We might as well start off with the most obvious one, since we are currently only one of two teams to have already fired their HC. Hiring Rhule was a mistake from the start, and allowing him to stay another season instead of getting one of the promising coaching candidates from last year's cycle hurt us even more. However, at least the damage is done, and we can finally look forward to anyone other than Rhule coaching our team next year.
Best Replacement: Shane Steichen, OC, Eagles
I'm sure Tepper will try to go after the big-name former head coaches like Peyton and Quinn, but I doubt they would want to coach here anytime soon, which means he'll have to settle for one of the other candidates. Reich will almost certainly get interveiwed because of his coaching experience, but I don't see Tepper hiring a guy who or more less coached a medicore team led by bad QB play when those are the problems he's trying to fix with his own team. Wilks will be in the conversation too, but I think he'll be the fall-back option in case all of the other candidates turn down the job. With that being said, I think the most realistic option is that one of the current OCs for a contending team will be our next HC.
Yes, there are some really good defensive candidates out there too, but it's quite obvious which side of the ball we need help with, and it would make sense to get a guy who can help develop our next QB. Even though most fans won't want to hear this, I do think Bienemy is the most likely candidate since he's interviewed with us before, supposedly left a positive impression, and he has an extensive resume full of NFL experience and offensive success. However, I'm hoping that Bienemey either turns us down or gets hired by someone else, since I don't think he's the best candidate available. Even though Dorsey and Roman are also solid options, I think the clear-cut best candidate available would be the Eagles' OC, Shane Steichen. The first reason why he's a good fit for us is because even though he's 10 years younger than Rhule, he still has over 3x the amount of NFL experience. From his work with Herbert as the OC of the Chargers, to his incredibly impressive development of Hurts with the Eagles, Steichen has shown that he is a young, offensive mastermind who can build an offense around the talents of his QB.
Now for the only other team that has fired their HC, the Colts made the somewhat surprising decision to fire Reich after they once again failed to get competent QB play this season. Even though Reich is a solid coach, he was kind of screwed by Luck's retirement, since they have failed to find a franchise QB, or even win a playoff game, since his retirement.
Best Replacement: DeMeco Ryans, DC, 49ers
Almost all of the Colts' problems seem to lie on the offensive side of the ball, but the trend in the NFL tends to be that once you fire a coach from one side of the ball, you typically try and hire someone from the other side. As such, since Reich was an offensive-minded coach, I have a feeling that they'll be looking at the top DCs. Quinn is arguably the best one available, but he just seems like a weird fit for the Colts, especially because he is almost like a defensive-minded Reich. From there it basically comes down to Ryans and Gannon, since they are both young DCs coaching the best defenses in football right now. Ultimately I gave the edge to Ryans since his defense is doing slightly better than Gannon's even though his team as a whole has been performing much worse, and because he just seems to be getting more hype as a coaching candidates.
Every year there's at least one team with a surprise firing, and I think this year that could be Washington. Even though Rivera does have a division title and playoff appearance with the Commanders, he has yet to have a winning season with them, and bad QB play once again has them looking at a mediocre finish. But, more importantly than all of that, it seems very likely that the Commanders will be sold by next year, and when that happens, teams typically like to bring in a new HC to give their new owner some optimisim for the upcoming season. While I would feel bad for Rivera if he got fired from another coaching job, I honestly think it would be for the best to get him away from that dysfunctional organization.
Best Replacement: Ken Dorsey, OC, Bills
Considering the Commanders will be moving on from a defensive-minded coach, have a lot of issues on offense, and need someone to fix their QB room, it seems safe to say that their next HC will be from the offensive side of the ball. While I think Bienemy will be highly considered, I don't think it would be a good idea for them to hire a coach with a questionable history when they're dealing with their own controversies. With that being said, Dorsey is arguably the best fit for them since he has Panthers' connections to Hurney, who is currently Washington's Executive VP of Player Personnel, he is coaching one of the best offenses in football right now, and can hopefully do for Wentz (or whoever their next QB ends up being) what he did for Allen.
Another potentially suprise firing, the Chargers are currently projected to miss the playoffs, which is inexcuable considering the amount of talent they have on that team. Their owner has to realize that their window of opportunity is tied to Herbert's expiring rookie contract, and to have zero playoff appearances in his first 3 seasons is simply a waste of his talent.
Best Replacement: Sean Payton, Former HC, Saints
This fit just seems too obvious for several reasons. The first is that the Chargers would be firing a defensive-minded coach, so getting an offensive mastermind like Payton makes sense. The second is that Payton has an extensive history of playoff success, including a Super Bowl win, and got the most out of his Pro-Bowl QB, so pairing him with a talent like Herbert would be exciting. The third is that Payton would only come out of retirement for a few opportunities, and getting to coach one of the best QBs in the league in LA seems like a dream come true for him.