Potential Replacements For NFL Coaches In 2012

Last Updated: January 3rd, 2012 by Adam Markowitz (Bankroll Sports Columnist)
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“Black Monday” for NFL coaches is just a week away, and by the time the season is said and done with, there coach be over a dozen openings that assistants and others that weren’t leading NFL teams this year need to fill. Check out the list of coaches that we think are set to make the jump into the head coaching ranks in the 2012 NFL season.

Brian Billick: Billick led the Baltimore Ravens to the Super Bowl a decade ago, and he really built that strong foundation that Baltimore has had since that point, but for the past few seasons, he has been working for FOX Sports as an analyst as he tries to get back into the coaching game. There are no signs that he is coming back, but an owner like Dan Snyder that is willing to throw enough money at him could get a steal.

Jon Gruden: Another man who went from the sidelines to the booth, Gruden’s name always gets tossed around as a potential head coaching candidate. Again, there is no reason to believe that this will be the year that he comes back to coaching, especially since he really does enjoy his gig with ESPN. That doesn’t mean that a job near home with the Jacksonville Jaguars or Miami Dolphins might not be appealing.

Bill Cowher: See: Gruden, Jon. It’s basically the exact same situation, just change the letters “ESPN” to “CBS.” However, of all of the coaches that are in broadcasting right now, we think that Cowher is the least likely to get back into coaching this year. Now, if the Cleveland Browns job were to open back up or if the Houston Texans job were to come open, that might be a different story… but for now, we doubt that Cowher gets back in the game.

Jeff Fisher: The Titans’ split with Fisher last year was as bloody as it gets, but that doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have the ability to jump back onto the sidelines and to fix a team that just needs some tweaking to be solid. Tennessee, in spite of a very similar record to that of last season, wasn’t nearly as good this season, and Fisher was probably at least a part of the reason for that. A team that is looking for stability like the Eagles could be a nice new home for Fisher if wants to come back to coaching.

Romeo Crennel: Crennel really deserves the job with the Kansas City Chiefs. He led QB Kyle Orton to a win over the Green Bay Packers in his first week on the job, replacing the fired Todd Haley. Crennel has ties to GM Scott Pioli from the days that both were dominating with the New England Patriots, and it would be a move that makes a heck of a lot of sense for both sides.

Tony Sparano: In our opinion, Sparano did a great job with the Miami Dolphins over the course of the last few years, and we think that he left them in a heck of a lot better shape than the lousy squad that he inherited. Someone should give Sparano a shot to shine for sure in spite of the fact that he was canned this year. He will almost certainly be the only coach fired that we think is deserving of a head coaching job once again right away.

Jay Gruden: No, you’re not reading that wrong. That does say “Jay” and not “Jon” in front of the word “Gruden.” The younger Gruden brother has had all sorts of success in the Arena Football League and United Football League as a head coach, and though he only has one season as an offensive coordinator at the NFL level, teams may be vying for his services this offseason. Tampa Bay, Jacksonville, Miami… are you paying attention? Gruden’s roots are all in the Sunshine State, and he would inevitably love the come back to his home.

Rob Ryan: Someone is probably going to offer Ryan a lot of money in hopes that he can bring the same level of success to their franchise that his brother, Rex did for the New York Jets. That being said, we really weren’t all that impressed this year with what Ryan did for the Dallas Cowboys’ defense, and we’re really not all that sure that it is going to be a wise hire for a team that is hoping for a jolt. That being said, Ryan is clearly one of the hottest coaching commodities out there to become a head coach, and this is probably the season that he gets a look.

Gregg Williams: In spite of the fact that Williams really failed as a head coach with the Buffalo Bills a decade ago, there is no denying the fact that he has been a great defensive coordinator for the New Orleans Saints. He’s got experience and a decent background of late, so someone will probably make the relatively “safe” hire for Williams, and then wonder why they need to fire him again in four years…

Perry Fewell: Fewell was the interim coach for the Bills a few years ago, and he did a respectable job. However, he really wasn’t that hot of a commodity then like he is now, as many love the way that he has handled that this New York defense, which has had a slew of injuries this year and has still proven to be a solid unit.

Brian VanGorder: All together now: “Who???” VanGorder is the man that has really made the Falcons a much more viable defensive team, and there is going to be a coach that wants to bring his intensity to their sidelines as well. He was the coach at Georgia Southern for awhile, so at least he does have some level of coaching experience at the top, unlike names like Josh McDaniels and Raheem Morris who were given jobs as head coaches foolishly before him, and don’t be surprised if he turns out to be one of those hires in the 2012 NFL season that you had never heard of before, sort of like Pat Shurmur with the Cleveland Browns.

Mike Zimmer: It’s high time that Zimmer gets a job as a head coach. He has done a great job with a Cincinnati defense that was absolutely atrocious before he got there. Now, he has done it again, and he should really get a spot on the sidelines for a team that has a bit of a defense in place that doesn’t quite have the right scheme.

Dirk Koetter: We’re actually a bit surprised that the Jags tabbed Mel Tucker as their interim head coach and not Koetter. Of course, the fact that he hasn’t been able to mold QB Blaine Gabbert into a starting signal caller could be bad news for him, just like it is probably going to be bad news for McDaniels that he couldn’t get anything going with QB Sam Bradford and the Rams this year. That being said, Koetter’s name continues to come up from time to time as a potential coaching candidate, and he just hasn’t gotten the nod yet.

Chuck Pagano: Any time you are the coordinator for a defense that is as big and bad as that of the Ravens, you deserve your name in the head coaching pool. Pagano did a nice job this year keeping this unit together in spite of the fact that LB Ray Lewis has missed time, and the end result might be that he gets hired to try to fix some poor team’s defense.

Pepper Johnson: Another defensive coach off of the Bill Belichick tree… Coordinators for the Pats become head coaches more often than any other team, and Johnson is young and is leading a defensive line that is anchoring an otherwise poor defense. Johnson will draw some looks for sure, and he could be a perfect fit for the likes of Kansas City or Arizona.

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Posted in NFL Football - Last Updated on Tuesday, January 3rd, 2012 @ 4:20 am (EST)
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