An Early Look at Panthers Head Coach Options in January

CHARLOTTE NC - NOVEMBER 07: Jerry Richardson owner of the Carolina Panthers watches on before the start of their game against the New Orleans Saints at Bank of America Stadium on November 7 2010 in Charlotte North Carolina. (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

For the first time in the John Fox era, there's no hope in November.  And to a lot of fans, December can't be over soon enough.  This is easily the most dismal season in Panther history, even more so than the 2001 edition that saw the team finish out with 15 straight losses.

That squad had it's share of problems, but at least it fielded a team on both sides of the ball.  While I believe this team has more talent, I'm starting to come around to Scott Fowler's view that it would lose to that squad.  This may be the worst Panther team in franchise history.

And we all know why.  It's not just that Richardson went cheap all of the sudden.  The Panthers don't have the lowest payroll in the league, they're not even close.

It's not that Richardson cut all the veterans, although that's part of it.  Most of the significant cuts took place on the defensive side of the ball, and that's not where the problem is.

The main issue is that the Panthers went into the season with a lame duck head coach who hasn't been given as much ability to shape his team as he has in the past.  The Panthers are a young team with a coach who likes veterans.

Fox hasn't lost the team, but that doesn't mean he's reaching them like he has in the past.  And the lack of a veteran QB is just killing the team.  Right now, three wins looks like a reasonable expectation for how this edition of the Panthers finishes.

Unfortunately, that probably won't be enough to guarantee a shot at a true franchise quarterback, not with the Bills, 49ers and Cowboys out there.  And that's going to be important sooner than you might realize.

Check out the list of coaches currently employed but in the hot seat after the jump...

The first order of business for Marty Hurney after this season is to sign a new head coach.  And that's not as simple as it sounds.

One effect of the lack of a CBA this year was to encourage teams to keep their coaches for the 2010 season.  There's no sense in giving a coach a contract, and then paying him to sit around during the lockout.  And few owners would want to do that for both a new coach and the guy they just let go.

So, coaches like Wade Phillips, Marv Lewis, and John Fox probably got a little more time than they would otherwise.  And that just means that more teams will need a new coach this year.

Phillips is already gone.  Fox is as good as gone.  And don't be surprised to see Turner out of San Diego, Childress out of Minnesota, Whisenhunt out of Arizona, and Singletary out of San Fransisco.

And there are several more on the bubble.  Chan Gailey might not survive a 1-15 season, even if he is in his first year.  Mangini's never seemed secure in Cleveland, and Cable works for Al Davis.  Kubiak might not survive in Houston without a playoff appearance.  Josh McDaniels is bombing in Denver after a promising start, and if Lovie Smith can't get his team in contention with what they paid for, he might be out in Chicago.

It's not outside the realm of possibility that there might be ten openings this year.  And that's nine teams that the Panthers have to compete with to find the next great head coach.

Obviously, this topic is much bigger that something which can be discussed in a single post.  But to get started, take a look at the following list of potential coaching candidates.

Among the retreads, we have the familiar names like Cowher and Gruden, but don't forget Billick and Phillips (God forbid!).  After the wave of firings, you can add several more names to the list.  

Guys like Petrino and Saban gave college coaches a black eye for a while, but Pete Carroll may prompt GMs to look that way again.  John Harbaugh and Bob Stoops are genuine candidates to try their hand in the big leagues, and for a little local flavor I've even heard Butch Davis' name pop up.  And how would the Panthers like to see Les "Mad Hatter" Miles on the sideline?  Tired of punting on fourth and one?

But the short odds are on another coordinator.  So, to really start the discussion, here's a handy table of all the current OCs, DCs, and Assistant HCs in the league right now.
Head Coach Offensive Coordinator Defensive Coordinator Assistant Head Coach
Buffalo Bills Chan Gailey Curtis Modkins George Edwards
Miami Dolphins Tony Sparano Dan Henning Mike Nolan Todd Bowles (Secondary)
New England Patriots Bill Belichik Bill O'Brien * Corwin Brown * Dante Scarnecchia (Offensive Line)
New York Jets Rex Ryan Brian Schottenheimer Mike Pettine Bill Callahan (Offensive Line)
Baltimore Ravens John Harbaugh Cam Cameron Greg Mattison
Cincinnati Bengals Marvin Lewis Bob Bratkowski Mike Zimmer Paul Alexander (Offensive Line)
Cleveland Browns Eric Mangini Brian Daboll Rob Ryan Brad Seely (Special Teams)
Pittsburgh Steelers Mike Tomlin Bruce Arians Dick LeBeau John Mitchell (Offensive Line)
Houston Texans Gary Kubiak Rick Dennison Frank Bush Bill Kollar (Defensive Line)
Indianapolis Colts Jim Caldwell Clyde Christensen Larry Coyer
Jacksonville Jaguars Jack Del Rio Dirk Koetter Mel Tucker
Tennessee Titans Jeff Fisher Mike Hiemerdinger Chuck Cecil Craig Johnson (Running Backs)
Dave McGinnis (Linebackers)
Steve Watterson (Strength and Conditioning)
Denver Broncos Josh McDaniels Mike McCoy Don Martindale
Kansas City Chiefs Todd Haley Charlie Weis Romeo Crennel Maurice Carthon
Oakland Raiders Tom Cable Hue Jackson John Marshall
San Diego Chargers Norv Turner Clarence Shelmon Ron Rivera Rob Chudzinski (Tight Ends)
Dallas Cowboys Jason Garrett ** Jason Garrett * Paul Pasqualoni **
New York Giants Tom Coughlin Kevin Gilbride Perry Fewell
Philadelphia Eagles Andy Reid Marty Mornhinweg Sean McDermott Marty Mornhinweg
Washington Redskins Mike Shanahan Kyle Shanahan Jim Haslett Bobby Turner (Running Backs)
Chicago Bears Lovie Smith Mike Martz Rod Marinelli Rod Marinelli
Detroit Lions Jim Schwartz Scott Linehan Gunther Cunningham Gunther Cunningham
Green Bay Packers Mike McCarthy Joe Philbin Dom Capers Winston Moss (Linebackers)
Minnesota Vikings Brad Childress Darrell Bevell Leslie Frazier Leslie Frazier
Eric Bieniemy (Running Backs)
Atlanta Falcons Mike Smith Mike Mularkey Brian VanGorder Bill Musgrave (Quarterbacks)
Carolina Panthers John Fox Jeff Davidson Ron Meeks Jim Skipper (Running Backs)
New Orleans Saints Sean Payton Pete Carmichael, Jr. Gregg Williams Joe Vitt (Linebackers)
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Raheem Morris Greg Olsen Raheem Morris * Richard Biscaccia
Arizona Cardinals Ken Whisenhunt Russ Grimm *
Mike Miller *
Billy Davis Russ Grimm (Offensive Line)
St. Louis Rams Steve Spagnuolo Pat Shurmer Ken Flajole Richard Curl (Quarterbacks)
San Francisco 49ers Mike Singletary Mike Johnson Greg Manusky
Seattle Seahawks Pete Carroll Jeremy Bates Casey Bradley
* Calls the plays, but has a different primary duty
** Interim
Red type indicates a strong probability of a coaching change.
Orange type indicates a possibility of a coaching change.
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