Who might fill these coaching openings?

Oregon's Chip Kelly is among candidates

When NFL coaching jobs open, the names Jon Gruden, Bill Cowher and Tony Dungy immediately surface as potential candidates.

Much more likely than any of those Super Bowl winners returning to the sideline for 2013 would be the hirings of more obscure assistant coaches such as Mike Zimmer, Mike McCoy and Gus Bradley.

And Jon Gruden's younger brother, Jay.

Sure, some of the best-known coaches, including Andy Reid, Lovie Smith and Ken Whisenhunt, who lost their jobs Monday, will be in the mix. So might college coaches Chip Kelly of Oregon and Bill O'Brien of Penn State.

Maybe even Nick Saban, although leaving Alabama for the NFL is a long shot.

Bringing in highly accomplished coordinators has been the most common route for NFL teams lately. Cincinnati's Zimmer and Gruden and Denver's McCoy top most lists, along with Bruce Arians, who went 9-3 as Indianapolis' interim coach this season.

"Obviously, he's earned any phone call he gets, he's earned that right," Colts coach Chuck Pagano said of Arians, who replaced him for 12 games while Pagano underwent chemotherapy for leukemia. "And let me just say this, we do not want to lose Bruce Arians. We know who he is and what he's meant to this football team ..."

Zimmer was turned down twice last season after interviewing with Tampa Bay, which brought in Rutgers coach Greg Schiano, and Miami (Green Bay offensive coordinator Joe Philbin). The defensive mastermind still wants to be a head coach somewhere, but isn't getting his hopes up.

"Honestly, I don't listen to that stuff anymore," he said in early December. "Honest-to-God's truth. I've had for so many years, have people say, 'This is your year.' Then at the end of the year for about three days I'm totally depressed because I see this guy get a job, that guy get a job, that guy get a job.

"So it's in my best interest not to think about it, talk about it and just try to do the best job I can because I'm like (everybody else), I get disappointed too."

Kelly is one of the most intriguing candidates. The NFL is loath to admit it is enamored of anything college teams do, but Kelly's wide-open, speed-based offense has lots of pro franchises salivating.

He has been mentioned for most NFL openings, and that figures to continue.


Reader Reaction
We reserve the right to remove any content at any time from this Community, including without limitation if it violates the Community Rules. We ask that you report content that you in good faith believe violates the above rules by clicking the Flag link next to the offending comment or fill out this form. New comments are only accepted for two weeks from the date of publication.
COUPON OF THE WEEK