Ranking the NFL Head Coaching Vacancies

Ranking the NFL Head Coaching Vacancies




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

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

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

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Eagles-Vikings 5 things: Game much bigger than Sam Bradford's return

Eagles-Vikings 5 things: Game much bigger than Sam Bradford's return

Eagles vs. Vikings
1 p.m. on FOX

Eagles +3

A familiar face comes to town on Sunday when the Eagles host the Vikings, the NFL's last unbeaten team at 5-0.

There's more to this matchup than a certain jilted quarterback returning to Lincoln Financial Field though. After an inspired 3-0 start, the Eagles have come out flat in two consecutive games, both losses. If this squad has any hope of getting back on track in Week 7, they can't afford to focus on the high-profile former teammate in purple sleeves.

Grinding it out
How good is the Vikings' defense? Even though they're ranked fourth in the league against the run and eighth in yards per carry allowed, they've faced the second-highest number of rushing attempts. Simply put, between a fierce pass-rush and ball-hawking secondary, offenses are afraid to put the ball in the air against this team.

Opponents have decided the best way to beat the Minnesota defense is by keeping the ball on the ground — shorten the game, try to create manageable third downs and play the field position game. Of course, the best way for the Eagles to beat Washington's 28th-ranked run defense last week, with a fifth-round rookie right tackle making his first career start mind you, also would've been to hand the ball off early and often, which wasn't exactly the game plan that we saw.

As good as Carson Wentz is, the Eagles probably aren't going to beat this team by airing the ball out. It may be inefficient and look ugly, but this time, head coach Doug Pederson needs to lean on the ground attack and take the pressure off of his first-year quarterback and tackle. Otherwise, a Vikings defense that ranks third in the NFL in sacks and fourth in interceptions can take this game over.

Self-inflicted wounds
Ticky-tack calls or not, you can't blame the judgment of the officials for all of the penalties the Eagles have taken the past two weeks. Last week in Washington, they drew 13 flags for 114 yards. The week before, it was 14 flags for 111 yards. Is it really any coincidence in two losses the Eagles have been penalized 27 times for 225 yards? Unlikely.

Were one or two or even a handful of those calls excessive? Have officials missed some potential calls that could have gone the other way? Yes and yes, as is always the case. When it's that many penalties for that many yards though, you can only place so much blame on the refs.

Simply put, the players need to clean up their acts. According to TeamRankings.com, the Eagles are committing the most penalties per game at 9.8. Only one other team is above 9.0. All excuses aside, the Eagles lack discipline right now, and it's hard to beat anybody when they are continuously shooting themselves in the foot, let alone the only undefeated squad in football.

No gimmes
There is no bigger indicator of winning and losing in the NFL than turnovers. So what happens when the two teams who cough the ball up the least are going head-to-head?

One thing the Eagles did correct in Washington was the little giveaway problem that cost them the game in Detroit. After losing their first fumble and throwing their first interception of the season in the final three minutes of their loss at Detroit, the offense went back to playing turnover-free football on Sunday, one of the positive things that could be said for the performance.

Yet the only team that's committed fewer turnovers than the Eagles is the Vikings, who have just one through five games. The ball security these clubs have displayed is remarkable bordering on unheard of. So what happens when the unstoppable force meets the immovable object? The first one to blink, or in this case make a mistake, might just cost themselves the game in what could be a tightly contested tilt.

Just a pit stop
If it feels like the Eagles' 34-3 romp of the Steelers at the Linc was a long time ago, well, it has been almost a month. Since then, there's been a bye week followed by trips to Detroit and Washington, putting the last home game at exactly four weeks ago.

Don't get used to the feeling either. After their game against the Vikings on Sunday, the Eagles go back on the road for two contests against the division rival Cowboys and Giants.

What does it all mean? Besides a travel-heavy stretch, it suggests this sandwich game with the Vikings is an especially significant spot on the Eagles' schedule, particularly given the slow starts they've jumped out to as the visiting team of late. That can't be blamed entirely on going on the road of course, but it certainly hasn't helped. Vikings or not, the Eagles could use a positive showing on Sunday before they go away again.

