The coaching carousel has already claimed a few early victims — Jeff Fisher with the Los Angeles Rams and Gus Bradley with the Jacksonville Jaguars — and might take down a few more men in the next 10 days or so. But when its all said and done, it might not be a year of massive coaching turnover.
Even still, it appears that one very familiar name might be close to the top of two teams’ lists, and it’s not some Johnny Come Lately coordinator we’re talking about.
Pro Football Weekly first reported that Tom Coughlin might be the odds-on favorite to replace Rex Ryan, who appears to be on the outs with the Buffalo Bills. ESPN’s John Clayton had a similar report on Buffalo radio, adding a nugget about Tyrod Taylor as well.
John Clayton on @WGR550. Said he's hearing Bills will move on from Rex and Tyrod. If Rex is fired Clayton feels Tom Coughlin will be the guy
— Howard WGR (@hsimon62) December 21, 2016
How about that?
The fascinating backdrop of all of this is that Coughlin met with Ryan and Bills officials about a position with the club this past spring, a job that reports say Ryan initiated. That sounds nice, but we now wonder what the true genesis of those discussions was. (Perhaps it was Terry and Kim Pegula getting a jump on replacing Ryan if things went sour this fall, as they have.)
Coughlin and Ryan once coached concurrently in New York with the Giants and Jets, respectively, between 2009 and 2014. Their styles and approaches couldn’t have been more different. During that time Ryan might have earned more headlines, but Coughlin was leading a run of more sustained success. During their chats about the Bills this year, Coughlin and Ryan reportedly determined that they might not be a great match as co-workers.
Heh, go figure. Now Coughlin could replace Ryan a few hundred miles up the road. What a fascinating development this would be.
Not only would Coughlin be landing in a very interesting spot, but it would also be about where he’s not landing: Jacksonville, the assumed favorite for his services considering his ties to the area, the appearance of a good fit there and the recent comments by Jaguars GM Dave Caldwell that the team is interested in talking to him.
But it now appears that though the Jaguars might have interest in Coughlin, it could be for show more than for dough — as in, the Bills might be more serious about truly wanting him. And that could set up a terrific division storyline where twice a season Coughlin would be facing his old nemesis/co-worker Bill Belichick; the NFL’s youngest head coach, the Miami Dolphins’ Adam Gase (Coughlin, at 70, would be the oldest); and facing the Jets, which would get the NYC media all lathered up with a fresh coat of hot takes.
The Bills have not been afraid to turn back the clock in the past. Marv Levy was the NFL’s oldest head coach when he stepped down in 1997 at age 72. The Bills also brought Levy back as an executive to run the team later. Coughlin is considered young and spirited for his age, so that shouldn’t be an issue immediately.
Who Coughlin might want to tab for quarterback and how he’d help tune up a flawed but talented roster would be discussions for another day. Right now, the more interesting talk is that the two-time Super Bowl-winning coach appears lined up for a third head-coaching job in the NFL and that it might not be the one most assumed.
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