This is not how Vance Joseph wanted his season to end. The Dolphins were battered by the Steelers and Joseph's defense was shredded by Pittsburgh's trio of offensive dynamos: Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell and Antonio Brown. The Dolphins had no answer for them and struggled with basic fundamentals, from tackling on down.
But one game does not a season make, and one poor afternoon won't define Joseph's potential as a head coaching candidate. Losing in lopsided (30-12) fashion with the entire country watching on Wild Card Weekend is less than ideal, but make no mistake, Joseph remains a very hot coaching commodity. Of the NFL's six coaching openings, the only team that did not reach out last week to request an interview with Joseph was the Jaguars. And this was at a time when teams were focused on other options because the earliest Joseph ever would be able to interview was this week. Per NFL rules, coaches on teams participating in the wild-card round were off limits until these games were played.
Now, Joseph becomes in essence a free agent as head coaching vacancies go. His agent, Brian Levy, told me after the Dolphins' loss that Joseph was going to take his time to sort out which teams to visit. It remains to be seen if he will meet with all five teams that have approached him, as some already may be near a decision and others might be at that point by mid-week. Joseph is going to take Monday to fulfill the obligations he feels he owes the Dolphins such as final review of this game, meetings and evaluations. By Tuesday he may be on the road interviewing.
When that itinerary is complete, I would not be surprised at all if the Broncos are the first team on his list. He has interviewed there before, John Elway is high on him and Denver seems to have a particular focus to its search. Joseph nearly got hired there two years ago and knows the area well from his time coaching at his alma mater, the University of Colorado. Elway has met with Falcons offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan and Chiefs defensive coordinator Dave Toub, and this process might not extend that much beyond meeting with Joseph again.
The bottom line is Joseph will be a central figure in how this week transpires, along with Detroit defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, who will begin interviewing as well, since the Lions eliminated on Saturday night. Joseph may get a question or two about what happened Sunday, but it won't come close to derailing what could be a life-changing set of interviews.
Youth may be served with Sean McVay
Some have discounted Sean McVay's chances of getting a head coaching job this year because he is only 30 years old and other more experienced offensive coordinators are making the rounds. But I wouldn't be surprised at all if the Redskins offensive coordinator ends up getting a job at this point.
The Rams, I'm told, are legitimately intrigued. And the 49ers meet with him Monday. If the 49ers cannot lure Josh McDaniels -- and I expect them to pull out all the stops to try to do just that -- I could see McVay emerging there. He has roots to that franchise through his grandfather, John McVay, a former VP of the 49ers during the franchise's run to five Super Bowl titles. Sean McVay is an impressive dude who is ultra prepared and this process won't be to big for him. And if he doesn't land a head coaching job this year, his experiences this season will further prepare him for next year's coaching carousel.
The carousel rotates around McDaniels
Much of this process will come into focus if/when McDaniels makes up his mind. Teams realize they may have to wait until the Super Bowl to hire him, but that won't be a deterrent. It didn't limit Atlanta in any way two years ago when they waited for Dan Quinn to coach in the Super Bowl for Seattle before officially hiring him, and there are ways to put a staff together before the head coach formally comes on board.
At the very least teams will have to wait a few more weeks, because the Pats will be heavy favorites over the Texans next Saturday for good reason. I wouldn't be surprised at all if the 49ers were to make him an offer he can't refuse.
Also regarding the Patriots, I heard throughout this process that Pats personnel man Nick Caserio was not going anywhere and was very unlikely to even meet with the 49ers. He in fact he did not interview with them, and finding the right GM to pair with McDaniels will likely become a focus for San Francisco now.
Mike McCoy has his lookers
Mike McCoy, the former Chargers coach, remains the hottest name among offensive coordinators. Sean McDermott, the Panthers coordinator who had a very strong interview with the Bills, for one, would love to pair with him -- but I wouldn't rule out McCoy getting a head coaching look, depending on how some of these openings shape up.
More coaching news:
Leave it to the Browns to be interview a new defensive coordinator before they informed their current coordinator, Ray Horton, he was being fired. They can't get out of their own way.
Nevertheless, landing Gregg Williams is a great move for them and there is going to be a very different aura to that defense next season. Those players are in for a big-time culture shock.
Jags interim coach Doug Marrone remains well-positioned to get a very strong look at the end in Jacksonville.
The Eagles denying the Jets an interview with quarterbacks coach, John DeFilippo, for their offensive coordinator job wasn't anything personal, just business. It's not a Jets thing, according to the Eagles. They don't want to let DeFilippo going anywhere, given his work with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz. Austin was hoping to hire DeFilippo as his offensive coordinator should he get a head coaching job, but the Eagles front office was against that as well. Looks like it's a non-starter for them across the board.
There is very little buzz about Bucs defensive coordinator Mike Smith and Toub, but in a year when very few non-offensive coordinators will get serious consideration, at least one of these two will land a job, I believe. Both are very viable candidates in San Diego.
I continue to hear Gus Bradley is by far the top choice for defensive coordinator in Washington, but will that be his best option? Bradley has a standing offer to run Anthony Lynn's defense if Lynn gets a head coaching job, and Buffalo remains very viable for Lynn. In fact I would anticipate that being the first opening that gets filled and would still expect that to be Lynn early this week.