Carolina Panthers: Your Guess for the Next Head Coach Is As Good As Mine

George AndersonAnalyst IIMarch 21, 2017

Carolina Panthers: Your Guess for the Next Head Coach Is As Good As Mine

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    There is a chance John Fox may come back next season as the head Coach for the Carolina Panthers, but a 2 win season makes it improbable. At least Fox was able to enjoy one last victory at Bank of America before he goes. He will always be remembered as the best coach in Carolina history.

    As Fox goes on the road for his last two games, the wheels are turning home in Carolina. Everyone’s pondering who the next coach could be. Will it be someone old or young? Will he be a defensive mind or offensive mind? Will he be a college coach, a coordinator, or will it be a coach that’s waiting to be fired?

    Right now all anyone can do is speculate. What I do know is that the new coach will have the first overall pick in the draft, a solid run game, a good pass defense, and overall the youngest team in the league.

    While Jerry Richardson’s thinking, “What should I do? Should I act like there’s going to be football next year? Should I remind everyone that we’ve done this before? Should I not save my money and spend it on football players and fans, it’s my money? Should I say that I AM A GREEDY OWNER? Maybe I should just disappear. What should I do?” I will provide a list of 15 possible candidates that could be the next Carolina Panthers head Coach.

     And here we go...

Long Shots

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    Jeff Fisher

    If the Titans fire Fisher, then they have bigger problems than Vince Young and it would be good for Fisher to get out. While he is looking for a team, he may take a look at the Panthers. They run a 4-3 defense like the Titans. They are focused on their running game and have a stable of great backs instead of just one. They have a young quarterback that scored higher than a 6 on the Wonderlic test. Overall it is a young, talented team just looking for guidance. Unfortunately, the Panthers have a better chance of beating the Steelers than they do at getting Fisher.

    Perry Fewell

    This Giants Defensive Coordinator has brought back the passion in the Giants defense. He has found ways to get pressure with his front four and pile up sacks. He runs a 4-3 defense and the Giants are currently holding onto a Wildcard spot. Fewell is a good coordinator, but he has not proven himself. He has been with the Giants one year and his defense was just shredded by the Eagles. It is too soon to think of him as a possibility and he needs more experience before taking over as Head Coach.

    A similarity to keep in mind, though, is that John Fox was the Defensive Coordinator for the Giants before being hired by Carolina.

15. Charley Weis

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    Weis currently resides as the Offensive Coordinator for the 9-5 Chiefs. He has helped quarterback Matt Cassel turn into a proficient NFL quarterback who now has a great connection with his best receiver Dwayne Bowe.

    Why He Should

    He does not run a system too much different than Carolina’s. Actually, Jeff Davidson learned his scheme from Weis. He has helped Kansas City win with a two-back system led by Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones. He has helped Dwayne Bowe have a great season where he had a streak of four games with at least two touchdowns. This is a west coast version of Carolina.

    Also, Weis was the coach of Jimmy Clausen. Who better to teach him the NFL game than the guy who taught Clausen the college game? He would definitely be able to turn Clausen into an NFL quarterback if anyone could.

    Why He Should Not

    Weis may be a good coordinator, but he like every other Bill Belichek protégé has failed as a Head Coach. He tried his luck at Notre Dame and failed miserably. Granted, he did not have the greatest talent to work with due to Notre Dame’s standards, but has anyone ever thought it was his playbook. It hasn’t worked well for Jeff Davidson, so would it be any better with Weiss calling the plays?

    If he did become HC, A.J. Green would become a Carolina Panther so he could help his young quarterback.

14. Brian Daboll

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    Please don’t spit out your coffee when you see this name. I know it’s ridiculous but it is in the realm of possibility. He is the current Browns Offensive Coordinator and the Panthers took Davidson from the Browns and the current Panthers quarterback coach.

    Why He Should

    Daboll may be young, but with youth comes imagination. He has displayed on numerous occasions his ingenuity and creativity. Also, he has been able to get his quarterbacks to use tight ends in the passing game, which is almost a Taboo is Carolina.

    Why He Should Not

    He’s young, this is his only decent season as Offensive Coordinator, and he tends to be too conservative at times. He is unproven as a coordinator and would probably fail miserably as a Head Coach. He has not shown that he can teach young players and his play-calling is not explosive enough. Lastly, he is from the Browns. Davidson has not worked out and the quarterback coach has obviously not worked out, so why would Daboll be any different?

    He would select Andrew Luck so that he can start fresh and he would buy into all the hype of Luck being the next Peyton Manning.

13. Tony Sparano

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    Sparano is currently the Head Coach of the Miami Dolphins. Unfortunately for him, he has lost to the Cleveland Browns and Buffalo Bills, so soon he may not be the Head Coach.

