5 coaches were fired on or before Black Monday, leaving us to speculate who goes where. We know Jim Harbaugh is making his way to Ann Arbor Michigan to coach his alma matter. The Jets and Bears need to hire GMs first, so they might be last to fill their spots, concentrating on the GMs first. For fun, let’s see what we can do.
49ers- I’m pretty sure they have known they were replacing Harbaugh the longest. I seem to remember hearing the rumblings over the summer. I think they will grab the hottest candidate and act swiftly. The 49ers and Falcons have allegedly asked permission to speak with Adam Gase from Denver, probably the hottest name for unproven offensive minds. I’m going to give the nod to the 49ers, simply because they had more time to “send feelers” out, if need be.
Atlanta Falcons- If they lose out on Adam Gase, I think they would settle for the next hottest coaching prospect, Arizona Cardinals defensive coordniator, Todd Bowles. Atlanta’s biggest deficiency is probably on the defensive side. That and the O-line.
Oakland Raiders- Will forever be the wild card. They have known they needed a new coach for a while. They will probably line up and interview all the hot prospects, which could lead to coaches being hired ahead of them. Rex Ryan could be a target of theirs if they act quickly. They might also want to bring in an offensive mind to help with young QB Derek Carr.
Chicago Bears- They have to hire a GM first and the Bears have never been one to act quickly or with any sense of urgency. The fact that they acted as quickly as they did to relieve GM Phil Emery, HC Marc Trestman and OC Aaron Kromer means the situation was dire. I’m fearing they are going to miss out my favorite candidate, Rex Ryan and have to settle on a lesser known commodity. I also think they will miss out on the top candidates. Which is actually OK, because there are a lot of quality coaches this year and only 5 spots open. Former Giants GM Ernie Accorsi is helping out with the search, but the new GM is expected to make the coaching hire. This is a wide open situation. It being his first coach hire, will likely mean it will take longer than it should. I think it will come down to Jack Del Rio and Darrel Bevell. The Bears may lean on the experience of Del Rio, which would be the second coach ever hired with experience. Bevell was actually my choice to be the Bears head coach when they plucked Trestman out of the blue. I love what he did with then rookie, Russell Wilson. I’ll give the nod to Del Rio though. I think his experience and what the Bears just went through, will be the deciding factor. Depending on who they hire as GM though, it could be someone totally out of left field.
New York Jets- The Jets have hired the services of Charley Casserly and Ron Wolf. A pretty solid consulting tandem. I would imagine Gary Kubiak would be the front runner, given Casserly’s connection to Kubiak back with the Texans. The Jets though have to compete under a lot of scrutiny in the Big Apple. They have to copete with Bill Belichick and the Patriots. The owner might push for an up and coming candidate rather than the old retread. With Ron Wolf, they could snag someone from the Packers staff. They could go to Seattle and raid their staff. Bevell and Dan Quinn could be good options. In a kind of odd dynamic, GMs usually go for the opposite of what the team just got rid of. Since this is a new GM though, that might not apply. I am going to say they go with Quinn and the defensive side.
Buffalo Bills*- As I predicted, another coaching spot popped up. HC Doug Marrone opted out of his contract and is now free to pursue another position. The Bills are kind of in flux with a new owner, a regressing, young QB in EJ Manuel and a retired Kyle Orton. They do have a nice WR in Sammy Watkins and a decent defense. Not sure the Bills is the most attractive of jobs, but some folks like a challenge. I’m going to go out on a limb and say they will be the last to fill their vacancy and probably roll with a first time head coach. I’m going to go with Lions defensive coordinator, Teryl Austin.
So there it is. Until another vacancy opens up*, these are my predictions for 2015 coaching replacements.