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.