One day in the mid-1980s, Bill Walsh was telling me about his overall football philosophy and what he felt was the best way to procure talent. The legendary San Francisco 49ers coach believed the best teams scouted inside out, not outside in. Walsh's theory was simple: Teams must accurately define what they need, then find players who most closely meet those needs.
This same theory can be applied to the five NFL teams currently in the hunt for a head coach.
Breer: Fisher's final destination
Teams shouldn't simply say, "We want the next Don Shula," but must first define exactly what qualities they want in a coach. This initial step is crucial to successfully finding the right person for the job. For me, a good head-coaching candidate must have a broad knowledge and understanding of the entire game. He must have leadership skills and must embrace confrontation. He must be able to express his beliefs and thoughts in concise detail.
Beyond those standard qualifications, each team will have slightly different specific needs. NFL coaches are not "one-size-fits-all." What might work well in Tampa Bay might not in Miami. So let's break down the teams' needs as I see them:
Kansas City:The Chiefs must find a coach who can function well within the system put in place by GM Scott Pioli. The coach must be a willing partner and not easily disgruntled. Pioli should not stray far from the tree in New England. If he does, he must find a candidate who is willing to simply coach the team and let the personnel department handle player procurement, as is the case with Mike McCarthy in Green Bay. The favorite and probably best choice would be Romeo Crennel, the current interim head coach.
Miami: Miami's next coach must have a good working relationship with Carl Peterson, who is set to become the team's next president. The Dolphins don't need to win any press conferences with this hire, but they do need a coach with the necessary experience to handle this team. They must think outside the box and should not limit themselves to pro coaches. I would call Oregon coach Chip Kelly to see if he is ready to embark on an NFL career. Kelly is commanding, smart and can learn the pro game quickly. He would be a solid alternative if Miami is unable to land Jeff Fisher.
Jacksonville: The Jaguars must find a coach who can develop quarterbacks and has a real appreciation for current starter Blaine Gabbert. Like the Chiefs, they must also find someone who is willing to simply coach and is not interested in running the whole show. Candidates should include Mike Mularkey of the Falcons, Rob Chudzinski of the Panthers and Greg Roman of the 49ers. All three men have done a great job handling quarterbacks over their years in the NFL.
St Louis: This job will be a major undertaking in terms of rebuilding the talent base. The Rams must find a coach who is willing to work with young players and has the patience to develop talent, like logical front-runner Fisher. The rest of their list of candidates should be similar to Jacksonville's, with the addition of Green Bay assistants Tom Clements and Joe Philbin. Because the Rams have a GM job open as well, they must find two people who can work together and have a mutual trust for one another. The team's success will depend on picking the right tandem.