Ranking the available coaching jobs

Denver Broncos v Los Angeles Chargers
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Plenty of people in media rank open G.M. and/or coaching jobs. Even some of the candidates for those jobs (and sometimes their opinions are subject to change based on whether they get a given job). The topic of my own ranking of the open jobs has come up this week, on PFT Live and elsewhere.

So let’s reduce it to writing, for the six head-coaching jobs. This is my own personal assessment, and I’ll explain the reason for each specific placement below.

Feel free to attach a comment with your own ranking. Or to call mine nutty.

1. L.A. Chargers.

Why No. 1? Two words: Justin Herbert. The sixth overall pick in the 2020 draft is the real deal. He’s already one of the best quarterbacks in football.

And the roster is otherwise stocked — much more stocked than their record this year suggests. Joey Bosa. Derwin James. Keenan Allen. Mike Williams. Just to name a few.

There’s one caveat, and it’s an issue over which the next coach must take control. Why are the Chargers suffering so many injuries? The next coach should order a comprehensive review of all strength, conditioning, and training aspects of the organization in order to check whether the injuries are the product of bad luck or poor methods. While many injuries are unavoidable, injuries can be minimized with the right approach to flexibility, exercise, and nutrition. The Chargers need to re-evaluate all of their systems in this regard.

Still, the presence of Herbert makes this the best job. With the right coach, the Chargers could take over the L.A. market and consistently challenge the Chiefs in the AFC West.

2. Jacksonville Jaguars.

Draft picks, cap space, low expectations, a division that isn’t as competitive as most of the other seven, and the ability to select Trevor Lawrence make this a great job. For starters, I’d want to know how many game will be played every year in London as the schedule expands to 17. I’d also want to know whether owner Shad Khan’s recent comments suggest that he’ll be closer to Jerry Jones than Robert Kraft when it comes to direct meddling.

If Lawrence becomes what most think he will be, this could end up being the best job. For now, though, I’ll lean toward the team with the quarterback who has shown that he can get it done at the NFL level.

3. New York Jets.

Former G.M. Mike Maccagnan was building the team from the outside in. Current G.M. Joe Douglas is building it from the inside out. And that’s the right way, with the offensive and defensive lines being the primary focus.

The big question is whether the quarterback will be Sam Darnold or whether the second overall pick will be used on a guy like Justin Fields. I’d want to know what the front office envisions, and whether the powers-that-be will trust me to make and to implement the right plan for the most importation position on the team.

4. Wait until next year.

Before addressing the final three, I need to say this: Instead of taking one of these jobs, I’d be inclined to wait until 2022. Each of the bottom three teams has executives nudged between G.M. and coach, executives who can (and will) whisper into the owner’s ear and potentially undermine or interfere with my efforts. From Rich McKay in Atlanta to Jack Easterby in Houston to Rod Wood and now Chris Spielman in Detroit, a difficult job becomes even harder when there’s a possibility that competing agendas will arise in the same football organization.

But if I don’t think the window won’t be open for me next year and I’m willing to take my chances, this is the way I’d rank them.

5. Houston Texans.

If Deshaun Watson wants me to be the coach, I want to be the coach — if Deshaun Watson is also willing to accept the fact that I’m the coach. If he doesn’t want me to be the coach, I want to know what the plan is for dealing with a disgruntled franchise quarterback before taking the job.

Also, I’d need assurances that Jack Easterby will never be in the locker room on the sideline or anywhere near the players or coaching staff. The job is hard enough without worrying about football’s Littlefinger trying to stick a shiv in my spine.

6. Detroit Lions.

Some teams have one executive as the buffer between coach/G.M. and ownership. The Lions now have two: Rod Wood and Chris Spielman. I’d rather stay put and take my chances in 2022. Or 2023. Or never.

7. Atlanta Falcons.

I’m not touching a job that will have two General Managers. And that’s what the Falcon will have — the actual General Manager and Rich McKay. Sorry, Arthur, but until you reduce the number of cooks, I’ll wait for a different kitchen.

Throw in a salary-cap mess, with or without Matt Ryan and Julio Jones, and it’s just not worth playing craps with my future career interests by becoming the next Falcons coach.

23 responses to “Ranking the available coaching jobs

  1. You can’t do a write up like that on the Chargers and fail to mention they have terrible ownership…

  2. Eh, the old couple in Detroit is gone. RIP. Young blood and past legends in charge up there now. Whoever turns that team into a winner is 1st ballot HOFmer,

  3. If Easterby is Littlefinger…then does that make Watson, Sansa Stark??
    I’m willing to go down this Game of Thrones rabbit hole…

  4. The Chargers ownership is the single reason Eli Manning would not play for them. I think Eli went elsewhere and won a two Super Bowls. The Chargers have never won a damn thing except being kicked out of town.

  5. Theoretically it does come down to how well you can work for the owner: the one that’s signing your check. The others are very important factors, but would you rather work hard and fix a team for Arthur Blank or Shad Khan? Or would you go to an already solid team but deal with Spanos? There’s the middle ground with Detroit as well to consider.

