Head Coaching Prospects 2007
Detroit Lions Offensive Coordinator Mike Martz By Adam Caplan
Senior NFL Reporter
Posted Dec 28, 2006
This coming Monday signifies what those inside the NFL call "Black Monday." That is the day after the official end of the regular season. But this Monday is better known as the day when some head coaches lose their jobs along with some or all of their assistant coaches.
As we did last year, we'll delve into the coaches who are viewed to be on the hot seat or who may choose to leave on their own accord.
And as we did last year, we'll also take a look into this year's hot coaching prospects list. At this time last year, scout.com had Brad Childress and Eric Mangini heading that list.
Although there won't be nearly as many as last year's coaching changes (10), there will certainly be some and there are plenty of qualified candidates.
Arizona Cardinals - A league source told scout.com this week that head coach Dennis Green already has boxes lined up in his office which signifies he could know about his pending fate. Possible replacements with ties to the team or the Arizona area are Jim Fassel and Mike Martz. A league source points out that Martz likes his receivers to be smaller and faster so he may look at other possibilities as well as Arizona if any others open up.
Atlanta Falcons - Head coach Jim Mora had immediate success taking his team to the NFC Championship game in his first year at the helm. They missed the playoffs last season and could do so again in 2006 so owner Arthur Blank could pull the plug on him. And his well publicized, ill-fated radio interview in Seattle didn't help either. Still, the team has been through a pretty bad injury situation this season so Mora can't be totally at blame for some of the problems. But the passing game continues to be a major issue yet they've spent two first-round picks on receivers and also traded for WR Ashley Lelie and haven't received any meaningful results.
Cleveland Browns - Head coach Romeo Crennel certainly can't be blamed for the brutal injury situation that the team has incurred this season nor does he sign or draft the players but the team will have a worse record in 2006 than they did in 2005. There's been no indication that a change is coming but it wouldn't be a shock either if a one is made.
Dallas Cowboys - If head coach Bill Parcells decides to quit, offensive coordinator Tony Sparano could get a shot at the job. A league source who knows Parcells well said the legendary coach likes his team but isn't better than 60-40 to stay around for next season. The source points out that Parcells likes to leave his team in better shape than he had when he took it over, which he clearly has done with Dallas.
New York Giants - Head coach Tom Coughlin will lose his support system next week when general manager Ernie Accorsi's retirement becomes official. Most incoming general manager's will want to pick their own head coach so Coughlin's status as the head man could be in trouble and his team's slide this season doesn't help either.
Oakland Raiders - While head coach Art Shell replaced Tom Walsh as offensive coordinator, the offensive line has been a disaster this season and there have not been any signs of real improvement. You have to wonder who would be crazy enough to take this job if Shell gets canned. At least they have a decent defense.
Pittsburgh Steelers - Head coach Bill Cowher is expected to announce next week whether he's coming back for 2007 and beyond although some within the team believe he'll decide not to come back because if he wanted to come back, he would have made that decision known much earlier.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers - After Sunday's game against Seattle, Tampa Bay will have missed the playoffs in three out of the last four seasons. Head coachJon Gruden will have only made the playoffs in two out of five years as head coach.
Top Head Coaching Candidates
1) Mike Martz/Offensive Coordinator/Detroit Lions - He wants to be head coach again and he's seen as the the top or one of the top offensive minds in the NFL. Those who know him well say for him to be successful as a head coach again he must stay out of personnel decisions and has to just coach the offense. (Wouldn't do good in Pittsburgh for sure, but with him loving his receicvers to be speedy and fast, the Steelers have that.)
2) Ron Rivera/Defensive Coordinator/Chicago Bears - He was a finalist for the St. Louis Rams head coaching job earlier this year and also interview for the Green Bay job. Rivera is seen in league circles as the top head coaching candidate beside Martz. (I wouldn't mind this guy to be interviewed for the Steelers job. HE IS MY TOP CHOICE OUTSIDE THE ORGANIZATION TO GET THE JOB!!!!)
3) Bobby Petrino/Head Coach/University of Louisville - He turned down the Oakland Raiders last year more than once to be their head coach. Petrino was the offensive coordinator for one year with the Jacksonville Jaguars so he has experience at the NFL level. It's not a secret that Petrino was the first choice of Raider senior personnel executive Mike Lomarbi to be their head coach, not Art Shell.Petrino has done a great job at Louisville and is seen as an innovative offensive mind. (No!!!)
4) Gregg Williams/Assistant Head Coach-Defense/Washington Redskins - He signed a three-year extension earlier this year but that doesn't preclude him from taking a head coaching job with another team. Williams didn't do a good job the first time he was a head coach with the Buffalo Bills but those who know him well say he's learned from his mistakes and is ready to be a head coach again. He's seen as one of the top defensive minds in the league. (I don't think so)
5) Jim Haslett/Defensive Coordinator/St. Louis Rams - Despite his problems with the New Orleans Saints in the last years in his tenure as head coach, Haslett is well respected in league circles. He interviewed for the Detroit Lions head coaching opening before Rod Marinelli got it and Haslett also received interest from the Buffalo Bills about their opening but he never interviewed with them. (Now this is interesting. He was under the Cowher system with Marty Schotteinheimer. Might not be a bad idea.)
