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Several assistants could be in demand for head-coaching job

Each year an assistant coach goes from unknown to a hot candidate to lead a team. Who will be the next assistant coveted for a head-coaching job?

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  • Jason La Canfora NFL Network
  • Jaguars' Koetter will be coveted

I believe Dirk Koetter's time is near. The Jaguars' offensive coordinator is on the cusp of taking that next step. If he can continue to get what he has gotten out of Jacksonville's offense without an abundance of talent, especially if he manages to get Blaine Gabbert ready to play despite this lockout, then a move up is imminent.

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  </table> And, frankly, depending on how the Jaguars' season goes, he could end up being Jacksonville's next coach. Others will covet him as well, though. He has oodles of college experience as a head coach, he's a bright offensive mind, and he has interviewed well and impressed executives who have crossed paths with him.  

He gets it. Other coaches respect him. It wouldn't surprise me at all to see him interviewing for multiple jobs next offseason.

And if we're considering assistants who have already been head coaches, then Gregg Williams would be at the top of my list. He turned down opportunities in the past but is in the last year of his deal, and I suspect his Saints' defense will have a huge season. Maybe he stays the coordinator route and ends up as Jeff Fisher's next defensive coordinator or maybe he stays with the Saints. But I believe there will be no shortage of opportunities and decisions for him to make.

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  • Charles Davis NFL Network
  • Fewell ready for more

I believe that Perry Fewell's time has come. He has built an excellent reputation as a defensive coordinator, a teacher, as someone not afraid to try unconventional methods if they will produce (three safeties on the field for the Giants), and his short tenure as interim coach with the Bills played to positive reviews. Look for his name to continue to surface, and for him to be someone's leading man in the near future.

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  • Steve Wyche
  • Northern divisions could provide help

Hate to do this, but I've got a tie because I am going to bend the question a little bit.

In terms of being coveted, I'm projecting Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer if Cincinnati bounces back and plays the type of defense it played in 2009. Zimmer has been mentioned as a head-coaching candidate before, but he hasn't gotten the chances many thought he would. While he is demanding and firm, his players tend to play hard for him because they respect him.

An assistant who might not be the guy that teams are scrambling for right now but has a simmering buzz is Packers linebackers coach Winston Moss. He is somewhat hamstrung by not having been a coordinator, but his presence and ability to lead are impressive. He's an imposing man who had a few interviews a few years ago. He's learned from the process and should be someone who garners plenty of interest -- as should several of the Packers' defensive assistants.

It's still stunning to me that the Packers' defensive staff wasn't poached after it coached up so many inexperienced players after a bevy of injuries torpedoed so many front-line guys last season.

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  • Pat Kirwan
  • Three young guys on the cusp

To be a hot assistant it would help if the team you are with is successful. There will be some "retread" coaches on a short list next year when guys like Gregg Williams (New Orleans) and Dom Capers (Green Bay) repeat the kind of coaching jobs they did in 2010. There are three guys to keep an eye on as this season unfolds: Jaguars offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter, Jets offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer and Bucs offensive coordinator Greg Olson.

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  • Adam Rank
  • No Mularkey

Teams looking for a coach from the offensive side of the ball will turn to Falcons offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey, especially if the Falcons continue to roll as expected.

Mularkey had some success during his first season with the Bills, and it is hard to blame him for his flameout the second year when his quarterback choices were J.P. Losman and Kelly Holcomb.

And besides, NFL teams are never scared off by previous head-coaching failures. If they did, Norv Turner would never have a job.

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