The dreaded black Monday in the NFL has taken its full effect with four teams deciding to end their current coach’s tenures, leaving six open vacancies that need to be filled. Initial reports seem to suggest that most teams will be looking to appoint offensive guys to help their quarterbacks, while Jon Gruden is expected to return to the NFL after nearly ten years out the game. However, I’m basing my judgement purely on who I think is the best fit for each available position.
Chicago Bears – John DeFilippo – Philadelphia Eagles QB Coach
While the transition from positional coach to head coach is a rare move, DeFilippo or “Flip” has been requested for an interview by the Bears, and for good reason. While he wasn’t the offensive coordinator for the Eagles, Flip was credited by Carson Wentz for his development this year as well Derek Carr’s in his rookie season. While only 39, I think the Bears are likely to head down the Sean McVay path of hiring a young quarterback whisperer and leaving a veteran coordinator, such as Vic Fangio, in charge of the defense.
While a lot of Wentz’ development may be accredited to head coach Doug Pederson, and DeFilippo didn’t call the plays, the invaluable time spent in the quarterback room by DeFilippo cannot be understated and may be just what Trubisky needs to take him to the next level. Prior to his injury, Wentz was on course for the league’s MVP trophy and in his one year stint as Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator, the offense threw for 4,155 yards, fourth-most in franchise history. If there’s one thing DeFilippo knows, it’s how to coach a quarterback.
Oakland Raiders – Matt Patricia – New England Patriots Defensive Coordinator
The Raiders will almost certainly hire Jon Gruden, but I believe they should look for a defensive head coach rather than an offensive, despite Derek Carr’s struggles. Jim Schwartz is one of the best defensive coordinators in the NFL, but given the scheme he deploys, Matt Patricia is probably a better fit. Patricia has been the defensive coordinator since 2012 for the Patriots and is probably overdue a head coaching job. While disciples of Bill Belichick do not tend to fare well in the NFL, the fact Patricia has bide his time for a top job shows a great level of patience.
Patricia’s role in developing players may be overlooked due to Belichick’s influence, but a number of cast-off players have shone in Patricia’s defense such as Eric Rowe, Malcolm Butler and Kyle Van Noy. Patricia has shown himself to be flexible in terms of scheme and the level of talent on the Raiders defense does not reflect their efficiency.
New York Giants – Jim Schwartz – Philadelphia Eagles Defensive Coordinator
This hire completely depends on new general manager Dave Gettleman’s view on Eli Manning following a disastrous 2017 campaign. If the Giants decide to move on from Eli, I firmly believe they’ll go with an offensive minded head coach. But as things stand, Eli should be back in the Big Apple and the Giants should go all out to get Jim Schwartz from their divisional rivals. Schwartz’s attacking 4-3 defense would be a perfect fit for the personnel the Giants currently employ and given the mess of the locker room following Ben McAdoo’s tenure, Schwartz’s reputation as a tough coach would be a perfect ideological fit.
If the Giants decide to roll with Eli, they need to follow the formula that led them to two Super Bowls with Manning, a defense that gets after the quarterback and a strong running game. Schwartz has turned the Philadelphia defense into Super Bowl contenders and he could do the same in New York.
Arizona Cardinals – Pat Shurmur – Minnesota Vikings Offensive Coordinator
While Shurmur was largely unsuccessful during his two year spell as Cleveland Browns head coach, only winning nine games, his success with Case Keenum has made the league stand up and notice his work. Shurmur was also credited with revitalising the career of Sam Bradford in Minnesota and almost seems the perfect fit to replace Bruce Arians, who was also known for getting the most out of his quarterbacks.
With Carson Palmer officially retired, Shurmur will have to mould Arizona’s quarterback of the future. Shurmur has not only impressed with his quarterback work, he’s also made stars out of Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. With Larry Fitzgerald’s future uncertain, Shurmur will have a lot of work to do on the offensive side of the ball. The Cardinals are almost in a limbo state where they have too many great defensive players to rebuild but not enough on offense to contend. Given Shurmur’s work with the Vikings in turning average players into pro bowl calibre talent, I can’t imagine the Cardinals looking at anyone else apart from Shurmur.
Detroit Lions – Josh McDaniels – New England Patriots Offensive Coordinator
Matthew Stafford desperately needs a coordinator who can inject a new lease of life into the Lions offense following years of tepid conservatism by Jim Caldwell, and McDaniels may be the man to unleash Stafford’s potential. While the Lions defense for the most part has been the issue, defensive coordinator Teryl Austin has gotten the most out of a weak group of players and should be retained. McDaniels failed spectacularly as head coach for the Denver Broncos but has a connection with general manager Bob Quinn, given they are both from the New England Patriots organisation. Stafford has yet to work with a truly great offensive mind and McDaniels has worked with the best. He should have a wealth of knowledge to help Stafford.
Still only 41, McDaniels has a ton of experience in the league and has kept the Patriots offense ticking for so many years. He has dealt with a revolving door at running back each year, yet still produces an offense that’s dangerous on the ground and given Detroit’s woes at running back, McDaniels would be the perfect guy to turn their troubles around.
Indianapolis Colts – Dave Toub – Kansas City Chiefs Special Teams Coach
I expect this vacancy will be filled by either Toub or Kansas City offensive coordinator Matt Nagy given their ties to general manager Chris Ballard, but Toub’s experience and success in multiple destinations should mean he is finally given the chance to be a head coach.
Toub is widely regarded around the league as one of the best special teams coaches, and his experience coaching offensive and defensive players will be a huge benefit to the Colts who need help on both sides of the ball. Toub had incredible success with the Chicago Bears for eight years and worked alongside Ballard in Chicago.
Toub’s special teams with the Bears consistently ranked at the top of the league and his production has continued in Kansas City. Toub will bring a different perspective to the job given he isn’t specifically in charge of one side of the ball, but his ability to coach players that are frequently changing and on the fringes of the roster into important cogs in special teams will be his main selling point.