Predicting Who Fills the NFL Head Coach Vacancies in 2021
The murmurs and rumors had been swirling all season long. Monday morning after week 17 was just the official confirmation.
As things currently stand, there are now six NFL teams seeking a new head coach.
- Los Angeles Chargers
- New York Jets
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- Atlanta Falcons
- Detroit Lions
- Houston Texans
Doug Pederson somehow survived his complete botch work down the stretch, but that’s neither here nor there.
This post is focused on NFL head coach predictions for 2021. I’ll save you from my rant on cleaning house in Philly and zero in on the six existing openings.
Los Angeles Chargers Hire Joe Brady
As Justin Herbert flourished and the team continued to underperform, it became evident that Anthony Lynn was on his last leg. Now that Lynn has officially been relieved, the belief is that Dean Spanos, Tom Telesco, and the rest of the front office brass in LA will target a QB-friendly head coach.
Eric Bieniemy is the obvious choice who comes to mind given his familiarity with the organization.
- Drafted by San Diego in 1991 and was a member of the Bolts for four seasons
- Bieniemy has coached against the Chargers in the same division since 2013
There’s even speculation that Jason Garrett is in the mix.
In the end, though, I can’t imagine anyone being as intriguing as Joe Brady.
The Panthers OC and the shaper of the Joe Burrow-led offense at LSU is among the hottest ticket in this year’s NFL coaching carousel. Assuming Brady has his pick of the litter, why not take the job that involves working with Justin Herbert, Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams?
Coming to Tinseltown to coach those weapons and being afforded $20+ million in cap space sounds pretty appealing to me.
New York Jets Hire Matt Campbell
If Iowa State was hoping to retain Matt Campbell in 2021, their 17-point shellacking over Oregon in the Fiesta Bowl didn’t do them any favors. The Cyclones head coach was already on the radar of NFL GMs after posting an 8-1 record in Big 12 play, and it’s becoming more and more clear that he’s ready to take the leap.
Sporting a 70-43 career record between stints at Toledo and Ball State, check out how that stacks up with the other two current NFL coaches who made the direct jump from NCAAF to the pros.
|Coach||Career Record as HC in College||Hired By (Year)|
|Kliff Kingsbury||35-40||Arizona Cardinals (2019)|
|Matt Rhule||47-43||Carolina Panthers (2020)|
Campbell’s blue-collar approach seems to be a good match for Joe Douglas, as going after the hot-shot QB guru (cough, cough Adam Gase) clearly didn’t pan out. Keep in mind Gase wasn’t hired by Douglas – that was a decision made by then-Jets GM, Mike Maccagnan.
Jacksonville Jaguars Hire Urban Meyer
The opening in Jacksonville is even more appealing to prospective candidates than you might think.
We know about the allure attached to having the first overall pick and a clear path to drafting Trevor Lawrence. Most remember that the Jags drafted two SEC defenders in the first round of last year’s draft who still have plenty of time to pan out.
When Urban Meyer finally interviews with the Jaguars ownership, here’s what they can present.
- $77+ million in cap space in 2021 – Most of any NFL team
- 2 First-Round picks in 2021 (1st overall + Rams pick)
- 2 Second-round picks in 2021 (1st pick in second round + Vikings pick)
- 1st pick in the Third round
- 7 picks on Day 3 (Rounds 4-7)
All that ammunition led by Meyer and Lawrence and suddenly the Jags are in business.
On one hand, don’t expect Shahid Khan to dish out the $12 million annual salary that Urban is reportedly asking for.
On the other, something tells me Meyer will be able to come to grips with a $9-10 million per year deal and start making his way back to north Florida.
Atlanta Falcons Hire Robert Saleh
Arthur Blank has had to endure watching one of the worst defenses in football over the last few seasons. One way to shore things up on that side of the ball is to lure in the hottest DC on the market.
We have completed a virtual interview with Robert Saleh for the head coach position. https://t.co/WwiavcvglJ— Atlanta Falcons (@AtlantaFalcons) January 5, 2021
Saleh was dealt a brutal hand in 2020 on the heels of losing star player after star player, but the 49ers ferocious D in 2019 tells you all you need to know about what this guy is about.
Soon to be 42, Saleh is at the stage of his career where “the time is now.” His stock may never be higher.
Raheem Morris will get a fair shot at leading this team in 2021, and Matt Eberflus (Colts DC) may get a serious look. However, I’m leaning toward Saleh as the guy for this particular NFL head coach prediction.
Detroit Lions Hire Brian Daboll
After seeing Josh Allen and the Bills offense explode in 2020, Brian Daboll is on everyone’s shortlist of head coach candidates. And while the Michigan legislators are urging the Lions to hire Robert Saleh – a.k.a the “Michigan Man,” it’s worth noting that Daboll’s coaching career began in East Lansing with the Spartans.
Frankly, the lawmakers in Motor City would be better served if they started rallying for Brian Daboll.
To further pinpoint just how vital the Bills OC has been for the strides made in Buffalo, Stefon Diggs is ready now ready to downplay Daboll’s role.
#Bills WR Stefon Diggs on OC Brian Daboll:— Joe Buscaglia (@JoeBuscaglia) December 29, 2020
"I hate to give him so much credit because I don't want anyone to steal him from me."
As much pressure as Brian may feel from outsiders to take on a new gig, don’t rule out his return to the Bills for one more year under Sean McDermott. Perhaps Daboll has his eye on a more captivating opening in 2022.
Houston Texans Hire Eric Bieniemy
If I had the pleasure of designing plays for Patrick Mahomes, I’d probably never leave Kansas City. With that being said, the Texans are one of the few other teams that can say they have a genuine franchise quarterback strapped in for the foreseeable future.
Assuming Eric Bieniemy wants to be able to recreate the magic he sustained in KC, Houston might be the most enthralling situation.
Of course, whereas a team like Jacksonville has a promising outlook, the financials/draft capital in Space City is a complete and utter disaster.
- Approximately -$20 million in cap space heading into 2021
- 0 First-round picks
- 0 Second-round picks
- 1 Third-round pick
Nevertheless, you can’t win big games in this league without a dependable quarterback under center. Deshaun Watson’s gunslinging mentality might just be enough to draw Bieniemy in.
Betting on NFL Head Coach Hires
Making NFL head coach predictions is fun, but it’s a lot more entertaining when you can profit from your projections. The good news is betting on who lands where isn’t just a fantasy.
It’s real-life if you simply head to BetOnline.
Odds for a plethora of candidates for each of these destinations are just a click away.
Maybe you’re feeling bold and think that Dan Mullen gets a shot. Wouldn’t you love to see Lincoln Riley roaming an NFL sideline? Now’s your chance to put your money where your mouth is. Or in some cases, where your heart is.