"Black Monday" created head-coaching vacancies on seven NFL teams: the Buffalo Bills, Chicago Bears, Cleveland Browns, Kansas City Chiefs, Philadelphia Eagles, San Diego Chargers and Arizona Cardinals. As teams turn the page, attention quickly shifts to who they will bring in for interviews. NFL.com analyst Daniel Jeremiah and NFL Network reporter Albert Breer compiled the following list of coaches who will get looks in the coming weeks.
HEAD COACH RETREADS
Gruden's name has popped up in connection with just about every head-coach opening in the NFL and college football since he was fired by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers following the 2008 season. Gruden won at both of his head-coaching stops: first in Oakland, where he took the Raiders to the AFC title game in 2000; and again in Tampa Bay, where he led the Bucs to victory in Super Bowl XXXVII following the 2002 season.
The Chargers finally terminated Turner on Monday after missing the playoffs for the third straight season. Turner is highly regarded as an offensive mind and likely will have multiple opportunities to become a coordinator. He's had three stints as head coach -- an unremarkable seven-season run with the Washington Redskins (1994-2000), a two-year stint with the Oakland Raiders (2004-05) and the six-season campaign in San Diego (2007-12). He reached the postseason in just four of those 15 years and never reached the Super Bowl.
Fired by the Kansas City Chiefs on Monday, Crennel might have a hard time getting another shot as a head coach. In two opportunities, first with the Cleveland Browns (2005-08) and then in Kansas City (2012), Crennel has never led a team to the postseason. Crennel did have success as a defensive coordinator with the New England Patriots in the early 2000s, helping the Pats to three Super Bowl wins in four seasons.
He was hired by the Broncos at 32, and that didn't end well, but McDaniels is still regarded as bright offensive mind with a fantastic future. What he'll have to prove is that his people and management skills have improved, as he was not a popular figure in Denver upon his departure. He's smart enough to adjust, though his move might not come for a bit. He went back to New England to provide stability for his young family, and word is he will be very careful about his next move. Also, he doesn't seem to see going home to Northeast Ohio as the dream scenario that some think it is for him.
Breer: The hottest name in coaching
The Redskins' offense has been the talk of the 2012 NFL season. Robert Griffin III has been outstanding, but the design of the Redskins' scheme has been terrific, as well. Kyle Shanahan is getting a lot of praise around the NFL for quickly developing RG3 and designing a creative offense to fit his skills. Shanahan also was very successful during his two-year stint as the Houston Texans' offensive coordinator. In 2009, the Texans finished with the NFL's fourth-ranked offense under his leadership. Despite being just 33 years old, the son of Mike Shanahan already has coached in the NFL for nine seasons.
McCoy has 13 years of NFL coaching experience, including the past four as the Broncos' offensive coordinator. Last season, his reputation around the NFL soared, thanks to how he handled the transition from Kyle Orton to Tim Tebow. He completely overhauled his scheme in the middle of the season to accommodate Tebow's specific skill set, and the Broncos finished the season with the NFL's No. 1 rushing attack. This season, he has smoothly transitioned his offense to suit Peyton Manning, and the Broncos are currently ranked fifth in passing. Those rankings highlight McCoy's flexibility and willingness to adapt his scheme to his personnel.
Fewell has done a good job with the Giants. Their run to the Super Bowl last season was largely the result of his punishing defensive unit. He has overcome several injuries to key personnel and he's generally well thought of around the league. He has interviewed for head-coaching jobs in the past, but those teams chose to go in a different direction. Many around the NFL believe Fewell will not be passed over again.
Seely has an excellent résumé and should garner consideration for any head-coaching vacancies. He has coached in the NFL for 22 seasons, 10 of which were spent as the special teams coach under Bill Belichick for the New England Patriots. He has transformed the 49ers' special teams unit into the NFL's very best. The fact that the Baltimore Ravens' John Harbaugh has successfully made the transition from special teams coach to head coach should help boost Seely's candidacy.
Horton has quickly established a strong reputation as one of the NFL's top defensive minds. Following a 10-year playing career, he's been a successful assistant coach for 18 years. He served as the secondary coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers prior to joining the Cardinals' staff as defensive coordinator. The Cardinals' fast start to the season was powered by their strong defensive unit. Horton's scheme has drawn praise around the league.
Bevell, you might remember, cultivated a close relationship as an assistant with Brett Favre in Green Bay, and was a major factor in Favre's desire to orchestrate a move to Minnesota in 2009. That reunion led to an on-field rebirth for Favre and a trip to the NFC title game for the Vikings. Bevell left to join Pete Carroll's staff last year, and has overseen the development of rookie dynamo Russell Wilson, adapting his scheme to fit a shorter, quicker athlete at quarterback. He now has seven seasons of coordinator experience.
