Ken Whisenhunt, Tennessee Titans
Where was he before? Whisenhunt was the Chargers' offensive coordinator last season. Before that, he was the head coach of the Cardinals, where he went 45-41 with a 4-2 playoff record. Whisenhunt brought the Cardinals to the Super Bowl in 2009, but Arizona lost to the Steelers.
Why he was a good hire: Whisenhunt did excellent work this season with Philip Rivers, helping revitalize the quarterback's career. He is an experienced head coach who has won multiple playoff games.
Why he was a questionable hire: Whisenhunt was never able to develop a young quarterback in Arizona, struggling with Matt Leinart, Kevin Kolb, and John Skelton, among others. Tennessee has a struggling young quarterback right now in Jake Locker.
Jay Gruden, Washington Redskins
Where was he before? Gruden has been the Bengals' offensive coordinator the past three seasons. Prior to that, he coached in the AFL and spent time as an assistant coach with the Buccaneers.
Why he was a good hire: Gruden worked with a young quarterback the past three years and he'll be working with one in DC. And anyone is better than Mike Shanahan at this point. And he has a famous last name.Why he was a questionable hire: Andy Dalton never really seemed to turn a corner under Gruden's watch and the Bengals offense has struggled in big spots. There were more proven options available. Gruden has been hesitant about running the read-option in the past and now his quarterback is RG III.
Jim Caldwell, Detroit Lions
Where was he before? Caldwell has been the Ravens' offensive coordinator for the past year-and-a-half. Before that, he was Baltimore's quarterbacks coach and he also spent three seasons as the Colts' head coach. Caldwell went 26-22 with the Colts and brought Indianapolis to the Super Bowl, where they lost to the Saints.
Why he was a good hire: Caldwell did some good work with Joe Flacco during the 2012-2013 season and now he gets to work with the more talented Matthew Stafford. He has playoff experience as a head coach.Why he was a questionable hire: Did you see the Ravens' offense this season? We're also pretty sure that Peyton Manning actually coached the Colts during Caldwell's tenure.
Mike Zimmer, Minnesota Vikings
Where was he before? Zimmer has spent the past six seasons as the Bengals' defensive coordinator. He held the same title for the Cowboys from 2000-2006.
Why he was a good hire: Zimmer was one of the most respected assistant coaches in the NFL. He turned the Bengals' defense into one of the league's best and is beloved by his players despite his disciplinarian approach.Why he was a questionable hire: Is there a reason he went so long without being promoted to a head job? Also, the Vikings need more help on offense than they do on defense - is Zimmer the right option for that?
Lovie Smith, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Where was he before? Smith was the Bears' head coach from 2004-2012. In Chicago, Smith compiled an 81-63 record, including a 3-3 postseason record and an appearance in the Super Bowl.
Why he was a good hire: Smith consistently fielded very good teams in Chicago and is a proven effective head coach. Anyone is better than Greg Schiano.Why he was a questionable hire: Smith's offenses have often struggled and he has had in-game management issues. Has any of that changed after one year off?
Bill O'Brien, Houston Texans
Where was he before? O'Brien was the head coach of Penn State the past two seasons. Prior to that, he worked a bunch of different offensive assistant jobs for the Patriots from 2007-2011.
Why he was a good hire: O'Brien did impressive work in his brief time as Penn State. He was groomed under Bill Belichick and once yelled at Tom Brady, which is awesome!Why he was a questionable hire: Have you seen the work of other Belichick proteges as NFL head coaches? Eric Mangini. Josh McDaniels. Romeo Crennel. Yikes.
Cleveland Browns, HELP WANTED!
Why people are hesitant to take this job: They've fired their head coach after one season each of the past two years. FACTORY OF SADNESS.
Top candidate: Rumor has it that Adam Gase, the Broncos' offensive coordinator, is the front-runner.
If he passes on the job: Make Brandon Weeden head coach?
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