After reviewing the current NFL head coach openings, I played matchmaker on the good fits across the open spots. The right decision and what teams decide to do might only sometimes match up, but until coaching hirings happen, I decided to roll the dice and see how close I get to the perfect matches.
Houston Texans: The team with the highest pick in the draft with an opening, the Texans need to get serious and hire an energetic young leader of men. The man for their team is San Francisco 49’ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. He has been beyond impressive leading the 49ers’ defense and is the long-term solution this team needs to move forward. He could take assistant head coach/RB coach Anthony Lynn with him to run the offense and work with Bryce Young. Lynn would act as the veteran coach on staff that Ryans, when needed, could lean on but also run the offensive side of the ball.
Indianapolis Colts: Familiarity and loyalty are essential to ownership in Indianapolis (see Jeff Saturday), and Jim Harbaugh checks all the boxes and more for this team. Michigan disrespected Harbaugh a few years ago with a salary reduction and lack of contract extension, so after back-to-back trips to the college playoffs, now is the time to jump back for the right job in the NFL. Indianapolis was a mess last year, blowing big leads and using QBs past their prime the past few years, and they need a reset. Add Harbaugh and C.J. Stroud with the fourth pick in April’s draft, and let the rebuild begin.
Carolina Panthers: The Panthers rolled the dice on the hot college coach last time (Matt Rhule), and that was an utter failure, but David Shaw is a different caliber coach. He has years of NFL experience and success at Stanford, a program where you are partially handcuffed based on admission standards. Shaw would be a fantastic get for Carolina and the slightly off-the-radar move that would set them up for the next ten years.
Denver Broncos: Ownerships want the big fishes like Sean Payton, Jim Harbaugh, and so on, but with the handcuffing the team did with Russell Wilson, and the loss of draft picks the feeling is the ownerships want big names more than the big names desire the job. Plan B is to bring a man familiar with Russell Wilson and comfortable with the front office. Dan Quinn is a fabulous coach who was the Seahawks defensive coordinator during a Super Bowl run. Quinn also shares an agent with Denver GM George Paton. Speculation is that Dan would bring Cowboys analyst and former Seahawks offensive coordinator, Brian Schottenheimer.
Arizona Cardinals: With Kyler Murray out for most, if not all, of 2023, the Cardinals find themselves in a difficult situation since a new coach has to, per management, get Murray’s approval. Still, he will not have Murray as QB for a year the more the move of Vance Joseph to head coach makes a ton of sense. The next move would be adding Jacoby Brissett as the signal caller for 2023.
Jobs that could still open include the Dallas Cowboys (Sean Payton) and Los Angeles Chargers (Shane Steichen), and with new ownership, the Washington Commanders (Brian Flores) would be wise to move on.
Off-season moves that could happen
· New England Patriots bring back Bill O’Brien to get Mac Jones back on track to his rookie success.
· New York Jets sign Jimmy Garoppolo in free agency. Jimmy G with NY media. Broadway Jimmy!!!
· Las Vegas Raiders sign Tom Brady to reunite with Josh McDaniels and then trade Derek Carr to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for draft capital.
· I expect the Chicago Bears to use their robust salary cap space to raise the skill level of the offensive players around Justin Fields. Moves such as tight end Dalton Schultz (4 years/60.5 mill), RB Josh Jacobs (4 years/48 mill), Mike McGlinchey RT (4 years/43 mill), and a few leaders on defense with Yannick Ngakoue DE (4 yrs/ 59.2 mill), Taven Bryan DT (3 years/20 million) and Deion Jones, ILB
· With the expected departure of Teddy Bridgewater this offseason, the Miami Dolphins would be wise to sign Sam Darnold as a backup to Tua. Darnold is a quarterback with a very different skill set than Tua and would be an exciting player to watch with Coach McDaniel. (2 years/ 10 million).
· Pittsburgh Steelers replace OC Matt Canada with Mark Whipple. Whipple, a former assistant with the Steelers, was Pickett’s OC at the University of Pittsburgh and can make sure the number one pick reaches his potential.
· It appears like the NY Giants will be bringing Daniel Jones and Saquon Barkley back, but I am betting at least Jones’s contract will be a shorter length deal than most quarterbacks get these days to be safe.
· I don’t think there is any way Tony Pollard gets to leave Dallas this off-season. I expect they will either release Zeke or lower his cap number significantly to keep Tony in the fold.
· James Bradberry and the Cincinnati Bengals will make a great match this off-season. With so many free agents on defense, Bradberry is a luxury Philadelphia likely will not be able to keep next season.
· NY Jets trade Zach Wilson to the Minnesota Vikings for a conditional pick after the 2024 season.
· Miami Dolphins trade Cedric Wilson to the Chicago Bears for a day three pick in 2023.
· Once the New Orleans Saints part ways with Michael Thomas (read about his redo), he lands with Sean Payton (likely in LA or Dallas).
· If I’m the Kansas City Chiefs, I call the Arizona Cardinals once the season concludes to get a DeAndre Hopkins in the fold.
Food for thought after what happened with John Harbaugh not backing Lamar Jackson concerning his injury status. Could one of these men be leaving? I could see Carolina creating a monster trade for Lamar. Something to watch.