getty images

Could this be the head coaching cycle where defensive coordinators prevail? Might the pendulum end up swinging back to side of the ball, at least a smidge?

It's fair to at least ponder the possibility.

Yes, the game is all about scoring points and protecting quarterbacks and the rules tend to favor the offense. And NFL owners have displayed a growing propensity to hire from that side of the ball, looking for quarterback whisperers and play callers and favoring that profile above all others. But color me at least somewhat optimistic that perhaps some of these decision-makers will keep a more open mind when it comes to which attributes and specialties matter most when hiring a head coach.

We are still quite early in this process, obviously. And I've felt like a sucker at times in the past when some of the initial candidate lists represented a wider panorama of potential hires. I won't fully believe that preferences are changing and searches are more merit-based until I see it with my own eyes, but there is reason to believe maybe this cycle will be different than many in recent history.

There seem to be a higher number of genuinely sought after defensive coaches, and more men on that side of the ball getting the chance to interview for multiple jobs. As it should be. The coupling of an experienced, defensive minded head coach and an innovative offensive coordinator has always made the most sense to me when it comes to managing the entirety of a football team, and maybe that will carry the day in some of these instances.

Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was always shaping up to be one of the most in-demand coaches on this market, reaching a Super Bowl as head coach in Atlanta and getting a ton of attention for turning around the fortunes of America's Team. Dallas is always in the limelight and Quinn's work was noted quickly and abundantly, and if you told me he was the next head coach of the Broncos or Vikings or Dolphins, well, I wouldn't blink in the least.

Winning eight of his final nine games wasn't enough for Brian Flores to keep his job in Miami, but it was enough to get the attention of other front offices, and he will get an audience with several owners, too. Chicago has always been a defensive kind of town, and former Bear Leslie Frazier would be a great fit there. Todd Bowles may well be the next coach in Tampa should Bruce Arians step aside, and I could also see him in Minnesota, where he was the runner-up to Mike Zimmer eight years ago. Or Las Vegas, if that opens up. Vance Joseph, who had a brief tenure as Broncos head coach, has done a great job with the defense in Arizona and would likely be better as the head man the second time around.

The times might be a changing, at least a smidge. Because the way these owners have been doing it the past few cycles hasn't been close to working in many instances, and groupthink hasn't been working.

Common sense prevails in Giants' Judge firing

Sometimes, common sense still prevails in this league. Eventually, it did with the New York Football Giants.

Joe Judge had no business being an NFL head coach for two years. It was a gross miscalculation on ownership's part, a panic, knee-jerk reaction, and they should know better than to let Bill Belichick steer them. Shame on them. And, better late than never for Giants fans, by the time they spent a few more hours with Judge this week, exploring his vision for the team after his egregious in-game malpractice and ridiculous press conference pablum, they came to the only reasonable decision, which was to terminate his contract.

Getting a reasonably accomplished general manager candidate to take the job while having to stick with Judge would have always been silly. And trying to sell him to your fanbase with season ticket renewals going out and a half-year offseason set to begin would have been backwards. History would indicate that John Mara won't get this latest reboot right, either, but at this point anything would be better than keeping this cursed experiment going.

If you read this space regularly, you know that I was always a skeptic that even Mara would stick with this, despite all of the smoke being put out for all these weeks about how much support Judge had with ownership. Even those who kept just cursory tabs on this two-year debacle would know that Judge's lack of self-awareness and ever-running lips could lead him to hang himself come early January. And he did just that.

More insider notes

  • The one name I head heard the most buzz about connected to the Giants GM job has been Bills assistant GM Joe Schoen. Very impressive dude with a very impressive resume … 
  • The Giants put in a request to interview Ravens scouting director Joe Hortiz, which makes sense. But I also would be very curious to see what kind of reaction they got if they reached out for permission to interview Hortiz's boss, Ravens GM Eric DeCosta, about his interest in the position. There's been mutual admiration there before. Worst the Ravens could do is deny permission … 
  • Former Texans longtime GM Rick Smith is someone the Chicago Bears should think long and hard about talking to as they restructure their organization … 
  • Jets assistant GM Rex Hogan is very highly thought of. The team has had hard luck, but I wouldn't be shocked if his name circulated around as their searches continue … 
  • If I were putting together a GM search myself, Rams exec Brian Xanders, a former GM in Denver, would definitely be on it … 
  • Still would not be surprised if the Houston Texans were conducting a head coaching search by the weekend, if not sooner ...
  • Surprised only the Bears have requested permission to interview Colts exec Ed Dodds to this point. Perhaps that changes in the next few days.