2018 Offseason: Top Ten Head Coach Candidates

Mark Davis has really done it this time.

Not only did he hire Jack Del Rio (originally reported here and here and other outlets; in Davis’s defense, the options were limited to say the least), Davis then doubled-down and prematurely handed out more money and another four-years on his deal.

Not great!

You see, Jack Del Rio, unfortunately, is who he is:

Or even worse…

Give Jack Del Rio credit for “changing the culture”, I guess? The idea that his approach was going to translate into any long-term or sustainable success was always a stretch.

Now Mark Davis is on the hook, and has a franchise that’s set to relocate. He cannot afford a mediocre (or worse) product on the field. This new stadium of his has to be packed from day one, as there are quite a few pennies to pay back.

All that said, and despite looking 6-10 squarely in face, I think that Del Rio’s back for 2018.

I’ve already shared my thoughts on the matter several times (check the timeline), but to summarize: I’m not sure that a “strong” draft class or free agency period even matters if Del Rio’s still employed. As we know, he doesn’t get team’s over the proverbial hump. He’s always needed the presence of two strong coordinator’s to be in the fight and all the relevant options this offseason will surely get head coach looks (or better offers) elsewhere.

Anyway, this report dropped on December 23rd. I don’t put much (any?) stock in it, but in the event (miracle) that Jack is relieved of his duties, here’s who I’d throw money at.

The top ten:

10) Mike Vrabel, Houston Texans’ defensive coordinator.

This might be a little premature for the former three-time Super Bowl champion-turned-coach, but all Vrabel’s done is excel wherever he’s been (he’s lost every impact player on defense in Houston this season). He interviewed for the Rams’ job last year. The praise, albeit notably from some familiar faces and former teammates, is out there as well.

9) Teryl Austin, Detroit Lions’ defensive coordinator.

He was one of the hottest names at one point in time, and despite the drop-off this year, someone I’m still high on personally. Former Ravens’ defensive backs coach (had a top ranked unit there during that time), his 2014 Lions’ team was the number two overall defense. He’s done well since then with less-than-stellar pieces (post-Suh and Levy).

8) John Morton, New York Jets’ offensive coordinator.

Morton’s name might not be as well known as other’s on this list, but he deserves the right to be mentioned amongst them. Turn on a Jets’ game this season, and surprisingly, the offense is fun and explosive and keeps you from flipping back to the RedZone. A Sean Payton underling, you’ll fall further in love after reading this piece.

7) Steve Wilks, Carolina Panthers’ assistant head coach/defensive coordinator.

Another name linked to the Rams’ job last year. His résumé is very impressive, and is work with defensive backs is notable. Raiders’ have historically struggled in the backfield, which is being polite. He’s been tethered to Ron Rivera for a majority of his career, assistant head coach titles and all, but it’s only a matter of time before he’s in charge elsewhere.

6) Dave Toub, Kansas City Chiefs’ special teams coach.

You just don’t see a special teams coach make the jump to head coach and honestly, I don’t know a lot about Dave Toub. However, everything you read is glowing; from media personnel and fans alike. He helped John Harbaugh make a name in Philadelphia. He’s coached Devin Hester in Chicago and is doing similar work with Tyreek Hill and other specialists in Arrowhead. He’s just good at his job. Despite not overseeing either the offense or the defense, success should be recognized regardless.

5) Vic Fangio, Chicago Bears’ defensive coordinator.

One of the “it” names working under Jim Harbaugh in San Fransisco, Fangio’s still one of the better defensive minds in the league. He oversaw top five unit’s in San Francisco, and has worked to improve Chicago’s 30th overall defense to a respectable top 15 squad. Maximizer of talent, but perhaps a little more reserved (personality-wise) which could rub some folk’s the wrong way.

4) John DeFilippo, Philadelphia Eagles’ quarterback’s coach.

I don’t need to explain much here. Raiders’ fans should know what Coach Flip meant to Derek Carr and his advancement. We’re seeing the same story unfold in Philadelphia. He’s a star on the rise. He’s an obvious hire, and one that is sure to get looks elsewhere. Read this thread. He could be at the top of your wish list and I wouldn’t argue — more than deserving of all the praise and opportunities he’ll be afforded.

In the same regard, Frank Reich is going to be popular this offseason given Carson Wentz’s turnaround and the Eagles’ offensive ascendance. Give me John, however.

3) Jim Schwartz, Philadelphia Eagles’ defensive coordinator.

To me, Schwartz is like Del Rio with the small difference being that he (Jim) can actually coach; one who approaches the game from an analytical and x’s and o’s standpoint. He’s got a similar personality about him, but he’s going to utilize personnel correctly (schematically or otherwise). I might be higher on him than most, and many will shy-away as he’s a retread.

Pat Shurmur is also another name that come to mind, and probably falls in the same category (retread minus the buzz a la McDaniels) just on the other side of the ball.

2) Josh McDaniels, New England Patriots’ offensive coordinator.

He might be number one on many people’s lists. I get it. He’s going to get his shot – again – and it’s hard not to working with Tom and Bill. Two sides to this: I’m thinking he’ll be better during his second time around (learning from his mistakes, all those narratives), but I also wonder how much credit is actually due just for simply “coaching” Tom?

1) Matt Nagy, Kansas City Chiefs’ offensive coordinator.

Matt Nagy might be the closest we’re going to get to a Sean McVay or Kyle Shanahan-type hire this offseason (well, between Nagy and Coach Flip).

He’s not in that tier, but his stock is hot under notable play-caller and wizard Andy Reid, who’s coaching tree keeps growing. There’s some connection to Derek Carr, too, during their time at the Pro Bowl. I don’t really care for the “do you prefer an offensive-minded coach or defensive one” debate, but if I had to choose, I’d lean toward pairing Carr with someone who’s going to continue his growth and elevate his skill set.