  6. Realistically, how many fans are going to fill that building for Chargers home games?

  7. Coaches success is judged by wins, playoff appearances and SB:

    Falcons – best built team to win now, Brady and Brees are close to retirement and the Panthers aren’t a current threat.. Could win multiple division titles, several playoff appearances and shot at more SB runs!

    Jaguars – a decent defense to coach up, 1st pick to get a top qb, Offense doesn’t need total rebuilt, a division that doesn’t have a dominant team to overcome.

    Wait until next year or regret hitching your future to these!

    Texans – have more holes to fill than they can in one season.

    Chargers – if at any time in your history you have fired a coach who finished a season 14-2, I can’t trust you with my and my family’s future!

    Lions and Jets – losing franchises stay losing franchises for a reason…

  8. Whoooooa Nelly…slow down a little with the talk of Herbert already being “one of the best QBs in the NFL”. He isn’t; for example, his strong 80.1 PFF grade is still “just” 16th out of 40 qualifying QBs. Being above average is not nearly the same as “one of the best”. HOWEVER, being above average as a rookie QB is utterly terrific and suggests that Herbert will be at least a longtime good QB and perhaps will develop into one of the best, a very appealing piece for a Head Coach. So, I agree with the point, but let’s just be a little more careful with the descriptors, eh?

  9. Not so fast…the Jets job is attractive because they have 2nd most cap space in the NFL, two first round picks this year, 6 selections in the first 100 picks, 2 first round picks in 2022, anchors on both lines (Q. Williams and Becton). GM Joe Douglas is earning his trust and on a 6 year deal. Details matter.

  10. If Khan’s head is on straight and he leaves football decisions to football people, Jacksonville is by far the top spot. First, expectations will be low for a year or two giving the new coach time to install his culture. Second, unlike the Chargers, Jacksonville won’t be battling Patrick Mahomes forever. Also, Jacksonville has both the cap and draft resources to add a lot of talent fairly quickly.

  11. Overall I think Mr. Florio did a great job detailing these coaching openings. Nice job.

  12. The Lions are still owned by a family willing to pay fair market value and hold on to a HC/GM through the end of his contract. They’ve always been willing to spend and are highly unlikely to interfere. If you want job security, Detroit is top 3.

  13. Several of those teams listed–especially the Jags–are there because of an incompetent front office. Khan is the head of all the problems with the Jags and to hear him saying he’s going to get more involved should be concerning. I don’t care how much cap space or how many draft picks they have, they’ve had exactly one season in the last thirteen in which they didn’t have double-digit losses. That’s not an accident.

  14. A division that isn’t as competitive… Two 11-5 teams and a championship that wasn’t decided until the last week of the season in a game between two of the division teams that went right down to the last seconds of the games. You guys have a weird definition of “competitive”.

  15. I get the 2 GM thing but the Falcons have had too much recent success to be in the “not touching that job” category. Plus, contending for the division is considerably easier when nobody has a franchise QB and that is likely going to be the case within the next couple seasons with Brees and Brady retiring and the Panthers not currently having a QB of the future.

  16. the Jets job is attractive because they have 2nd most cap space in the NFL, two first round picks this year, 6 selections in the first 100 picks, 2 first round picks in 2022, anchors on both lines (Q. Williams and Becton). GM Joe Douglas is earning his trust and on a 6 year deal.

    OK. Those are the positive points. Now for the negative points:

    It’s the Jets. When teams fail to perform well for DECADES, it’s time to look at the owners. IF they don’t change, the Jets won’t change, regardless of the coach.

  17. How can a owner without any football ( American football) want to take control of the roster? Jerry Jones was a football player and has been in football business for a while same with Al Davis. So their direct involvement is understandable.

  18. Jacksonville is 2 but Atlanta is 7? I’m pretty sure I saw a PFT story about how the owner flat out said he’s going to be “hands on” and take an active role in the draft room. How is that any better than Atlanta?

  19. terrystown says:
    January 7, 2021 at 1:44 pm
    You can’t do a write up like that on the Chargers and fail to mention they have terrible ownership…
    Besides idiot owners, they have the Chargers mystique which transcends owners and causes them to consistently snatch defeat from the jaws of victory. In the 50 odd years that I have followed them, they had just a couple of seasons under Bobby Ross where they overachieved. The rest of the time they either underachieved or were simply bad. Unfortunate for Herbert to have been drafted by them.

  20. Rankings are subjective & anyone ranked #1 is going to get heat from people trying to argue that you shouldn’t be ranked #1. The Spanos thing is overblown. They have made it to a Super Bowl while being owned by the Spanos family. The Chargers had one of the best teams in football from 2004-2009. They won the AFC West 5 of those 6 years & made it to an AFC championship game where LT was hurt & Rivers played on one leg (torn ACL). If the Chargers hire the right coach (it should be Brian Daboll) they will be competitive every season & make the playoffs more often than not. They are ABSOLUTELY the most attractive job. They have the soon-to-be offensive rookie of the year in Justin Herbert. Keenan Allen & Joey Bosa are locked up long term. They have the 6th best cap situation in the league. If they can fix their OL & injury issues they will challenge the Chiefs for the AFC west crown.

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