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Some former coaches get second looks, some don’t

Mike Florio and Chris Simms unpack Ben Johnson’s key role in the Lions’ progress this season, specifically how he helped build around Jared Goff, and what he’s capable of doing in the coming year.

Every year, a strange dynamic plays out as the coaching carousel spins. Some former head coaches get serious consideration for a second chance, and some don’t.

It’s unclear how or why or when a coach who has been a head coach before ends up being considered to be a head coach again. It’s bizarre that owners often ignore proven former head coaches and roll the dice with coordinators who have no head-coaching experience.

The current cycle features multiple former NFL head coaches who did relatively well in their prior stints, but whose names haven’t even been mentioned in the current cycle.

Bill O’Brien has emerged as the favorite to become the offensive coordinator of the Patriots. He coached the Texans for more than six years. He finished with a record of 54-52. He took the team to the playoffs four times.

Jason Garrett, currently an NBC analyst, went 87-70 with the Cowboys, with three playoff appearances in nine seasons.

Marvin Lewis wants back in. But he’s gotten no interest, despite becoming the best coach the Bengals had in years, going 131-122-3 in the regular season and leading the team to seven playoff appearances.

Mike Zimmer generated a record of 74-59-1 in eight seasons with the Vikings, including three playoff appearances -- and an NFC Championship berth.

Chuck Pagano had a record of 53-43 with the Colts, with three playoff appearances and an appearance in the AFC Championship.

Ken Whisenhunt, who tied Jim Hanifan as the only coaches in Cardinals history to make it six years with the team, went to the Super Bowl. He coached the Titans. He last worked in the NFL as the Chargers’ offensive coordinator in 2019.

None of those coaches have been interviewed or even mentioned as potential candidates.

Former Colts and Lions coach Jim Caldwell has gotten an interview with the Broncos, and former Colts head coach Frank Reich will interview with the Cardinals.

Other former coaches who currently work in the NFL include Commanders coach Ron Rivera, Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy, Saints coach Dennis Allen, Raiders coach Josh McDaniels, Chiefs coach Andy Reid, Jaguars coach Doug Pederson, Seahawks coach Pete Carroll, Buccaneers coach Todd Bowles, and Patriots coach Bill Belichick.

Of the eight remaining playoff teams, nearly half are coached by head coaches who were fired from their prior head-coaching jobs -- the Jaguars, Chiefs, and Cowboys.

So maybe there’s merit to the notion, while pondering the usual rising-coordinator suspects, of sprinkling in some interviews with one or members of what Jon Gruden calls the Fired Football Coaches Association. Even if the goal is to compare and contrast the personalities of those who have done the job with those who never had, it makes sense to at least consider those who have done it before, and done it fairly well.