These 10 NFL coordinators to become prime head coaching candidates
We know NFL head coaches will be fired after 2014. And coordinators like Pat Shurmur, Ray Horton and Darrell Bevell are among 10 prime candidates to fill some of those gigs.
More NFL coaches are on vacation, but coordinators around the league realize there is no time for rest. And the 10 best of this bunch are poised to be the top candidates for head coaching posts at the end of the 2014 season. Provided they stay hot, these five offensive and five defensive coordinators -- along with the usual cadre of college coaches and former/fired head coaches.
1. Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur: Shurmur didn’t get a full shot as head coach with the Browns as part of the Mike Holmgren group which was shown the door. Shurmur is only 49 but has 23 years of coaching experience and is heavily influenced by Andy Reid and Chip Kelly. If the Eagles' offense explodes, owners will want the Chip Kelly formula, and Shurmur will be the guy who has it.
2. Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton: A finalist last year for the Cardinals' head-coaching job, he brings a lot to the table when it comes to building a defense and evaluating talent. Any owner firing his coach because of a suspect defense will be talking to Horton.
3. Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell: A number of owners want to crack Pete Carroll's code for quickly turning the Seahawks into a Super Bowl winner. Bevell gets the credit for developing Russell Wilson, building an offense around a cheap QB and an old-fashioned ground game. The 44-year-old onetime QB has worked with Brett Favre and that has been a key for many head coaches. If the Seahawks win consecutive Super Bowls, or go deep in the playoffs, Bevell will be a very hot commodity.
4. Bengals OC Hue Jackson: He was the Raiders' head coach for one 8-8 season but got caught in the crossfire of Al Davis' death and too many changes in Oakland to survive. He is now the offensive coordinator for what should be an explosive offense in Cicinnati. Jackson has four years of coordinating experience and a total of 13 seasons in the NFL. The Bengals offense was No. 10 last season, and a jump into the top five, plus solidifying Andy Dalton as a QB would go a long way to getting Jackson his second chance as a head coach.
5. Panthers DC Sean McDermott: Carolina was No. 2 in overall defense last season and made the playoffs. Most people want to talk about Cam Newton, but experts know the Panther is the backbone of this team. McDermott was the Sporting News coordinator of the year.
6. Cardinals DC Todd Bowles: The former NFL player has been a defensive coordinator the past two seasons -- in 2012 with Andy Reid's Eagles and in 2013 for Bruce Arians' Cardinals. Last season under Bowles, the Cards' defense was No. 5 overall and No. 1 against the run. Bowles faces challenges with the departures of Karlos Dansby and Daryl Washington. So anything close to last season’s production by the Cardinals will have clubs taking notice of Bowles.
7. Saints DC Rob Ryan: An owner once told me Ryan would have had been a head coach years ago if he just got a haircut. But Ryan likes to do things his way -- and some still think he needs a haircut -- but he can coach and is a motivator who gets the most from his players. A club is looking for a high energy guy to provide a spark back has to look at Ryan.
8. Patriots OC Josh McDaniels: Owners don’t seem to lose their appetite for hiring Pats employees for coaching or front-office posts. McDaniels is one of the only Patriots coaches to be re-hired by Bill Belichick when they became available. Last year, when the Pats lost their top five receivers, McDaniels still built the NFL's seventh-ranked offense. Clubs looking to emulate the Patriots' plan will interview McDaniels.
9. 49ers OC Greg Roman: Even with all the Niners' success, he seems to get passed over every season. But take a look at the creative things he gets done with personnel groups and formations. Roman will need his offense to improve on its No. 24 ranking in 2013, but three straight trip to the playoffs and a keen insight into the 49ers' organization still make him attractive. At only 41, he has 18 years of NFL experience.
10. Vikings DC George Edwards: He has has 13 years of NFL experience, is a Duke graduate and will work under Mike Zimmer. He might need a few more years of grooming but he should be on the interview list if the Vikings move up from 15th overall into the top 10 among league offenses. Any owner looking for a coach who can develop a franchise QB will look at Edwards.
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