The coaching searches in the NFL this offseason are going to be fascinating. There is no singular hot "it" candidate who fulfills what owners generally covet – no sure-thing, rising offensive coordinator who can call plays and design a scheme and develop a quarterback.

The array of first-time head coaching candidates leaves much to be desired, and there isn't any 30-something offensive whiz like Sean McVay or Kyle Shanahan or Adam Gase or Mike McCoy years before that, whom multiple teams were going to battle for his services. That dude just is not out there at this point, and he isn't going to suddenly emerge over the final three weeks of the season, especially among the group of men who have never been NFL head coaches before. The Rams' Zac Taylor – who at least has called plays at the NFL level before and is seen as a potential star on McVay's staff – might be the closest thing to it, but the pack of candidates is much more muddled and difficult to sort out than most years.

So that leads me to believe that teams may have to be more creative and not just do what they normally would, and go try to hire the offensive coordinator doing the best job with a playoff team with a star, or emerging-star, quarterback. Yes, the Chiefs' Eric Bieniemy should merit strong consideration as the latest offensive assistant groomed by Andy Reid, but outside of that, good luck on that side of the ball when it comes to coordinators. There were many in the media who have been trying to champion John DeFilippo as the top head coaching candidate for years – despite him having been with seven teams to this point already without ever being seen as the guy there; and after Minnesota fired him Tuesday with its season in the balance, I'd dare say he is not going to be an NFL head coach in 2019.

You may hear some buzz about Matt LaFleur, given his ties to McVay, but I'd be surprised if his maiden voyage calling plays with the Titans makes him truly coveted, and as I continue to talk to general managers and coaches about this crop of candidates it becomes increasingly difficult to say, without question, that this coordinator or that coordinator is definitely getting a head coaching job.

Which makes me believe teams might, wisely, get a little more creative in terms of whom they consider. Dallas defensive backs coach Kris Richard is an assistant on Rod Marinelli's staff, and not running that defense himself, but I have to believe he gets some interviews. Dan Campbell is not the guy pulling the strings on the Saints offensive staff, as we know that is Sean Payton's show, but as New Orleans assistant head coach/tight ends, he has continued to earn respect and he has interim head coaching experience previously and I expect him to garner interest.

Dave Toub is a special teams coach, which has worked against him for years, and, frankly he should have interviewed for more jobs than he has the past few offseasons. Of all the guys remaining on Reid's staff – which is constantly picked through by other clubs – he is the one I would be most interested in hiring. I've made the case for him for years, and many GMs privately agree with me. But will one step up and be willing to hire him? I wrote a few weeks ago about teams doing their homework and due diligence on long-time NFL defensive guru Vic Fangio, and if his stellar work with the Bears this year doesn't get him legit head coaching opportunities now, it never will.

Mike Munchak could've had the Cardinals head job a year ago in all likelihood if he hadn't pulled out of contention, and he has significant head coaching experience with the Titans in the past. People tend to forget about him because he isn't calling plays in Pittsburgh and is, gasp, dare I say it, just an offensive line coach (wish I had a dollar for every time a Football Man has told me there is almost no track record of offensive line coaches becoming head coaches, as a means to discount an entire segment of coaching specialty).

If there is the feeding frenzy that we have seen in some other years, with more jobs than obvious candidates, then you end up with Jim Zorn and Jim Tomsula being NFL head coaches. The men I have mentioned here stand a far better chance of success than those regimes did for various reasons. And, along with former head coaches like Jim Caldwell, Chuck Pagano and Jack Del Rio, I expect them to have opportunities to explore NFL vacancies.

Finding success on the ground

Keep track of how many teams saved their seasons, or at least altered the course of them by running the football. I am not downplaying the import of the modern passing game at all, and I champion some of the revolutions going on with how the ball is thrown downfield (aided by rule changes), but where would the Texans be without becoming balanced and sticking with the run? The Seahawks became one of the top teams in the NFL since they have vowed to run 30 times a game. The Ravens were left for dead at the bye at 4-5 and in a deep swoon before they turned the offense over to rookie Lamar Jackson and the RPO, and now have a shot to win the AFC North while running more than any team in the league. The Titans ran their way all over the Jaguars to keep their season alive, the Dolphins have done the same on recent weeks. Teams with a 100-yard rusher are 61-16-1 this season (.788). I'm just sayin.

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I touched on how big the Saints victory was on Sunday in a game in which Tampa dominated the first half. The resolve they showed there is just one of the reasons I still fancy their chances to win it all. NFL teams when trailing at the half on the road – excluding the Saints – are 15-98-1; New Orleans is 2-1. Saints also lead the NFL in rushing touchdowns and have at least three ways to beat you on the ground (Alvin Kamara, Mark Ingram and Taysom Hill). They remain dominant imposing their will in fourth-down situations (converted 12 of 14 times, second only to the Chiefs – 10/11). … Speaking of the Chiefs, how about Patrick Mahomes in the red zone this season – 53 of 79 with 31 touchdowns and just one interception? Only Drew Brees has been better. … As triumphant as Mahomes was in knocking off Baltimore kinda single-handedly, I have some questions about the Chiefs in January. Without Kareem Hunt and with Spencer Ware already kind of beat up and with Sammy Watkins again on the shelf and some offensive linemen dealing with ailments, too, the margins there are getting slimmer and slimmer. Every team in the league feels like it can run the ball on the Chiefs, and if you find a way to keep it close without dropping back 35 times (which allows their front seven to wreak havoc with sacks and turnovers) there is a template there to take them out in January. Holding off the Chargers to win the division and get a bye would be massive. … Anybody still waving the pom-poms for Adrian Peterson? He proved people wrong for about six weeks, but, well, they play 16. He leads the NFL in rushes for negative yards, and has a negative run over 17 percent of the time. He managed not to get to 100 yards in a run-heavy game in which he went 90 untouched for a TD and I still have a hard time seeing him on an NFL roster in 2019.