With the Buffalo Bills reportedly hiring Rex Ryan, a domino effect should take over the rest of the NFL’s head coaching vacancies.
There have been some recent developments in the New York Jets, Chicago Bears, and San Francisco 49ers' searches, and surprisingly the Denver Broncos.
The Bears waited on signing a new head coach until they found their next GM. Now with Ryan Pace in tow, the Bears are revving up their search for a new leader on the sidelines.
As the playoffs unfold and more teams are eliminated each week, more top candidates become available. It appears the Bears patience was worth the wait, as they are targeting current Baltimore Ravens offensive coordinator and former Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Though its unclear if he even wants to leave the Ravens, hiring Kubiak could signal the Bears hope to keep Jay Cutler as their quarterback. After he was fired by the Texans in 2013, Baltimore quickly snatched up Kubiak to help Joe Flacco after he tossed a career-worst 22 interceptions in the team’s Super Bowl-follow-up campaign.
One year under Kubiak, and Flacco's flourished. He threw for a career-high 3,986 yards and 27 touchdowns, and beat rival Pittsburgh in the AFC Wild Card last week before falling to New England in the Divisional round Saturday.
Luring Kubiak away from Baltimore might prove too difficult for Chicago. According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, he’s happy with the Ravens and “doesn’t want to move.” There was also a report from ESPN that the Jets requested permission to speak with Kubiak about their vacancy.
But Pace has cast a wide net. According to the Chicago Tribune, he interviewed Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles 30 minutes after he signed on the dotted line with the Bears.
Should the Bears and Pace instead opt to focus more on a defense that ranked near the bottom in every major category this season, Bowles seems like an obvious choice. In two short seasons his schemes and player development skills made the Cardinals one of the most feared defensive units in the league.
Kubiak might hold a slight edge over Bowles, considering the former helped build the Texans from the ground up to win two AFC South titles. Bowles led the Miami Dolphins for three games, winning two, in an interim role in 2011.
Pace might have to act quickly with the 49ers calling Bowles back for a second interview, according to CBS Sports’ Jason La Canfora, and the Bears, Jets and Atlanta Falcons are also still interested.
Other than the Bears, the 49ers job may be the most coveted of any candidate, given the team’s market, and the players already in place. San Francisco’s taken its time hiring Jim Harbaugh’s replacement, but they’re specifically looking for a coach in the mold of legend Bill Walsh.
In terms of the Jets, La Canfora also reports that their next hire will likely be determined by whether or not team owner Woody Johnson wants to wait for Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn. If not, then Bowles could be the Jets next choice.
Quinn’s Seahawks continue to punish opponents, with Saturday’s victory over Carolina further proof that his defensive schemes are some of the best in the league. Schefter reported the Jets were willing to fly to Seattle to hire Quinn right away if the Seahawks had lost.
Lastly, one very surprising candidate could hit the market. Fox Sports Jay Glazer reported Sunday that Denver’s John Fox could be available if the Broncos fall to the Colts in the AFC Divisional round.
Fox has gone 46-18 since taking the Broncos over in 2011, but a change might be in order if he can’t get the team over the hump and to a title before Peyton Manning retires.
Denver may not have to worry about who replaces Fox with offensive coordinator Adam Gase waiting in the wings and catching the eye of nearly every team with a vacancy.