The Houston Texans were the first team to fire their head coach and general manager this offseason. Conveniently, they were the same person, so there was only one termination package, one COBRA benefits package to process, one awkward meeting with HR. This head start for the Texans has been spent putting together a committee to help the final decision makers, and assembling a preliminary list of candidates.
Since the firing of Bill O'Brien, two other teams have joined the Texans in the race for a head coach and GM — the Atlanta Falcons and the Detroit Lions. The Jacksonville Jaguars have fired their longtime GM, and the head coach is probably not far behind. As we speculated last week, there will be as many as a half dozen or so other teams to fire either a head coach, a GM, or both.
When it comes time for prospective head coaches and general managers to assess which open jobs are the best, I would imagine the state of a team's quarterback position will weigh heavily in their assessment. To me, it's the most important thing, by far, in evaluating a job opportunity. The quarterback situation, whether it's the existing starter or the team's ability to acquire a franchise QB (i.e. draft equity), is like the final exam in a college course. It counts for about two thirds of the grade.
To that end, here are my rankings of the QB situation of the ten teams we discussed as possible job openings last week:
10. CHICAGO BEARS
The Bears made what will be ultimately remembered as one of the worst quarterback decisions this century back in 2017, when they traded up one spot to the second overall pick in the draft, and took Mitchell Trubisky in the same draft where Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson went 10th and 12th, respectively. They've exacerbated the problem by adding Nick Foles and his bloated contract to compete with Trubisky. This is a complete teardown at quarterback.
9. DENVER BRONCOS
This all depends on how you feel about second year QB Drew Lock, who at the very least, is not very good at following COVID protocols. (He and the other two quarterbacks were held out of Week 12 because they weren't wearing masks in the building during meetings. Lock has not progressed as a quarterback or leader in Year 2.
8. PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
The Eagles gave Carson Wentz a monster extension before the 2019 season, and now, two years later, he is benched for rookie Jalen Hurts and has $59 million in dead money on his deal if the team cuts or trades him. If Doug Pederson is fired, the new coach may be forced to try to rehab Wentz's career because moving him would be cost prohibitive.
7. ATLANTA FALCONS
6. DETROIT LIONS
These are two nearly identical situations, with two Matts, Ryan and Stafford, in their 30's, trying to make one last run in the twilight years of their careers. The Lions are slightly higher on the board because Stafford is the younger quarterback.
5. DALLAS COWBOYS
Dak Prescott is on a franchise tag this season, and will be coming back from a gruesome leg injury in 2021. I would expect him back with the Cowboys, possibly on a second franchise tag. If so, a new head coach would presumably have a motivated, and still relatively young, franchise QB.
4. NEW YORK JETS
3. JACKSONVILLE JAGUARS
These are likely the two teams picking at the top of the draft in 2021, which means you'll have one of Trevor Lawrence or Justin Fields as your quarterback moving forward. Slight edge to the Jags, because they have 13 selections in the draft, including two first round picks and two second round picks.
2. LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
This is the one job that COULD open up where you would have a productive young QB with several years remaining on his rookie deal. Justin Herbert should win the Offensive Rookie of the Year award. As of Wednesday, he was a -300 favorite to win it.
1. HOUSTON TEXANS
Two words. Deshaun Watson. That is all.