Lost in all the draft and free agency talk is how the NFL landscape will change in 2014 in regards to new head coaches around the league. Who are some top names and where could they land?
Mike Munchak has been living on borrowed time for the past couple years now because of the ongoing uncertainty surrounding quarterback Jake Locker. After two separate injuries cost the 2011 first round pick most of the season. the Tennessee Titans have fought on but once again are coming up short of expectations. Having never made the playoffs in his tenure, Munchak is likely to get the axe. If ownership is smart, they will aim high for a replacement, and San Francisco 49ers offensive coordinator Greg Roman is among the biggest names on most lists. While his unit has fought through some rough stretches this season, the affectionately called a “mad scientist” by his players is one of the more creative offensive minds in the game today. His resurrection of Alex Smith and development of Colin Kaepernick showcase his ability to coach quarterbacks and his experience under Jim Harbaugh has given valuable insight into manning the big chair.
Vic Fangio – DC – San Francisco 49ers – Landing Spot: Houston Texans
Anybody who thinks Gary Kubiak is safe from going 2-11 so far after two-straight playoff appearances better check their breakfast cereal for hallucinogens. Before making the postseason in 2011 Kubiak was on the hot seat after several near misses. Now after a full fledged regression that has seen an implosion at the quarterback position, there is a very real possibility the veteran coach could be kicked to the curb. If that happens, an excellent replacement could be San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator Vic Fangio. The reasoning is if Kubiak left, one must assume Wade Phillips will depart as well. The last thing Houston needs is a drop in production from their defense. Fangio runs a 3-4 style similar to them and can step right in knowing he has good pieces in place. All he would need is a quarterback and an offensive coordinator to run the show.
There probably isn’t a hotter seat in the NFL right now than the one placed under New York Jets head coach Rex Ryan. Newspapers have eaten him alive, claiming he’s much too dumb and should’ve been fired years ago. While not entirely fair considering what he’s done despite ongoing quarterback troubles, the fact remains unless Ryan has a strong finish to 2013, his hold on the job is all but lost. Conversely, there probably isn’t a hotter name on the coaching circuit at the moment than Darrell Bevell. The Seattle Seahawks offensive coordinator is viewed as primarily responsible for the development of a emerging MVP candidate Russell Wilson, along with the overall success of the offense. He has valuable experience in multiple locations and is ready for the next step after just missing last year. The Jets badly need somebody who can possibly coach up Geno Smith. If Bevell can’t, nobody can.
Lovie Smith – HC – Free Agent – Landing Spot: Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Did the eleventh hour win streak save the job of Greg Schiano? Several pundits would say yes, but in reality there are still four games left and his hold on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers job is anything but secure. Losing down the stretch would validate those who said his fate was already sealed following the Josh Freeman disaster. Based on the current outlook, the best thing for Tampa to do is find a coach with a experience who won’t want to start over considering how talented their roster is. In that case, former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith makes a ton of sense. He coached for the Bucs under Tony Dungy, and is widely respected and revered as a players coach, far flung from the disciplinarian ways of Schiano.