The NFL season is wrapping up and with the end of the season comes the annual departure of head coaches league-wide. Currently, there are six open head coaching positions across the NFL and each head coaching opportunity has varying appeal. Different factors that go into choosing a team to coach for include quantity and quality of draft capital, cap space, and current roster trajectory.
Here are the rankings of the best and worst respective head coaching locations for prospective candidates:
6) Houston Texans
The one thing a prospective head coaching candidate would have to look forward to in Houston is star quarterback Deshaun Watson. Having a star quarterback is an absolute must in today’s modern-day passing league. Watson is truly good enough to propel an offense on his shoulders alone and led the league in passing this year with over 4,900 passing yards. However, the positives stop almost right at Watson for this team.
Houston is projected to have negative $16,000,000 in cap space this upcoming offseason giving the 4-12 squad very little room to address important needs. Furthermore, Houston has no first or second-round pick this year in the draft due to the Laremy Tunsil trade. In other words, there are almost zero opportunities soon for roster improvement outside the current depth chart for Houston. It may take years for any head coach in Houston to see any real ability to contend.
5) Atlanta Falcons
Atlanta is in a similar situation as Houston regarding their cap space. The Falcons are looking at a negative $24,000,000 cap space situation this upcoming offseason. However, while Houston’s star quarterback is young and just entering his prime, Matt Ryan may be nearing the end of his best days in the league. Additionally, Atlanta’s best player possibly in franchise history (outside Deion Sanders) in Julio Jones is the center of trade rumors going into this offseason. The summation? Atlanta is trending in the direction of regression.
On the contrary, unlike Houston, Atlanta has a wealth in draft capital including the number four overall pick in this year’s upcoming draft. This combined with young stars such as Calvin Ridley, Hayden Hurst, AJ Terrell, and Deion Jones being on the roster gives Atlanta at least some hope for the future. With some savvy drafting, favorable development from their young stars, and exceptional veteran campaigns from Ryan and Jones, Atlanta may even have a fighting chance at wildcard contention next year or the year following.
4) Detroit Lions
Detroit is an absolute dumpster fire of an organization and has been for quite a while. However, not all hope is lost. The Lions seemingly found their franchise running back of the future this year with DeAndre Swift. Swift showed flashes of brilliance in small samples this season as he managed to average a respectable 4.6 yards per carry and total eight rushing touchdowns on the season in just 13 games and four starts. Additionally, Swift contributed 357 receiving yards on 46 catches this season while catching an impressive 81% of his targets.
Meanwhile, Detroit also has one of the league’s best young rising stars at the receiver position with Kenny Golladay. They also have second-year stud TJ Hockensen at the tight-end position who posted 723 receiving yards on 67 catches along with six receiving touchdowns. Hockensen also received his first Pro Bowl selection this year.
Detroit has young pieces to work with on offense at every skill position as well as their youngster Jeff Okudah at cornerback on defense. The only concern for Detroit’s future is the fact that star quarterback Matthew Stafford likely has his best days behind him. Nonetheless, Detroit has the number seven pick in the draft combined with $40,000,000 in cap space this upcoming offseason. Additionally, shall Detroit have to reset at the quarterback position and move on from Stafford, they would likely receive multiple firsts as compensation in a trade for him regardless.
Despite years of mediocrity in Detroit, they have many reasons to be hopeful for the future and a turnaround sooner than later.
3) New York Jets
The Jets somehow were statistically one of the worst teams in league history this season and still failed to secure the number one overall pick. Nothing seems to be able to go right in New York at all for the Jets. They don’t have many young stars to lean on yet or give hope for the future of the organization. The only real pieces the Jets have right now is aging veterans who may not even hold a roster spot for another 2-3 years (Frank Gore, Jamisen Crowder, CJ Mosley, etc…).
However, the Jets have an insane amount of draft capital and cap space going forward. The Jets have four first-round picks in the next two drafts including this upcoming draft’s number two overall pick. Additionally, the Jets have a staggering league’s second-best $80,000,000 in cap space this upcoming offseason. A combination of the league’s second-most cap space this upcoming offseason alongside a monumental quantity and quality of draft capital bodes well for a full rebuild in New York. However, they place behind these next two upcoming teams due to a lack of current young stars for the roster’s future.
2) Los Angeles Chargers
Justin Herbert certainly shocked many this season as he is one of the front runners for Offensive Rookie of the Year and broke the rookie passing touchdown record with 31. Herbert posted an astronomical 31 passing touchdowns while throwing for just over 4,300 yards and just 10 interceptions. The Chargers also have one of the league’s best young running backs in Austin Ekeler who ran for 4.6 yards per carry and 530 total yards this season in just 10 games. Additionally, Ekeler had 54 catches for 403 yards this last season after posting an insane 92 catches for 993 yards and eight touchdowns as a running back the season before. This type of receiving production out of a running back is nearly unprecedented.
The Chargers also have one of the league’s best secondaries and didn’t even have their secondary’s best player in their young superstar safety Derwin James this past season. In the receiving corps, Keenan Allen just recorded 100+ catches for the third time in the last four seasons this year. Also, Mike Williams provides big-play potential in the passing game as a young receiving stud as well.
On top of all these young pieces and a well-rounded team with every skill position on offense filled as well as strong defensive personnel, the Chargers have the 13th pick in the 2021 draft as well as $29,000,000 in cap this upcoming offseason. Oh, and Los Angeles had seven of their nine losses in 2020 come by just one possession. Look for immediate playoff contention as soon as next season for the Chargers with dominance for years and years to come.
1) Jacksonville Jaguars
Jacksonville is quite literally the golden example of what every head coach dreams of for a rebuild situation. They have the number one overall pick in a draft that includes the best college quarterback prospect since Peyton Manning (Trevor Lawrence), an extra first-round pick at pick 21, the league’s best $81,000,000 cap space mark, and young studs on the roster all over.
Jacksonville found an elite rookie talent in the backfield with running back James Robinson who posted the league’s fifth-best mark of 1,070 rushing yards on 4.5 yards per carry this season. Additionally, Robinson added seven touchdowns on the ground and was top 10 among all running backs in receptions with 49 catches on the season.
Jacksonville also has a young star at receiver with Laviska Shenault Jr and a young possible star to develop at right tackle with Ja’Waan Taylor. On defense, the Jaguars have two young pass rushers to groom with Josh Allen and K’Lavon Chaisson, young linebacker Myles Jack, and their rising star cornerback CJ Henderson.
The Jaguars have young studs to groom at their skill positions on offense and defense, will get a generational quarterback prospect number one overall with franchise-changing ability, and the league’s highest cap space. This situation couldn’t be set up any better for a drastically successful rebuild that has the potential to create a team set up to dominate for a decade or more. Not all jobs are created equal, and the Jaguars take the cake for prospective NFL head coaching gigs.
With multiple NFL teams now looking for a new head coach, prospective candidates have a plethora of career spots to choose from. While there’s no bad head coaching gig, some certainly reign supreme over others. Leave your thoughts in the comments down below on your favorite head coaching opportunities across the NFL! Thank you for joining us today at The Sports Wave!