The Los Angeles Rams ‘ firing of Jeff Fisher on Monday means that one of the most attractive coaching jobs in the NFL is officially open.
Rams owner Stan Kroenke will likely have a long list of candidates to choose from thanks in large part to the team’s very appealing situation: They’re getting a new stadium in 2019, they have a young nucleus and the new coach will have a chance to make a name for himself in one of the world’s largest media markets.
Those are only a few of the reasons why the Rams job is so enticing.
So who will Kroenke and the Rams’ brass look at during the search?
Let’s take a look at a few of the possible names, starting with one that was thrown out by CBS Sports NFL Insider Jason La Canfora. La Canfora has reported that the Rams will likely hire an offensive-minded coach and he expects them to look at someone like New England Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels.
La Canfora also reported that he expects the Rams to revamp their front office by dumping general manager Les Snead and hiring someone new. After that, the new GM would work with Kroenke to hire a coach.
Here are a few of the candidates the Rams might look at.
McDaniels: The Patriots offensive coordinator has already made it clear that he wants to be a head coach again, and if the Rams make an offer, he might not be able to pass it up. If McDaniels were to take the job, he would have a quarterback ( Jared Goff ) and a running back ( Todd Gurley ) to build his offense around, something he didn’t have during his first (and only) head coaching stint with Denver (2009-10) after butting heads with Jay Cutler , who forced a trade to the Chicago Bears . McDaniels’ stint with the Denver Broncos is mostly remembered for one thing: He was the guy who wasted a first-round pick on Tim Tebow .
Atlanta Falcons OC Kyle Shanahan: Shanahan might have just auditioned for the Rams’ job without even knowing it. In Fisher’s final game as Rams coach Sunday, he watched his defense give up 42 points to Shanahan’s offense as the Falcons rolled to a 42-14 win in Los Angeles. Shanahan is the architect of an offense that leads the NFL in points scored and ranks third in total yards. From Kroenke’s perspective, the biggest knock on Shanahan would probably be the fact that he has never been an NFL head coach.
Washington Redskins OC Sean McVay: At just 30, McVay might be too young for this job. However, he hasn’t been too young to run the Redskins offense. McVay has been the team’s offensive coordinator since 2014, which means Washington clearly wasn’t scared off by his age. The gamble on McVay has paid off so far as the Redskins’ offense ranks second in total yards this year.
Pittsburgh Steelers OC Todd Haley: Like McDaniels, Haley’s first stint as a head coach didn’t work out so well. Haley was hired as the Kansas City Chiefs coach in 2009 and despite making the playoffs in 2016 he didn’t even last three seasons. After the Chiefs started 5-8 in 2011, the team let him go. Haley then latched on with the Steelers in 2012, where he has been since. Over the past three seasons, the Steelers offense has been ranked in the top seven of the NFL.
Seattle Seahawks OC Darrell Bevell: No one in this group knows more about the Rams than Bevell. As the Seahawks offensive coordinator, Bevell gets to go up against the Rams twice a year. Although Seattle’s defensive coordinators — namely Dan Quinn and Gus Bradley — have been hired for coaching jobs in the NFL, Bevell has stuck around Seattle since 2011. As someone who has been an assistant coach for his entire career, the 46-year-old Bevell might be ready to take a head coaching job if he can find the right spot.
Detroit Lions OC Jim Bob Cooter: Although Cooter has only been the Lions’ offensive coordinator since October 2015, he has already completely transformed Detroit’s offense. Under Cooter’s direction, Matthew Stafford ‘s numbers have skyrocketed over the past year. Thanks to Cooter and Detroit’s offense, the 9-4 Lions are now in prime position to get back to the playoffs for the second time in three years.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Mike Smith : After watching the Rams struggle under Fisher, the team might be afraid to hire a defensive-minded coach. However, if they do decide to go that route, Smith would be a decent choice. Before being hired as Buccaneers defensive coordinator this year, Smith spent seven seasons in Atlanta (2008-14) overseeing a team that had one of the best offenses in the NFL. The offense in Atlanta was successful because Smith always made sure to have a smart offensive coordinator. During his time with the Falcons, who qualified for the playoffs four times in Smith’s first five years, the Falcons coach hired both Mike Mularkey (2008-11) and Dirk Koetter (2012-14) to serve as his OC.
The problem with Smith is that he would be the opposite of a splashy hire, and there’s a good chance Kroenke will be looking to make a splashy hire.
Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh: When Harbaugh and the 49ers parted ways in 2014, it was reported that Harbaugh wanted to stay in the NFL, but he went to college because there weren’t any great NFL jobs available. Well, now there’s one available. If Kroenke gives Harbaugh a blank check, you have to think the Michigan coach would at least consider taking the job. For one, he would get a chance to beat down the 49ers twice a year, and two, he could finally win a Super Bowl, something he missed out on after the 2012 season. Harbaugh’s competitiveness is legendary and nothing would get his competitive juices flowing like the thought of destroying the 49ers and Seahawks in the NFC West on the way to a Super Bowl win with the Rams.
Jon Gruden: There has long been a belief that Gruden would leave ESPN if the right coaching job became available, and this could very well be the one. Gruden is a QB guru who would be getting a QB he actually likes in Jared Goff. Before the 2016 NFL Draft, Gruden had high praise for Goff during his QB camp.
“I think Jared Goff has everything I’m looking for in the pocket,” Gruden said in early 2016. “He has great feet. He keeps his feet alive at all times. He takes punishment. He’ll create new launching spots. He’s a very talented pocket passer. I would want him if I were still coaching.”
That last sentence is the most interesting one because Goff’s team needs a new coach and Gruden is available.
Tom Coughlin: Coughlin wants to return to the NFL and the Rams might actually make some sense. In Coughlin, Kroenke would get a two-time Super Bowl-winning coach who probably wouldn’t stick around for long because he’s 70. Kroenke could hire Coughlin with the understanding that coach would help the Rams get through their next two years at L.A. Coliseum. Before the 2019 season, Coughlin could retire, and then Kroenke could make a splashy hire to open the Rams’ new stadium.