Ranking the NFL Head Coaching Vacancies

Ranking the NFL Head Coaching Vacancies

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Over the past few months, we’ve often heard or read some
people’s concerns that the Eagles might not be able to attract a high caliber
of coach for any number of reasons. Those range from a supposed dearth of
talent on the roster to not wanting to work with general manager Howie Roseman,
among others. However, we want you to rest assured that none of this is an
issue.

Jeffrey Lurie called coaching the Philadelphia Eagles the
best job in the NFL at his press conference on Monday. I don’t know if I would
go that far – it might not even be the best job available – but candidates will
view this is as an attractive destination regardless. For one thing, there are
only seven openings, so if somebody has aspirations to coach in this league,
they’ll have to start somewhere.

There’s more to it than that, of course. Who has the most
talent? Who already has a franchise quarterback? Who has the best facilities?
Where are the owners that are committed to winning a championship? Where are
the best places to live? All of that comes into play.

In the end, what fits one coach might not suit another, but
if you really wanted to rank the vacancies from best to worst, you could. In
fact, we have.

1. Chicago

Of all the places on this list, Chicago is probably the
closest to Super Bowl-ready. They won 10 games this season, barely missing the
playoffs, and haven’t won fewer than seven since 2004. Their success is largely
built around a solid defense with multiple veteran cornerstones: Brian
Urlacher, Lance Briggs, Charles Tillman, and Julius Peppers to name a few.
There is a franchise quarterback in place in Jay Cutler, a passionate fan base,
and an owner committed to winning. With the right hire, the Bears will have
little problem carrying on their reputation as a tough opponent year in and
year out.

2. San Diego

Forget the beaches. The Chargers are a prominent destination
for one reason and one reason only: Philip Rivers. San Diego has by far the
best quarterback situation, a four-time Pro Bowler who has won in the postseason.
Rivers’ play has fallen off over the past two years, but with a new direction
and an infusion of talent, he could easily turn it around. That’s the problem
though: the rest of the roster isn’t all that close. Having said that, Rivers
is 31 so he should have a few good years left, at least long enough that the
Bolts could be back in contention while he is still under center.

3. Philadelphia

You could make the case for Cleveland over Philly, and we’ll
get into why in a moment. Ultimately we think the Eagles are the better job
though. Philadelphia is a nicer place to live, the owner desperately wants to
win, and the organization is stable. On the field, they are brimming with young
talent, including Nick Foles who did demonstrate some potential he could perhaps
be molded into a franchise quarterback with proper tutelage. Plus, they have a
high draft pick, and there is even reason to believe the team isn’t as bad as
their record if several key players recover from injury.

4. Cleveland

The Browns are a franchise on the rise now that Joe Banner
is running the operation – just look at what he accomplished while he was here.
They are going to turn it around, but also remember it did not happen overnight
with the Eagles. The Browns need to assemble a front office along with hiring a
head coach, so there is a great deal of uncertainty in that process. There are
some quality players inside the locker room, but the quarterback is about to
turn 30 in just his second NFL season – if that’s even the direction the new
regime chooses to go. Something tells me being the next next head coach in Cleveland will be a much better position.

5. Arizona

Our perception of Arizona has changed somewhat since Kurt
Warner elevated them to a Super Bowl several years ago. A coach can win there.
The Cardinals have top-rate facilities, and believe it or not, the fans do
care. However, the team itself is a project. Unless Andy Reid plans on propping
up Kevin Kolb once more, they appear to be lacking a franchise quarterback, and
worse yet, they have an offensive line of matadors that couldn’t keep any
passer upright. Plus, owner Bill Bidwell has a reputation for being frugal, so
the next coach shouldn’t count on too many lavish free-agent spending sprees.

6. Kansas City

Ordinarily having the number one pick in the draft might be
reason alone to take a job. Sure, the team sucks, but the head coach can get
his franchise quarterback and begin developing him from day one. Unfortunately
for Kansas City, the class of 2013 might be lacking a player of that caliber.
That could mean a full year of trying to squeak by with a Matt Cassel or an
Alex Smith in a business where you might only have three – if that – before
you’re out on the street again. The Chiefs are a family business with a diehard
fan base, but it could be a long, long time before they are back in serious
contention.

7. Buffalo

What are the redeeming qualities to this job, outside of it
being a head coaching job in the NFL? It’s Buffalo (high of 26 degrees today!),
ownership is only able and/or willing to compete on a budget, and the team
hasn’t made the playoffs in this millennium. The roster isn’t completely
hopeless, but they don’t have a quarterback, and have only used one first-round
pick on the position since Jim Kelly retired in 1996. When somebody takes this
job, it proves there is somebody for every opening, which should mostly
alleviate any concerns that Eagles fans may have about luring a quality
candidate.