    Why He Should

    Sparano has been a Head Coach and has done a decent job. He is respected and is familiar with using multiple runningbacks. He is creative and he uses the tight end as a receiver and a blocker. Anthony Fasano has become one of the best in the NFL. He has built a nasty offensive line that just beats on people all day and that is something Carolina has lacked since Jeff Mitchell. The best part is he shows his passion and fire which can help drive a team. I feel too many coaches are too calm and that is not something the team can feed off of during the game.  

    Why He Should Not

    Sparano has turned around the Dolphins and will probably still be the HC next season, but he has his flaws. The Panthers have a great run game, but its pass game needs work. I am unsure if Sparano can fix that. He has worked with Chad Henne and Henne is very shaky. He throws for over 200 yards every game and can hit 300, but it usually comes with 2 or 3 interceptions.

    It is uncertain who Sparano would take with the first pick. He likes have a great receiving corps and has built one in Miami with Brandon Marshall, Brian Hartline and Devone Bess. On the other hand who knows what Sparano could do with a Joe Flacco-sized quarterback. He would definitely make the receivers better one way or another.

12. Gary Kubiak

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    Kubiak is the current Head Coach of the Houston Texans, but now that they have been eliminated from playoff contention he may be gone. The Texans come out and beat the Colts looking like the team is finally ready to make the playoffs, then reality sets in and they are now 5-9.

    Why He Should

    Kubiak has taken an expansion team and made them a competitor. He has turned Matt Schaub into one of the premier quarterbacks in the NFL. He has created a good receiving corps headed by Andre Johnson and Kevin Walter. He uses his tight end in the passing game (noticing a theme?). He has created a high-flying offense and that is with one running back. Imagine if he had two or three?

    Why He Should Not

    Kubiak runs more of a west coast offense. He does not like to pound the ball and make his opponents beg for mercy.

    Kubiak would probably draft Andrew Luck. He would fit the offense more and develop him into a great quarterback. Also, Kubiak is victim of a poor defense. The defense is a big reason why the Texans are 5-9 instead of winning the division. If had Ron Meeks, that problem would be solved.

11. Mike Singletary

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    Singletary is the 49ers Head Coach and due to the horrible division his team is in, the 49ers are only one game out of first. Unfortunately, Singletary’s team is 5-9 and unless they make the playoffs he may very well be gone.

    Why He Should

    Singletary is another coach that thrives off his passion for the game. He expects everyone to be their best at all times and does not accept quitters. He likes using the run game as his primary weapon and would probably have tears of joy if he saw what the Panthers have. He uses his tight end as a primary target and would probably see Gary Barnidge and say, “You’re starting” without a thought. He can also work with only having a couple good receivers.

    The other upside is that Singletary is a defensive mind. With any luck he would not turn Carolina into a 3-4, but keep the 4-3 and see Jon Beason as his Patrick Willis. Plus, we have a better secondary than the 49ers so he would be more inclined to blitz.

    Why He Should Not

    The 49ers have a first overall pick in quarterback Alex Smith and he is still on a roller coaster. I don’t know if he can develop an NFL quarterback even if he did draft Luck. Also, I don’t know if he knows how to win outside of the NFC West. The NFC South is a whole different animal.

    I could see him drafting someone like Marcel Dareus or another defensive tackle. He has certainly noticed what Ndamukong Suh has done this year and might think he would instantly solve the run defense problem.

    I wouldn’t mind as long as he doesn’t drop his pants again. This team is still young and they could be scarred by an act like that.

10. Josh McDaniels

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    McDaniels was fired from his Head Coach position with the Denver Broncos. He came in and imposed his will as he soon traded Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall. He also traded Peyton Hillis. He ran out of time and could only produce an average looking team with a poor record.

    Why He Should

    McDaniels is a great quarterback coach. He had Kyle Orton rolling and had one of the highest passer ratings in the league. He helped Orton, he helped Cassel, and he helped develop Tom Brady. He would be a great guy to help develop Jimmy Clausen. Also, he would be comforted that Clausen is not as spoiled and childish as a certain other quarterback McDaniels had to deal with. He would use the run game to help protect Clausen and then use the play action to help Clausen grow.

    Why He Should Not

    I do not know if McDaniels has the skill set to be more than a quarterback coach. He likes to put his stamp on a team which is fine, but does he go too far is the question. He traded away a fairly young quarterback in Jay Cutler and brought in his own. He traded away his best receiver in Brandon Marshall and drafted his own. What’s to stop him from trading Steve Smith or Clausen so he can draft Green or Luck?

    He drafted both a quarterback and receiver and the receiver hasn’t worked out so well. I would think he would draft Luck so he can build the team around him and get the quarterback he wanted when with Denver.