Five other names to know:

Harold Goodwin, Arizona Cardinals’ offensive coordinator — A Bruce Arians’ disciple, Goodwin’s been apart of some high-flying Arizona attacks. Not mentioned enough (at all), he’s my dark horse.

George Edwards, Minnesota Vikings’ defensive coordinator — Another first-time name, one with a little growing buzz, too. That’s Zim’s defense though.

Russ Grimm, Tennessee Titans’ offensive line coach — Thought to be the Bill Cowher replacement at one point in time. Age a factor?

Matt Patricia, New England Patriots’ defensive coordinator — Next name under Bill to collect a big check? He’s highly regarded; defense’s tend to bleed yards but the takeaways and overall discipline is normally there.

Matt LaFleur, Los Angeles Rams’ offensive coordinator — He’s young, and perhaps front offices reach in an attempt to land the next McVay. Worked with Matt Ryan in 2016 during his MVP season. Much like Edwards/Zimmer in Minnesota, this is clearly McVay’s offense. How much credit are we passing down, right or wrong?

Final thoughts:

Keep Jon Gruden away from my favorite NFL team. This would have the potential to be a worse hire than Jack Del Rio. I’ve long made my feelings for the former Raiders’ wunderkind clear, but essentially, I think he’s a good bit overrated. I know he has his offseason camps and programs and obviously has the ESPN gig, but I think there’s something to be said for being “away” for this long.

If you really want a Gruden on your staff, keep an eye on Jay Gruden. I wasn’t a fan of the hire initially, but what he’s done in Washington is notable. I think he’s one of the better play-caller’s in the league at the moment and the “Gruden” that deserves the spotlight and the coin.

Bill O’Brien is “similar” to Jay Gruden, to me, as I wasn’t crazy about the hype that surrounded his name and the initial hire by the Texans. Watching him coach a good quarterback, finally, changed that perception for me. He’s definitely a personality, one I don’t see meshing with either Davis or McKenzie.

Jim Harbaugh isn’t leaving Michigan.

David Shaw isn’t leaving Stanford (at least not for this Raiders’ job, I don’t think, given the pending move).

Who do you like? Who’s in your top five or ten? Who did I mention that shouldn’t be listed? Who did I miss?

Catch me on Twitter: @StillRyanFive


12 thoughts on “2018 Offseason: Top Ten Head Coach Candidates

  1. Mark Davis is in BIG trouble! He’ll be moving to Vegas with, most likely, a mediocre team or worse! Filling the stands was going to be a challenge over time anyway. Now, he may be looking at only 25,000-30,000 asses in the seats from Day 1!

    He may need to get some exciting Vegas acts to fill the stadium. How about this: The Return of Siegfried and Roy, only this time with the lions running loose and all the fans running for their lives! Should be a good test of manhood for Raidah fans!!

  2. This would be better if you did one on Offensive coordinators. Think that is the more realistic option. Del rio isn’t going anywhere this year.

  3. Matt Nagy needs to be the Raiders next head coach, the chefs would be dead in the water had they not made Nagy the play caller, ever since he’s taken over the offense has turned it completely around. Plus the raiders would be taking away from a division foe one we have had trouble with. The hire of Nagy and a strong draft and you’ll see this team improve leaps and bounds. Justwinbaby!

  4. This whole thing makes my head hurt. I noticed on the lists that there are more than few from teams who aren’t having success either. How does that qualify as a new coach for the Raiders. We have those. When we get a new Offensive Coordinator, and we **** well better, how much say does Del Rio have in the offense? Pagano seems to have the defense heading in a better direction though he can’t coach holes in the roster. I’d love to sit in the office when Mark and Del Rio have the come to Jesus meeting after this season ends. “Change your way Jack or don’t look for a house in Vegas”. I’ve been saying this since the middle of the season. LEADERSHIP is what this team lacks. And that starts and ends with Del Rio. If he’s not up to the job then he needs to go.

  5. I don’t care who the head coach is, as long as you have a General Manager like Reggie McKenzie who doesn’t understand how to pick quality players on a consistent basis in the draft, you’ll never win. Way too many players like DJ Hayden, Jihad Ward, Sio Moore, Mario Edwards, Menelik Watson, Tony Bergstrom, Clive Walford, and Shilique Calhoun in the first three rounds and not enough Khalil Macks and Derek Carrs. The 2017 draft netted Gareon Conley, Obi Melifonwu and Eddie Vanderdoes. How’s that working out? If the Raiders lose this weekend to the Chargers, McKenzie will be 36-61 (including the one playoff loss) in six years as GM. Is that good enough for you?

  6. 2018 is make or break for Del Rio & McKenzie, they MUST win, playoffs or bust!! Call Musgrave, admit your mistake and offer him top 10% coordinator money along with a quarterbacks coach of his choosing. I believe this will bring stability & experience back to the offense. McKenzie must draft better period!! Change of roster personnel is crucial going forward. 2 yrs left to get this team at playoff level or Vegas will be the end of this franchise under the Davis name!

  7. Del Rio should replaced but probably won’t. If he stays I I believe he and McKenzie should be put on notice that the team is expected to advance to the second round of the play-offs or they will both be replaced. For Reggie that will mean smart and successful off season moves in free agency and the draft. For DelRio, it means better leadership and some resemblance of a pulse.

  8. Jack is back next year full of faith & optimism because the New Offensive Coordinator he’s going to hire will have the Raiders flying high & competing at a high level. It’ll definately be his last if JDR can’t solve this season’s regression. Opening in Vegas with a winning team is imperative to the long term success of the move. Raider Nation has waited along time for the Raiders to compete & all we get is a flash in the pan & more heartbreak. Raiders football is alive & well!!!

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