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.