In an effort to drown the thoughts of Gary leadin' our boys into the battlefight next season, I would like to start discussing who will actually be the future head coach of the hometown squad. Now, there are a lot of different avenues Mr. McNair can take to find the right guy to lead an NFL team. I want to break down the ponds we may be fishin' in and who the choice catches are of those groups. If anyone has anybody they would like to add, feel free to do so, as this list is far from inclusive. Also, I won't claim to know everything about these coaches, just want to get some names out there to start the discussion. Let's begin, shall we?
College Head Coaches
Kevin Sumlin (HC, Texas A&M) - Coach Sumlin has skyrocketed up the coaching ladders and reportedly turned down the Eagles job last offseason. He has proven he can run an elite offense at the college level and looks to be somewhat of a "player's coach". The biggest question is whether or not he knows one thing about the defensive side of the ball. He doesn't need to be great with the X's and O's since he is an offensive guy, but he does need to at least understand what needs to be done to be successful and he hasn't shown he does yet. However, with the right DC he could be a really good NFL head coach.
Art Briles (HC, Baylor) - I know, I know.. he just signed a 50 yr extension with Baylor. I don't take that lightly but something tells me that the Texans head coaching gig is on the very short list of opportunities that Briles would consider leaving Waco to accept. I already stated his case in another post, but in essence, this man was born to coach football. I see his offense's adaptability as a reason why he would succeed in the NFL, along with his ability to evaluate talent at the QB position.
Mike Zimmer (DC, Cincinnati) - Zimmer's name has been in this discussion for a couple years now. Apparently he is a "tell it like it is" kinda guy that may rub some people the wrong way when he gets in front of a microphone. Some may see that as a refreshing change of pace from the Kubiak era but it also may get real old if the team doesn't succeed quickly. He runs a 4-3 defense but has modified his scheme to a 3-4 set for teams in the past and still had successful units.
Greg Roman(OC, San Fran) - Roman actually spent some time in Houston under Capers as the tight ends coach and now runs the offense in San Fran. Roman's unit has struggled at times this season but after last night they may be turning it around. His time with Kaepernick may be teaching him a thing or two that could help in the development of our new QB. He runs an innovative offense and is partially credited with the development of Andrew Luck at Stanford and Colin Kaepernick in SF.
Darrell Bevell (OC, Seattle)- We all know the advantages of bringing in Bevell and keeping the ZBS intact. However, Bevell has had his ups and downs as an OC but some of that is directly correlated to the QBs he had. He has done well with Brett Favre and Russell Wilson and poorly with Tavaris Jackson and Charlie Whitehurst. Can hardly blame him for that, but have his successes been a result of great QB play or did his scheme put those guys in a position to win?
Pete Carmichael Jr. (OC, New Orleans)- Carmichael's unit has been league leader in yards twice and never finished lower than 6th in the 4 years he has been OC in NO. A lot of question marks surround that situation, though. With Sean Payton and Drew Brees in the picture there isn't a lot of credit left over to go to anyone else. However, with Payton out last year, Brees still lead the league in passing yards and had the #2 ranked offense in terms of yardage and #3 in PTS/G. The defense is what caused the big drop off when Payton left. However, is there a reason why NO didn't make him the interim HC when Sean got suspended?
NFL Coordinator to College Head Coach
David Shaw (HC, Stanford)- Shaw spent almost 10 years as a QB/WR coach in the NFL before finding a spot on Jim Harbaugh's staff at Stanford as offensive coordinator. Shaw has slowly become my #1 choice with his combination of NFL and College credentials. He assumed the head coaching role at Stanford when Harbaugh, Roman and Luck left for the NFL and has maintained a high level of success. He, too, gets partial credit for Luck's development and has continued to run the Cardinal's pro-style offense very effectively.
Bill O'Brien (HC, Penn State)- After being an assistant coach for 3 years under Bill Belichick in New England, O'Brien was made the OC in 2011. O'Brien was the QB coach for Tom Brady from '09-'11 and helped the All-Universe QB have some great seasons. In 2012, O'Brien was offered the Penn State head coaching job when Joe Paterno left in the wake of the Sandusky scandal. It was a very tough situation to go into as your first head coaching gig and he has done an admirable job leading his team, so far. His time under Belichick and poise as a HC in a tough situation should get his name brought up in McNair's office come January.
