- Minnesota Vikings
- Chicago Bears
- Las Vegas Raiders
- Denver Broncos
- Miami Dolphins
- Jacksonville Jaguars
Black Friday arrived in typical and merciless fashion on Monday morning. In a move that was largely expected, the Chicago Bears parted ways with head coach Matt Nagy (general manager Ryan Pace was also relieved of his duties). The Minnesota Vikings will embark on a new journey after firing both head coach Mike Zimmer and long-time general manager Rick Spielman. The Miami Dolphins sent shockwaves around the league when they parted ways with popular head honcho Brian Flores after just three seasons. These three franchises join the likes of the Denver Broncos and Jacksonville Jaguars, who had previously parted ways with their head coaches. The Las Vegas Raiders qualified as a wild-card team, but interim head coach Rich Bisaccia remains in limbo. We've ranked these job openings from best to worst while providing context on why each opening has its positives and negatives.
1. LAS VEGAS RAIDERSThe Good: The only team on this list to qualify for the postseason, the presence of a legitimate starting quarterback in Derek Carr would make this job fairly desirable. The Raiders showcased their ability to overcome a plethora of adversity throughout a difficult 2021 campaign while still possessing the horses necessary to make a playoff run. It speaks volumes of the culture that's been built by owner Mark Davis and general manager Mike Mayock. There are other positives at play. Geographically speaking, living in Las Vegas, Nevada certainly comes with its perks. The comforts of the new and grandiose Allegiant Stadium also makes for a major selling point. The Bad: Every head coach embarks on their journey with the hopes of capturing their division title. That's going to be a monumentally difficult task to achieve in the AFC West with the presence of the Patrick Mahomes-led Kansas City Chiefs and Justin Herbert-led Los Angeles Chargers for the foreseeable future. The impending postseason run also further complicates matters by extending and stretching out the process, as the Raiders may realistically become the last franchise with an opening to make their decision. It would put a new candidate considerably behind the eight ball when it comes to hiring his coordinators and filling out his coaching staff.
2. DENVER BRONCOSThe Good: General manager George Paton has built a strong roster that's rich with offensive talent. Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, and Tim Patrick make up one of the most exciting wide receiver groups in the NFL. Rookie running back Javonte Williams is a star-in-the-making that will continue to progress as an elite ball-carrier in his sophomore season. On the defensive side of the ball, the Broncos possess a plethora of quality players such as Bradley Chubb, Patrick Surtain II, and Justin Simmons. The Broncos have a ton of pieces in place that could help a new head coach hit the ground running. The Bad: The Broncos finished last place in the ever-competitive AFC West that currently contains three playoff-caliber teams. Wrestling the division title away from Mahomes and the Chiefs will continue to prove incredibly difficult. The lack of a quarterback here also leaves things hanging in the balance. After all, it's exactly what doomed the previous head coach, Vic Fangio. It's going to be impossible to win this division without a competent quarterback and the Broncos currently lack that player. The roster is built to win immediately should the correct signal-caller be acquired. It's somewhat comforting to know that Paton will undoubtedly pursue a superstar quarterback with an aggressive mindset this offseason.
3. CHICAGO BEARSThe Good: The Bears possess one thing that most of their counterparts on this list currently lack: hope at the quarterback position. The presence of first-round quarterback Justin Fields will undeniably make this an intriguing destination for any and all candidates. Fields enjoyed a quality debut campaign, having accounted for 2,290 total yards of offense and nine touchdowns as a thrower and runner in 12 appearances. Fields has the dual-threat skill set to continue developing into a franchise quarterback that's capable of elevating the Bears to an annual contender. Any potential candidates may also find that this job has the desired job security, as the previous head coach Matt Nagy was allowed a healthy four years. The Bad: Chicago's roster is littered with holes, particularly on the offensive line and at the ever-important skill positions. Allen Robinson is largely expected to play elsewhere in 2022 after experiencing a rather strange campaign in 2021, leaving the Bears with a sizable hole at the WR1 position. The presence of owner Virginia McCaskey, chairman George McCaskey, and president Ted Phillips may also be viewed as a negative. The McCaskeys and Phillips don't have the best reputation and are considered to be rather frugal all things considered. A rambunctious fan base and impatient media market that's hungry, scratch that, STARVED for success won't make life easy on the next head coach.
