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Game of “multi-level musical chairs” is unfolding

DelRio Getty Images

Yes, there’s still one full slate of regular-season games to play.  But plenty of assistant coaches (and soon-to-be-fired head coaches) are doing more than thinking about their future.

They’re also acting on it, sparking what one league source has described as a game of “multi-level musical chairs.”

Coaches who think they’ll possibly be in line for one of the many looming coaching vacancies are commencing the process of lining up potential coaching staffs while preparing for the final game of the regular season.  And that necessarily creates distractions for assistant coaches who are currently working for playoff teams, since they’ll be among the most desirable candidates for jobs.

For example, in Denver we’re told that offensive coordinator Mike McCoy and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio are each getting their ducks in a row, in the event that they are asked to interview for jobs during the upcoming bye week (if, of course, the Broncos earn a bye).

In Cincinnati, the same thing is happening with offensive coordinator Jay Gruden and defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer.  The earliest they’ll be available to interview, however, would be after wild-card weekend.

This creates a current land rush for potential assistant coaches to be hired by the potential head coaches, and it likewise creates a dilemma for the potential assistant coaches, who will be pulled in different directions and forced to prioritize (assuming they’re even being completely honest) about where they will go if a certain assistant gets hired as a head coach in a certain city.

The end result is that it all becomes a mess — and the mess is bigger than usual this year, since there’s a belief that 10 or more jobs could come open.

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49 Responses to “Game of “multi-level musical chairs” is unfolding”
  1. maddenisfordorks says: Dec 29, 2012 11:07 AM

    Del Rio? Man he was awful in Jax … made a fool of himself regularly when he had to speak in public. He said “#7 (Leftwich) was poised to have a great year” and then released him a week later. Who would be looking at this guy seriously?

    But then again, we turned around and hired Mularkey who delivered us the worst Jags team in franchise history.

    Ugh – maybe in a decade.

  2. kattykathy says: Dec 29, 2012 11:07 AM

    Mike Zimmer has earned the chance to see if he can be a good head coach. I hope he gets a shot somewhere.

  3. bucsfan5000 says: Dec 29, 2012 11:12 AM

    Del Rio told The Associated Press in a text message that his family was “blessed with nine good years” in Jacksonville.

    Fans would disagree.

    They will remember Del Rio’s tenure as one that lasted too long and was filled with quarterback chaos, inconsistency, staff turnover and late-season collapses. There also was the decision to place an ax and a wooden stump in the locker room to remind players to “keep chopping wood.” It backfired miserably when punter Chris Hanson accidentally hacked into his leg and was placed on injured reserve.

    This season, Del Rio released veteran quarterback David Garrard five days before the season opener, then benched journeyman Luke McCown after two games. He turned things over to rookie Blaine Gabbert, who has panicked under pressure, misfired on short throws and shown little progress in nine starts.

    Del Rio also botched quarterback decisions involving Mark Brunell and Byron Leftwich in 2003, and Leftwich and Garrard in 2007.

    Equally troubling, Del Rio showed a penchant for throwing players and assistants under the bus. Del Rio fired 19 assistant coaches during his tenure, creating enough tension that could make it tough for him to get another job in the league.

  4. CKL says: Dec 29, 2012 11:15 AM

    Agree on Zimmer. Coaches who coached under Parcells are much better HCs than ones whose last gigs were under BB.

    Also why would anyone in Den think they could make it as a HC? After all, they’re winning ONLY because of PM (rolls eyes, sick of hearing that) .

  5. prince5000 says: Dec 29, 2012 11:15 AM

    Zimmer should get a shot somewhere – and what about Bruce Arians?

  6. heeeeelzfan says: Dec 29, 2012 11:16 AM

    One name: Bruce Arians, Indianapolis Colts. Class act.

  7. jam11163 says: Dec 29, 2012 11:18 AM

    if the eagles fire reid, where does he go and who goes with him. than who gets the philly job and who are the assistant coaches ???

  8. vincentvega513 says: Dec 29, 2012 11:19 AM

    Dont forget Hue Jackson is also on the Bengals staff. Marvin could have a whole new staff next year..

