFL.

    He's a special teams coach, who built his resume working under Lovie Smith during his days with the Chicago Bears and continued it with the Kansas City Chiefs and Andy Reid.

    It's not an easy task becoming a head coach coming from the world of special teams.

    In recent times, John Harbaugh of the Baltimore Ravens is the one guy who has managed to successfully make the transition.

    For what it's worth, Smith has confidence in his former special teams coach.

    Vouching for Toub as a head coach, Smith told Terez A. Paylor of The Kansas City Star, "Dave, eventually, will get his opportunity."

    If Harbaugh is any indication of the caliber of coaches who can emerge from specials teams, Toub should find himself at the top of plenty of teams' wish lists in 2015.


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