A Ride on the NFL Head Coach Carousel

The end of the NFL football season is less than a week away, with the Super Bowl on February 1 set to be the culmination of the 17-week regular season and four rounds of playoff games.

Following last Sunday’s Conference Championship round matchups, the New England Patriots and Seattle Seahawks have prevailed as the two teams who will meet in Glendale, AZ to battle it out for the Vince Lombardi trophy.

For many of the other 30 NFL teams, preparations for next season are already underway in the form of personnel changes, draft scouting, and signing players to future contracts.

The personnel changes for multiple teams have included the firing and hiring of new head coaches, offensive and defensive coordinators, and general managers.

The NFL coaching carousel is in full rotation, so let’s hop on board and take a look at what new names and faces will be running the sidelines for multiple teams next season.

Oakland Raiders

Former Head Coach: Dennis Allen/ Tony Sparano (named Interim Head Coach after Allen’s firing)
Dennis Allen, the first NFL head coach fired during the 2014 season, made it just four weeks into the season before being axed. After starting the season 0-4, Raiders management decided to call an end to Allen’s tenure at the helm. In Allen’s two-plus seasons as head coach, the Raiders went just 8-28. Offensive line coach Tony Sparano was named interim head coach. The Raiders finished the season 3-13 and will have the third pick in April’s NFL draft.

New Head Coach: Jack Del Rio

Jack Del Rio

Jack Del Rio

Though the Raiders season just ended a little over three weeks ago, with a 47-14 loss at the hands of the Denver Broncos, the team has already named their new head coach- the defensive coordinator of those very same Broncos this season, Jack Del Rio. An 11-year pro with 18 years of coaching experience, Del Rio brings a solid resume to Oakland. As Head Coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars from 2003-2011, Del Rio compiled a record of 68-71 and twice led the Jaguars to the playoffs. This season, Del Rio’s third as defensive coordinator, the Broncos defense ranked 3rd in the league in total defense and 2nd against the run, allowing just 79.8 rushing yards per game. The Raiders may be a long way away from championship caliber on the field, but having a head coach like Del Rio, a proven defensive coordinator with experience running a team, should certainly help with getting things turned around in Oakland.

Denver Broncos

Former Head Coach: John Fox
In addition to a new defensive coordinator next season, following Del Rio’s departure for Oakland, the Denver Broncos will also have a new head coach in 2015. The Broncos and head coach John Fox amicably parted ways after the Broncos were eliminated from the playoffs with a divisional round loss to the Indianapolis Colts. Fox took over as head coach of the Broncos in 2011 after nine years at the reins of the Carolina Panthers. In four seasons with Fox as head coach, the Broncos went 46-18 and made the playoffs all four years, including a Super Bowl appearance in 2013. Fox’s career head coaching record stands at 119-89 with seven playoff, and two Super Bowl, appearances.

New Head Coach: Gary Kubiak

Gary Kubiak

Gary Kubiak

With the head coaching job vacant, Broncos general manager John Elway turned to a familiar face to fill the job- former teammate, and later offensive coordinator, Gary Kubiak. Kubiak’s relationship with Elway goes back to 1983, when he began a nine-year tenure in Denver as Elway’s backup quarterback. He was named the Broncos offensive coordinator in 1995 and held that position until 2005. Kubiak spent 2014 as the offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens after seven-plus seasons as head coach of the Houston Texans. He was fired by the Texans in Week 14 of the 2013 season after leading the team to a 2-11 record. He went 61-64 as head coach of the Texans, leading the team to the playoffs twice.


Chicago Bears

Former Head Coach: Marc Trestman
The Chicago Bears clawed their way to a disappointing last-place finish in the NFC North in 2014, ending with a 5-11 record under head coach Marc Trestman. Trestman, who found success coaching the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League (CFL) from 2008-2012, leading them to two Grey Cup victories in five seasons, lasted just two seasons with the Bears. In his two-year stint with Chicago, Trestman led the Bears to a 13-19 record, with the team missing the playoffs both years, before being relinquished of his duties. Trestman was not without a job for long though, as he was recently named the new offensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens, replacing the departing Gary Kubiak.

New Head Coach: John Fox

John Fox

John Fox

Leaving one head coaching job for another, former Denver Broncos coach John Fox will take over as the man running the show on the Chicago sideline next season. Fox has 13 years of head coaching experience under his belt, to go along with 26 total years of coaching experience in different roles at the NFL level. Fox guided the Carolina Panthers to a winning record in three of his nine seasons with the team from 2002-2010, advancing to the playoffs in each of those three years, and reaching the Super Bowl in 2003. In four seasons leading the Broncos, Fox directed Denver to four consecutive playoff appearances. His 119 career regular season wins gives him the fifth most among active head coaches.

