5 best NFL head coaching candidates

Tom Coughlin and Josh McDaniels lead an impressive group of head coach candidates for NFL teams to hire. Here are the five best entering 2017. 

Black Monday is known as the day teams begin to fire their head coaches. It could get a bit ugly this year, with several coaches expected to be fired and even more who are on the fence. In the NFL, there isn’t too much of a difference between the “good but not great” head coaches and the “bad but not terrible” head coaches.

No matter what kind of coach teams are looking for, there are numerous options. Looking for an experienced veteran? Tom Coughlin leads an impressive group of former head coaches who might be ready for another job. Want a younger coach? Matt Patricia and Josh McDaniels are Bill Belichick disciples. If a more experienced coordinator is your cup of tea, Edgar Bennett and Darrell Bevell are both excellent choices. Here are the five best NFL head coaching candidates entering 2017.

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5. Darrell Bevell

Current Position: Offensive Coordinator of the Seattle Seahawks

Darrell Bevell has a reputation of being a quarterback guru. It’s one which is well deserved. From 2000 to 2006, he worked for the Green Bay Packers, serving as their quarterbacks coach starting in 2003. Once Brad Childress became the head coach of the Minnesota Vikings, Childress took Bevell with him as his offensive coordinator.

His task was to help Tavaris Jackson become a quality starting quarterback. It’s something he couldn’t do, which led to his firing in 2010. Immediately, the Seattle Seahawks scooped him up. Since then, Bevell has turned Russell Wilson into one of the elite quarterbacks. Getting to learn from head coach Pete Carroll only helps strengthen his resume.

Bevell has a history of developing quarterbacks and is a brilliant offensive mind. In 2015, he got interviews with various teams. This year, he could be leaving Seattle.

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4. Teryl Austin

Current position: Defensive Coordinator of the Detroit Lions

Teryl Austin is one of the fast risers in the coaching industry. He got his start at Penn State as a graduate assistant. Austin has served in a variety of roles, including defensive backs coach, secondary coach, and defensive coordinator. He has worked for the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, Baltimore Ravens, and Detroit Lions. Also, Austin was the defensive coordinator for the Florida Gators in 2010. Since 2014, he has been the Lions defensive coordinator.

NFL teams looking for a more defensive minded head coach will undoubtedly give Austin a call. He’s a very bright individual who will at the very least get some Rooney Rule interviews as a minority candidate. This might not sound like much, but keep in mind Mike Tomlin was a Rooney Rule interview for the Pittsburgh Steelers and he wound up getting the job.

His job status for 2017 could depend on Week 17’s outcome against the Green Bay Packers. A strong performance will cement him as a serious head coaching candidate. Even if the Lions have a weak game against them, Austin is someone people have a lot of respect for. He could finally get the head coaching job many believe he has earned.

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3. Josh McDaniels

Current position: Offensive Coordinator of the New England Patriots

Yes, Josh McDaniels has quite a bit of baggage. It’s hard to forget he failed as the head coach of the Denver Broncos. However, as Jack Del Rio has proven in Oakland, coaches deserve a second chance. McDaniels admittedly was a bit unprepared to be a head coach back in 2009. He has since rebuilt his reputation as an offensive mastermind back in New England.

Maybe some more time studying under Bill Belichick has done him well. The Patriots consistently have a great offense despite constantly moving parts. Some credit for this must be given to McDaniels. He can clearly adapt to a variety of situations on offense and, if given the right quarterback, could be an excellent coach.

McDaniels would have to leave for the perfect situation. Maybe the San Diego Chargers? He’d get to work with Philip Rivers as his quarterback. The Cincinnati Bengals will reportedly keep Marvin Lewis, but if they change their mind, they’d be a perfect fit for him. McDaniels is a very smart man who tends to use things to get what he wants. From the day he got re-hired by the Patriots, everyone knew why he did so. The reason? So he could be an NFL head coach again.

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2. Matt Patricia

Current position: Defensive Coordinator of the New England Patriots

Much like Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia is a Patriots coordinator who will undoubtedly get some interviews this offseason. He has been the defensive coordinator under Bill Belichick since 2012. Sure, his coordinators don’t have a very good record as head coaches.

However, Patricia is different. He’s largely in charge of the Patriots defense, which has consistently been great under him. This is despite constantly moving parts, with New England often trading or cutting players who cost too much. He has made stars of players like Malcolm Butler, Jamie Collins, and Chandler Jones.

If Patricia would like to move on past the Patriots and be a head coach, this offseason could be a great chance for him. Teams like the Jacksonville Jaguars, Buffalo Bills, and Los Angeles Rams will undeniably give him a shot. He will likely require a patient franchise, willing to let him learn. Patricia will also need to surround himself with the right guys, as his background in offense is questionable at best. But in the right situation, he could have success. Patricia could leave if his perfect storm occurs, but will it happen this offseason?

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1. Tom Coughlin

Current position: Unemployed

There are a lot of things to like about Tom Coughlin as a head coach. He is the only person who has beaten Bill Belichick in the Super Bowl, which says a lot. Not only that, Coughlin has done so twice. He took the expansion Jacksonville Jaguars to the AFC Championship game in just their second year of existence. Coughlin has a reputation of being an old school coach, but he also gets results.

He would have to fall into the perfect situation. Coughlin is aging and seems fairly content with retirement from coaching. He also serves as a senior advisor for the NFL’s football operations department, so it’s not like he needs a job.

Coughlin likely doesn’t want to waste his time with a rebuilding effort. His time with the New York Giants frustrated him. If the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde antics of Eli Manning wore on him, just imagine what watching a rebuilding team would do to him.

One team that could be a fit are the Los Angeles Rams. They undeniably need a big name coach so that they can be relevant in The City of Angels. However, the Rams would have to convince Coughlin that their front office issues have been solved.

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