It now appears former Super Bowl winning coach Bill Cowher not only wants to get back into coaching, but feels his time away from the sport and spent at CBS hasn’t hurt his vision and skills as a coach.
"I did it for 27 years. You don't just forget things overnight," Cowher said to USA Today. "One thing about this job is it's been really good, because it allows me to study the game and do features on the game. I want to know what I'm talking about, so I'm watching tape. It's not like I'm out of it. I know how the game is changing."
Cowher never specified when he would comeback, but f course that has fueled speculation about the five teams left without a coach: Philadelphia, Cleveland, Chicago, Arizona, and San Diego. Cowher can bring his rare blend of leadership, toughness, and know-how to each club, but not all of them would be a great fit.
Some Cowher can turn around right away, while others may be long-term projects.
The talent is already there for an Eagles squad that may have quit on Andy Reid towards the end of the season. Philadelphia is a big market, with a very passionate fan base, and can certainly afford to pay Cowher the $4 to $6 million he can command.
Philadelphia could be a “win right away” situation, but questions at quarterback still have to be answered. The Eagles must decide on Michael Vick’s future. Last week there were conflicting reports on if Philadelphia was interested in Cowher.
After Chip Kelly’s slight, the Browns continued their search and are looking at several coaches, including Indianapolis offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and CFL head coach Marc Trestman.
The likelihood of Cowher joining Cleveland, or any other AFC North team, is very slim. The Browns and Pittsburgh Steelers have as strong a rivalry as there is in the NFL, and Steeler Nation may not forgive Cowher for switching sides.
Still, Cleveland could be an ideal job for any coach, considering they will have nearly $50 million in cap space next season. Cowher was also a defense and special teams coordinator with the Browns during his first four seasons as a coach, and spent three seasons as a player with Cleveland.
Another “win-now” scenario. The Bears have one of the best defenses in the league, and a huge market, but need serious help on offense, specifically quarterback Jay Cutler.
Cowher’s time with Ben Roethlisberger produced a Super Bowl, and perhaps he can do the same with the inconsistent Cutler, who has never lacked for talent, but late-game decision making has left something to be desired.
Arizona has experience with former Pittsburgh coaches. Now former head coach Ken Whisenhunt was a coordinator with the Steelers.
Quarterback is again a huge problem. The Cardinals started four this season, with Kevin Kolb putting together four of their five wins before he was injured. Injuries also affected Arizona’s last place rushing attack, after talented running back Ryan Williams broke his shoulder.
Arizona did have the fifth best secondary in the NFL, which is something Cowher could work with going forward.
Cowher would also request complete control, with no general manager or team president between him and ownership. The Bidwill Family’s ownership has been greatly criticized, but since Michael took over some of that flack has been removed.
San Diego Chargers
The Chargers are reportedly close to hiring a new general manager, who could ultimately decide who the next head coach will be. The San Diego Union-Tribune said the Chargers will either promote personnel director Jimmy Raye or bring in the Colts' Tom Telesco.
Arians is the rumored top candidate, but Cowher would be an interesting choice. The Chargers have never lacked for talent, but inconsistent leadership was a serious problem during Norv Turner’s reign. One of Cowher’s biggest strengths, was the mutual respect he creates with his players, and how hard he gets them to play for him.