Head Coaching Vacancies and Candidates around the League
The 2020–21 NFL season saw numerous head coaches lose their jobs. Whether it was during the season or directly after, there are plenty of Head Coaching openings around the NFL.
Here is the list of coaches who have been let go thus far;
Dan Quinn, Atlanta Falcons
Matt Patricia, Detroit Lions
Bill O’Brien, Houston Texans
Doug Marrone, Jacksonville Jaguars
Anthony Lynn, Los Angeles Chargers
Adam Gase, New York Jets
Each new Head Coach opening around the league brings speculation as to who each of these teams will hire to replace their predecessor. Will we see teams dip into the collegiate ranks or will they find a current or former NFL coordinator or Head Coach to replace the previous man in charge?
There have been numerous reports of Urban Meyer becoming the next Head Coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars who have the #1 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. Other Head Coaches of Collegiate programs that may look to jump into the NFL ranks include; Jim Harbaugh (Michigan), Pat Fitzgerald (Northwestern), and Matt Campbell (Iowa State).
Jim Harbaugh’s name gets brought up every year as a candidate to move from college to the pros and lead an NFL team to the promised land. He has done a great job at Michigan aside from this past season which was out of the ordinary for that program. His brother, John is the head coach of the Ravens who have squeezed their way into the postseason once again. I don’t think Jim will move to the NFL this year, but I do believe he will do so before his coaching career is over.
It is well known that Pat Fitzgerald has done a phenomenal job with the Northwestern program. From recruitment of young talent around the chicago area to the development of that talent year in and year out. He has been linked to the Chicago Bears even though reports are saying that Matt Nagy will remain as Head Coach moving forward. I think if Pat does decide to leave Northwestern, the Bears should take a stab at him to see if he can work the same magic he did with Northwestern on the Bears.
Matt Campbell led Iowa State to an amazing 2020–21 campaign. They dominated Oregon in the Fiesta bowl behind the coaching of Campbell, and their NFL bound quarterback, Brock Purdy. I think Campbell is the most likely of the above candidates to make the leap from college to the NFL this year.
Aside from college, there are numerous Head Coaching candidates that currently hold position with NFL teams. Offensive or defensive coordinators have proven to be ‘Next up’ when it comes to head coaching vacancies across the NFL in recent history. The top candidates to land a head coaching job for next season would be; Robert Saleh (San Francisco 49ers), Eric Bieniemy (Kansas City Chiefs), and Byron Leftwich (Tampa Bay Buccaneers).
Robert Saleh has been a name that has been floating around as the next great head coach in the NFL. His defensive mindset does limit him as to where would be the best places for him to land. He would best fit on a team that has a solid defensive unit already that he can implement his schemes without having to overhaul the unit. There is concern as to his offensive mindset, but that is what offensive coordinators are for after all… right? Robert Saleh will land a head coaching job with one of the vacancies listed above. If I had my guess, I think Saleh fits very well with the Detroit Lions.
Eric Bieniemy is yet another offensive coordinator in the Kansas City system that will get his shot at a head coaching job. Just like Matt Nagy before him, Bieniemy has done a great job with the loaded Kansas City offense. He will most likely move into a head coaching role going forward if he decides to part ways with Kansas City. It will be hard to turn away such an amazing job with a bright future ahead considering the roster that is currently constructed with the Chiefs who will be competing for Super Bowl titles for many years to come.
A former NFL Quarterback that is making a name for himself in the coaching realm. Byron Leftwich has been gaining a lot of traction over the past 2 seasons in regard to his talent as a coach. There is no doubt in my mind that he will land a head coaching job in the next 2–3 years. An offensive minded coach that knows the in’s and out’s of a successful NFL roster. He should get his chance to prove himself as the main man in the very near future, and I am excited to see how he develops throughout his coaching career.