The changes have already begun in the coaching ranks of the NFL. With the announcement that Pete Carroll would no longer be on the sidelines as head coach of the Seahawks a day after the Titans parted ways with Mike Vrabel, The current total of available head coaching jobs is up to seven. With more expected to be announced before all is said and done, the incoming coaches are under a bigger spotlight to get results sooner because sometimes later isn't an option. With that being said, how do these teams stack up as far as being set up the best for quick success? Let's dive in.
Number 6 - Atlanta Falcons
After finishing 7-10 for a third straight season, the Falcons decided to part ways with Arthur Smith. The season was also the sixth season in a row of missing the playoffs. Although the Falcons have some quality young pieces on offense with Bijan Robinson, Kyle Pitts, and Drake London there is a big question on if Desmond Ridder is the quarterback to lead the team. They are projected to have $36.7 million in cap space, and own seven picks in the upcoming draft. There is a possibility to improve in short order. In a division that has not been the strongest, success in a shorter window is possible.
Addressing both the offense and the defense will be needed for the next coach. Also, bringing in a staff to revamp the offense. With more pieces in place, the Falcons come in ahead of the Panthers. I'd look for them to bring in an offensive-minded coach, possibly a bigger name that can bring in a coordinator for the defense. With Smith's background on defense, I would think they would look to the offense for this coaching hire since 2007. Prediction - Offensive-minded coach. They have a solid core on offense to build around with Pitts, Robinson, and London, what happens if they get a quarterback for the offense?
Number 5 - Las Vegas Raiders
Finishing at 8-9 on the season, the Raiders began to turn things around with the in-season firing of Josh McDaniels and elevating Antonio Pierce. The Raiders own nine selections in the upcoming draft and are projected to have the ninth most cap space with $55 million. There are pieces in place as well with Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow on offense and Maxx Crosby leading a defense with last year's first-round pick Tyree Wilson on defense. The new coach will have to decide on the direction for the quarterback with Jimmy Garoppolo and Aidan O'Connell in place.
The Raiders will get interest from big names at the pro and college level and as I mentioned, there is a lot in place to work with and there is money available to get players in the building. I think Pierce has done a great job in a short time and has earned a shot to be the coach without the interim tag. With the Raiders looking for big names in the past and struggling to find the right person to lead the team, a different approach in selecting their next coach could be what is needed. Prediction - The Raiders have long been a defense-first team, with greats like Howie Long and Jack Tatum. I think they kick the tires on some bigger names, but keep Pierce
Number 4 - Tennessee Titans
This one is a puzzling entry on this list. Mike Vrabel was the coach over the past six seasons and they had their success with him at the helm. They made it to the AFC Championship and went to the playoffs three times. After finishing 6-11 this season, the Titans decided to part ways with Vrabel after two losing seasons. The team has seven selections in the upcoming draft and is projected to have the second most cap space in the league with $77.5 million available.
There are pieces in place to like, with a promising young quarterback in Will Levis and a young running back in Tajae Spears. At receiver, they have DeAndre Hopkins and Trylon Burks. With the possible departure of Derrick Henry, a key question to be answered in free agency. The team could look to add another playmaker at receiver for Levis, as well as a revamp on the interior offensive line. On defense, the team does have Harold Landry and Jeffery Simmons. Maximizing the offense seems like a priority for general manager Ran Carthon. However, they can address needs on both sides of the ball. The turnaround could be quick with the right coach. Prediction - Underperforming offense leads to hiring an offensive-minded coach
Number 3 - Seattle Seahawks
Pete Carroll did a great job in making the Seahawks relevant in the NFL. While he is moving more to an analyst role and will (as of this writing) still be in the building. Currently, the Seahawks own seven selections in the upcoming NFL Draft. The downside is that they are projected to have $4 million in space against the salary cap. So the new coach is going to have to free up some room from the roster to build it to fit his preferred scheme. Also, how active will Carroll be in his advisor role could be a factor in a potential coach's decision to take the job.
On the plus side, the team has drafted very well recently and has a good core group to build around. With receivers like DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett, Jaxson Smith-Njigba, and a pair of young runners in Kenneth Walker III, and Zach Charbonnet. The offense led by Geno Smith has been good at times. The defense also has a good young core with Boye Mafe, Devon Whitherspoon, and Tariq Woolen. There are plenty of pieces on both sides of the ball. While the new coach is going to have some difficult decisions to make as far as the salary cap and freeing up space, the right moves could lead them back to the playoffs in a short time. Prediction - Defensive coach with a strong offensive coordinator. To me this feels like a good fit for Mike Vrabel
Number 2 - Washington Commanders
Now yes, the Commanders did finish 4-13 on the season, and yes they got outscored by 189 points on the season. But hear me out, the team has nine draft picks in the upcoming draft and is projected to have a league-high $86 million in cap space for 2024. In addition, they have a talented receiving group with Jahan Dotson and Terry McLaurin and a solid running back with Brian Robinson on offense. On defense, they still have Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen as well as some quality young defensive backs in Emmanuel Forbes, and Kyu Blu Kelly.
The new ownership group will need a big name. They will probably address the quarterback position as well as revamp the linebackers and add some depth to the offensive line. The free agents they have include Curtis Samuel and Antonio Gibson who have contributed to the offense. The new ownership group will want to do the right thing and get a name in the building that can help bring the organization back. Is that name Eric Bienemy? Do they bring in a coach with a background on the defensive side of the ball and keep Bienemy in charge of the offense? It will be an interesting spot to keep an eye on with a potential quick turnaround in the future. Prediction - Offensive coach to keep pace with divisional foes. Internal promotion perhaps?
Number 1 - Los Angles Chargers
Call them cursed, snake-bitten, or whatever else you choose, but the Chargers are blessed and cursed. I for one can't think of any team that has shown so much promise and at the same time had injuries derail their seasons. The bottom fell out this season as the Chargers finished the season at 5-12. They also have a search going for not only their next coach but their general manager as well. The team currently owns eight selections in the upcoming draft. The downside is the team is also projected to be $34.5 million over the salary cap.
While the team in its current form will be different than the one that takes the field in 2024, there are a lot of high-quality pieces the new coach will want to look at keeping if possible. Of the six listed here, the Chargers already have their quarterback in place with Justin Herbert. They also a good group of receivers with Kennan Allen and Mike Williams. On defense, they have Khalil Mack, Joey Bosa, and Derwin James. The new coach could look to move some of the veteran players, to get more draft picks and to free up space to function. While it is possible, this team is closest to seeing a quick turnaround and contending soon. Prediction - Offensive minded coach that can take Herbert to another level on his performance.
Side Note - Yes, I realize that the Carolina Panthers also have an opening for their next head coach. But I also realize that the situation for the Panthers is a multi-year fix at best. They would be at the bottom of my list of coaching vacancies.