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Coaching Changes Abound In NFL

How about some football talk, I know I can use it...

It hasn't even been a week since the end of the regular season, yet coaches are being fired, quitting, and retiring at a fever pace.  There are already 5 openings on NFL teams, with some big names finding themselves out of work.  Let's take a look at the teams and which direction they might go in to find a replacement --

Pittsburgh Steelers -- The worst kept secret of 2006 was the status of Bill Cowher in Pittsburgh.  From the moment it became public knowledge that Cowher and his family had moved back to North Carolina the speculation arose that this could be it for "The Chin" in the Steel City.  Cowher will make the announcement official on Friday, giving the Steelers a chance to talk to their own in-house candidates who are sure to be hot prospects in other cities.  

Offensive Coordinator Ken Whisenhunt already has an interview scheduled in Atlanta and Assistant Head Coach Russ Grimm would have gotten the Lions' job last season had the Steelers not advanced all the way to the Super Bowl.  Even Defensive Coordinator Dick Labeau, former head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals, might get a looksie from some NFL teams.

As for Cowher, I expect him to take a year off before coming back to the league in a high profile/high paying job in a place like Dallas or Washington, both of which will probably have openings in the next couple of years.  There is talk that the Dolphins will make a play with a big offer the minute Cower announces his resignation.

Miami Dolphins -- Speaking of the Miami, the Dolphins start the search for a new head coach for the 4th time since Don Shula retired in 1995.  By now everyone has heard of the Nick Saban debacle, and listening to Owner Wayne Huizenga the team has no idea which direction to go.  He even went so far as to ask the media and fan base for any opinions, good or bad, that they had for the team.  Yikes.  Besides Cowher, the Dolphins will also take a close look at Jim Bates, the interim coach after Dave Wannstedt resigned, as well as Jim Mora, who just got fired in Atlanta.  No matter who it is the Dolphins will probably take there time and search high and low.  Since Shula each coach has been hand picked and the results have been disastrous.  I can't help but think that the presence of Don Shula might have something to do with all the coaching mal-content.  He was unhappy with Jimmy Johnson, wasn't a fan of Wannstadt, and had nothing but bad things to say about Saban.  It can;t be easy following a legend, especially when he is still on the Board of Directors and he is the only coach to have a "perfect" season.

Oakland Raiders -- It seems the "false rumor-monger" was right after all.  It is being leaked that Art Shell won't be back after a 2-14 season.  Whether Shell quit or was asked not to return remains to be seen but it is obvious Shell won't be back.  Finding a replacement won't be easy, especially with a skeleton in a sweat-suit running the show.  As Al Davis has gotten older his treatment of coaches has gotten worse and since John Gruden begged his way out of town the Raiders have seen a steady stream of failure follow with Bill Callahan, Norv Turner and Shell.  Leading the way might be D-Coordinator Rob Ryan who actually did a nice job with the Raider defense this past season.  With the #1 pick in the draft and two quarterback right at the top of everybody's draft board an offensive mind might be the better choice but with the skeleton you know he isn't thinking about what's best.

Atlanta Falcons -- It was the antics of Jim Mora off the field as much as the bad play of the Falcons on it that cost Mora his job.  After getting caught telling a Seattle radio station that the UW job was his dream and he would "leave the Falcons immediately" if the job were open Mora tried to play it off as a joke.  Too bad Falcons owner Arthur Blanks wasn't laughing.  Neither were the fans that had watched 2 years of late season collapses.  Having your dad call the star QB a "coach-killer" isn't a good way to maintain quality relationships in the locker room either.  Atlanta will start with Whisenhunt, and if they can't land him they will probably stay with the strong offensive mind to try and get the most out of Michael Vick.  In hindsight the Falcons were probably better off sticking with Dan Reeves, under whom Vick had his best season to date.

Arizona Cardinals -- Pete Carroll's name keeps being bandied about, but I can't see Carroll leaving the college game, especially with what went down with Saban.  The Cardinals have a lot of talent, especially on the offensive side of the ball, and will be very tempting to a coach looking for quick results.  Ownership concerns will always surround the team, with the Bidwell's having a reputation for keeping there hands in every aspect of the organization.  They will probably not want to lose out on the hangover from the new stadium, as well as the Super Bowl which comes to Arizona next year.  Bobby Petrino from Louisville is a possibility, as are San Diego O.C. Cam Cameron, Chicago D.C. Ron Rivera and former Packers coach Mike Sherman.

There are a couple of situations to keep a close eye on, depending on how this weekend's playoff games turn out.

If the Giants get run out of Philly, Tom Coughlin's days in the Big Apple would be numbered, though I have a feeling the Giants' brass are sending feelers right now to a certain college coach who might just be thinking he'd be better off in the NFL.  (When exactly did Notre Dame win a bowl game last??)  The Seahawks are another team that may have an opening after the season.  Mike Holmgren almost walked away after the Super Bowl, and might actually do it if the Seahawks were to get back, or get shown the door by the Cowboys this weekend.