The NFL regular season wrapped up on Sunday and the playoffs are now set. Check out a short playoff primer here. In this article, we’ll be looking at the 2021 coaching carousel as that will likely dominate the news cycle with the number of live teams getting slimmer every week. You can also find a short recap of the standard news at the bottom.
Adam Gase Gets Fired After Two Years
The Gase era was a comedy of errors from start to finish. The highlights include Le’Veon Bell’s failed contract, star defenseman Jamaal Adams requesting a trade, Gase bickering with a reporter about who was calling plays in a game, and the Jets ultimately losing the Trevor Lawrence lottery. Gase’s offense was from a long-gone era and he didn’t appear capable of leading his players.
The Jets aren’t the most appealing situation for a first-year head coach but they have the chance to take the second quarterback off the board and that is still worth a lot. So far, New York has requested interviews with Colts DC Matt Eberflus, Chiefs OC Eric Bieniemy, and Titans OC Arthur Smith. All three coaches have gotten interview requests from every or nearly every team eying a new head coach. They won't appear under each team for brevity’s sake but just know that all six head coaching roles are available to any of them if they want the job. The Jets have also requested interviews with Rams DC Brandon Staley and Giants DC Patrick Graham.
Bieniemy will be the biggest get of the offseason for whoever lands him. He has been the Chiefs OC for all three of Patrick Mahomes’ seasons as a starter. Andy Reid’s coaching tree is littered with success stories including Super Bowl-winning head coaches Doug Pederson and John Harbaugh. Bieniemy has served under one of the greatest offensive minds in the NFL and has helped foster the best start to a quarterback’s career in the history of the league.
Anthony Lynn Gets the Hook
The Chargers are moving on from Lynn after he posted two winning seasons and one playoff berth in his four years at the helm. Lynn’s hallmark was back-breaking mistakes at the ends of games. His teams routinely lost close matches and even a four-game winning streak at the end of this year wasn’t enough to save him.
The Chargers are one of the more desirable landing spots as far as established talent goes. Justin Herbert looks like the favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. Keenan Allen is playing his best football and the defense has former Defensive Rookie of the Year Joey Bosa and dynamic playmaker Derwin James. If Bieniemy is taken, Bills OC Brian Daboll would be the preferred choice for most teams. His transformation of Josh Allen alone gives him an incredible resume. Daboll’s pass-heavy and aggressive offense is tailored for the modern NFL and would fit Herbert perfectly. The Chargers, like most teams, have requested interviews with Daboll and Panthers OC Joe Brady. They have also requested an interview with Giants OC and former Dallas HC Jason Garrett. Given Garrett’s track record of middling performances with Dak Prescott and Tony Romo as his quarterbacks, this would seem like a catastrophic blunder to squander Herbert’s early career.
Doug Marrone is Out for Jacksonville
Marrone was the architect of the gun-slinging Blake Bortles season and Jacksonville’s peak defensive campaign in 2017. He was also at the head of the team as all of that came crashing down. The Jags reached a low this year, earning the first pick as the league’s worst team. With Lawrence jerseys already being printed, Jacksonville is a sneaky good landing spot for a young coach.
Jacksonville has yet to conduct any interviews because they fired Marrone on Monday. They do have 49ers DC Robert Saleh and Titans OC Smith on the docket. However, they do seem to have former Ohio State HC Urban Meyer in mind for the role as well. The rumor mill has Meyer pegged as their man but it also says that Meyer wants an absurd salary to come out of retirement. Ryan Day, Ohio State’s current head coach could also draw some interest. Meyer seems like their No. 1 priority but his tumultuous departure from the college game could keep him behind the likes of Smith and Saleh.
Houston in Full Rebuild
The Texans removed HC and GM Bill O’Brien after going 0-4. They went on to win four of their remaining 12 games. Although the Texans have Deshaun Watson, a borderline MVP-caliber player, their roster is lacking talent on defense and they do not have a first-round selection this year. Houston is also going to be paying Watson an average of $37.4 million per year after the 2021 season. Teams with younger passers will soon have a large salary cap advantage over the Texans.
With a head-start in their search, the Texans have interviewed former Lions HC Jim Caldwell and former Bengals HC Marvin Lewis. Both coaches arguably got the short end of the stick on their previous tenures. Lewis was able to get an Andy Dalton lead team to the playoffs in four consecutive seasons but never won a postseason game. He made it past Week 17 seven times in his 16-year run with the Bengals. Caldwell led the Lions to winning seasons in three of his four years with the team. He was fired on the heels of a nine-win campaign. Like most teams, the Texans are in the running for Panthers OC Brady. Given his success with Joe Burrow at LSU and this year’s Panthers squad, pairing Watson with an offensive mind like Brady is possible the best outcome for Houston’s offseason.
Changes in Detroit
The Lions fired GM Bob Quinn and HC Matt Patricia after Week 12. Patricia was Caldwell’s successor and Detroit fans may be regretting the switch in hindsight. Patricia went 13-29-1 over two and a half years. He was reportedly disliked by a large contingent of players and the on-field results didn’t give him any outs to hanging around.
The Lions have a standard allotment of draft picks and modest cap space available. They’re unlikely to get one of the coveted offensive minds as their head coach. This is likely why they are rumored to be interviewing 49ers DC Saleh and Saints assistant head coach/tight ends coach Dan Campbell. The 49ers were ravaged by injuries this year after fielding one of the best defenses of 2019 en route to a Super Bowl appearance. Despite fighting an uphill battle, they still managed to finish top-five in yards per game allowed and were middle of the road in points allowed. Saleh could be a step in the right direction of fixing a perennially weak defense. The Lions have also interview former Bengals HC Lewis and have a request out for Panthers OC Brady.
Are the Falcons Stuck?
Dan Quinn led the Falcons to a Super Bowl appearance in his second season as the team’s head coach. His team then blew a 28-3 lead but still managed a Division Round appearance in the following season. Atlanta then went 7-9 in two consecutive seasons before losing five games to open 2020. He and GM Thomas Dimitroff were both fired after Week 5.
Interim HC Raheem Morris was given an interview but that seems like a courtesy at most. In addition to the usual suspects that every team is eying this offseason, the Falcons are rumored to be pursuing Bucs DC Todd Bowles and Rams DC Staley. Offense isn’t the issue in Atlanta with Calvin Ridley, Matt Ryan, and Julio Jones all playing at high to elite levels when healthy. However, in an offense-driven league, getting the second or third-most sought after DC seems less than optimal. The Falcons aren’t working with loads of cap space, a war chest of draft picks, or a promising young quarterback. Unfortunately, Atlanta looks like the team most likely to be back in this position in a few years.
Jared Goff is unlikely to start in the Wild Card round meaning John Wolford is in line for his second NFL start. Wolford didn't do much as a passer in Week 17 but did manage to run for 56 yards on just six attempts.
Zach Ertz wants to stay in Philly but the two sides agreeing on a contract seems like a longshot. Ertz averaged 4.7 yards per target and looked sluggish in a season that was preceded by failed contract negotiations. Nothing he put on tape would warrant more than a one-year, prove-it deal.
Sean Payton was non-committal on whether or not Alvin Kamara would play on Sunday. He’s playing. Payton noted that "it would depend on the player and the situation” if he would play a player off a week of no practice. If Kamara in the playoffs is not that situation, such a scenario does not actually exist.