9. Bill Cowher

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    Cowher was the former Head Coach of the Steelers, but recently he has been one of the analysts for CBS’ NFL pregame show. Cowher is known for being one of only three coaches in Steelers history and has a Super Bowl ring.

    Why He Should

    Cowher is a similar personality to John Fox and Jerry Richardson has tried to shape the Panthers in the mold of the Steelers. The Panthers run a smash mouth offense where they run the ball, run it some more, run it one more time and then think about passing. He helped build the current Steelers team that is currently in first place in the AFC North. He also would bring the discipline needed for a young team. Lastly, he lives in North Carolina so he would not need to move or worry about being away from his family often.

    Why He Should Not

    Cowher would demand a high price in order to coach next year and Richardson probably would not pay it. Also, he may find the life of a sports analyst easier and less stressful to the point where he would not feel able to handle coaching again.

    It was recently reported that Cowher would only consider three teams: Miami, New York, and Houston. The Dolphins haven’t fired Tony Sparano yet, but they run the same style of play as the Steelers and it’s not too far a drive from his home. The Giants aren’t going to fire Tom Coughlin so that option can be trashed right now. Lastly, the Texans seem further away than the Panthers, physically and skill wise. Would Cowher choose going to Texas over staying in the area? Would Cowher choose a team that likes to pass a lot and not play defense over a team with a good defense and runs the ball better than anyone?

    When draft time comes, I believe Cowher would select Luck. Luck may remind him of Ben Roethlisberger.

8. John Gruden

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    Gruden is former Head Coach of the Raiders and Bucs, where he won a ring. He is currently an analyst and broadcaster for Monday Night Football.

    Why He Should

    Gruden spent a good amount of time in the NFC South and is well aware of what the Panthers can do. He watched as the Panthers humiliated the Bucs on Monday Night Football in Monty Kiffin’s last year as Defensive Coordinator. He is infatuated with the Panthers running backs. His style fits perfectly in Carolina in that he wants to run the ball and play hard-nosed defense. He would make a great mentor and leader for the Panthers without having to travel too far from home.

    Why He Should Not

    Gruden likes his role as a broadcaster and analyst. Plus, he probably will not be ready for a couple years when his son finally graduates. Gruden would also be an expensive coach to hire.

    I would hope that he would guide Jimmy Clausen, but I’m positive he would draft Luck. He’s big, strong and has a great football IQ. Protected by a strong running game and with Steve Smith at receiver he would guarantee Luck became one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.

7. Russ Grimm

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    Grimm is the current Offensive Coordinator in Arizona. He has helped build one of the best offensive lines in football and he is a Hall of Fame guard.

    Why He Should

    He has experience as a player. He would fix the offensive line.

    Why He Should Not

    He may be everyone’s pick, but I’m not buying it. How many years has he been Offensive Coordinator? Also, how is Arizona’s offense fairing this year? The guy does not have what we need. He is Jeff Davidson incarnate except he’s in the Hall of Fame. He may be an offensive mind, but he runs a completely different attack. He does not run the ball. His skills as a teacher are questionable. His line is good because they know they only have to pass block.

    If he knew what was good for himself and Carolina he would stay in Arizona.

6. Jim Harbaugh

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    Harbaugh is the current Head Coach for Stanford and is the older brother to the Harbaugh currently running the Ravens. He is also responsible for the top rated prospect in this year’s Draft in Andrew Luck.

    Why He Should

    Harbaugh has led Stanford to the top of NCAAF ranks. He is a Harbaugh, which is almost like being a Ryan. He would be the ideal candidate to help Luck transition to the NFL. He would be able to guide him, teach him, and finish what he started at Stanford. Plus, he’s an offensive mind that would make the most of his young quarterback.

    Why He Should Not

    One year as a success in college means nothing. Look at Steve Spurrier and Nick Saban. Saban took a few years before getting his first BCS Title and he was an NFL Head Coach. Spurrier is still looking for his first.

    If he’s Head Coach, Luck is a lock for first pick.

5. Brad Childress

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    Yeah, don’t hear his name around the fire. He used to coach the Vikings before the lousy performance by Brett Favre got him fired.

    Why He Should

    First, there is only Steve Smith here. There are no other superstars to deal with and cover for. Second, he would be able to make his impression on the Panthers because they are so young. Third, Clausen is young and he won’t have to send players and pay him $20 million to get him to show up. Fourth, the Panthers offense is similar to the Vikings except we have more than one running back. Also, he ran a 4-3 defense in Minnesota, like we have in Carolina. He believes in having a dominant front seven. We have the linebacker corps and we even have a secondary. He would just have to build the line. Lastly, he can draft receivers and can develop tight ends. Just look at how far Visanthe Shiancoe has come since his Giants days.

