Buccaneers’ Koetter, Jets’ Bowles fired; Dolphins’ Gase awaits fate
The final day of the regular season saw the firing of two NFL coaches, with the jobs of a number of others on the line as teams that failed to make the playoffs began thinking about next season.
As The Washington Post’s Mark Maske points out, a generally uninspiring crop of coaching candidates may help a number of NFL coaches keep their jobs, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be some changes, starting in Tampa Bay and New York.
The Buccaneers fired Dirk Koetter, who went 19-29 over three seasons, on Sunday evening. Shortly thereafter, the Jets announced that they were parting ways with Todd Bowles, who followed a 10-6 debut in 2015 with records of 5-11, 5-11 and, after Sunday’s season-ending rout by the Patriots, 4-12.
Thanking Bowles for his “dedication” to the team, Jets chairman and CEO Christopher Johnson said in a statement, “After carefully evaluating the situation, I have concluded that this is the right direction for the organization to take.”
“We sincerely appreciate the hard work and commitment shown by Dirk over the past several years,” Buccaneers owner Joel Glazer said in a statement. “Working with Dirk has been a pleasure and we wish him and his family all the best in the future. Our search for a new head coach will begin immediately and will be conducted by General Manager Jason Licht.”
The Jets are also expected to retain their general manager, Mike Maccagnan. The Bucs’ playoff drought now stands at 11 seasons, second only to the Browns, who haven’t made the postseason since 2002, while the Jets have the third-longest skid, at eight seasons.
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Who may be hiring
Reports say that the Arizona Cardinals may well make Steve Wilks a one-and-done coach. In Miami, Adam Gase reportedly could be fired after the Dolphins’ 7-8 season. In Denver, what will John Elway do? Will he fire Vance Joseph?
Because it’s never too early to think ahead, John Harbaugh’s situation in Baltimore is intriguing. Either way, he will coach the team next season, but will he choose to become a free agent and someone who would be a hot name, after that?
Bengals President Mike Brown and coach Marvin Lewis plan to meet to determine Lewis’ status, as they do every year.
One team will not be making any changes. Jacksonville Jaguars owner Shad Khan announced after the team finished 5-11 with a loss to Houston that coach Doug Marrone would be returning, along with general manager Dave Caldwell and Tom Coughlin, the team’s vice president of football operations. He added, though, that he is “far from content with the status quo.”
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These teams already have openings
The Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns already have fired Mike McCarthy and Hue Jackson, respectively, which means they’ve been taking a look around at the possibilities. Williams has gone 5-2, but he is considered unlikely to get the job. Joe Philbin has interviewed for the Green Bay job, as has former NFL coach Jim Caldwell, but ESPN reports that Northwestern’s Pat Fitzgerald is someone to keep an eye on.
Might the Packers consult their $134 million man, Aaron Rodgers? Fox’s Terry Bradshaw thinks that would be ill-advised. “That’d be the stupidest thing I’ve ever heard,” he said Sunday. “I would never go to a quarterback who’s only going to be with me for three more years – maybe – and say, ‘Hey, you agree with this?’ That’s ludicrous. You don’t pay any attention to what Rodgers wants. You do what’s best for your team. I don’t need to consult with him. I’m writing him a big paycheck. What I’m going to do is hire the best coach out there, and he (Rodgers) is going to learn from that guy, and he’s going to perform.”
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The hot names don’t include the guy named Saban
He wouldn’t give the NFL another whirl, would he? Nah.
Nick Saban has won six college championships (with one at LSU), and his Alabama team is playing in the championship game for the fourth straight year. Naturally, this raises questions about whether he might consider a return to the NFL, with so little left to conquer on the college front. It was an especially natural question last week, when he returned to Miami, scene of his disastrous two-season NFL foray, for the semifinal game Saturday night against Oklahoma.
“I learned from my experience coming here. I learned something about myself. At the time it, was a tough consequence to have to deal with,” he told reporters Thursday. “I couldn’t have been in a better situation with better people here in Miami. But I found out maybe I was a little more suited to be a college coach. That was a tough realization because of the obligations I had to the people I worked for, and the players.”
Saban left Miami after the 2006 season, and the Dolphins haven’t won a playoff game since 2000.
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Hot names (the non-Saban list)
While Jackson has been working with Marvin Lewis in Cincinnati, McCarthy reportedly turned down the chance to shop for the groceries and cook the meals with the Cardinals, should they fire Wilks. He’s believed to be a candidate in Cleveland and, if the Steelers were to take the unlikely step of firing Mike Tomlin, he might be a natural hire for his hometown team.
If Gase is available, he is going to be getting plenty of offers, especially from teams with quarterback talent (like the Packers, Browns and even Jets).
Despite the ugly way in which New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels dumped the Indianapolis Colts just as he was about to be introduced as coach, things have worked out well at Indy and McDaniels is likely to get another chance at a head coach position.
According to a Pro Football Talk report last week, the 4-11 Jets were interested in making a run at Jim Harbaugh, who’s making over $7 million a year at Michigan. But Harbaugh, whose 49ers lost to his brother and the Ravens in a Super Bowl, says he isn’t going anywhere.
“This is a choreographed message that comes up at this time every year before signing day,” Harbaugh told ESPN. “It’s people spreading messages to further their own personal agenda. But I’m on record right here, right now: I’m not going anywhere. I’m staying at Michigan.”
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Who’s on deck
There are plenty of attractive options among assistant coaches for NFL teams with vision. Besides McDaniels, other hot names (from The Post’s Mark Maske) include Vikings offensive coordinator John DeFilippo, Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bienemy, Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael, Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Taylor, Bears defensive coordinator Vic Fangio and Patriots linebackers coach Brian Flores.
One other college name to keep an eye on: Oklahoma’s Lincoln Riley.
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Any surprises coming?
Well, if we knew they wouldn’t be surprises, would they? But it appears likely that the following coaches will be back: Jason Garrett in Dallas and Jay Gruden in Washington.