With multiple coaches already given the ax this season (Brad Childress, Wade Phillips and Josh McDaniels), one can only assume that there will be many more changes ahead. While there are some extremely stable jobs in the league (see Patriots, New England), others are up for grabs. With that, I give you who will be coaching each AFC team in the upcoming season (NFC will be posted tomorrow).
Since coming to Baltimore in 2008, Harbaugh has maintained the smash-mouth defense that was established by Rex Ryan, and has added a significant element to the offense.
After drafting Joe Flacco out of FBS school Delaware, Harbaugh trusted him to lead this veteran team, and so far, Flacco has exceeded expectations, allowing the Ravens to compete for the NFC North division title for years to come. Harbaugh is going nowhere fast.
Zimmer worked under great defensive mind Bill Parcells in Dallas before coming to Cincinnati
A year removed from a remarkable playoff run, Marvin Lewis' Bengals have struggled all year, and currently reside in last place in the NFC North. Going from division champions to a 3-win season is not the way to keep your job.
Mike Zimmer, on the other hand, got a lot of good press last year. With the Bengals being the subject of the HBO Series Hard Knocks, Zimmer was seen as a strong nosed, tough coordinator, capable of leading a team on his own. Zimmer gets his shot next season as the head coach of the Bengals.
Despite all the controversy surrounding Eric Mangini, he has turned this Browns team around. With the confidence he has displayed in rookie quarterback Colt McCoy, Mangini has shown that he has an idea on how to help this team succeed.
Playing in one of the toughest divisions in football has not helped Mangini's Browns, as they failed to finish .500, but Mangini has this team heading in the right direction, and Mike Holmgren should see this and give Mangini the shot to continue with his process.
Mike Tomlin could not have been a better choice for the Rooney family to replace legendary coach Bill Cowher in Pittsburgh. With his friendly yet tough approach to his players, Tomlin has become a "player's coach," and he has definitely succeeded in Pittsburgh. Currently in first place in the division, Tomlin has made sure the Steelers compete for a Super Bowl spot year in, year out.
Despite the fact that Houston is on Bill Cowher's "list" of teams he would like to coach, I think that Houston gives Kubiak one more year to see if he can lead this struggling team to the playoffs. His trust in Matt Schaub at quarterback, and his ability to see the talent in this year's Most Improved Player Arian Foster should give him the tools to succeed next year.
However, if the Texans get off to a shaky start, Kubiak could be the first coach fired in the 2011 season.
Jim Caldwell has adequately replaced legendary coach Tony Dungy in Indianapolis. Despite his quiet demeanor, Caldwell has maintained the stability in the Colts organization. Although the Colts are having a down season (this season marks the first in seven years they have not won 12 games), Caldwell has placed them in position to still win the AFC South and contend for a Super Bowl spot.
Head Coach since 2003, Del Rio has proved he has the ability to rise up despite adverse situations. Coming into this season, Del Rio seemed to be a lame duck coach. However, the Jaguars have been one of the surprise teams of the NFL, contending for the AFC South division title with the Colts. Del Rio's club has played just well enough for him to keep his job for at least one more season.
Despite years of success with the Titans organization, it seems that Jeff Fisher's run has come to an end in Nashville. He has clashed with ownership about multiple issues, mainly Vince Young's status as starting quarterback. Brian Schottenheimer will come into Tennessee and instill the smash mouth offense that he has tried to establish with the New York Jets.
He will teach and coach Vince Young similarly to the way he taught Mark Sanchez. I think this is a great fit for Schottenheimer, who deserves his shot at the next level of coaching
Despite an extremely slow start, the Bills have started to turn the corner. They are currently 4-10, but a few of their loses have been extremely close in the late moments of the game. Gailey has provided the verteran leadership necessary for a young and struggling team like Buffalo, and I believe that the Bills organization will give him the shot to continue what he has started.
Rex Ryan has become one of the most lovable characters in the NFL since taking over for the Jets last season. His loudmouth nature and cocky attitude have been applauded as the way that coaches should coach.
He has instilled a winning atmosphere back to the Jets organization, bringing them to their first AFC Championship game in a decade last season. Ryan has established that his goal is to win the Super Bowl every year, not just make the playoffs, which has been cheered by New York fans.
Bill Belichick has year in, year out made the Patriots into a Super Bowl contender. His ability to find "no-name" running backs (see Green-Ellis, Ben-Jarvus, or Woodhead, Danny) and input them into the offense run so well by Tom Brady has been remarkable over the years. This job is Belichick's until he decides to give it up.
Cowher has expressed that Miami is one of his teams that he would like to coach next season, and the Dolphins will jump at the opportunity to land this big name coach. Although Tony Sparano has turned around this franchise, Dolphins owenership expects to compete for a division crown every year.
Cowher allows them the opportunity to do that. I believe that the Dolphins will sign Cowher, and then either make a trade for Kevin Kolb or Donovan McNabb, giving them the franchise quarterback that they have not found in Chad Henne.
After years in New York (including taking the Giants to the Super Bowl), Fassel has had success in the UFL, winning the first two championships.
Pat Bowlen, the owner of the Broncos, will be hesitant to hire a first-time head coach after the failed McDaniels experiment. Fassel will provide the veteran leadership that Bowlen is looking for for this young football team trying to get back on track.
Just when you thought he was out, he pulled you back in. Despite an extremely slow start, Turner's Chargers have turned the corner, and look poised to win the AFC West again. Notoriously a slow starter, Turner's ability to win when it counts (December and January) have made him a successful coach for the Chargers.
However, there is a possibility that Turner is fired if the Chargers end up missing the playoffs. If that were to happen, I could see Brian Billick, former Ravens head coach, filling in for Turner in San Diego.
Tom Cable has successfully turned around the laughingstock that was once the Oakland Raiders. He has found his franchise quarterback in Jason Campbell, and has installed a winning attitude in Oakland. Although they will probably miss the playoffs this season, look for them to be the favorites to win the division in 2011 under Cable's leadership.
Haley has had a successful second season at the head of the Chiefs organization. His fast 4-0 start this season put the Chiefs back on the map, and they are currently competing with the Chargers for the AFC West crown. Haley, coming from Arizona, has installed a winning atmosphere back into Kansas City, with his fiery attitude and strong leadership. This was a great hire for the Chiefs organization two years ago.