With the rash of firings around the NFL, head coach searches are underway and moving quickly. While the list of potential candidates does have some of the major name recognition of past years, a few of the candidates are highly sought and will be the focus of several searches.
The focus will continue to be on long-time assistant coaches, as it was when the Browns hired head coach Romeo Crennel last year. For example, there is a Ted Cottrell (current Minnesota Vikings defensive coordinator) and others who deserve the opportunity to be the head of a team. This off-season could prove to be one where an emphasis is placed on production and experience, rather than name recognition.
Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Brad Childress, long known to be a solid coach with a knack for communicating with players, should evolve into a head coach at the professional level. The Minnesota Vikings and Green Bay Packers have displayed a significant interest in Childress, with the Vikings closing in on him quickly. Childress was also a candidate for head coaching jobs in 2005.
As the Vikings look towards Childress, the organization has been evaluating a member of their own staff, Ted Cottrell. Cottrell is respected and experienced and helped mold a much-improved Minnesota defense in the 2005 season. While Cottrell may not be the front-runner for the post in Minnesota, he has also been in discussions with the San Diego Chargers regarding a position.
The story in San Diego could become one of interest. Head coach Marty Schottenheimer has turned around the Chargers fortunes, but disappointment resides within the San Diego organization due to the team falling short of a playoff appearance in 2005. General Manager A.J. Smith and Schottenheimer have had some differences of opinion regarding the roster and handling of the team. At present, there remains a possibility Schottenheimer could exit the organization.
San Diego defensive coordinator Wade Phillips is on the short list of a few teams looking for a new head coach (Green Bay, New Orleans, and St. Louis) and there is an expectation in San Diego that Phillips could move on early this off-season, unless something was to occur regarding the Schottenheimer situation. This is where the team could be in the process of covering all the bases with their discussions with Cottrell.
The openings in St. Louis and Kansas City could be resolved quickly. The Rams have Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera at the top of their wish-list. Rivera's defense has been superb and the Rams have been given a glowing recommendation by Bears head coach and former St. Louis defensive coordinator Lovie Smith.
In Kansas City, the Chiefs could be playing with fire if they are not careful. Retired head coach Dick Vermeil has highly recommended his assistant head coach and offensive coordinator Al Saunders to replace him as head coach. The Chiefs front office appears to be hesitant on Saunders, all of which could make the off-season in Kansas City an interesting one.
On the Chiefs radar is current Oklahoma Sooners head coach Bob Stoops, current New York Jets head coach Herman Edwards, former Cleveland Browns head coach Butch Davis and, interestingly enough, Marty Schottenheimer, if he were to be released in San Diego.
Stoops is a long-shot, as he is comfortable at Oklahoma. Edwards could be another story though. The New York front office has been lukewarm in their support of Edwards and indications are the Jets management may be willing to let Edwards walk.
Butch Davis is an interesting prospect in the Chiefs search. Davis did a respectable job in Cleveland while holding down the head coaching duties of the team, it was becoming responsible for personnel matters that caused him to lose his grip and progress in Cleveland. While not the best game-day coach, Davis has the ability to lead a team as its head coach.
Schottenheimer has been there, done that in Kansas City, which is one reason why his name being bandied about in close quarters is seemingly shocking. Despite the Chiefs desire to win and change its face of solely an offensive team, a return of Schottenheimer to KC appears unlikely.