  9. riverhorsey says: Dec 29, 2012 11:21 AM

    Del Rio is probably an excellent DC but way overrated as HC material.

  10. whodeydaytonchapter says: Dec 29, 2012 11:25 AM

    No idea why Zimmer hasn’t been given a job yet or talked about as the next guy up by the experts more.

  11. floriohatesthebengals says: Dec 29, 2012 11:26 AM

    I agree. Zimmer should get a shot. I’d hate to see him go but he is a top 5 d-coordinator. Gruden it’s a few years away but he will eventually get a shot.

  12. usmutts says: Dec 29, 2012 11:36 AM

    When Rexy was hired he yelled “SOUND
    THE GREAT NEWS HOW MY JETS WILL ASTOUND!”
    And Rexy said, “Nay,
    Tim Tebow won’t play,
    That southpaw’s a thorn in my Crown.”

    Whither the pound and the ground?
    Dumb miscues and bumblings abound.
    And Sanchez went down,
    Butt-fumbled the Crown.
    Now no one wants these clowns around.

  13. lionsfan2086 says: Dec 29, 2012 11:36 AM

    Wouldn’t it be more apt to call it a Game of Thrones? After all, winter is coming.

  14. ravennation2013 says: Dec 29, 2012 11:37 AM

    Del rio blows hard and Zimmer should stay with the bengals with gruden iff they were smart

  15. msclemons67 says: Dec 29, 2012 11:37 AM

    I can’t imagine Jack of the River being hired anywhere. His stint at South Jacksonville High School was horrible.

  16. jpb12 says: Dec 29, 2012 11:38 AM

    Mike Pettine will be happy to leave the Jets and sign up with one of these guys.

  17. v2the4 says: Dec 29, 2012 11:44 AM

    some coaches are destined to be head men…some should never be head coaches, but are hired by default, then recycled after they are fired…Del Rio was an awful coach…he should be a career coordinator…same thing for Romeo Cronell…and after the Chargers get rid of Norv Turner, he shouldnt get hired ever again to lead a team.

    I think the openings come monday will be in San Diego(Norv), Arizona(Whisenhunt), Buffalo(Gailey), and Kansas City (Cronell)….Philly, Carolina and Chicago coaches will definitely be on fire watch as well

  18. drbandkgb says: Dec 29, 2012 11:47 AM

    As a Bengals fan Id hate to loose either but Z-man is ready to be a head coach..
    Gruden is not ready yet.. He needs a few more years to prove him self..

    How Jack was ever made a head coach ill never know..

    I do not like seeing these guys that are position coaches jumping over good coords to become head coaches.. I can not think of one that has worked well..

    Titans are suffering with this.. Jax suffered with it… You have to earn it..

  19. mp42245 says: Dec 29, 2012 11:51 AM

    Saint haters, Sean Peyton lovers.. Get ready. Oh wait. I guess you got another 5 years of hating.

  20. unbiased5 says: Dec 29, 2012 12:00 PM

    “I do not like seeing these guys that are position coaches jumping over good coords to become head coaches.. I can not think of one that has worked well..

    Titans are suffering with this.. Jax suffered with it… You have to earn it..”

    ——————————————

    When have the Jaguars hired a position coach to be their head coach?

  21. electionconfidential says: Dec 29, 2012 12:01 PM

    In the NFL having been a bad head coach simply counts as “experience”. Del Rio is a good defensive coordinator and a bad head coach, but if there are ten openings I bet he gets a shot. Look at Norv Turner… second chances, third chances.

    Puzzling. Just as puzzling, I’ll bet someone at least interviews Rob Ryan even though everyone in his family has proven that DC is their ceiling. It’s as if the NFL promotes people until they find something they can’t do then leave them there.

  22. pondbridge says: Dec 29, 2012 12:02 PM

    Funny how Rex Ryan’s poor year (and an erratic Dallas D) has squelched all speculation about twin Rob. Might work well in Buffalo though with a half-decent GM.

