Dec 17, 2015; St. Louis, MO, USA; St. Louis Rams head coach Jeff Fisher reacts from the sidelines in the first half against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at the Edward Jones Dome. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
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Most of the discussions over the next few weeks around the NFL will center on how the six head coaching vacancies will be filled, and by whom.
At the same time other questions should be asked. Namely what the future may hold for the men who just lost those jobs. Certain fan bases would love for them to just disappear forever, but it doesn’t work that way. They got those head coaching jobs by being pretty good with the game of football, just not that particular position. Thus the point comes back around. What does the future likely hold for each of the dismissed former coaches?
Here is an overview of each one and a prediction about what is to come.
He came in with so much promise and proven experience from his success in Tennessee. Jeff Fisher looked like a slam dunk for a young Los Angeles Rams team. Year after year they added talent and were flirting with a winning record. Yet each time they just kept coming up short. The dam finally broke this year as the veteran coaches watched his top heavy roster bottom out. Unable to justify keeping him after five mediocre or bad seasons (31-45), the Rams made the move.
Likely Fate: Broadcasting
At this point in his career, Fisher is in like a climber who gets stuck in a position where he can’t go up or down. He’s been a head coach so long that it’s unlikely he’d take a coordinator position. However, after the way things went with the Rams it’s hard to imagine him getting another head coaching opportunity. This could mean a sabbatical is coming where he takes up a job in broadcasting, similar to Bill Cowher, Brian Billick and Jon Gruden. He’s highly knowledgable and has done well in front of the camera before.
Dec 6, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills head coach Rex Ryan talks with a official before a game against the Houston Texans at Ralph Wilson Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Timothy T. Ludwig-USA TODAY Sports
He came in with a lot of promises and nearly fulfilled them, but Rex Ryan just couldn’t do what no other coach has done since 1999. He couldn’t get the Buffalo Bills to the playoffs. In the end it cost him just like it did in New York. A change in ownership didn’t help matters either. It was just a matter of time before a change was made. Ryan became the victim of several unlucky scenarios, but also his own self-confidence that led to too many poor decisions.
Likely Fate: Defensive coordinator
Given how things are going in Buffalo after his exit, Ryan may have made the right call asking for an early release. He’s still considered one of the top defensive minds in the game and a terrific motivator. Like his late father Buddy he also had a lot of success as a defensive coordinator. That experience will serve him well in a return to the job. Ryan isn’t made for college and he’s still holding out hope for one more shot at the main gig. To get it, he has to bite the bullet as an assistant for awhile.
Oct 6, 2016; Santa Clara, CA, USA; San Francisco 49ers head coach Chip Kelly on the sideline against the Arizona Cardinals during the fourth quarter at Levi
One might say that Chip Kelly made a tactical error by accepting the first head coaching offer that came his way. If he’s done his homework he might’ve seen what the San Francisco 49ers were becoming after years of poor management from Trent Baalke. Instead he was anxious to show what happened in Philadelphia wasn’t him and now is paying for it after going 2-14. His odds against ever getting another shot have grown remote.
Likely Fate: College
The rumors that Kelly would be returning to college have gone on since last year. He’s flatly denied that every single time but now that he’s lost an NFL head coaching job twice in two years, it seems inevitable. Unless he’s willing to try the coordinator circuit, which he said he’s open to, the only way Kelly remains a head coach is by returning to the collegiate ranks where he became a big name at Oregon. The odds are very good that a top program will give him the keys.
Nov 23, 2014; San Diego, CA, USA; San Diego Chargers head coach Mike McCoy reacts during the third quarter against the St. Louis Rams at Qualcomm Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jake Roth-USA TODAY Sports
Things started off so well in San Diego for Mike McCoy. He led them to the playoffs his first season in 2013, even winning a playoff game in Cincinnati. The Charger went 9-7 the next year but have been undone by injuries since. McCoy has kept them competitive in almost every ball game but just can’t seem to close the deal late. With the team facing a possible move to a new city, it’s clear ownership wanted a fresh start at that position.
Likely Fate: Offensive coordinator
McCoy is still relatively young and respected even after being dismissed. Odds are he’ll get another head coaching opportunity in the future. In the meantime, he’s certain to be one of the hottest offensive coordinator candidates available. His history of success in Denver alone makes that a certainty. He’s good with quarterbacks but is also proficient at building a productive ground attack. Give him pieces to work with and he’ll get things done.
Dec 4, 2016; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Jacksonville Jaguars head coach Gus Bradley reacts after a play in the second quarter against the Denver Broncos at EverBank Field. Mandatory Credit: Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports
He’s just never going to get consideration from another NFL. Gus Bradley won just 14 games since 2013 as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars. That is not something the league is liable to forget. At the same time he’s still respected for some of the things he can bring a football team: energy, passion and defensive know-how. Once the word quiets down he’s going to get a job opportunity from somewhere.
Likely Fate: Defensive coordinator
This is actually a tossup. Why? Gus Bradley is viewed by many as the ideal college-style coach. A tremendous motivator who understands how to speak to young men. His time in Jacksonville was unfortunate but he could do far better in the NCAA. Still, Bradley also has history as a defensive coordinator. He helped construct and mold the Legion of Boom in Seattle from scratch. His aggressiveness and eye for talent will prove valuable.