Sports

NFL insider notes: Why coach hirings could shift back to defense, Giants come to senses and more on carousel

Could this be the main training cycle where defensive coordinators reign supreme? Could the pendulum end up swinging back to the side of the ball, at least smidge?

It is fair to at least consider the possibility.

Yes, the game is all about scoring points and protecting the players and the rules tend to favor offense. And NFL owners have shown an increasing tendency to rent from this side of the ball, looking for whispering midfield players and playing callers and preferring this profile above all others. But Lonnie is at least somewhat optimistic that perhaps some of these decision makers will be more open when it comes to the traits and disciplines that matter most when hiring a head coach.

Obviously, we’re still very early in the process. I felt like a fool at times when some of the initial slates of candidates represented a broader panorama of potential appointments. I wouldn’t quite believe that preferences change and searches are more based on merit until I see it with my own eyes, but there is reason to believe that this course will probably be different than many in recent history.

It looks like there are more defensive coaches that are really in demand, and more guys on this side of the ball are getting the chance to interview for multiple jobs. As it should be. The combination of an experienced coach, a defensive mindset and an innovative offensive coordinator has always made the most sense to me when it comes to managing an entire football team, and it probably will in some of these cases.

Cowboys defensive coordinator Dan Quinn was always shaping up to be one of the most in-demand coaches in this market, reaching the Super Bowl as head coach in Atlanta and getting a lot of attention turning up Team America’s fortunes. Dallas is always in the spotlight and Quinn’s work has been noticed quickly and in abundance, and if you told me he was the next head coach for the Broncos or the Vikings or the Dolphins, well, I wouldn’t blink at all.

Winning eight of his last nine games wasn’t enough for Brian Flores to keep his job in Miami, but it was enough to capture the attention of other front offices, and he’d get an audience with several owners as well. Chicago has always been a defensive type of city, and former Bear Leslie Fraser was a great fit there. Todd Bowles might be the next coach in Tampa if Bruce Ariane steps aside, and I could also see him in Minnesota, where he was runner-up to Mike Zimmer eight years ago. Or Las Vegas, if that opens. Vance Joseph, who was briefly coach of the Broncos, did a great job defending in Arizona and would probably do even better as a captain the second time around.

Times may be variable, at least small. Since the way these owners have done it in the past few cycles wasn’t even close to working in many cases, the groupthink didn’t work.

Common sense prevails in the release of Judge of the Giants

Sometimes, common sense still prevails in this league. In the end, it happened with the New York Football Giants.

Joe Judge had no business to be an NFL head coach for two years. It was a huge miscalculation on the part of the monarchy, a fickle panic reaction, and they should know better than to let Bill Belichick lead them. Shame on them. And better late than never for Giants fans, by the time they’ve spent a few more hours with Judge this week, exploring his vision for the team after outrageous in-game misbehavior and his ridiculous Pablum press conference, they’ve come up with the only reasonable decision, which was to terminate his contract.

Getting a reasonably successful General Manager candidate to take the job while having to stick with a judge has always been ridiculous. And trying to sell it to your fan base as season ticket renewals kick off and a half-year vacation season kicks in would have been counterproductive. History may indicate that John Mara won’t get the last reboot right, but at this point anything would be better than continuing this damned experience.

If you read this space regularly, you know I’ve always been skeptical that even Mara would stick with this, despite all the smoke that’s been put out all these weeks about how much support the judge has had in the monarchy. Even those who have kept peeking tabs on this two-year debacle will know that Judge’s lack of self-awareness and lip-smacking might lead him to hang himself in early January. And he did just that.

More internal notes

  • The only name I’ve heard most around him associated with this Giants GM job is Bills GM Assistant Joe Schoen. Very cool dude, with a very impressive CV…
  • The Giants submitted a request for an interview with Ravens Director of Scouting Joe Hortiz, which makes sense. But I’d also be very curious to see what kind of reaction they’d have if they reached out for permission to interview Hortiz’s boss, Ravens director Eric DeCosta, about his interest in the position. There was a mutual admiration there before. The worst thing crows can do is refuse permission…
  • Rick Smith, the former longtime general manager of Texas, is someone the Chicago Bears should think twice about talking to as they restructure their organization…
  • The aircraft assistant GM Rex Hogan was highly thought of. The team’s luck has been tough, but I wouldn’t be shocked if their name gets traded as the search continues…
  • If I were to compile a research on GM myself, Rams executive Brian Zanders, a former Denver general manager, would surely have…
  • I still wouldn’t be surprised if the Houston Texans did a coach search by the end of the week, if not sooner…
  • Just surprised the bears asked permission to meet Colts exec Ed Dodds up to this point. That may change in the next few days.

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