  23. jc1958cool says: Dec 29, 2012 12:03 PM

    maybe,wait,let’s see, who cares too many GM’s should get canned ! they hire and keep idoit’s like turner,cronnel,ryan just a few

  24. broncosfan29 says: Dec 29, 2012 12:06 PM

    As a broncos fan i hope del rio stays as the def coordinator. im getting tired of a new one every year. mccoy wouldn’t be a big loss in my opinion

  25. blockedshotnyr says: Dec 29, 2012 12:08 PM

    Philly should target Zimmer or Gus Bradley – they need to add toughness – those two will bring energy and toughness.

    Andy’s a virtual lock for San Diego – think Kelly will have to go to Carolina with Cam in place…

  26. bengalsmofo says: Dec 29, 2012 12:09 PM

    As a Bengals fan Id hate to loose either but Z-man is ready to be a head coach..
    Gruden is not ready yet..
    ________________________________
    Couldn’t agree more, especially with Zim.

    Regarding Gruden, I don’t yet understand the fascination with him. When I think about how the offense completely left the stadium in games such as Cleveland, Miami, Pgh#1, or how the defense has kept the team in games during the latter part of the season, it’s clear Gruden has some work to do. Not saying it should never happen, just not yet.

  27. blockedshotnyr says: Dec 29, 2012 12:10 PM

    When have the Jaguars hired a position coach to be their head coach?

    ——————————————-

    I could be wrong, but I thought Del Rio went from LB Coach to Head Coach…

  28. pike573 says: Dec 29, 2012 12:17 PM

    Haven’t the Bengles denied Zimmer the opportunity to interview in the past?

  29. to2211 says: Dec 29, 2012 12:23 PM

    I am a die hard Philly fan. Reid is on his way out, it is time. I can honestly say I appreciate the time he has given but this move is a little overdue. In the past 8 years he has been a .500 coach, which isn’t good enough. Although I excited about a new era, I am not excited about the candidates rumored to be linked to Philly. Chip Kelly is a college coach that runs a gimmick system, John Gruden is over rated, Denver’s OC doesn’t get me moving either. These are just to name a few. I want to see a 3-4 defensive minded guy step onto the throne. The DC from Sf, Az, Cin, or Sea would be tops on my list.

  30. bengalsmofo says: Dec 29, 2012 12:32 PM

    Haven’t the Bengles denied Zimmer the opportunity to interview in the past?
    ______________________________
    The Bengals haven’t denied him the opportunity. Marvin has been very supportive, in fact, and he has interviewed for a few positions. Others have been selected over him.

  31. purpwalk says: Dec 29, 2012 12:33 PM

    que peter principle

  32. mazblast says: Dec 29, 2012 12:34 PM

    drbandkgb says:

    I do not like seeing these guys that are position coaches jumping over good coords to become head coaches.. I can not think of one that has worked well..
    ——————————
    I haven’t looked it up, but didn’t Andy Reid jump from a QB coach to HC? He has never won a super bowl but on balance did a good job with a historically non-elite franchise.

  33. unbiased5 says: Dec 29, 2012 12:36 PM

    “I could be wrong, but I thought Del Rio went from LB Coach to Head Coach…”

    ——————————

    He was Carolina’s D coordinator when the Jags hired him.

  34. to2211 says: Dec 29, 2012 12:40 PM

    Horton from AZ would be a good fit for Philly, someone earlier mentioned Bradley the DC from Sea which I think would be cool. Is Zimmer a 3-4 guy. I also like San Fran DC, enough with these offensive minded folk.

  35. lucimorland says: Dec 29, 2012 12:41 PM

    What about the Lions staff? Scott Linehan will probably move on. Jim Schwartz is terrible, but the Lions owners are too cheap to cut their losses and hire someone else…or are they?

    Gunther Cunningham has done a good job with a terrible wide-9 scheme. Does anyone want a 3-4 defense that kills people? Hire Gunther.

  36. rhymeswithpunt says: Dec 29, 2012 12:49 PM

    Well whoever it is, someone needs to get BB some help in NE. The Pats need a real DC.

  37. canetic says: Dec 29, 2012 1:00 PM

    Zimmer deserves a shot. Also, Rob Chudzinksi should get a shot somewhere, perhaps San Diego or he stays in Carolina. He’s a very good coach.