4. MIAMI DOLPHINSThe Good: You could do worse than South Florida. The weather is gorgeous and the state income tax is non-existent. Shifting gears to actual football, general manager Chris Grier has put together a talented roster that competed for a playoff spot in 2021. The Dolphins embarked on a miraculous seven-game winning streak that nearly catapulted them to a wild-card spot in the AFC despite their nightmarish 1-7 start. A 2021 draft class highlighted by the selections of record-breaking receiver Jaylen Waddle, stud pass rusher Jaelan Phillips, and jack-of-all-trades defensive back Jevon Holland should help set the Dolphins up for success in 2022 and beyond. The Bad: Owner Stephen Ross is largely considered to be one of the more difficult owners to work for across the league. Ross is a known meddler that unnecessarily involves himself in personnel decisions. General manager Grier may also be searching for a new quarterback this offseason. The Tua Tagovailoa experiment has left much to be desired, and the Dolphins may be ready to move on from the former Alabama standout. Finding themselves back in the market for an adequate quarterback qualifies as fairly depressing. Houston Texans franchise quarterback Deshaun Watson remains the elephant in the room. Should Grier manage to acquire Watson following the never-ending rumors, this job immediately catapults itself to No. 1 on our list.
5. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARSThe Good: The presence of Trevor Lawrence is the major selling point. The No. 1 overall selection in the 2021 NFL Draft, Lawrence's rookie campaign was filled with bumps and bruises. Adversity reared its ugly head time and time again, but Lawrence hopefully escaped the storm unscathed. The former Clemson quarterback remains one of the brightest young quarterbacks in the league, and the ability to work alongside him should intrigue several high-end candidates. Lawrence arguably played the best game of his season in Week 18's triumph over the Indianapolis Colts, which suggests that Lawrence's arrow is still very much pointing up. Owner Shad Khan is known to be a patient man, sometimes to a fault. Potential candidates should welcome the sort of job security that often comes with working under Khan's watchful eye. The Bad: General manager Trent Baalke is a difficult man to work for and earned a negative reputation throughout his tenure with the San Francisco 49ers. A power struggle that involved Baalke ultimately pushed a successful head coach in Jim Harbaugh out the door, and Baalke received the majority of the blame for the messy breakup. Jaguars fans are furious that Baalke will remain in his role as general manager, and it will undeniably have an impact on who is willing to accept this job. The toxicity left behind by the stink of Urban Meyer must also be analyzed in extreme detail before any willing candidate signs up to be his untimely successor.
6. MINNESOTA VIKINGSThe Good: This opportunity represents a clean slate, which qualifies as rather ideal. The next head coach should be hand-selected by the incoming general manager, which should allow them to share a vision and build their roster accordingly. Plenty of candidates should find that appealing when considering the openings and offers. The Vikings also possess a pair of legitimate offensive stars in running back Dalvin Cook and wide receiver Justin Jefferson. The dominant Green Bay Packers will rebuild sooner rather than later. Should Aaron Rodgers depart the Packers this offseason, the division title immediately becomes up for contention. The Bad: Kirk Cousins is owed a truckload of money in 2022 and will remain on Minnesota's roster, despite the undeniable uncertainties that surround his long-term future. The Vikings lack a solution at the quarterback position, and any incoming head coach will essentially have to weather the storm in 2022 while knowing and accepting that Cousins isn't truly "their guy." It could make for a rather difficult work environment. Minnesota's future signal-caller isn't on their roster currently, and acquiring one for the 2022 season represents an extremely unlikely scenario. Minnesota could always draft a quarterback and sit him behind Cousins for a year, but this is one of the weaker quarterback classes in recent memory.
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