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Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

NEW YORK -- John Wall had 29 points and 13 assists, scoring Washington's final four points in the last 32 seconds as the surging Wizards beat the New York Knicks 113-110 on Thursday night.

Otto Porter Jr. made six 3-pointers for the second straight night and added 23 points, but the Wizards needed big plays from Wall down the stretch to win their fourth in a row.

He made two free throws to put Washington back on top after New York had rallied to take a 110-109 lead, then rebounded Carmelo Anthony's miss and left all the Knicks in his dust as he raced down the floor for a dunk with 13.7 seconds to play.

Anthony finished with 34 points but Wall stole the ball from Brandon Jennings to prevent the Knicks from attempting a 3-pointer that could have tied it (see full recap).

Leonard scores 34 to lead Spurs over Nuggets
SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points, rookie Dejounte Murray added a season-high 24 and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a pregame injury to Pau Gasol in beating the Denver Nuggets 118-104 on Thursday night.

Denver's three-game winning streak was snapped despite a career-high 35 points from Nikola Jokic.

Leonard had his fifth straight 30-point performance, right after learning he will start for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season.

The Spurs were unexpectedly without Gasol, Tony Parker and then coach Gregg Popovich. Gasol and Parker were both late scratches due to injury, and Popovich was ejected for the first time this season.

Gasol broke the ring finger on his left (non-shooting) hand by jamming it against Kyle Anderson's shoulder during pregame warmups while attempting a running hook. The 16-year veteran center immediately clutched his hand and left the court.

X-rays revealed the break, and the Spurs said there is no timeline for Gasol's return.

Irving, James lead Cavs over Suns
CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving scored 26 points, All-Star teammate LeBron James had 21 points and 15 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers looked more like themselves at home in a 118-103 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

The Cavs were back in Quicken Loans Arena following a six-game road trip (their longest of the season) that concluded with an embarrassing 35-point loss at Golden State. But on their home floor, they had better offensive balance and ball movement while improving to 30-11 -- the same record Cleveland had at the halfway point of its 2016 NBA championship season.

Channing Frye scored 18, Iman Shumpert 17 and James Jones 14 while filling in for star forward Kevin Love, still bothered by back spasms.

Tyson Chandler had 22 points and 16 rebounds, but the Suns lost for the fourth time in five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Andre Burakovsky, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a goal and an assist to lead the Washington Capitals to a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Jay beagle, Brett Connolly, Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams also scored, and Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Winnik each had two assists to help Washington earn at least a point in its 12th straight game (10-0-2) for an NHL-best 66 points.

Braden Holtby bounced back from his roughest outing of the season with 22 saves. Holtby was pulled after giving up a season-high five goals on 26 shots in an 8-7 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Monday. He improved to 22-8-4 and 5-0 lifetime against St. Louis (see full recap).

Grabner scores 2 goals, Rangers top Leafs
TORONTO -- Michael Grabner scored two goals against his former team, helping the New York Rangers snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei and J.T. Miller added goals for New York, and Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves following a series of rough outings.

Tyler Bozak and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto, which had a three-game winning streak stopped. The Maple Leafs had earned 21 of a possible 26 points in their previous 13 games (10-2-1). Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 40 shots (see full recap).

Tavares leads Islanders to shutout of Stars
NEW YORK -- Getting a new coach this week didn't change things much for the Islanders -- and oddly enough, that's a good thing for New York.

John Tavares narrowly missed out on his second hat trick in a week, Thomas Greiss got his second straight shutout and the Islanders beat the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Thursday night in their first game since firing longtime coach Jack Capuano.

New York canned Capuano in the middle of his seventh season Tuesday, replacing him on an interim basis with Doug Weight (see full recap).

Niederreiter, Wild dodge letdown, edge Coyotes
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Nino Niederreiter had two power-play goals and an assist, including the go-ahead score for the Minnesota Wild with 7:06 remaining in a 4-3 victory over Arizona on Thursday night after the Coyotes came back from a two-goal deficit.

With Shane Doan in the penalty box for hooking, Niederreiter knocked in a nifty redirect of Mikael Granlund's slap shot for the winner. Devan Dubnyk stopped 20 shots for the Wild, who are 18-2-2 in their last 22 games.

Louis Domingue made 21 saves for the Coyotes, who lost their fourth in a row and fell to 2-12-1 in their last 15 games starting with a 4-1 loss to Minnesota in Arizona on Dec. 17 (see full recap).