New York Jets

Former Head Coach: Rex Ryan
A tenure that began with such a bright start has finally come to an end, as the New York Jets chose to fire Rex Ryan after six seasons as the team’s head coach. His first head coaching job, Ryan led the Jets to the playoffs in each of his first two seasons and gained a reputation around the league for being well-liked by his players, but struggled to guide the Jets to a winning season after the early success. The Jets twice finished 8-8 and managed to win just 10 additional games over the past four seasons, that lack of winning drawing a close to Ryan’s time with the Jets organization. Prior to his time with New York, Ryan had worked as the defensive coordinator for the Baltimore Ravens from 2005-2008.

New Head Coach: Todd Bowles

Todd Bowles

Todd Bowles

To replace Ryan, the Jets signed former Arizona Cardinals defensive coordinator Todd Bowles to a multi-year contract. With eight years of NFL playing experience, a member of the Super Bowl XXII-winning Washington Redskins, and fifteen years working in different coaching positions at the pro level, Bowles brings plenty of football experience to the table. Under Bowles in 2014, the Cardinals defense allowed the fifth-least points against per game and advanced to the Wild-Card round of the playoffs. Bowles does have limited head coaching experience, taking over as interim head coach for the Miami Dolphins in 2011 after the firing of Tony Sparano. The Dolphins went 2-1 under Bowles, ending their season at 6-10.


Buffalo Bills

Former Head Coach: Doug Marrone
After fulfilling just two of the three years on his contract with the Buffalo Bills, Doug Marrone chose to exercise a three-day out-clause that allowed him to leave Buffalo and still collect his 2015 salary in the case the Bills changed ownership. In October, the sale of the Bills to Terry and Kim Pegula by the estate of former Bills owner Ralph Wilson was unanimously approved by the other 31 NFL owners. On December 31, Marrone chose to utilize his opt-out clause within the allowed three-day window and depart Buffalo. Following success as the head coach of Syracuse University, Marrone took his first NFL head coaching job in Buffalo. Marrone leaves Buffalo with a 15-17 record as head coach, and was hired by the Jacksonville Jaguars to be their offensive line coach next season.

New Head Coach: Rex Ryan

Rex Ryan

Rex Ryan

The Bills chose a familiar face to replace Marrone, hiring the former head coach of the division rival New York Jets, Rex Ryan. Ryan, who coached the Jets for six seasons, was one of twelve potential candidates who interviewed to fill the Bills coaching vacancy. Ryan’s knowledge of the AFC East’s teams- the Jets, Miami Dolphins, and New England Patriots- should be an advantage in joining the Bills staff. He ended his six seasons with the Jets with a 46-50 record, leading them to the playoffs twice. The Bills are without a first round pick as of right now, having traded it away to acquire Cleveland’s first round pick last season, and drafting wide receiver Sammy Watkins. With quarterback Kyle Orton retiring, it will be up to Ryan and the Bills front office to find a new quarterback- whether that happens via the draft, through free agency, or choosing to stick with E.J. Manuel who they drafted in 2013. Needless to say, he’ll have his hands full right away.

San Francisco 49ers

Former Head Coach: Jim Harbaugh
The San Francisco 49ers and head coach Jim Harbaugh chose to mutually part ways following a disappointing 2014 season, finishing 8-8 and missing the playoffs for the only time in Harbaugh’s four years. Harbaugh, who played 14 seasons as an NFL quarterback, agreed to a seven-year contract with his alma-mater, the University of Michigan, to be head coach of the Wolverines football team. In his two previous head coaching jobs at the college level, Harbaugh guided the University of San Diego to two one-loss seasons and then, the Stanford Cardinal, to a one-loss 2010 season ending with a victory in the Orange Bowl. His career record coaching at the NCAA level is 58-27.

New Head Coach: Jim Tomsula

Jim Tomsula

Jim Tomsula

Following one Jim with another, the 49ers decided to stay in-house with their hiring, promoting long-time defensive line coach Jim Tomsula to head coach. Prior to joining the 49ers staff in 2007, Tomsula spent nine years in different coaching positions for four teams in NFL Europe. He was defensive coordinator for the World Bowl XII-winning Berlin Thunder in 2004, and head coach of the Rhein Fire in 2006. In 2010, following the firing of Mike Singletary, Tomsula became head coach of the 49ers for one game, a 38-7 win over the Arizona Cardinals.



Atlanta Falcons

Former Head Coach: Mike Smith

New Head Coach: N/A
The Falcons have yet to hire a head coach for the 2015 season, but are expected to name current Seattle Seahawks defensive coordinator Dan Quinn to the job following the Super Bowl. With the Seahawks still playing, no announcement can be made, as Quinn remains in the employ of the team.