NFL Head Coaches
Lovie Smith (Aspiring Musician/Unemployed)- Smith's had some unbelievably good defensive units and he's also had some pretty mediocre defensive units during his time with Chicago. He has a regular season record of 81-63 and 3-3 in the postseason bringing him to 84-66 overall. That's damn good considering he spent his first 5 years with Sexy Rexy and Kyle Orton under center. With that said, something about Lovie tells me it would be a lateral move for the Texans but I could be wrong. His defenses tend to cause a lot of turnovers, which would be a nice change in scenery from this season but there would still have to be a big time OC brought in to make sure the offense can answer the bell.
Tom Coughlin (HC, NYG)- Tom Coughlin's job is in jeopardy after the rough start for the New York Giants. Tom is the oldest coach in the league at 67 years young and odds are that he retires at the end of the year. This is as close as it gets to an Andy Reid type guy this year unless you want Rex Ryan.
Ken Whisenhunt (OC, San Diego)- When given a quality QB to work with, Whisenhunt has had great results as an OC. He was in charge for Big Ben's first three seasons, helped bring Kurt Warner back from the dead and now looks to be getting it done with Philip Rivers. As a head coach he literally had the worst QB's you could imagine in Derek Anderson, John Skelton, Max Hall, Kevin Kolb and Ryan Lindley. I couldn't tell you whether or not those guys were forced on him but if a quality QB can be forced on him, it seems like he is completely capable.
Mike Holmgren (???)- Holmgren is also an old-timer at 65 but there have been reports that he may be interested in coaching again if the situation was right. Mike finished in Green Bay with a 75-37 overall record and a Super Bowl ring. Then, he went on to Seattle and went 86-74, won the division 4 out of the last 5 years he was there and took them to a Super Bowl, as well. I'm not a big fan of bringing in guys out of retirement but this is a guy I wouldn't have a problem with Bob bringing in.
Jon Gruden (Analyst, ESPN)- I could be wrong, but this guy screams "overhyped". He's got a relatively mediocre record as a head coach and a lot of people think he got his ring off Dungy's talent in Tampa Bay. From the looks of it, he won his division 5 out of his 11 years (one of which was w/ a 9-7 record) and came in last or 3rd in the other 6 years. In all reality, I am sure he is a damn good coach, but I am of the belief that there are better options.
Dave Toub (ST Coord., KC)- Wouldn't this be awesome!? Say goodbye to Kubiak and Marciano and replace them both with one guy that may be able to do both their jobs better! Apparently, this guy's got a ton of respect amongst NFL coaches and should be getting even more head coaching considerations this year after churning out another top ranked unit this year with KC. John Harbaugh, among other good coaches, took care of special teams before getting the big gig. Toub also has experience coaching the trenches on both sides of the ball at the college level.
Hue Jackson (RB/Asst. Head Coach, Cincinnati)- IMO, Jackson got a bit of a raw deal in Oakland when he took over for Tom Cable (who also may have gotten a raw deal) in 2011. Jackson has got a lot of personality and although he can chum up with the players, he also has a toughness to him that I like a lot. Now, with that said, it's possible to argue that Hue may have too much personality for the Houston situation but I still think he should be in the mix.
Now, like I said, this list is not inclusive. It is just a starting point to get some input from the BRB community. Some honorable mentions are guys like Jay Gruden, OC in Cincy (who probably should have been on the list over Jon), Adam Gase, OC in Denver, and Steve Sarkisian, Head Coach at Washington University. (Author's note: I left the Shanahans off completely because I would prefer to climb out of that tree for a little while.) I know a lot of this all depends on who these guys bring in to fill out the staff but just for fun, here are my top 5 choices for head coach of the 2014 Houston Texans:
1) Art Briles
2) David Shaw
3) Pete Carmichael Jr.
4) Mike Zimmer
5) Dave Toub