    Why He Should Not

    It may be too early for Childress to come back to coaching. He was hit hard by the media and his team. Plus, there’s a question of his professionalism because he counted so heavily on Favre and granted Favre his every whim.

    Childress might go with a defensive tackle, but there’s a chance he may go A.J. Green to be his Sidney Rice. Even when Tarvaris Jackson was quarterback they went 10-6, this was pre-Favre era.

4. Marvin Lewis

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    Lewis is the current Head Coach for the Bengals. They are a disappointing 3-11 this year and he is also in his final year of his contract.

    Why He Should

    He took the Bengals to a division championship last season and they are a less talented team than Carolina. He can help turn Clausen into a good pocket passer as he did Carson Palmer, before his injury. He would have a better defense and would only have to work with the line. Most of all, he knows how to get every last drop out of his players. The Bengals aren’t overly talented, but he was able to coach them to a 6-0 record inside the AFC North last season.

    Why He Should Not

    Lewis may be too old and his recent downfall with the Bengals may look bad on a resume. He also may be too fond of the pass and go away from Carolina’s strength which is rung the football.

    As coach, he would draft Andrew Luck. The Bengals didn’t have anything but Chad Johnson before he drafted Palmer. When Palmer became starter, albeit four years later, he was an elite quarterback. I believe Lewis could do the same with Luck, minus the sitting part.

3. Mike Mularkey

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    Mularkey is the current Offensive Coordinator of the Atlanta Falcons. He used to be Head Coach of the Buffalo Bills, but did not last (who can blame him).

    Why He Should

    He has taken Matt Ryan and turned him into an elite quarterback that is clutch in the 4th quarter. He is an offensive mind which may be a good change for Carolina. He is still young and he knows the Atlanta offense which has been successful this season. He uses his tight end in the passing game and knows how to make his receivers effective even on two-man routes.

    Why He Should Not

    He failed as a Head Coach already. He could do nothing with the Bills and was fired early. He also may need a few more years under a successful system before he has the confidence to be the main man again.

    He would draft Andrew Luck without a second thought. Luck would be his Matt Ryan. He knows what Ryan has done and how far he has come. Mularkey would be able to work with luck just like he did Ryan and make him as cool as ice.

2. Ron Rivera

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    Rivera is the current Defensive Coordinator with the Chargers. His name was big a few years ago when he was a coordinator with Chicago, but he didn’t take and ended up in San Diego. Maybe now he’s ready to be the head man.

    Why He Should

    Rivera is a great defensive mind. When he was with Chicago they dominated, Rex Grossman would never have made it to the Super Bowl without that defense. Now, he has turned San Diego into the best in the NFL in both run and pass defense. He would fit the defensive mind that Carolina is looking for and now has the experience with good and bad quarterbacks to be able to build his own.

    Why He Should Not

    Rivera is currently with the Chargers who are in the hunt for the playoffs. He did not take a Head Coach job when with Chicago, so he may not feel inclined to do so now. Carolina also is not the most attractive team because they are so young. Lastly, his skills with an offense are unknown. Carolina doesn’t need another Defensive Coordinator but someone with a defensive mind that can develop an effective offense. This team may not be experienced enough for him to succeed.

    I could see Rivera seeing that Carolina has the first pick and have that look that says, “What did I just get myself into?” He would then realize that he would have a chance at his own Phillip Rivers and draft Luck.    

1. Brian Schottenheimer

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    As the younger son of Marty, it is no surprise he is an Offensive Coordinator. He is currently the Jets offensive mind and just finished beating on the Steelers.

    Why He Should

    He’s young, intelligent and football runs through his blood. He is also a former college football player. He has been in the Jets system which means he has a good sense of how to set up a defense. He was a quarterbacks coach with Chargers and had been an assistant coach with five teams before he was with the Chargers. He has turned Mark Sanchez into a quality NFL quarterback in only his second year and even has turned Braylon Edwards into an NFL receiver again. He would be a perfect choice for the Panthers and their young team.

    Why He Should Not

    It may be in his benefit. He knows he is one of the more desired young coaches in the league and may take advantage of that and wait for a better team to come knocking. There is also a question as to if he has what it takes to be a Head Coach. Maybe there’s a reason why he’s only ever been an assistant coach.

    Seeing what he has done with Sanchez, I think Schottenheimer would draft Andrew Luck. He is the perfect match for the Panthers and sure be pursued as if he were the next Mike Tomlin or even Andrew Luck.

In The End...

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    Whoever does become the next Head Coach of the Carolina Panthers will have big shoes to fill. Before this year, the Panthers never had a bad year and always finished average or great. Fox will go down as The Head Coach in Carolina history.