With Black Monday in the distance on the rear view mirror, five coaches were given their marching orders. We already knew about Washington and the Panthers, and ironically Ron Rivera swapped one for the other. The Browns and Giants made their move following week 17. Then there was one holdout: the Cowboys, who eventually made the decision to move on from Jason Garrett. With few vacancies and at least six strong candidates, it will be a case of musical chairs.
Of course, for those who support teams with a coordinator or college coach touted to make the leap, like the Chiefs and Ravens, the ratio of vacancies to candidates is more a source of relief than anything.
Established Head Coaches
Ron Rivera – Already Snapped Up
One move has already been made. Washington owner Dan Snyder got his man, signing Ron Rivera up to develop Dwayne Haskins and resurrect football in the nation’s capital.
After a year out of football soul searching, it is hard to see McCarthy not taking a coaching role. With John Dorsey moving on in Cleveland, he no longer has a contact there. However, Dorsey was hardly an advocate 12 months ago.
McCarthy would be a good fit for the Browns, bringing in much needed discipline after the players didn’t play for Kitchens. Discipline on the field is key too – Cleveland had fourth most penalties and penalty yards in 2019, among other issues.
What’s more, McCarthy developed Aaron Rodgers, can he do the same for Baker Mayfield?
After a decade as Dallas HC, it’s more than likely that Garrett will take a year out to evaluate. If not, he may have to step down to coordinator to rebuild his reputation and prove he can operate outside of the Cowboys organisation.
The College Ranks
Matt Rhule – Baylor
The Baylor head coach has attracted a lot of interest after taking the program from 1-11 to 11-3 over three years. He spent a year as an assistant with the Giants but whether he can handle being Head Coach with the New York media is another matter. Not to mention the national media coverage of the Cowboys, even with his Texan background.
Coming from college ranks, you wonder how he will deal with the superstar characters in Cleveland but Carolina could be an option.
David Shaw – Stanford
Shaw has long been considered for Head Coaching roles having built the Stanford program over the last eight years. He has experience in Baltimore and Oakland as an assistant and is a proven winner, with an 86-34 record.
Shaw would bring the much-needed discipline in Cleveland but while he may be a good fit in New York or Dallas, it’s hard to see him being the character that would handle the media spotlight best. That said, maybe being reserved would help to remove pressure from the team.
Eric Bieniemy – Chiefs OC
Another Andy Reid protege. Bieniemy has over 10 years of NFL experience and has been with Reid since day one in KC. He has developed Patrick Mahomes into the league’s best passer and ensured the Chiefs didn’t skip a beat when Matt Nagy moved to Chicago.
Bieniemy would be great in New York, Cleveland or Carolina, all of whom will be looking to develop young Quarterbacks.
Greg Roman – Ravens OC
Barring a two year stint at Stanford alongside David Shaw, Roman has spent 25 years as an NFL assistant. He has always been highly thought of as an offensive mind. However it has taken until he designed the Ravens’ high power offence this year for him to get serious head coaching consideration.
Roman would bring with him a proven running game but could he lead a team as a whole and develop a defence. One place that might be an attraction is Carolina. Roman could build a game around Christian McCaffrey and target an experienced DC to rebuild the defence.
Don Martindale – Ravens DC
Martindale has more than 15 years of defensive experience in college and a further 15 years in the NFL. He has spent the last eight years in Baltimore so he will be tough to tempt away. Both the Giants and Panthers need to rebuild their defence so focussing on Martindale would prove worthwhile.
Robert Saleh – 49ers DC
Saleh has 10 years of experience as a defensive assistant in the NFL. He has really burst on to the scene this year with the 49ers rise which, was of course on the back of the defence. Saleh has the big name appeal all of a sudden that could land him a prime position.
If the Cowboys don’t go after the likes of Urban Meyer, Lincoln Riley or Josh McDaniels, who appear happy with their current positions, Saleh could be the man that Jerry Jones targets.
Image: The Athletic