Black Monday has come and gone, and with the New York Giants firing head coach Joe Judge on Tuesday there are seven head coach openings in the NFL.
With Brian Flores re-entering the unemployment ranks, add him to the qualified crop of strong Black head coaching candidates who would immediately elevate the profile and winning trajectory of any team that hires them.
The Jacksonville Jaguars job is an intriguing opening because a franchise QB is already in tow. Trevor Lawrence is still considered a generational talent and has established chemistry with some other talented offensive pieces on the Jags roster.
This franchise needs quality leadership in the aftermath of Urban Meyer’s disastrous tenure.
Keeping GM Trent Baalke makes this job a bit unattractive, as no one really wants to work with a control freak. It’ll take a veteran coach to deal with him. So that dynamic cancels out one of the leading Black coaching candidates in former Jaguars quarterback and current Bucs offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich.
We should also rule out Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy, who is long overdue for a head coaching opportunity but is looking more and more like the heir apparent to Andy Reid in K.C. He’s probably going to sit tight, because quarterbacks of Patrick Mahomes’ ilk don’t grow on trees.
Jim Caldwell is a proven winner and a highly informed veteran coach who’d be able to handle Baalke’s aggressiveness and bring respectability back to the franchise and brand.
Jacksonville Needs A Proven Coach
Caldwell’s 36-28 record with the Lions proves he can win in an imperfect setting. He’s as even-keeled as you’ll find and will treat the players like men. He’s the anti-Urban Meyer. Then again, his road to NFL head coach was filled with obstacles and systemic racism, so Caldwell didn’t enjoy Meyer’s privilege.
Caldwell is the perfect candidate for the Jags. His past work with quarterbacks such as Peyton Manning is proof of Caldwell’s ability as a QB guru.
Leftwich may have an outside shot because of his good standing with the franchise and popularity with the fan base.
Happy birthday (yesterday) to THIS man, Jim Caldwell. Great coach, great man. pic.twitter.com/PNDCxnwrZ7
— Jim Irsay (@JimIrsay) January 17, 2021
Black Coaches Get The Quick Hook
Flores’ firing is another example of Black coaches always having to be better sooner than their white counterparts.
As New England Patriots defensive coordinator, Flores orchestrated the best defensive performance in Super Bowl history by holding the high-powered Rams to three points in Super Bowl 53.
His 4-2 record versus his former boss Bill Belichick speaks volumes. He also went 3-3 versus the Bills over his three seasons in South Beach.
The Vikings need to fix a once proud defense, and owner Zygi Wilf would be wise to bring in Flores. He’s going to field a formidable defense and provide some resistance against Aaron Rodgers and the Packers.
Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles could be a possibility here. He’s led the Buccaneers’ Super Bowl defense for the past two seasons.
He also had some really good defenses with the Jets during his time as their head coach.
In Chicago, the Bears parted ways with head coach Matt Nagy and GM Ryan Pace. Now they need to find a coach to develop QB Justin Fields, who showed flashes of being a franchise quarterback.
He made strides as a passer and got better with his understanding of NFL defenses. The offense also features running back David Montgomery and speedster Darnell Mooney at receiver.
This is another great landing spot for Byron Leftwich. His work in Tampa with Jameis Winston and now with Tom Brady (as far as his ability to adapt to different styles and craft offenses personally designed to the strengths of each QB) is what makes Bucs head coach Bruce Arians rave about Leftwich.
His work ethic is exceptional and his experience as an NFL quarterback enhances his decision-making as an offensive coordinator. He would work wonders with Fields. Let’s see if the Bears have the intelligence to make that call.
“Byron (Leftwich) has been amazing for me to work with…” Tom Brady said of OC Byron Leftwich, who will interview to the Jags HC job. Brady believes Leftwich will get his opportunities to be a HC in the future. pic.twitter.com/X0b7KSmizT
— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) December 30, 2021
John Elway has struggled to put a winner on the field in Denver since Peyton Manning retired following the team’s 2015 Super Bowl win. He’s made poor personnel decisions, has no playoff appearances and hasn’t found a new quarterback.
The team just parted ways with defensive guru Vic Fangio, who lost more than he won. Now the team needs to address the QB situation with all the talent they have on offense. Despite trading future Hall of Famer Von Miller, the defense was still top 10 in scoring defense and yards allowed.
This would also be a great spot for Eric Bieniemy, but the belief is he isn’t leaving KC and Patrick Mahomes.
Another hot name is Colts offensive coordinator Marcus Brady. He would be a great fit in the Mile High City.
His CFL experience preceded his time in Indy under Frank Reich. He’s been a QB coach and helped guide the Colts to two top-10 offensive rankings. In his first season (2021) as offensive coordinator, the Colts fielded a top-three scoring offense.
— Around The NFL (@AroundTheNFL) January 25, 2021
Black General Managers
ESPN “MNF” analyst Louis Riddick is a candidate for a GM position. Both the Bears and Vikings parted ways with their GMs on Black Monday.
The NFC North squads are very intriguing, with the Bears holding Fields and the Vikings packing plenty of weaponry at the skills position with receivers Adam Thielen and Justin Jefferson.
Riddick came right out and said on ESPN that the Bears GM position is most attractive because of “Justin Fields.”
The question remains will the teams look to hire a GM before a head coach or hire the GM and let them make the coach hire. That’s the tricky part in both situations, as most GMs want to hire their guy and not just take the guy that’s there.
Riddick, who spends most of his time dropping jewels on ESPN, would bring clout, knowledge and class to either situation, as both teams could use someone of his stature and likability around the league.
MNF's Louis Riddick reacting to the firing of Ryan Pace on @dpshow
"That's what they needed to do. I do believe that that becomes job number one that people would want. I believe that become job number one because of Justin Fields."
— Mark Grote (@markgrotesports) January 11, 2022
Las Vegas Raiders
The Giants should just go sign Flores and Riddick and hand that tandem the keys to the kingdom. After three seasons of Joe Judge, a change gon’ come.
Huff and Puff But Nothing Changes
The numbers of African-American NFL coaches is now sadly down to two. As WFAN radio personality Chris Carlin put it: “The Rooney Rule is not working.”
Mike Tomlin and David Culley are the lone brothers leading NFL teams in a league that is more than 70 percent Black.
For a league that also had an all-time high of eight minority coaches in 2018, it’s a sad state of affairs, and hopefully these qualified coaches get a shot.
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