Open Rants by timtarr

The Open Coaching Jobs, Ranked
Published at 1/1/2019
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These are my musings of each of the NFL's open head coaching jobs. There are eight so far, and here is how I rank them from the coaching candidate perspective. 

1. New York Jets - Any head coach for the Jets has two primary responsibilities: grow Sam Darnold and make the playoffs in a few years when the division opens up. This team has over $100mil in cap space for you to shape this roster, it has its franchise QB, a core of young receivers, and a core group of good defenders like Jamaal Adams. You'll have to rebuild the OL and parts of the defense, and definitely add a lot of depth across the roster, but you have the money to start that process. The expectations aren't to compete in 2019 for a playoff spot. It's to grow, and fight for the playoffs in 2020 and 2021. This job comes with a 3-4 year window for even minor success, and allows you to craft most of this roster from scratch for the best fit for your schemes. 

2. Cleveland Browns - The Browns have a better front office, better QB, better roster, and better scouting department than the Jets. So why is it number 2 on this list? Expectations. The Browns are ready to compete. You have a loaded roster and a hungry fanbase who just proved they can compete with the top of the division. You are supposed to be a Wild Card team AT WORST next year... But hey, you have the team to do it, and an elite young QB to set you on the upward track. Absolutely worth taking, but the cliff may be steeper than people realize. 

3. Tampa Bay Buccaneers - So... hear me out. Jameis Winston is NOT the answer, but he is a serviceable, low-end starter who is going to be gone in a season at no 2020 cap hit. So you have the rebuild the QB spot, maybe with the 5th overall pick, maybe the next year, maybe Nick Foles, etc. But look at the rest of the roster, the so-called "blue chip" players. Gerald McCoy, Mike Evans, JPP, Lavonte David. You have steady starters in a lot of places on the roster, like Cameron Brate, Brent Grimes, Donovan Smith, and Desean Jackson. You have untapped young talent in OJ Howard, Ronald Jones, and Vita Vea... This team still needs help in the secondary, and needs a better defensive scheme. But it has a lot of talent, and zero expectations. If you go 4-12 your first year, they'll call it part of your rebuild. If you go 7-9, they'll say you overwhelmed expectations. Its a better job than you would think for a coach looking for a lot of room to build.  

4. Cincinnati Bengals - Andy Dalton will never carry a team, but if he is healthy he can get a good roster to succeed. And, when healthy, this is a good roster. A very good roster. The DL is older, and needs a youth infusion to replace guys like Michael Johnson, but its good. The WR room is good, although under-performing. Joe Mixon is a special Running Back. The offensive line was very good in 2018 while it was healthy early in the year. There is a lot to like about this team if you think Dalton can hold the fort for a few years while you wait for just the right guy. I like this job better than the nation media does, because the roster is better than its expectations. 

5. Arizona Cardinals - Is Josh Rosen a bust, or a potential Goff/Trubisky type candidate for a big rise in year two? Even without Rosen, though, this job is a good one. The number one overall pick is a good selling point, whether that is Williams or Bosa or trading it for a ransom and landing top OL talent. But you also have blue-chip players like Chandler Jones, Patrick Peterson, David Johnson, Budda Baker, and Christian Kirk (yeah, he is). They have some good role players like Antoine Bethea, Chase Edmunds, Markus Golden, etc. And they have a decent amount cap space to fix an atrocious offensive line. This is a team that, if you fix the o-line, can make a decent jump next year while no one would fault you if they didn't. If you can't fix the OL and develop Rosen, you will fail. Its a good fit for a lot of people, but its a gamble.

6. Green Bay Packers - Maybe Aaron Rodgers is an uncoachable diva, maybe he isn't. What we do know is that whoever coaches this team will be expected to win a Superbowl in three years and be a playoff contender right away. The problem is that this roster is terrible, like bottom 5 in the league outside of Rodgers and Jaire Alexander. We've seen their "elite" players exposed, like David Bhaktiari who is more like a middling LT than an elite one, Clay Matthews being older and slower, etc. They lack starting caliber players in several places, like linebacker, tight end, etc... But man, you get to coach Aaron Rodgers, who will be able to do things in your offense that no one else in the NFL can do. And maybe Gutty is going to turn this roster around quickly, as his first draft looks solid even if the Jimmy Graham signing looks like a bust. You get TWO first round picks plus quite a few likely compensatory picks to build with. There is a lot to make you think you can succeed more here than elsewhere, but going to the playoffs your first three seasons might not be enough to survive in this job if you can't make a few deep runs. Most NFL coaching jobs are 3-4 years long, which is the entire Aaron Rodgers window (most likely). Is this team ready to win it all in the next three years? A lot will be outside of the coaches control, and rely entirely on the GM to make it work and Rodgers' body holding up. And you may be gone a year after Rodgers is, because it all falls apart without him. 

7. Denver Broncos - Von Miller is special. Bradley Chubb looks like it, too. And pass rusher is the second most important position in the NFL. The problem with this job is that the team isn't ready anywhere else on the roster. The secondary is good, but old and no longer spectacular. The linebackers haven't been good in a few years. The DL is solid... And the offense lacks starting-caliber talent everywhere. And all of these problems are nothing compared to the problem of John Elway not being very good at finding talent, especially at QB, in recent years. It feels like you're being set up to fail. 

8. Miami Dolphins - Overpriced, injury-prone, mediocre-at-best Quarterback. Zero cap space (literally, they were almost in the red without the cap increase this year just by not cutting anyone). Old, overpriced players across the roster. No extra draft picks to make it work... These are all true of Miami. There are some good players on the team, like Minkah Fitzpatrick and Xavien Howard at corner, Laremy Tunsil is maybe the league's best LT, a loaded receivers room, etc. But there are a lot of holes and no money to plug them in the coming season. This is a job you take as a full rebuild, not to succeed right away. And you're likely to get a new GM in a season. I wouldn't want this job. 

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