Top 10 Coaches to Replace Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville
The Jags are currently1-4 and it doesn't get any easier. They are headed to Pittsburgh this weekend, with rookie quarterback Blaine Gabbert at the helm; and will most likely stumble to a disappointing 1-5 start.
At this point it seems a formality Del Rio will be gone, if not midseason, immediately at the conclusion of the season with owner Wayne Weaver's playoff ultimatum already made crystal clear.
If this season continues on its current path, the Jags will miss the playoffs for a fourth consecutive year, with a fanbase that is growing increasingly impatient.
Who is available that wants this job? What coach would enjoy a fresh young talent like Blaine Gabbert to mold into a star? All of this in a state with no income tax, in a city located near the beach with the sun shining 300 days out of year?
There are plenty of candidates that would relish the opportunity in Jacksonville, and who could potentially succeed. The following are my personal top 10 most likely coaches to be in charge of the Jags in 2012.
10. Butch Davis
Butch Davis was fired from the University of North Carolina amidst severe scrutnity involving academic misconduct and various other NCAA violations.
Davis had done a decent job in the ACC and had turned a "basketball school" into a BCS darkhorse, before all the improper benefits his school was found guilty of dishing out to recruits. He also had a very successful stint as Miami Hurricanes coach going 51-20 from 1995-2000.
Who knows? Davis may land in the NFL again, where there are no compliance officers or recruiting scandals. His overall record as a head coach is still a solid 87-77. He's already been the head coach of the Cleveland Browns, taking them to the postseason in 2003.
9. Mike Gundy
Stillwater, Oklahoma couldn't be more thrilled with their coach and former quarterback Mike Gundy. He has the Cowboys competing on the national stage, and consistently sending first-round talent to the league.
It isn't likely he'll leave Oklahoma State anytime soon, but inevitably the NFL will come calling.
It will take a lot to pry Gundy from his alma mater, but he's only making $900,000 a year, with his impressive 51-29 record.
8. Bill O'Brien
The New England Patriots continue to run as a well-oiled machine. The next great offensive coordinator they have is Bill O'Brien.
He's only been with the team since 2007, and he would continue a long standing tradition of assistants and coordinators leaving Belichick for a head coaching gig elsewhere.
7. Chip Kelly
Chip Kelly has done a phenomenal job in Eugene. Oregon has won the now defunct Pac-10 the last two seasons with a 25-5 record.
His spread offense may not translate to the NFL, but eventually Kelly will be coaching on Sundays.
He's only 47, and has nothing left to prove on the college stage besides winning a crystal football. Eugene will only be able to hold onto him for so long.
6. Herm Edwards
"You play to win the game!" is the tirade by Edwards that went viral while in charge of the Jets. Edwards is a fiery competitor and there's no doubt he's anxious to be back on the sideline after a disappointing stint in Kansas City.
Currently working for ESPN, I'm sure if the right job came along, Edwards would be back in the league instead of contributing to "Mike and Mike in the Morning."
He just might be the hard-nosed personality the Jags need to bring some enthusiasm and discipline.
5. Eric Mangini
Another member of this list currently employed at the "worldwide leader," Mangini was dismissed from Cleveland in 2010.
Another assistant from the Belichick coaching tree, he's still just 40 years old and will most likely get another opportunity in the league, despite his subpar 33-48 record.
4. Bill Cowher
Bill Cowher could never quite win the big one, but that all changed when Big Ben arrived. He's won the AFC twice, and the Super Bowl in 2005. He's been retired since 2006, and has had adequate family time.
Now may be the right time to return to the league he surely misses. He's still only 53, and at some point, listening to Boomer Esiason and Shannon Sharpe has to get old.
With a career winning percentage of .631; NFL general managers surely have his cell number handy. Jacksonville could offer a great challenge for Cowher, especially trying to revamp the much maligned defense.
3. Dom Capers
The architect of the defense for the world champions is a bit of a journey man in league circles, but he is very well respected.
Aside from being a brilliant defensive tactician, Dom Capers possesses a wealth of experience in the AFC.
He's also coached in Jacksonville before as defensive coordinator, so he is already familiar with the area and organization.
This could be a great fit that could pay immediate dividends, especially to the defensive line and secondary.
2. Brian Billick
After being fired by Baltimore in 2007, Billick has been patient, but will definitely return to the league in some capacity. His career record is 85-67 including an impressive 5-3 postseason record.
Billick is known for getting the most out of his offenses with schemes and mismatches. No doubt he could turn around a lackluster offense in Jacksonville after winning a Super Bowl title with Trent Dilfer under center.
1. Jon Gruden
"Chuckie" is currently working Monday Night Football for ESPN, definitely a sweet gig. However, he will return to the league if the time and opportunity is right.
Gruden is the ultimate game planner who is known to watch film endlessly and cultivate quarterbacks into winners. He's from the Mike Holmgren coaching tree, he's won everything there is to win, and has already coached in Florida. He has a good young quarterback in a division that is no doubt within reach for the coming years.
If Gruden was to return to the league, Jacksonville makes too much sense. He could be a saviour for a franchise with a fanbase growing tired of mediocrity.
Will Wayne Weaver open the checkbook to sign one of these big names? Will he promote from within to establish more continuity? Will he actually keep his word and fire Del Rio if the Jags miss the playoffs for a fourth straight year?
There are many more questions than answers surrounding the future of the Jacksonville Jags, but one thing is for sure: these candidates are qualified, and could turn around the fortunes of the struggling franchise.