The head coaching firing frenzy in the NFL is off and running, with the Los Angeles Rams letting the forever below average Jeff Fisher go last week and the Jacksonville Jaguars relieving the once promising defensive mastermind Gus Bradley of his duties following their embarrassing loss to the Tom Savage led Texans this past Sunday. Both franchises are obviously in need of new head coaches, and there are plenty of names floating around, including Patriots offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels, ESPN football analyst Jon Gruden, and Stanford University’s head man David Shaw, to name a few.
But I wonder this, which job is more appealing? Both teams are, for lack of a better term, crap, but which organization is more appealing to a potential head coach? Let’s take a look.
Los Angeles Rams
Division: NFC West
Last Winning Season: 2003
QB Jared Goff, RB Todd Gurley, DT Aaron Donald, DE Robert Quinn (Currently on IR), WR Tavon Austin, DT Michael Brockers, LB Mark Barron
With the recent move back to Los Angeles comes new fans, new marketing opportunities, and new pressure to win. The Rams have two young, highly drafted offensive pieces to build around, last years top overall pick, quarterback Jared Goff, and the 2015 Offensive Rookie of the Year, running back Todd Gurley. Neither have had any sort of success this season, likely due to the defensive minded Fisher failing to change the offense up, an atrocious offensive line, and a lack of weapons at receiver. When your top pass catchers are Kenny Britt, Tavon Austin, and Brian Quick, that’s not good.
The defense has some pieces, mainly in the front seven. Aaron Donald is an All-Pro and Quinn and Brockers are studs in the trenches. The secondary is pretty bad, and needs to be fixed.
The Rams are back in LA and everyone is happy about it (except the people of St. Louis), however now that they’re back, the fans want a winner. This team isn’t ready to win right now, and needs a few seasons to rebuild. The problem with the Jeff Fisher era was that this team never seemed to improve, they either got worse or stayed the same. The fans understand that the team needs to rebuild, but they never saw that happening under Fisher. The next coach must have a plan to build around Goff and Gurley that will make them better, not 7-9.
Division: AFC South
Last Winning Season: 2007
Notable Players: QB Blake Bortles, WR Allen Robinson, WR Allen Hurns, CB Jalen Ramsey, DE Dante Fowler Jr, DT Malik Jackson, LB Myles Jack, LB Paul Posluszny, LB Telvin Smith
Coming into this season, I thought this was going to be the year the Jaguars turned it around. Blake Bortles was coming off a fantastic year statistically, with the Allen’s coming back along with the addition of Chris Ivory. They drafted Jalen Ramsey 5th overall and then stole Myles Jack in the 2nd round, to go along with the free agent signing of Malik Jackson from the Broncos. A young, high powered offense that was going to score points and a young, developing defense that was going to be able to hold opponents to low scores, that’s what I thought the Jaguars would be. Not quite a playoff team, but a team that was on the cusp of something, maybe 7-9 or 8-8.
That didn’t happen. As of right now the Jaguars are 2-12, Bortles has gotten worse and can’t seem to make basic throws, and the defense, while its one of the better units in terms of yards per game, is near the bottom of the league in scoring, giving up 26 points a game.
The main thing for the Jags is can they go forward with Bortles, or is it time to take the franchise in a new direction. That’s the decision a new coach will have to come in and make, keep Blake or draft their guy. As of right now the team will be picking in the top 3 this coming April, and with that may have their choice of quarterbacks available.
Their running game has been by committee this season, with 2nd year tailback TJ Yeldon splitting time with Chris Ivory. Neither has been overly impressive, so it may be time to go out and find a franchise back, as that seems to be the way the league is going.
The defense, while is has underperformed, has potential. Ramsey has the makings of an All-Pro corner, the linebacking core is as solid as they come, and they have play makers on the d-line. Adding a young safety would boost the secondary, and the addition of another pass rusher could allow them to move Dante Fowler to linebacker, where he may be more effective.
The Jaguars are a team that has the pieces to win now but needs better direction. Any coach who comes in will have more immediate pressure to win now, especially if they decide to move forward with Blake Bortles.
And the winner is…
Between the Rams and the Jags, I’m going to have to go with Jacksonville being the better destination. There are simply more pieces there to work with. Rather than fixing a defense, you can sit back and watch it develop. Blake Bortles has had a bad season, that undeniable, but he has shown in the past that he can produce at a high level. Goff, while I still believe he has a chance to be very good, hasn’t proven anything yet, so Jacksonville’s quarterback situation is a much safer one to walk into. Either way, a new coach will be working in some good weather.