Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

03 Jan 2018

45 ESPN Analysts Rank Head Coaching Candidates

We were allowed to choose any five people who were not currently NFL head coaches. Who do we think are the best candidates for jobs? I chose Jim Harbaugh, David Shaw, Dave Toub, Jerry Rosburg, and Jim Schwartz. The consensus top five included Harbaugh, Shaw, Josh McDaniels, Nick Saban, and Jon Gruden. There are some interesting picks lower down including Ed Reed, Kevin Kelley, and Byron Leftwich. Good debate material! It's Insider subscription required.

Posted by: Aaron Schatz on 03 Jan 2018

13 comments, Last at 08 Jan 2018, 12:22am by LionInAZ


by Bright Blue Shorts :: Wed, 01/03/2018 - 3:38pm

Gus Bradley gets two 3rd place votes despite having one of the worst ever coaching records. And given how well the Jags have turned around this year, I don't think you can put it down to lack of talent.

Meanwhile Jim Caldwell who has just had 3 winning seasons in four years at the Lions can only get a single 5th place vote.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 7:38am

I agreed it was time for the Lions to move on from Caldwell, but he’s always had an unfair and unearned reputation as not a good coach. Peyton Manning got all the credit for the Colts 200i9 Super Bowl run, then Caldwell got all the blame when the 2011 Colts collapsed in Manning’s absence. Then he cleaned up the undisciplined culture that Jim Schwartz left behind with the Lions, got Stafford some real coaching for the first time in his career, and helped make them consistently competitive (Speaking of Jim Schwartz, he is a great defensive coordinator, but I’m not sure why he’s suddenly a hot head coaching candidate again).

by ZDNeal :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:47am

I think it's obvious why he's not a head coaching candidate anymore.

Once you're head coach of the Lions, you don't head coach again.

But, I don't even think the Lions should have moved on. Caldwell was much better than what I thought they were getting. I think he's an above-average nfl coach. Unfortunately, everyone only wants the next Belichick. Some dude is constantly calling for Tomlin to get fired, and he may not be Walsh or Belichick, but man, there's at least a 85% chance any replacement is _significantly_ worse.

by LionInAZ :: Mon, 01/08/2018 - 12:22am

Schwartz deserves a lot more credit than you give him. Caldwell brought more discipline and stability, but Schwartz brought back the snarl to the Lions. The Packers and Bears got along with dirty play before Schwartz came in with Suh. The Packers have admitted that they were glad that Suh left because he was a one-man wrecking crew. They were just lucky that no one could have afforded both a Suh and a star QB in the division.

Caldwell discipline and Schwartz snarl would have made a great Lions team.

by Aaron Brooks Go... :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:06am

Because the more morons you stick in a room, the smarter they get?

Jesus. ESPN even has 45 analysts?

\edit: I didn't mean you guys specifically. But holy hell, ESPN has 45 analysts?!

by GwillyGecko :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 2:39am

nfl teams stopped knocking on david shaw's door after he kept trying to run up the middle to ten man boxes against michigan state in the rose bowl the year fsu beat auburn. hes not nfl hc material.

by dbt :: Fri, 01/05/2018 - 3:19am

You're not wrong. I was watching that game with a bunch of stanford fans, and jesus was that play brutal.

If Hogan fakes the handoff and runs to his right, he's still running right now.

by Ryan :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:29am

I wonder if this includes each team's beat writer.

/edit: in reply to Aaron Brooks Go...

by bravehoptoad :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 1:44pm

It does not seem to be for Insiders only.

by serutan :: Thu, 01/04/2018 - 10:32pm

Not sure why Jim Harbaugh was rated #1. IMO at SF he showed
that he has a short shelf life; after 3-4 years, the players
will start tuning him out, and the team will decline
significantly. Also not quite sure why everyone's so high
on Gruden as it's 9 years since he's coached, and nothing
since '02 has indicated he was anything special.

Also : This article is definitely does NOT require Insider.
Was wr

by dbt :: Fri, 01/05/2018 - 3:25am

You could say the same thing about Belicheck in Cleveland as you say about Harbaugh here -- it was clear that Harbaugh was being undercut by the front office before his 4th season started and everyone knew he was getting fired that offseason no matter what. The team only hired him from Stanford to drum up PSL sales for the new stadium.

by coboney :: Fri, 01/05/2018 - 5:26am

On Harbough - he lost the power struggle with Balke and that hampered some there and the situation became rough. If you go ask 49er fans around, we'd all rather have kept Harbough who showed he was a creative offensive mind with the ability to work with a good staff and a variety of players rather. Especially over Baalke who will go down infamously as the guy who booted him and whose claim to fame was basically being the GM after Scott McC who left the cupboard stocked and he kept drafting redshirt players who never panned out.

by JoeyHarringtonsPiano :: Fri, 01/05/2018 - 6:51am

I thought the main issue was that he and Jed York despised eachother (I’m not a Niners fan, so maybe you know better), and Harbaugh kept showing blatant disrespect to York in public. There was the famous story where York walked into a meeting between Harbaugh and the players, and Harbaugh said, “This meeting is for men only”.