NFL Insider: Which Job Is The Most Attractive?
There are currently NFL head coaching openings in Jacksonville, Miami, Tampa Bay, Kansas City and St. Louis, and another potential job available in Indianapolis. We are going to break down which job is best as we look at the positives and negatives of each situation.
1. Indianapolis Colts*
The best available head coaching job this year isn't technically available yet, and that's in Indianapolis. Colts owner Jim Irsay decided to keep head coach Jim Caldwell "for further evaluation" while dismissing longtime general manager Bill Polian. We understand that although Caldwell is still technically on the payroll, his employment will be dependent on the new general manager and if they can find a better man for the job.
What makes Indianapolis a good job?- The NFL is a quarterbacks league and the Colts are likely to have the best prospect in the last two decades leading their team. Although Indianapolis has had great success in recent years, the new coach will enter following a 2-14 season so even the lofty expectations of years past have been tempered.
Why should a potential suitor stay away?- Technically, the job isn't yet open but Jim Caldwell can't feel overly confident that he'll be the one directing the team in August. The only reason a qualified candidate would have to stay away is potential fan dissent assuming things don't go well with Andrew Luck. Whichever coach steps in will be labeled as the guy who helped send Peyton Manning away.
2. Miami Dolphins
What makes Miami a good job?- The Dolphins are very solid in the trenches and whichever new coach that takes over will be inheriting a more than adequate defense that's good enough to win with. Miami has offensive playmakers in Brandon Marshall and Reggie Bush, and what appears to be a solid caretaker at quarterback in Matt Moore. Miami is also a free agent destination and owner Stephen Ross isn't afraid to spend money.
Why should a potential suitor stay away?-Although Matt Moore is a good caretaker he has limitations and there's no reason to believe that he can take a team to the playoffs. Also, as big as owner Stephen Ross' checkbook may be, he knows very little about putting together a winning franchise and the new head coach will likely have to answer to not only general manager Jeff Ireland, but also Carl Peterson. They also play in the same division where Tom Brady and Bill Belichick reside.
3. Jacksonville Jaguars
What makes Jacksonville a good job?- Despite the team's 5-11 record the Jaguars may be closer to being a contender than most people think. The team has a legitimate superstar at running back in Maurice Jones-Drew and the sixth-ranked defense in the NFL returning. New owner Shahid Khan has very deep pockets and he will spare no expense in terms of attracting potential free agents. The Jaguars also play in the AFC South which is far from a murderer's row.
Why should a potential suitor stay away?- The new head coach will likely be saddled with general manager Gene Smith who has shown to care more about the way he looks in terms of personnel evaluation than proceeding with the best players. Part of that means working with quarterback Blaine Gabbert who was the worst rookie quarterback that started in 2011.
4. St. Louis Rams
What makes St. Louis a good job?- The Rams recent lack of success means expectations are extremely low in a town that favors baseball and hockey over the all-mighty NFL. Although every job is ultimately judged on wins and losses, there will be a longer leash in St. Louis than in most cities. The Rams probably have the best starting quarterback of any of the team's mentioned with Sam Bradford, who could be a legitimate franchise guy. Finally, St. Louis resides in a division with Alex Smith, Tavaris Jackson and Kevin Kolb at quarterback.
Why should a potential suitor stay away?-St. Louis has been anything but a free agent destination and their recent lack of success means that they will have to overpay to get quality players. The team will likely have a rookie general manager which could lead to problems and running back Steven Jackson is closer to the end of his career than the prime. Finally, Sam Bradford regressed mightily in his second season and there's no reason to believe that a third offensive coordinator and system in as many seasons will make him better.
5. Kansas City Chiefs
What makes Kansas City a good job?-The Chiefs are just one year removed from double-digit victories and an AFC West title. Much of the reason they struggled in 2011 was due to key injuries and it's likely that Jamaal Charles, Eric Berry and Matt Cassel will return healthy next season. The overall roster is solid and they have a proven personnel man in Scott Pioli.
Why should a potential suitor stay away?- The Chiefs don't have a legitimate answer at quarterback and although Scott Pioli has credentials, he's struggled of late with personnel decisions. Kansas City has some issues on both lines which might not be able to be fixed right away.
6. Tampa Bay Buccaneers
What makes Tampa Bay a good job?-The Bucs have a young roster and they play in a warm-weather town that doesn't have state income tax. Quarterback Josh Freeman was a Top 10 quarterback in 2010 and if he can return to that form Tampa will have a chance to win a lot of games.
Why should a potential suitor stay away?-Tampa's fan support is the worst in football and they play in a division with Drew Brees, Cam Newton and Matt Ryan. There's no reason to believe that the league hasn't caught up to Josh Freeman and you're taking over a team that outwardly quit on its last head coach. There's not enough playmakers on the current roster and ownership hasn't shown much of a willingness to spend in free agency.
Charlie Bernstein is the NFL Insider for ESPNFlorida.com and ESPN 1080 and 1040 in Orlando/Tampa and Editor-in-Chief of Sports Media Interactive, covering the National Football League, NCAA, and National Basketball Association. Charlie covers the Jacksonville Jaguars for FoxSports and has been featured on the NFL Network and Sirius NFL Radio. Charlie is also a member of the Pro Football Writers of America. You can follow Charlie on Twitter @nflcharlie