6) Ken Whisenhunt/Offensive Coordinator/Pittsburgh Steelers - He interviewed with the Oakland Raiders for their head coaching opening earlier this year but Whisenhunt wanted full control of his coaching staff and personnel so Oakland wound up not offering him the job. It's believed that he has the edge on Russ Grimm if head coach Bill Cowher decides not to return.
(My biggest top pick to replace Cowher, he has the edge on Grimm??? HMMMMM)
7) Mike Sherman/Assistant Head Coach-Offense/Houston Texans - His detractors say that he did a bad job as the general manager of the Green Bay Packers but it should be pointed out Sherman did a very solid job as their head coach. However, Sherman's other knock on him is that his players seemed to tune him out in the end because of his demanding style.( HELL NO!!!! I didn't think he did a good job as the Packers head coach, they are stilling kicking their asses for letting Holmgren go.)
8) Tony Sparano/Assistant Head Coach/Offensive Line/Running Game - Although the team doesn't have a title of offensive coordinator, a league source points out that head coach Bill Parcells handed over the play calling duties to Sparano this season. Sparano, despite the team's recent offensive struggles, has done a solid job of orchestrating their offense as well as helping QB Tony Romo make the transition from backup to start this season. The league source also points out that Sparano was a very successful collegiate head coach on the division II level and his offenses averaged over 30 points/game.( You mind telling me about this guy? He done a fine job changing the offensive plans.)
9) Russ Grimm/Assistant Head Coach-Offensive Line/Pittsburgh Steelers - The Detroit Lions, Green Bay Packers, and New Orleans Saints all requested permission to interview him for their then vacant head coaching job earlier this year. Grimm is seen as one of the best offensive line coaches in the league but the knock on him, as it is with many offensive line coaches whether it's correct or not, is that they're not good play callers. (My second choice, but who said he was a bad play caller? Well Damn, if Stubborn Cowher would let him in on the choices, we could of judge that ourselves as fans.)
10) Mike Singletary/Assistant Head Coach-Defense/San Francisco 49ers - He interviewed for the vacant Detroit Lions head coaching job earlier this year. Singletary is well thought of by many in the NFL but he just started coaching in the league in 2003 (Baltimore Ravens). (Hmmmmm, never thought of this, you watch him be interviewed as a minority candidate, I wouldn't think this would win approval in the city of Pittsburgh.)
Bob Bratkowski/Offensive Coordinator/Cincinnati Bengals - NFL owners love offense and Bratkowski is seen as one of the top-five offensive play callers in the league. He's done a great job also with QB Carson Palmer and has made small adjustments to play to his strengths. (HELL NO, they can keep the criminal minded opportunist in Cincy)
Cam Cameron/Offensive Coordinator/San Diego Chargers - He has done a great job of designing and scheming their offense with a combination of a power rushing attack and a solid intermediate passing game. Cameron has also done a terrific job with current starting QB Philip Rivers and former starting QB Drew Brees. Cameron has head coaching experience from the college level with five seasons at Indiana University. (NO Thanks!!!, no need for Marty Ball in Pittsburgh)
Jim Fassel - The former New York Giants head coach and most recently offensive coordinator of the Baltimore Ravens probably has seen his star tarnished a bit after being fired in both of those positions. Fassel interviewed for the St. Louis Rams and Kansas City Chiefs head coaching openings earlier this year. He did take the 2000 New York Giants to the Super Bowl. Fassel is best known for his work with veteran quarterbacks Kerry Collins, Boomer Esaison, and John Elway. (Now, I wouldn't mind this guy for an interview.)
Hue Jackson/Wide Receivers Coach/Cincinnati Bengals - As a league source pointed out this week, Jackson has done a remarkable job with the Bengals' top receivers Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Jackson is known as a really good teacher of position. He also was the Washington Redskins offensive coordinator in 2003 under then head coach Steve Spurrier. Jackson also an offensive coordinator for five seasons at the collegiate level. ( See above for the other candidate. )
Jim Schwartz/Defensive Coordinator/Tennessee Titans - He's seen as one of the top defensive assistants who many in the league feel will be a head coach some day. A league source points out Schwartz doesn't get enough credit because it's head coach Jeff Fisher's scheme. (He isn't a bad choice either, and Fisher is an *** for not letting him in more often with the defensive schemes.)
Wade Phillips/Defensive Coordinator/San Diego Chargers - Phillips has done a very good job with their defense the past few years and has plenty of head coaching experience with the Denver Broncos and Buffalo Bills. His critics say he did a poor job in Buffalo with the quarterback controversy between Rob Johnson and Doug Flutie and is a better assistant than head man. He interviewed for the Green Bay Packers head (ABSOLUTELY NOT!!! I would hate that fat *** more than ever.)