The Texans rid themselves of Bill O’Brien after an 0-4 start and vaulted ahead in the race to sign up a successor. Every day the Lions, Jets, and Falcons don’t fire their respective head coaches, they fall further behind in the race to line up potential replacements. Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, Bills offensive coordinator Brian Daboll, and 49ers defensive coordinator Robert Saleh have all been named as possible replacements for Matt Patricia, Adam Gase, or Dan Quinn.
Even in early October, back-channel conversations between franchises and prospective coaches are commonplace, and engaging in one-on-one conversations can ultimately make the difference between landing a guy or not. Teams would do better to court specific targets openly rather than keep their distance and risk losing the guy they want.
This system works both ways. No matter what they say in press conferences, Patricia, Gase, and Quinn are not delusional. Owners would be smart to fire coaches midseason, rather putting on pretenses and then canning them the first week of the offseason. Letting them go early gives them a chance to figure out their own next steps.
Another issue at play here is front office continuity, and these three teams are in different circumstances:
1. The Jets’ general manager Joe Douglas just started there last June and figures to be safe. The Jets are a little peculiar because owner Woody Johnson has been serving as the US ambassador to the United Kingdom and his son Christopher has been running the team. As Albert Breer has noted, the election may play a role in the direction that the franchise takes from here.
2. The Lions should fire GM Bob Quinn. He’s been there since 2016, and the franchise has only gotten worse under his leadership. His handpicked coach, Matt Patricia, has flopped. Lions owner Martha Ford ceded control of the organization to her daughter Sheila Ford Hamp in June. so there should be a big shakeup in Detroit soon.
3. It’s still unknown whether Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff is safe. However, owner Arthur Blank had to explain his decision to retain Dimitroff and Dan Quinn last December, and the Falcons have had an abysmal 0-4 start. It’s possible that Dimitroff is out as well.
All three of these franchises need to figure out how they want to restructure their organizations, if at all, so that they can land the new head coach of their choice.