Well, the Colts have finally done what they needed to do and fired Chuck Pagano as their head coach. We still do not know the fate of the assistant coaching staff, but it is likely that many of them if not all will also be gone. With the coaching search now fully underway, one thought continues to surface among some groups of Colts fans: who would want to come here?
So, I thought we would take a look at the Colts head coaching job and rate it beside those other open positions we know about. I’ll compare them using the following factors: job stability, whether they have a franchise quarterback in-house, the team’s total roster quality, and the potential coaches’ level of control.
Top Tier – The Premium Gigs
Contrary to the belief of many, the Colts check more of the boxes than just about any team on this list. Jim Irsay is a very misunderstood owner by fans and the media in general. While he has a tendency to make public statements that often would be better left unsaid, he typically delegates decision making to those whose skills best suit those decisions. He is not a meddler who inserts himself into things too much. What is more, Irsay has a history of patience with his coaches. That is something that appeals to a prospective coaching candidate.
Then there is Andrew Luck. Anyone interviewing for the Colts opening will want as clear of a picture as they can get on Luck’s health. If he is healthy, he is absolutely the biggest factor in this job. A healthy Andrew Luck and a solid draft and free agency make this team a likely playoff contender under the right coaching and development. If he isn’t healthy, the Colts are picking high enough to go get a franchise passer, although this would be a major surprise.
As far as the roster, this team was absolutely ravaged by injuries. It is tough to get an accurate picture of how good they really are because of those injuries. However, they’ll have almost $85 million dollars to spend in free agency and a lot of guys coming back to bolster the roster.
The only area where the Colts will likely miss out on candidates is due to roster control. This is Chris Ballard’s show, and any coach coming in will need to be okay with not being in the driver’s seat. The feeling with Ballard is that he wants to collaborate with coaches, but ultimately, I expect him to be the one calling the shots.
For NFL coaches it doesn’t get much better than the Giants. At least that is a common sentiment. The Giants organization has traditionally been one of the most stable organizations to work for, with owner John Mara known not to be one to interfere with football operations or be too quick to fire coaches. With that said, they just botched the handling of the end of Eli Manning’s tenure with the franchise and fired Ben McAdoo after just two years in the job.
The obvious knock on this job is that they don’t have their franchise passer, although they’ll have the 2nd overall pick in the draft to go get him. The roster also is not as miserable as the number suggest. The loss of major playmakers damaged them on both sides of the ball, and while they are not primed to be an immediate contender, a good scheme, and a franchise quarterback would be a huge step in that direction. It is unlikely with the hiring of Dave Gettleman that the coach who comes in will get a great deal of roster control, so whoever takes the job will need to be okay working with a general manager who will have that role in hand.
Second Tier – Solid Options
The Lions only just miss out on the top tier. They don’t have the front office stability that the Colts and Giants have had, but they have their franchise passer locked down in Matthew Stafford, have one of the more talented rosters on this list, and could legitimately win their division next season with the right offseason moves. General Manager Bob Quinn is straight out of the Patriots’ school of scouting and management and likely will have a firm hand in any roster decisions that are made, but that kind of background might also be the thing that draws a first-time head coach like Matt Patricia to the job.
The Cardinals are a team that is on the downward swing of their Super Bowl window. They will be on the lookout for a franchise passer with Carson Palmer nearing the end of his career. There is some defensive talent on the roster, and the front office has worked well with Bruce Arians, who will retire. When David Johnson returns this team has an offensive identity to build on. However, this is the team most likely to be left behind as the Rams and 49ers are on the rise in the division and the Seahawks will have Russell Wilson and a strong defense in the coming years.
Third Tier – Bargain Basement
The Bears front office hasn’t exactly put forward the face of a franchise ready to support its coaches. After they traded up to get Mitchell Trubisky the news came out that John Fox hadn’t even been aware of the decision before it happened. It wasn’t a good look for the team, and won’t be something that is overly exciting to a coaching prospect. Add to this that Trubisky is still unproven and that the roster is relatively middle of the road and you have a job that might not have the draw of some of the other available offerings. With Ryan Pace signed to a 4-year extension, only the big-name coaches would likely command roster control with the Bears. It is hard to see someone like Josh McDaniels looking too hard at this opening given what he would have to work with.
This one caused me some trouble. For all intents and purposes, the Raiders have their franchise quarterback and what should be a playoff caliber roster. However, their firing of Jack Del Rio is a little confusing. If not for the untimely injury of Derek Carr last season, this team would have been a legitimate Super Bowl contender, and after a letdown season this year he is gone. In some regards that could make this opening one that is viewed as excellent. A roster that ought to be able to compete and a young franchise passer would be pretty appealing to most coaches. However, general manager Reggie McKenzie has likely got a decent amount of control if he stays, and he has seemed to be bulletproof. If you are a candidate interviewing for head coaching jobs, what would you think the expectations must be to keep your job for long with this organization? Add that with the impending move to Las Vegas and this one seems like a job some top candidates might rather avoid.
It might be generous to include the Colts in the top tier, but having a game-changing quarterback and a patient front office puts a pretty nice shine on a coaching job. Add to that the youth and talent that was added and the amount of money the Colts will have available to spend this offseason and most coaches would get pretty starry-eyed looking at the potential that exists for this team. Far from being the job no one wants, this is likely to be a coveted position and the Colts will be in the hunt for a coach from the beginning.
Which job opening do you think is most attractive?
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