It's hard to believe he's on this list, because most folks around the league think his shot should've come by now. Some word has filtered out that he can be very direct -- maybe overly so -- in interviews, but his résumé is impossible to ignore. In his five years, the previously leaky Bengals have ranked in the top 10 in total defense three times, and they've never ranked lower than 15th. On top of that, Zimmer can, like Chuck Pagano, get his players to run through a wall for him. Zimmer has 13 years of NFL coordinator experience at three different addresses, and his time has come.
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The Jaguars were expected to make a serious run at him last year, but Gruden chose to stay in Cincinnati, both out of loyalty to Marvin Lewis, who gave him a shot as an offensive coordinator in his first NFL foray, and because he felt that a little more experience would be good. There's no question Gruden worked wonders in getting the young Bengals offense, headed by Andy Dalton and A.J. Green, off the ground after an overhaul in 2011. And executives across the league also like that he has experience building an organization, something he did while leading Orlando's Arena Football League team for nine seasons.
At one point, while he was serving as the Jaguars' offensive coordinator, it was widely speculated that Koetter was being groomed to take over for Jack Del Rio in Jacksonville. When things went south there and the team was sold, Koetter went down with the ship, then resurfaced this year in Atlanta, where he helped lead Matt Ryan to the best season of his young career. That he's innovative offensively and has worked intimately with quarterbacks will help his stock, as will the fact that he's been a head coach at Boise State and Arizona State.
The energetic, positive assistant has seven years of experience as an NFL coach under Pete Carroll and Jon Gruden, and has been a force at the head of the room for one of the league's best defenses this year. Bradley's a grinder who was plucked from his alma mater, North Dakota State, by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2005, and can get players behind him.
Until this year, Arians was seen as a career assistant. Under the most difficult conditions, he proved he was more, leading the Colts from 1-2 to 10-5 as the interim coach for Chuck Pagano, who was being treated for leukemia. Aside from the incredibly inspiring parts of the story, Arians again showed his offensive prowess by molding a group with eight new starters into a top-10 unit. Arians has quite a touch with young quarterbacks, as evidenced by his grooming of Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger in the past, as well as Andrew Luck in 2012.
HOT COLLEGE COACHES
Kelly has been a head coach for just four seasons at the collegiate level, but he has already established a sterling résumé. He has captured three Pac-10/Pac-12 titles, and his current 11-1 team is ranked No. 5 in the nation. He turned down a job with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last offseason, but will likely have another NFL opportunity in 2013. His up-tempo offense would have to be altered to work at the NFL level, but his organizational skills and creativity will be very attractive to NFL owners.
It is highly unlikely that O'Brien would depart Penn State after just one season on the job. He has an incredibly expensive buy-out clause in his contract, and that would be a major deterrent to potential NFL suitors. That being said, his is a very hot name around NFL circles. He was a successful assistant under Bill Belichick and he has shown incredible leadership in guiding the Penn State program through an extraordinarily difficult situation.
Sarkisian spent a year as the Oakland Raiders' quarterbacks coach and was actually their first target when they wound up hiring Lane Kiffin. Sarkisian also drew interest from the St. Louis Rams last year. One reason he didn't kick the tires further on any pro jobs was because he'd just hired a new defensive coordinator, but he's talked openly about having NFL aspirations. A former quarterback himself, Sarkisian's calling card has been his work with players at that position at both USC and Washington, which makes him even more attractive. He has relationships in Philadelphia, so the Eagles could take a look at him.
Marrone was the New Orleans Saints' offensive coordinator during Sean Payton's first three years with the team. He helped break Drew Brees into the system there, and has seven seasons of NFL experience. Since, he's turned a moribund Syracuse program into a consistent contender in the Big East, despite upstate New York being an exceedingly difficult place to recruit to. Having developed a well-regarded draft prospect at quarterback in Ryan Nassib over the past four years should only help his cause.
Last November, one AFC personnel exec said Fitzgerald "will never leave (Northwestern), but I'd hire him in a second." Sure enough, two months later, the St. Louis Rams tried to get him in for an interview -- and he declined. Fitzgerald played briefly in the NFL, then went into his current line of work and, under the adverse circumstance of having his predecessor pass away, became head coach in Evanston at age 31. Considered a smart, dynamic leader, Fitzgerald has won despite Northwestern's limitations, and he figures to continue drawing NFL interest.
OTHER NAMES TO WATCH
» Kirk Ferentz, head coach, University of Iowa