NFL

Hot Head Coaching Candidates For Next Year

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While football fans all over the world are anticipating the 2016 season, there are several NFL head coaches who are looking over their shoulder.

Why you ask?

Well, the easy answer is that ‘job security’ is virtually non-existent nowadays. Just ask Jim Tomsula, who was fired after just one season in San Francisco.

In total, there were seven new heading coaching hires this off-season which is on par for the average offseason.

We can and will speculate on who may lose their jobs at a later point, but for now let’s talk about some guys who may benefit from head coach firings next season.

Mike Shula – The last name here may look familiar.

Mike’s father, Don Shula, is without question one of the most intelligent minds the league has ever seen. The Hall of Fame head coach has two Super Bowl rings and 14 division titles.

The elder Shula is the only coach to lead a team to an undefeated season, when the Miami Dolphins went 14-0 en route to the franchise’s first Super Bowl title in 1972.

While it’s unfair to expect Mike to be as good as his father, you simply can’t ignore the amount of knowledge he’s soaked in over the years.

Mike has been on the sidelines for over 20 years now and he was also the head coach of the Alabama Crimson Tide for a few seasons.

At the age of 50, Shula is far from being a young up and coming guy, but he doesn’t seem too pressed about it. 

“I really haven’t thought about it that much,” Shula stressed. “It doesn’t bother me just because I’m happy with what I’m doing for a lot of reasons.”

Who is Shula kidding?

Whenever the right opportunity presents itself, Shula will be going in for multiple interviews and he’s been overlooked for too long.

Josh McDaniels – Unlike Shula, New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels is young and filled with potential.

McDaniels, 39, has been apart of the Patriots organization for majority of his coaching career. It all started in 2001 when he was hired as a personnel assistant.

Having said that, McDaniels was the head coach of the Denver Broncos for nearly two seasons when he went (11-17).

Sure, that wasn’t a great first impression, but considering the more time he’s been under Bill Belichick, some team out there will be more than willing to offer him a job in the near future, or at least they should.  McDaniels has put together great offenses year after year that have been able to adjust to the quality and strengths of his personnel.

What more can you ask for than that?

Matt Patricia – From one Belichick disciple to another.

Matt Patricia has been working in New England since 2004 and he’s been the defensive coordinator for the past four seasons.

Similar to McDaniels, Patricia is really young at just 41 years of age.

While Belichick receives most of the accolades for how well coached his team is, Patricia has played a major role in his own right.

“He’s really smart,” Belichick stated. “This guy could probably build a plane and fly it — like this guy is smart-smart. He’s got great recall and a really high IQ level in terms of just processing a lot of information. He’s the kind of guy that he’s got 10 projects going at once and then you’re like, ‘Hey Matt can you do this and do that’ — ‘oh yeah, no problem.’ He’s got 12 going at once. Some of us can only handle barely one thing at a time. He’s the type of guy that can keep a lot of balls in the air. But again, he’s a blue-collar guy, certainly wasn’t born with a silver spoon like most players, so they’re just working for everything, working his way up through, I think he has an appreciation for that and I think he relates well to other guys who are doing the same thing.”

Before the Cleveland Browns hired Hue Jackson, Patricia was one of a handful of guys to get interviewed.

Greg Olson – If anyone deserves a head coaching opportunity, it’s Greg Olson.

Olson has been around the block several times to say the least. In 2001, he was hired as the San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks coach.

Furthermore, Olson has been an offensive coordinator at Detroit, St. Louis, Tampa Bay and Oakland. This past season, Olson served as the offensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Following a rough rookie campaign, Blake Bortles performed at an elite level this this past season. He finished with a 35:18 touchdown to interception ratio. 

“We’re comfortable with Blake Bortles,” Olson said . “We’re going to accelerate his development. One of the things you want to be careful of is saying, ‘It’s Year Three and it’s his second year in the system … let’s do more.’ Well, let’s get better in some of the things we’re doing. Let’s make sure we’re not clouding the situation for him. Let’s make sure he’s functioning at a faster, clearer level.”

Unfortunately for Jacksonville, Olson may not be around for Bortles maturation process.

Teryl Austin – When it comes to defense, Teryl Austin has a plethora of experience.

Austin started at the collegiate level, where he served as a defensive backs coach at Wake Forest. Then he went on to Syracuse (defensive assistant) and Michigan (defensive assistant).

Currently, Austin is the defensive coordinator of the Detroit Lions. 

“Absolutely. I don’t think there’s any question about it,” Caldwell on Austin. “Talented guy, and I think you’ll see there will be a lot of interest in him.”

After the season, Austin went in for several interviews and while he didn’t land a head coaching job this time around, look for him to get an opportunity next year.

He’s done a great job holding together a defense that lost the best defensive tackle in the NFL in Ndamukong Suh and they actually finished with more sacks in 2015.

Austin should get plenty of interviews from the Rooney Rule, and a smart team will give him a shot to be their next head coach.


About Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels

Mark Gunnels is an NFL columnist for Football Insiders. He has several years of experience covering the NFL and NCAA football. He's the radio color commentator for Lincoln University football. Mark's work has been featured on Sports Illustrated, Fox Sports and Yard Barker.