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Ranking NFL head coach openings: Lions top the list

By Will Brinson | NFL Writer

The Vikings and Lions both have open jobs but they're not created equal.
The Vikings and Lions both have open jobs but they're not created equal. (USATSI)

There are currently six NFL head coach openings. The Texans fired Gary Kubiak weeks ago, the Browns fired Rob Chudzinski on Sunday and the Lions, Redskins, Vikings and Buccaneers cleared out their respective coaching staffs on Monday morning.

So which job is best? Well, just like any job, NFL coaches prefer a better boss, better employees, good job security and the potential to succeed quickly. Unlike real work, having a franchise quarterback is paramount to success in the NFL.

1. Detroit Lions: The Good: Stars galore here. Matthew Stafford is a verifiable franchise quarterback, but he needs some mentoring, some tutoring, some fixin'-uppin' or ... something. He might not care about perfecting his footwork and mechanics but putting him with a quarterback guru who could get the best out of him would do wonders. Calvin Johnson might need offseason surgery but he's the best wide receiver in the game. Reggie Bush is a dynamic, versatile back. Larry Warford's a steal of a draft pick and the line has young talent like Riley Reiff. Ndamukong Suh, Nick Fairley and Ziggy Ansah are a bananas defensive line trio to work with ... The Lions have shown plenty of patience before (helloooooo, Matt Millen) and weren't exactly knee-jerking with Jim Schwartz, considering how quickly things fell apart for a team that was well positioned to win the NFC North ... Detroit's sitting on a top-10 pick despite finishing just off .500.

The Bad: Tough division to win in, considering Aaron Rodgers and the Packers reside there. Not to be a jerk, but Detroit isn't the No. 1 option to live in in America ... The Lions have a bit of a stars and scrubs roster, thanks to many of their top players being high draft picks from the old CBA, when high draft picks were all paid like star quarterbacks. There's really not much to hate about this job.

2. Houston Texans:The Good: Again, lots of talent. J.J. Watt is the best defensive player in the league. Arian Foster's a feature back when healthy. Andre Johnson and DeAndre Hopkins are a sick one-two punch at receiver. Duane Brown's an All-Pro at left tackle ... Houston holds the No. 1 overall pick thanks to their nightmare 2013 season ... There's nowhere to go but up expectations wise ... Bob McNair's clearly a patient owner as exhibited by how long he gave Gary Kubiak and despite promoting Case Keenum to the starting quarterback role after firing Kubiak, he seems to stay out football business ... Rick Smith's a motivated GM, surviving the cutdown after a brutal season ... The AFC South is a division where you can win right away.

The Bad: Immediate success is expected from the new coach and McNair's made that abundantly clear ... No franchise quarterback, although it's presumed Teddy Bridgewater will be available at No. 1 overall. What happens if he's not? Or what happens if he's not the answer or simply not ready to carry this team to a respectable record from day one? There's no guarantee the quarterback situation will be solved right away ... Smith will have a hand in hiring the new coach and it might mean less say on personnel.

3. Buccaneers: The Good: The talent on this roster is pretty strong. Doug Martin's a young, stud of a running back. Darrelle Revis is a top-flight cornerback. Lavonte David is one of the best three middle linebackers in the game. Mike Glennon could be the answer at quarterback. Vincent Jackson's a fantastic No. 1 deep threat ... The seventh overall pick in the draft should provide another influx of talent ... The new coach will be hired by a new GM, which means getting ample time to grow with the new front office regime as well as the likelihood of being able to have strong input into personnel decisions.

The Bad: The Glazer Family doesn't mess around when it comes to axing people that don't perform (though they're not necessarily bad owners at all) ... Is Mike Glennon the answer? He definitely flashed at times but transitioning quarterbacks could be tough with a new regime ... The NFC South is a brutal division to win in -- if the Falcons are good again in 2014 it'll be an insanely competitive race for the top.

4. Redskins: The Good: A franchise quarterback is in place. Say whatever you want about Robert Griffin III but he's a potential stud and the 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year. Time to get right mechanically and an offensive guru could turn him back around quickly ... Alfred Morris and Trent Williams are nice building blocks on offense and Pierre Garcon is a catch machine. Jordan Reed's another emerging weapon. This offense could go right back to being a juggernaut pretty quickly ... Kirk Cousins could potentially net something decent in a trade ... The Redskins qualified for the No. 2 overall pick this year.

The Bad: The Redskins are giving that No. 2 pick to the Rams immediately. It's one of the biggest nightmares of the entire season in a nightmarish season. Just brutal to give that high a pick away ... The defense is a disaster and might not get any better. Brian Orakpo could be gone and the secondary is full of young, unproven guys like David Amerson ... Daniel Snyder is one of the most volatile owners in the league and a nightmare for a coach ... Bruce Allen's taking over the personnel decisions now, which means there won't be much power available for the new coach.

5. Vikings: The Good: Adrian Peterson is one of the few "franchise running backs" in the NFL. Cordarrelle Patterson emerged as an upside-riddled playmaker in the second half of 2013. The defense has young talents like Sharrif Floyd, Xavier Rhodes and Harrison Smith. Matt Kalil is a franchise left tackle.

The Bad: The quarterback situation is abysmal. Christian Ponder was a first-round bust, they basically set $3 million on fire with Josh Freeman, and Matt Cassel's clearly not the answer. This franchise has to use a reasonably high pick on a signal caller but also can't panic like they did in 2011 ... Rick Spielman is safe because he was only elevated to GM recently, but he's been with the Vikings for a while. They've shoved their chips in on him as GM ... Tough division to play in because of the Packers and also the Bears. And the Lions ... The stadium situation is a nightmare, with the Metrodome now shut down and the Vikings playing in an outside college stadium for the next two years while they wait for their new stadium to be built.

6. Browns: The Good: Talent on both sides of the ball, including breakout wide receiver Josh Gordon and shutdown corner Joe Haden. The defense has draft investments (Phil Taylor, Barkevious Mingo) and free agent investments (Paul Kruger, Desmond Bryant). Joe Thomas and Alex Mack are an excellent start on the offensive line ... Cleveland's sitting on a pair of first-round picks after trading Trent Richardson for the Colts first-rounder this year ... Jimmy Haslam says this is a "critical" offseason for the Browns, which means they should be willing to get aggressive with personnel.

The Bad: Oh the quarterbacking. Brandon Weeden, Jason Campbell and Brian Hoyer, oh my. At least the next coach will get a shot at playing with a quarterback they had some part in choosing ... Rob Chudzinski got fired after one year. How do you possibly sell that to a candidate who's interested in coming in? ... Cleveland has fired the last four AFC North head coaches ... Did I mention instability as a problem?

***

There are only 32 NFL jobs. They're extremely hard to come by and even harder to pass up. But that doesn't mean they're all created equal.

 
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