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NFL: Predicting The 2023 Off-Season Coaching Carousel

The NFL’sSuper” Wild-Card Weekend starts this Saturday, January 14th. For a few teams that won’t be participating this weekend, they have something else to focus on. Something that could help those teams, start on the path to being a Wild-Card team next year/in the future. That would be finding a new Head Coach.

It happens every year. Either the bottom teams, or ones that have been average for too long, try to freshen things up. Hoping that a new “head honcho” will steer their team in the direction of what every team yearns for. A Lombardi Trophy. There is currently 5 teams in need of a new HC, below I will predict whom I think those teams will have sign on the dotted line to lead their players (in no particular order).

1. Houston Texans- Frank Reich, Former Colts HC

The Texans are one of the teams on this list, that the main problem or at least the glaring problem isn’t only the coaching. While yes, they are about to have their third HC in as many seasons. Their problems are deeper than just the guy with the headset.

But this article isn’t focused on the other stuff. This article, is all about the guy with the headset. The guy, that I believe, the Texans should let don that headset, is Frank Reich. Reich was booted from the Colts HC job earlier this season. After starting what would have been his 5th full season with the team, 3-5-1. In his 4 and a half seasons in Indianapolis, Reich led the team to an overall 40-33-1 record.

What we should remember about 61-year old former NFL QB, is he was brought in to an Andrew Luck led team. A team with big things on the horizon. Then before his second season at the helm, Luck, his franchise QB, abruptly retired. So essentially, he was left up a creek without a paddle.

The Texans will most likely use their #2 pick on a possible franchise QB. They should give Reich what the Colts owed him, after the Luck retirement fiasco. Bryce Young, or CJ Stroud to be molded by Reich. Who made Carson Wentz (during their first stint together), look like Dan Marino. When he was OC for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Reich is the best pick out of my top candidates, for the youngest franchise in the NFL. That has seemingly been rebuilding for all 20 years of its existence.

2. Arizona Cardinals- Sean Payton, Former Saints HC

I was so relieved that the Cardinals finally gave Kliff Kingsbury his walking papers. Should have happened two years ago, if you ask me. From the get-go, the Kingsbury/Cardinals marriage seemed headed for divorce. Sooner than later.

Before they cited irreconcilable differences (this past Monday), Kingsbury and the Cardinals spent 4 slightly tumultuous seasons together. The former 6th round pick (2003), lead the Cards to a 28-37-1 record. Not to mention, Kingsbury and the franchise’s star QB (Kyler Murray), didn’t seem on the same page as of late. In 2 out of 4 seasons, the offense was only top 10 in points and yards once. While the defense was never top 10 in yards and points given up.

In 15 seasons with the Saints, Payton won a Super Bowl (2006), and lead the team to an overall 152-89 record. He comes with a slightly hefty price tag though. As he is still under contract with New Orleans, they have been said to be wanting a first round pick in exchange for his contract.

The Cardinals have the #3 pick in this years draft. While some might say that’s too high to give up for a coach. I don’t see them needing that pick, more than they need someone who can change the way their team plays enough to make them a contender again.

The frontrunner for Payton is said to be Denver. But they don’t have a first rounder until 2024, and I doubt the Saints will want to wait till next year for the return. AZ and Kyler Murray deserve a coach that cares and has a very good track record. That guy is Sean Payton

3. Carolina Panthers- Ken Dorsey, Buffalo Bills OC

I am one of the people that is still holding out hope for Sam Darnold, the Panthers current QB1. But to be fair, I was also very confident Matt Rhule would work out. And unfortunately for my opinion, it didn’t. With that being said, I believe Darnold could use a former QB coaching him up. But also someone who has been calling plays for a top 5 QB in the league (Josh Allen), the past 4 seasons. That would be University of Miami legend and former Panthers QBs coach, Ken Dorsey.

First off, there’s already familiarity. At least with the city and certain parts of the organization. Since Dorsey was last in Carolina, there has been an ownership change and a lot of players have come and gone. Those players include Cam Newton (released), Christian McCaffrey (traded), and Luke Keuchly (retired). So the guys on the field look quite a bit different.

A former 49ers 7th round pick (2003), Dorsey has helped make all the Josh Allen doubters eat their words and then some. Definitely not saying he would do the same with Darnold. Although Darnold did show, at least a bit, near the end of the season that he still flashes some the potential he came out of USC with.

If the Bills make it to/win the Super Bowl, I have a feeling teams will be willing to throw quite the “bag” at Dorsey to lead their team. The Panthers will be at the top of that list.

4. Denver Broncos- Jim Harbaugh, U of Michigan HC

Will this be the year the younger Harbaugh brother makes his return to the NFL. I think this year has as good a chance as any. But at the same time, he is at the height of his Michigan career. He was a 1st round pick out of that same school in 1987. Along with the fact that his teams have now beaten bitter/historic rival Ohio State, two years in a row. While that only makes his record vs. OSU 2-5, he’s riding high at the moment.

What could make him get off his high horse you might ask? Getting another shot at bringing a team back to the Super Bowl (49ers, 2012). And being able to coach a QB like Russell Wilson. Albeit, Wilson is coming off one of, if not his worst year yet. Reports say he is still quite the leader in the locker room and is locked in to being the best he can be.

According to FBSchedules.com, the Broncos are set to play the Ravens in 2024. Who happen to be coached by older brother John. Could the very near sibling matchup possibility be enough to sway Jim? Maybe so. Whatever it is that sways him, I see him donning Orange and Blue with those famous Khakis of his in Denver.

5. Indianapolis Colts- Demeco Ryans, SF 49ers DC

The Colts are somewhat of a controlled chaos situation right now. They fired Frank Reich mid-season. And instead of having a coordinator hop into the drivers seat, they pull Jeff Saturday out of his seat at ESPN to finish the season. Jonathan Taylor their star RB, couldn’t stay healthy this season. Not to mention they couldn’t put a QB on the field to consistently lead them this season. Switching between Matt Ryan, Nick Foles, and Sam Ehlinger what seemed like every week or two.

While all that, may not be too enticing to possible candidates. The city has a fanbase that is passionate, an owner that is willing to spend, and some pieces that they can build around on both sides of the ball. In steps Demeco Ryans. A former DROY and Pro Bowl LB, Ryans lead the #1 defense this past season in SF. While he wouldn’t have a Nick Bosa, or Fred Warner. He would have a Shaquille Leonard (aka Darius Leonard), DeForest Buckner and Stephon Gilmore. 

A solid mix that would be a welcome sight to see. Not to mention, if he can stay healthy Jonathan Taylor is a top 5 RB in the league. The Colts have the team that drafted Ryans in the 2nd round (2006) on their schedule this coming season, the Texans. While he probably has no ill will against that organization, it might still be cool to have the chance to face them right away as head honcho.

Ryans should have gotten a job last year, but this year he won’t walk away without calling the shots somewhere. I see that place being Indy.

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