Sean McVay probably has one of the best employers of any head coach in the NFL. One of the best relationships with a general manager, who helps get him players that have often comprised one of the best rosters in the league. And he definitely has some of the best treatment by his team’s media of any head coach in the NFL, by far. People love him and he loves people and even during the tumultuous 5-12 season, no doubt a massive disappointment for all of those in the building, McVay had support of ownership, support from his players, and support by the media.
So if McVay can wobble from his job as head coach of the Los Angeles Rams, just imagine how shitty life can be as the head coach of the Houston Texans. Perhaps that is why there could be a lack of interest from any of the top head coaching candidates for the five current openings. If McVay had indeed retired from the Rams, there’s no question that would have been the best job available.
And perhaps McVay didn’t want to leave the L.A. job at a time when it wasn’t quite as attractive as it would have been a year ago. Or, if he turns it around, a year from now.
What are the Texans doing. What kind of operation is this where you don’t have any convictions about supporting the coaches you hire. Who is going to want to coach there if you might only get one year to implement your plans. Two years in a row is ridiculous. https://t.co/Lrn6jyVs7P— Tony Dungy (@TonyDungy) January 9, 2023
The Texans have had four different head coaches in the last three years, if you include interims. They hired David Culley knowing that the team was horrible, then fired him after one season. They promoted Lovie Smith knowing that the team was horrible, then fired him after one season. It seems unlikely that the Texans will fire the next head coach after one season given the optics, but does Houston owner Cal McNair really care how he looks at this point?
It’s impressive how many former players and coaches have outwardly expressed disdain for McNair and the Texans, how many have forced their way out of Houston as soon as they could. The Texans would seem to be in a position now where they could only hire a head coach candidate if he received truly no other offers. We know that Cully was a surprise hire and the Smith was a promotion that only came after the Brian Flores lawsuit that included Houston.
The Texans recently interviewed Rams assistant Thomas Brown, as well as the highly-sought after Sean Payton. Some fans have said that Houston is attractive because of draft picks, but they have the same GM who picked Derek Stingley over Sauce Gardner in 2022, as well as guard Kenyon Green over some other prospects and while I hate to judge a rookie class so soon, it’s at least worth mentioning how good Sauce Gardner is for the Jets.
What guarantee does the next coach have that the organization will use those picks wisely?
Sean Payton would probably only accept such a role if he was given total carte blanche over personnel decisions, including final say over GM Nick Caserio, but that’s something that only Payton can demand. Not Thomas Brown. Payton could like the challenge, similar to his role when hired by the New Orleans Saints in 2006, but there’s no question that the Houston Texans present the biggest challenge of any franchise in the NFL.
The Texans gave Gary Kubiak eight seasons, firing him midway through his final campaign. They gave Bill O’Brien seven seasons, firing him midway through his final campaign. Neither coach found his way to an AFC Championship game. Both coaches inherited a roster much better than what the next Houston head coach will start with in 2023.
It’s hard to think of a worse head coaching job than the Texans. But the rest of the NFL is trying.
The 5-12 Denver Broncos just proved that they’re okay with firing a first-time head coach after 15 games. And even if Nathaniel Hackett was never the right answer, this is still the decision that the Broncos made less than a year ago. They have new ownership, but many of the people who traded two firsts and two seconds for Russell Wilson, then gave him a massive five-year contract remain in the building. Denver had the worst offense in the NFL but they don’t have their original first round pick, which is fifth overall. They have a late first round pick from the Bradley Chubb trade, but one less franchise cornerstone because they traded him to Miami.
Oh, and the Broncos are fourth place in a division with Patrick Mahomes and Justin Herbert.
Denver held a two-hour virtual interview with Jim Harbaugh and then he announced “Nah, I’m staying at Michigan.” That’s not just because he’s a Michigan man. It’s also because these jobs suck. Harbaugh will be taking NFL interviews again in 2024, I’m sure of it.
The Broncos will struggle to attract any head coaching candidates and they might end up promoting former Rams assistant Ejiro Evero, who was Denver’s defensive coordinator in 2022. Will Evero last much longer than Lovie Smith did in Houston, if the Broncos miss the playoffs next year—which most people believe is a certainty?
The Broncos also reportedly want Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn, the former Falcons head coach who previously spent two seasons in Seattle getting know to a young Russell Wilson. But six teams requested interviews with Quinn a year ago and he said “no” to all of them.
Being an NFL head coach is one of the hardest jobs in the world. Being the NFL head coach of a shitty team is potentially not even worth the tens of millions of dollars that it guarantees. Potentially.
If half-a-dozen teams want Dan Quinn every year, then he knows he doesn’t have to accept any job unless it’s cushy. The Broncos job does not seem cushy. Even if Hackett was a terrible hire, loyalty could have gone a long way had Denver given him another year to prove or disprove himself; the Chargers just made that commitment to Brandon Staley despite two underwhelming finishes.
