Reports came out a few days ago from a handful of credible sources that the Baltimore Ravens and Head Coach John Harbaugh were preparing for a mutual split following the 2018 NFL season. Harbaugh has been the coach of the Ravens since 2008. And the team has enjoyed some good memories with the tenured coach. A Super Bowl win in New Orleans, 15 playoff games, 10 of which were won. The first five of his six years in Baltimore were winning seasons. But ever since winning Super Bowl 47, it just hasn’t been the same. Ever since Ray Lewis and Ed Reed were no longer there to be vocal leaders in the locker room and on the defense. Luck has certainly played a factor into why the Ravens haven’t been able to get themselves back into the playoffs and over the hump. The Antonio Brown touchdown on Christmas two years ago that eliminated them from the playoffs. The 4th and 12 play that ended in a touchdown and ultimately ended up eliminating them from the playoffs last season as well. But bad luck doesn’t cause you to go 44-45 over the last five years.
Baltimore has missed the playoffs the last three years and it looks to be a fourth with the way this season has looked so far, as the Ravens sit at 4-5 and in a tough spot. Looking at the standings, 9 wins might just get them a seat at the table in the playoffs. But that means they would have to go 5-2 with their remaining schedule. And with the way the team has been coached and the way they have played, I don’t think many people are confident they will do so. You never know which team you are going to get, the Ravens that got 11 sacks vs Tennessee, or the Ravens that showed up vs the Panthers and couldn’t get anything going for four quarters. I just can’t see it happening.
Owner Steve Bisciotti said last offseason he contemplated firing Harbaugh. If and when they do reach the same conclusion as the 2017 season, I can’t see him extending him. If the reports due happen to be true, which I think they are, which direction should Bisciotti and Eric DeCosta go for their new Head Coach? I’ve got five names in mind.
- Eric Bieniemy-OC-Kansas City Chiefs
A former running back that played nine seasons on three different rosters in the NFL is at the top of this list. Expect him to be on the top of a few other lists as well, as teams and front offices will be knocking down his door to attempt to bring him in as a first time Head Coach. Bieniemy started as a running back coach. Coaching for Colorado, UCLA, the Minnesota Vikings and the Kansas City Chiefs before becoming their offensive coordinator this season.
As offensive coordinator this year, Bieniemy has oversaw a unit that is ranked third in total offense, fourth in passing and 13th in rushing. That’s not a bad first year. Now, there will naysayers who say he’s just a product of having great dynamic offensive players like Tyreek Hill, Kareem Hunt and Patrick Mahomes. One can also argue that Bieniemy has maximized the talent that was on his offense. When he was the running backs coach in Minnesota and in Kansas City, Adrian Peterson, Jamaal Charles and Kareem Hunt all had monster seasons with Bieniemy as their coach.
The last two offensive coordinators for Andy Reid are now both Head Coaches and successful ones. Doug Pederson is fresh off a Super Bowl win and Matt Nagy is currently the Head Coach in Chicago as they are in first place atop the NFC North. Beinieny could very well be the next guy from the Andy Reid coaching tree to land a head coaching job in the NFL. And a young offensive minded head coach would be something Lamar Jackson could benefit from.
2. John DeFilippo-OC- Minnesota Vikings
Another young offensive minded coach that will get a lot of interviews is Vikings offensive coordinator, John DeFilippo. A long time Quarterbacks coach for several teams at the pro and college level is also a first-time offensive coordinator this season. He’s oversaw an offense that is ranked 8th in the NFL, as Kirk Cousins is leading the league in passes completed, 7th in passing yards and 9th in passer rating. Cousins has had quite the year as the Vikings are in prime position to make the playoffs at 5-3-1 as of now.
DeFilippo was the quarterback’s coach in Philadelphia last season when Carson Wentz had an MVP like season before blowing out his knee in week 14. It’s also when backup QB Nick Foles had one the more polarizing runs in professional sports and won the Super Bowl and Super Bowl MVP beating Bill Belichick. An offensive minded head coach that’s good with quarterbacks? Sounds like a pretty good fit.
3. Matt Campbell-HC-Iowa State
The Iowa State Cyclones are currently ranked 16th in the nation. Winning their last five, which all happen to be conference games in the Big 12. One of their wins being the sixth ranked team in the country, West Virginia. Iowa State might just be one of the hottest teams in the nation right now, and the guy to look at to attribute their success is head coach Matt Campell. Campbell was the coach of the year last season in the BIG 12, and is riding the wave into 2018 and possibly right into the 2019 NFL offseason. Campbell will surely be one of the more sought-after college head coaches as the NFL will have several head coaching vacancies to fill. And right now, he’s the hottest name in the college ranks, not with the last name Riley.
Before arriving at Iowa State, he was the head coach at Toledo. Putting together a record of 35-15. Finishing first in the west of the Mid-American Conference. He’s put together a pretty good offense with the likes of Hakeem Butler, David Montgomery and true freshman quarterback Brock Purdy. All eyes will be on the Cyclones and Campbell as they face off against Texas Saturday night, who right now are ranked 15th in the nation. If he can outcoach Tom Herman this weekend, expect the whispers to get even louder.
4. David Shaw-HC-Stanford
Shaw will be another college head coach that will get a lot of buzz this offseason. Shaw was once a Ravens coach. From 02-05, he was a quarterback and wide receivers’ coach. He also was an offensive coordinator at Stanford under Jim Harbaugh from 07-10. Since taking over as Head coach after Harbaugh left, he’s won PAC 12 coach of the year four times. Putting together a 79-26 record winning three Rose Bowls, also winning the PAC 12 three times in 2012, 2013 and 2015.
5. Todd Monken-OC-Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Despite the Buccaneers current QB fiasco, the team’s offense seems to be thriving, despite them being 3-6 and last in the division. The team’s offense is ranked first in total offense, averaging over 450 yards a game and first in passing, averaging just over 360 yards a game. Makes you wonder what kind of offense Monken could run if he had a stable offense with a young quarterback to work with.
Monken is also a first-time NFL offensive coordinator. Before that he was a wide receiver’s coach, a quarterback coach and an offensive coordinator. He was the head coach at Southern Miss where he only had one winning season. But getting Southern Miss to 9-5 isn’t a bad accomplishment with the amount of recruiting they receive. Monken is a dark horse, but expect him to get some calls this offseason, especially after Head Coach Dirk Koetter took his play calling away and he didn’t get the same results when Monken was calling them.
Wrapping things up
I know some people are wondering why Lincoln Riley isn’t on this list. To put it quite simply, it’s a pipe dream. Riley is sitting on a pretty comfy 5-million-dollar salary at Oklahoma and has it made. He’s probably a god in Norman, taking in what he’s done in just two short years, I’d say he’s probably going to be reluctant to leave. And if he does decide to make the jump, I think there are only two teams that will push him to make the jump. The Browns for obvious reasons and the Cowboys. Seeing as how he’s Texas born and bred. What kid in Texas didn’t dream of coaching the Cowboys growing up? If that opportunity does come knocking, I don’t think he would turn it down.
When the offseason does roll around, I think the Ravens head coaching job will be one of the most coveted, all biases aside. The Ravens have only been in the NFL since 96’. And since then, the organization has only had three head coaches. Two under current owner, Steve Bisciotti. What that tells you is that the organization has stability. And that’s what every head coach, or every future head coach is probably looking for when they take a job. Especially a first-time head coach. Steve Bisciotti said in January of 2017: “I didn’t get to where I was by just firing people.” That kind of mind set will hopefully put them in a position to sign their first choice. Whoever that choice maybe when the time comes.