Ranking the Best 2021 Head Coaching Candidates
By Max Staley
Black Monday in the NFL has come and gone, and as is tradition, there are now a ton of organizations looking for a new leader. To be specific, there are six head coaching gigs available, as of this article. But there are way more than six candidates generating real buzz around the league.
It's tough to rank coaches in a vacuum because success in the NFL is so dependent on situational fit. But there are definitely some candidates that feel more likely to succeed than others. Here's our ranking of the top available head coaching candidates for 2021.
Top NFL Head Coach Candidates 2021
11. Honorable Mentions
- Josh McDaniels, OC, New England Patriots
- Matt Eberflus, DC, Indianapolis Colts
- Raheem Morris, Interim Head Coach, Atlanta Falcons
- Todd Bowles, DC, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
10. Byron Leftwich, OC, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Byron Leftwich's Tampa Bay Buccaneers are rolling right now. With offensive guru Bruce Arians at the helm, and Tom Brady leading a flat-out loaded offense, it's fair to wonder how much of the credit should go to Leftwich. But it's hard to argue with the results.
9. Greg Roman, OC, Baltimore Ravens
Greg Roman built the most dominant rushing attack the NFL had ever seen in 2019. After a slow start to 2020, the Ravens finally returned to form down the stretch this season. It's fair to question if he can replicate the success without a dominant rushing QB, though, as his best seasons have come with Lamar Jackson and Colin Kaepernick leading the way.
8. Marvin Lewis, Co-DC, Arizona State
Marvin Lewis isn't the flashiest hire, but his tenure with the Cincinnati Bengals looks much better in retrospect. They were competitive under his watch and a disaster once he left. He's as solid a leader as it gets.
7. Urban Meyer, FOX Sports
Urban Meyer has come out of nowhere to be one of the hottest coaching candidates on the market. He's also perhaps the biggest wild card of the bunch. One of the most decorated collegiate coaches of all time, Meyer's resume is impossible to argue with. But whether or not it'll translate to the next level is anyone's guess.
6. Brandon Staley, DC, Los Angeles Rams
The Los Angeles Rams' defense was talented last year, but it wasn't playing up to its potential. Enter Brandon Staley. The Rams are now a top-three defense in the NFL, and they're in the playoffs because Staley's unit carried them there. He's one of the best young defensive minds in the league.
5. Robert Saleh, DC, San Francisco 49ers
Robert Saleh built a championship-caliber San Francisco 49ers' defense in 2019. Even though unit was ravaged by injuries in 2020, Saleh still had this defense playing some extremely efficient football. Saleh should be the first call for any team looking for a defensive-minded head coach.
4. Joe Brady, OC, Carolina Panthers
The Carolina Panthers aren't the most talented offense, but Joe Brady had that unit punching way above its weight class at times in 2020. And when working with a more loaded group in 2019 at LSU, he built arguably the best offense in NCAA history.
3. Brian Daboll, OC, Buffalo Bills
Brian Daboll has been with Josh Allen from the beginning. He's helped transform a raw, talented QB into one of the most dangerous passers in the league. Daboll feels like a great fit for any team looking to develop a young QB.
2. Eric Bieniemy, OC, Kansas City Chiefs
Under Eric Bieniemy, the Kansas City Chiefs have consistently been one of the league's most dominant offenses. Yes, it's a loaded group, but Bieniemy deserves a ton of credit. He missed out on a job last year despite being a top candidate, but that almost certainly won't happen again.
1. Arthur Smith, OC, Tennessee Titans
What Arthur Smith has done in two short seasons as the Tennessee Titans' OC is northing short of remarkable. He's salvaged Ryan Tannehill's career and turned him into one of the most efficient passers in the league. That's officially not a fluke, as he's carried that into 2020. It's no surprise all six teams with an open job have reportedly shown interest in Smith.
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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.