  38. chuckiesez says: Dec 29, 2012 1:11 PM

    I have always said that some are meant to be coords. and NOT HC. Del Rio, Weiss, Cunningham, Crenel and even Turner all fit my definition. In the right setup, all of thes men have been very good not being the HC. Just like the players on the team, the assistants must be put in the right place for the team to have success. I am not a Patriots fan at all, but put Del Rio in at DC and watch what happens there…

  39. randolph32 says: Dec 29, 2012 1:33 PM

    You should have added Asst. Coaches stumping for their Head Coaches, ala Lovie Smith. Yesterday I must have heard 3-4 Coaches and more players telling whomever would listen what a great Coach he is – What’s not to like about 3 playoff appearances in 9 years?

  40. billsfan1 says: Dec 29, 2012 1:54 PM

    IN the local news, there was a list of 5 candidates the Bills should interview … Zimmer was #1.

    But face it, it doesnt matter who any of these guys are or where they go… If they dont have a good qb or get a good qb, then they will not do very well.

    I, for one, Dont know enough about Zimmer to be honest… SO somebody please tell me (preferably someone not biased to him), Is he really a good candidate? I hear his name all over the place but idk…

    Also, as far as Arians goes, good OC but idk about him as a HC. He has never reallt been looked at, that i am aware of, and my concern for whatever team looks at him is that, he not only had Andrew Luck, but he also had the emotion of what coach Pagano went through…

    3rd name i heard was Shanahan…idk, he had RG3…. that helped a ton, i am sure…

    thoughts people?

  41. raiderlyfe510 says: Dec 29, 2012 2:17 PM

    As a Raider fan I would take Mike Singletary as Head Coach with Norv Turner as Offensive Coordinator. My squad needs a kick in the ass and a better offense.

    Probably wont win a Superbowl but we’ll be winners.

  42. EJ says: Dec 29, 2012 2:32 PM

    I’m starting to get this feeling that the Buffalo Bills will not be firing Chan Gailey. I think Ralph Wilson is getting a little tired of replacing the GM and Head Coach every three years. Besides, I believe Gailey still has a Presser scheduled the morning after the last game of the season. Wouldn’t they cancel it if he was going to be released? Nix is staying, so maybe he talked Wilson into giving Gailey another shot with a new QB? Maybe Mike Vick? I guess we’ll find out soon enough.

  43. xx4zu1 says: Dec 29, 2012 2:35 PM

    It kills me to see how many recycled head coaches float back to the top of the pool every year. They get a job fail miserably go somewhere as a coordinator for a year or two then become head coaches and fail again. Florio should do a piece on this would be interesting to know the actual level of success any of these recycled coaches have had.

  44. rashardmendenballs says: Dec 29, 2012 2:56 PM

    Nothing new here, and really it is business as usual on the coaching side of the business There is Nothing wrong with being proactive and prepared in case of the opportunity arises.

  45. chi01town says: Dec 29, 2012 3:00 PM

    I hope Emery moves fast!! Greg Roman in San Fran wont last long.
    Hire the man so he can put together
    a coaching staff. Pete Carmichael would be my 2nd choice and he will need time too

  46. dartwick says: Dec 29, 2012 3:14 PM

    I would not be happy if Del Rio was my teams new coach but….

    No one was going to do a significantly better job than he did down in Jacksonville short of Bill Belicheck.
    That team was ran so poorly at the owner and GM level that it was almost hopeless.

  47. ogre2010 says: Dec 29, 2012 5:04 PM

    As a Jaguar Fan, have extreme caution when hiring Del Rio.

  48. jeremyb91 says: Dec 29, 2012 8:32 PM

    It’s convenient you left out the fact assistants can’t leave a team w/o a team’s permission unless it’s for a head coaching position or their contract’s are up. This rule hamstrings the growth of several assistants who could be promoted but aren’t because NFL teams don’t want to lose good assistants. Some coaches allow it, but a lot of teams refuse to allow assistants get promoted to higher assistant positions.

  49. cmdrsmooth says: Dec 30, 2012 12:03 AM

    Wow. Amazing what a franchise QB does for coaches.

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