NFL Assistants Who Could Earn Promotions This Offseason
12 teams in the NFL will see their seasons continue following the events of Sunday's Week 17 games, but for the other 20, the long cold winter...and spring and summer...begins, and some teams will need a new head coach to guide them through the new wilderness.
Look no further than these seven coordinators, guys who have proven to be quite valuable behind the scenes, and finally deserve the recognition...success or fail...of a head coaching job.
Matt Patricia, New England
Romeo Crennel. Charlie Weis. Eric Mangini. Could Patricia finally be the one that blooms the Bill Belichick coaching tree? With the success he has had with the Pats, it's entirely possible. Everyone always points to Belichick and his incredible work with Tom Brady and the offense as the reason the Patriots have been dominant since Albert Pujols made his MLB debut, but Patricia's defense have brought the other elite quarterbacks of the league to their knees. In today's era of offensive worship in the NFL, Patricia's brand of old school defense stands as refreshing, and we'd love to see what he could do in a head coaching gig.
Jim Bob Cooter, Detroit
Ok, ok, yes we know his name is Jim Bob Cooter. You done? Great.
Many coordinators tasked with replacing one of the greatest wide receivers in NFL history would cringe and make excuses. Cooter (stop it!), on the other hand, has seen his offense flourish. The Lions' offense has not lost much of a step, rather setting themselves up for a winner takes all game with the Green Bay Packers on Sunday night. Cooter has also made great use out of Matthew Stafford, helping the QB cut down on his massive passing attempts, which could save his longevity for a Lions team dying for consistency. Whoever so hires him as an HC to due for a laugh...not just for the name, but for the success they'll have as well.
Steve Spagnuolo, NY Giants
As one New York City sports legend once said..."It's deja vu all over again!" Spagnuolo helped lead the New York Giants to unlikely Super Bowl glory via a tremendous unit featuring Michael Strahan and Osi Umenyiora in 2007, and now it looks like he has a chance to do the same with newly minted Pro Bowlers Landon Collins and Janoris Jenkins leading the way. The Giants, despite boasting a highly weaponized offense, have had to squeak by in several victories this season, but the defense has bailed them out a majority of the time. Spags floundered in his first head coaching opportunity, leading the then-St. Louis Rams to just 10 wins in three forgettable years, but I think we know a certain coach in New England who kind of made the most of his second opportunity as a head coach after several more years as coordinator.
Bob Sutton, Kansas City
Quietly, the Kansas City Chiefs have amassed a 21-5 record over their past 26 regular season games, and ended playoff victory drought last season. Sutton has been a part since Andy Reid began to oversee the mini midwestern football renaissance, taking over in 2013. During his time in KC, Sutton has overseen the development of defensive beasts like Marcus Peters, Justin Houston, and Derrick Johnson, all of who have experienced breakouts under Sutton. His defenses may not have the flashiest numbers, but there's no denying how integral he has been to the Chiefs' success, more of which could be in store for us next month.
Scott Linehan, Dallas
Linehan was given the unusual title of "passing game coordinator" upon his 2014 arrival to America's Team, but the success both Tony Romo and Dak Prescott have enjoyed under his supervision has made good offensive showings not-so-unusual, and Linehan has since been promoted to full time offensive coordinator and play caller. Under Linehan, Romo garnered MVP consideration in 2014, and Prescott has taken the league by storm. Previously, Linehan mentored another quarterback who has lit up the statsheet on Sundays, serving as Matthew Stafford's first OC with the Detroit Lions. Linehan likewise fizzled as an NFL head coach previously, but the success he has had in resuscitating both the Lions and Cowboys offenses cannot be denied.
Ken Zampese, Cincinnati
A promotion to head honcho, frankly, should've happened awhile ago for Zampese. At the turn of the new century, Zampese partook in the Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf" offense for two seasons, including a year as the wide receivers coach. Since 2003, he has been in the Bengals organization, serving as the quarterbacks coach up until last season. In his system, Zampese allowed the Bengals to produce consistency at the most important position in football, as Jon Kitna, Carson Palmer, Andy Dalton, even AJ McCarron in limited time, have all enjoyed success. Zampese got one promotion this season, moved up to offensive coordinator, and with rumors circulating that Marvin Lewis could be headed for a self-imposed exit following the Bengals' meaningless final weekend game, Zampese could finally get his long awaited opportunity, one that has eluded him since his NFL entry in 1998.
Kyle Shanahan, Atlanta
Shanahan's two-time Super Bowl champion father Mike has been out of football since 2013, but he has definitely made a name for himself. Kyle has overseen the fiery Atlanta Falcons offense, guiding Matt Ryan to his best season yet, and giving Falcons fans hope that further playoff success is in their future. Atlanta ranks in the upper echelons of the league in many major offensive categories, and Shanahan is the one to thank. He has also ensured the offense has not experienced too much of a drop-off in the injury-related absence of Julio Jones.
Which assistant do you see as a head coach one day? Tweet @GeoffMags5490 and keep the conversation going.
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