The Arizona Cardinals were rumored to be moving on from Steve Wilks after only one season prior to their game against the Seattle Seahawks anyway, but Seattle’s 27-24 victory over the Cardinals surely didn’t do him any favors during a 3-13 season. Sure enough, the Cards did fire Wilks on Monday, less than 24 hours after the game.
Also fired this week have been Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals, Adam Gase of the Miami Dolphins, Vance Joseph of the Denver Broncos, Todd Bowles of the New York Jets, and Dirk Koetter of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns also have vacant head coaching positions based on firings earlier this season.
The Packers fired head coach Mike McCarthy following a Week 13 loss to Arizona, which was two weeks after a Thursday night loss to the Seahawks helped solidify that Green Bay was going to miss the postseason barring a miraculous finish. Seattle also shutdown the Minnesota Vikings in Week 14, a win loss for the Vikings that made it clear that the Seahawks would likely be a wild card, and they fired offensive coordinator John DeFilippo the next day. The Vikings missed the playoffs on Sunday after losing to the Chicago Bears.
The Carolina Panthers also fired two assistant coaches roughly eight days after a loss to Seattle again sent the teams in opposite directions.
As of now, that makes three NFC head coaching jobs available, with the Panthers standing by Ron Rivera, the Vikings by Mike Zimmer, and Washington by Jay Gruden. More jobs could potentially become available, but with this much competition for head coaching candidates already in the mix, it might not be the best timing. How many good head coaching candidates are there out there really?
Consider that the Bears are 12-4 in their first season with Matt Nagy, the LA Rams are 24-8 in two seasons under Sean McVay, the LA Chargers are 21-11 in two seasons with Anthony Lynn, and the Indianapolis Colts are 10-6 in the first season with Frank Reich. Change can be good. But hirings like those of Gase and Bowles also drew high praise, while Reich was an afterthought in the carousel last season, so predicting which outcomes will be positive is night impossible.
I would doubt that Seahawks defensive coordinator Ken Norton gets much attention if based on the strength of Seattle’s defense this season, unless someone gives him credit for doing so with so many pieces of the puzzle missing. The Rooney Rule does mean that each of these eight teams must interview a minority candidate, but there are also many worthy minority head coaching candidates, which could include interviews with the recently-fired Lewis, Joseph, Bowles, and Hue Jackson, along with former Seahawks defensive coordinator Kris Richard; I would expect Richard to get an interview before Norton.
Offensive coordinator Brian Schottenheimer could also have his phone ringing based on a season that saw Russell Wilson throw a career-high in touchdowns while Seattle led the NFL in rushing. The difference between Schottenheimer and Darrell Bevell, who never got a serious look as a head coach? Probably name. But there also more nuances to human beings than that and it’s possible that Schottenheimer is just a better interview, a more charming person, or more impressive in being able to display knowledge of the league. That’s not to say that he is any of those things, I’m just throwing out random examples of what could help a candidate, but if Schottenheimer gets a head coaching job it would not be all that surprising to me.
I have no idea what the relationship was like when it ended, and that the fans might hate it, but perhaps a reunion with the Jets, where Schottenheimer was OC for six years, including two AFC Championship game appearances and a top running game, could make sense. I’d think it would be better to pair Schottenheimer with a young quarterback who is already there, rather than an unexciting veteran (Ryan Tannehill, Andy Dalton), and working with Sam Darnold might be in his and their better interest. Just a thought.
Or maybe the Cards would like him to take a closer look at their offense while sharing Pete Carroll’s secrets. They’re on the lookout as well and the competition for coaches should be heavy.