Every year there is a handful of head coaches that are let go each season. Projecting the next head coaching hire is the challenging part. Because of the constant turnover in the NFL, often times assistants aren’t ready for a promotion. My task will be finding five coordinators who could take over an NFL program and succeed. My top hire this year was Kyle Shanahan who will likely thrive in San Fran if he finds a franchise quarterback. My top candidates that sit on the hot seat heading into the 2017 NFL season can be seen here. Who are the top five coordinators ready to make the leap to a head coaching opportunity?
5. Scott Linehan (Dallas Cowboys)
Sure Linehan failed as a head coach with the Rams but who hasn’t? His 11-25 career record shouldn’t be the true tale of how good Linehan can be. If there’s a guy who deserves another chance it’s probably this guy. Linehan is the passing game coordinator in Dallas and has done a magnificent job with Dak Prescott. It’s not easy integrating a rookie 4th round pick into a franchise quarterback. Prescott’s development within the confines of the pocket makes him the real deal. Linehan deserves a ton of credit for putting the game plans together as Jason Garrett cheers from the sideline.
Yes having the best offensive line in football makes life a bit easier. Yes, Ezekiel Elliot allows Linehan to chew up the clock late in games. Give Linehan a quarterback that’s better than Marc Bulger and take a look at the results.
4. Todd Haley (Pittsburgh Steelers)
There’s no denying how explosive the Steelers offense has been in recent years. The man at the helm of that success has been Todd Haley. The fact that the Steelers fired Bruce Arians in favor of Todd Haley should speak volumes to how good Haley is as a play caller. By the way, Tomlin is a defensive minded head coach. Haley runs the show in Pittsburgh.
Haley has also done a terrific job of developing talent. Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell have become superstars under his watch. Then again, we shouldn’t be surprised as he comes from that Bill Parcells coaching tree. Although Haley failed in Kansas City as a head coach (19-26 career record) his quarterback was Matt Cassel. That’s not acceptable. Haley deserves another shot.
3. Josh McDaniels (New England Patriots)
Notice a trend? This list includes all former head coaches because the other candidates simply aren’t ready. McDaniels is more than qualified to run his own team. McDaniels has a coaching record of 11-13. That was getting stuck with Tim Tebow. McDaniels even won a playoff game with Tebow! Tom Brady is coming off the most efficient year of his career and McDaniels is a big part of the reason why.
McDaniels has been groomed under Bill Belichick for long enough to make him a great candidate. Under and Belichick team, he’s constantly adapting and changing his offensive principles. It’s time for him to get another opportunity. That Jimmy Garopolo guy has looked pretty darn good too.
2. David Shaw (Stanford)
Ok, I cheated on this one but for good reason. Does anyone realize how hard it is to win at Stanford? Recruiting players that find the academic standards is challenging enough. Getting those few players to commit to your school is the real task at hand. Shaw has run a terrific program since Jim Harbaugh left town.
Would Shaw leave for the NFL? Maybe not unless it’s a chance to coach his former collegiate signal caller Andrew Luck. Then again the weather in Palo Alto may win out over the harsh conditions in Indy. Stanford has become a consistent 10 game winner every year. His pro style attack makes him a perfect fit in the NFL.
- Jim Harbaugh (Michigan)
Harbaugh wins wherever he goes. Whether it’s San Diego, Stanford, the 49ers, or Michigan, this guy flat out wins. Remember when Harbaugh took Colin Kaepernick to a Super Bowl? WE have since found out that Kaep is not an NFL quarterback without the genius Harbaugh.
To his credit, Harbaugh builds a tremendous staff around him. That Michigan defense plays like a bunch of killers for a reason. Would Harbaugh leave Michigan so soon? Probably not, but he’s the first call I’m making if I’m looking for a head coach.
*Would Jon Gruden consider coming back to coaching? If so, Gruden also belongs on this list.