The Bradford Bowl
You didn't really think we were going to completely gloss over Sam Bradford, did you? Not even mention his name?

It's interesting, because right now, the trade that sent Bradford to the Vikings and cleared the way for Wentz to start at quarterback for the Eagles looks like a win-win. Both head coaches agreed with that sentiment as well. Mike Zimmer says Bradford gave the Vikings an energy back after starter Teddy Bridgewater was lost for the season with an improbable injury, while despite coming back down to earth a bit the last two weeks, it's obvious the Eagles' future is bright with Wentz.

That being said, there are some additional bragging rights at stake for both signal-callers this week, whether they acknowledge it or not. If the Eagles win, it shows their gamble on Wentz being prepared to start right away was justified. If the Vikings win, pundits could argue the Eagles never should've traded Bradford in the first place.

These are only narratives of course, and the Eagles' investment in Wentz and the Vikings' desperation trade for Bradford are both left to be judged somewhere down the road, long after this game has been played. Nonetheless, the result on Sunday is sure to spark some interesting debate in the coming days.

Penn State upsets No. 2 Ohio State, 24-21

Penn State upsets No. 2 Ohio State, 24-21


STATE COLLEGE – As his team slogged through back-to-back 7-6 seasons in his first two years as Penn State’s head coach, Langhorne native James Franklin heard time and again that he was in need of a signature victory.

Now he has one, even if he refuses to admit it.

Junior cornerback Grant Haley returned a blocked field goal 60 yards for the go-ahead touchdown with 4:27 left as the Nittany Lions stunned second-ranked Ohio State 24-21 on Saturday night.

“That’s for you (media) guys, all that signature stuff,” Franklin said.

Not exactly.

“It’s just a game that put Penn State back on the map,” Haley said. “We needed that signature win, and we did it tonight.”

The fans stormed the field after the Lions, 5-2 after their third straight victory this season, beat a ranked team for the first time since 2013 (Wisconsin). It was also PSU’s first victory over a team ranked in the top five since 1999 (Arizona) and its first over a team slotted as high as No. 2 since 1990 (Notre Dame).

Ohio State (7-1) saw winning streaks of 20 straight road games and 17 straight Big Ten road games come to an end, despite building a 21-7 lead through three quarters.

The Lions whisked 90 yards in five plays to cut the gap to seven with 13:32 left in the game, with quarterback Trace McSorley running two yards for the TD.

Freshman linebacker Cam Brown then blocked Cameron Johnston’s punt to set up a 34-yard field goal by Tyler Davis with 9:33 remaining, making it 21-17.

Ohio State mounted a drive behind J.T. Barrett, their splendid quarterback, moving from its own 13 to the PSU 28. Barrett’s 34-yard connection with wide receiver Noah Brown was the big play.

But the Buckeyes stalled, and Tyler Durbin came on to attempt a 45-yard field goal. Penn State safety Marcus Allen made a leaping block, however, and Haley scooped up the bouncing ball and beat Durbin and Johnston, the holder, down the left sideline for the go-ahead score.

Ohio State’s final drive of the night ended with a pair of Penn State sacks, the last a combined effort by defensive linemen Kevin Givens and Evan Schwan with 1:02 left.

When the final gun sounded, several Penn State players sprinted toward the south end zone and launched themselves into the front row of the stands, Lambeau Leap-style, among the delirious students. And thousands of fans, all clad in white for PSU’s traditional White Out, flooded the field.

“This is for everybody,” Franklin said later. “This community’s been through so much in the last five years (a reference to the Jerry Sandusky child sexual abuse scandal and its aftermath), and this is a big step in the right direction, in terms of healing. I said very, very early on that for us to get where we want to be, we need this entire community together, and a win like tonight – I know I’m biased – but I believe that football has the ability to bring a community together like nothing else.”

Moments later, he caught himself and said he “didn’t want to spend a lot of time talking about the big picture.”

Rather, he added, “I just want to enjoy tonight.”