Should the Chargers fire Staley in 2024, L.A. would then be a very attractive head coach destination.
If you thought the Wilson contract was bad, at least he’s won before. The Arizona Cardinals have a new GM and they’re looking for a new head coach. Kyler Murray has basically the same contract as Wilson, but he has not won a playoff game, he’s missed 10 games in the last two years, and he’s got serious questions about how committed he is to putting in the work to get better and to be coachable.
But I need I say anything more than “The Cardinals have won seven playoff games in 103 years?”
There is talk of Sean Payton. There is talk of 49ers defensive coordinator DeMeco Ryans. But even if you roll out the redbird carpet, you’re delivering a painfully-bad franchise with a 31st-ranked defense to the next head coach and also assigning him the difficult task of getting the most out of Kyler Murray...no matter what. And old as J.J. Watt is for the NFL, he was also one of their best players and now he’s retired. DeAndre Hopkins seems certain to be traded.
The roster needs another overhaul and the assignment is to be better than the 49ers, Rams, and Seahawks by 2024 or 2025, at the latest.
I don’t think that Ryans is going to accept a job with the Cardinals. He’s only 38 and he’s had two years as the DC for the 49ers. After reaching the NFC Championship last year, Ryans could once again have a deep playoff run this year, and he could choose any franchise with an opening a year from now. That could include the Buccaneers, the Chargers, the Cowboys, the Packers. Maybe even the Rams.
If you’re a head coach worth his salt, you could just wait.
Then there’s the Indianapolis Colts, the organization with perhaps the most immature and erratic owner in the NFL, Jim Irsay. The Colts probably gave Chuck Pagano more time than he deserved, but Indianapolis also fired Frank Reich a tad too early, then dismissed all professional coaching candidates for Jeff Saturday, a former player with no experience above the high school level.
How would that make you feel if you were a professional coach?
The Colts have long been one of the worst organizations in the NFL, saved only by falling backwards into Peyton Manning and Andrew Luck by being so terrible at the right time. The Colts are in a weak division, but they’ve squandered a decent roster by being overly desperate for a starting quarterback since Luck retired because he could no longer handle being on the Indianapolis Colts.
The team has the number four pick in the draft, but you most likely just have to go along with whichever quarterback that Irsay tells you to go along with, whether that’s trading for Lamar Jackson or drafting Will Levis, so you better be okay with whatever the owner decides. Given that Saturday remains potentially Indy’s first option, coaching candidates may as well stop looking at the Colts.
Reports are that Rams DC Raheem Morris had an interview that went “really well” but does Morris actually want them?
The team that: Lost 10 of their last 11, blew a 33-0 lead, lost 54-19 to the Cowboys a month ago, lost 38-10 to the Giants two weeks ago, and lost 32-31 to the HOUSTON TEXANS a week ago. Indianapolis had two shots against the Texans and went 0-1-1 against the “worst” team in the league. Was it just strategy to make sure that Houston didn’t get the number one pick?
Don’t get distracted by the Colts having some talented players. This team is not talented and they won’t be good again for a while.
And if you think that the Carolina Panthers are the most attractive head coach opening by default, keep in mind that Ben Johnson turned down their interview so he could stay with the Lions. SO HE COULD STAY WITH THE DETROIT LIONS.
#Lions OC Ben Johnson informed interested teams he’s staying in Detroit, per sources.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) January 18, 2023
Johnson was slated to travel Wednesday to interview with the #Panthers. But he feels Detroit is building something special and wants to see it through. Should be a hot HC name again next year. pic.twitter.com/vUNLyKFtLf
It was that decision by Johnson that really opened my eyes to the state of NFL head coaching jobs in 2023. The openings are terrible. The jobs suck. Who would you rather work for next year: Dan Campbell, the lovable, supportive father figure who believes in you and inspires you every day.
Or Cal McNair.
Or Jim Irsay.
Or Michael Bidwell.
Or new owners in Denver with no track record and being responsible for whatever happens to Russell Wilson.
Or David Tepper in Carolina, knowing that the Panthers have since then thrown gobs of money at Teddy Bridgewater and draft picks for Sam Darnold and Baker Mayfield, and fired Matt Rhule 2.5 seasons into a thankless job, and guess what, it’s “Starting over time again!”
And even if the Panthers went 6-6 under Steve Wilks, you’ll inherit a roster that says, “Wtf are you doing here? We went 6-6 with Coach Wilks!”
How about “No”? How about “See you next year”.
Because these jobs suck. If Sean McVay retired, the L.A. Rams would have easily been the best and most attractive job available. And given their current cap and draft situation with needs on both sides of the ball...that’s saying something.