NFL Props: Next Coach of Rams, Bucs Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 1/4/2012
Last week in my NFL Week 17 props story, I recommended that bettors on Bovada take the ‘over’ three head coaches fired from the end of Week 17 until the first playoff game – which is this Saturday. I figured at worst it would be a push, because the Tampa Bay Bucs’ Raheem Morris, St. Louis Rams’ Steve Spagnuolo and Minnesota Vikings’ Leslie Frazier were all goners and that the San Diego Chargers’ Norv Turner and Indianapolis Colts’ Jim Caldwell were likely out.
That ‘over’ three is not looking good right now. Morris and Spagnuolo were fired, but somehow Frazier has kept his job – instead the team promoted Rick Spielman from his previous role as vice president of player personnel. It appears Frazier will remain.
The Colts totally cleaned house in the front office, but Caldwell remains for now. I still say he’s gone, but it may not happen before the Saturday deadline. And by some miracle, the Chargers are keeping both Turner and GM A.J. Smith despite missing the playoffs for a second year in a row despite one of the NFL’s most talented rosters.
With that said, Bovada has released props on the two new openings in Tampa Bay and St. Louis.
It’s pretty simple on the Rams: former Titans coach Jeff Fisher is even money with the ‘field’ at -140. There is no doubt Fisher will be a head coach next year. He interviewed with the Miami Dolphins on Tuesday, is scheduled to interview with the Rams and is considered a leading candidate for the Bucs.
Fisher said in an interview last week that a GM and a quarterback were the two biggest factors for him as he explores job opportunities. That would seem to rule out Miami because the Fins don’t have a QB. The Rams have Sam Bradford plus the No. 2 overall pick in this year’s draft and tons of cap room upcoming. They don’t have a GM yet, but Fisher could hand-pick someone he trusts. The Bucs did keep their GM and also have a good young QB in Josh Freeman.
I would hold off on this prop (not sure how long it will be active) – if Fisher actually leaves Miami and interviews for the Rams job, then that would seem to be a sign that he wasn’t overly thrilled with the Miami job and is intrigued in St. Louis. Then I would bet on him there.
There are five candidates listed for the Bucs’ job. Here is a thought on each:
Mike Sherman (+160): He already has an interview scheduled. Sherman most recently was the head coach at Texas A&M and was fired Dec. 1. But Sherman also has extensive NFL experience.
He was head coach of the Green Bay Packers from 2000 through 2005 and was an assistant with the team before that. Sherman went 57-39 in his six seasons in Green Bay and his stint included five consecutive winning seasons. Plus, he uses the same agent as Tampa Bay general manager Mark Dominik.
Sherman has a reputation as a good QB coach and the Bucs need someone to tutor Freeman after his disappointing season.
Brian Billick (+200): Billick of course won a Super Bowl in Baltimore (winning that game in Tampa) and is also considered a terrific offensive mind.
He’s been in the TV booth for a while but is a pretty big name and that’s something the Bucs appear to want to energize an apathetic fan base.
Mike Mularkey (+300): The Falcons’ offensive coordinator will interview for the Jaguars’ job and seems to be the favorite there. Mularkey is given much of the credit for helping develop QB Matt Ryan in Atlanta. Mularkey’s son, Patrick, is also in the Jaguars scouting department.
Mularkey has ties to the Bucs, having coached the tight ends from 1994-95. He also has head coaching experience with the Buffalo Bills from 2004 and 2005.
Rob Chudzinski (+300): There don’t seem to be too many hot coordinators out there this season, but Chudzinski is one of the few after he turned that Carolina offense totally around this season and tutored Cam Newton into a star in his rookie season.
Chudzinski, a former University of Miami player, is expected to interview in Jacksonville after Mularkey.
Bill Cowher (+1000): This has no chance of happening. Cowher would want probably $8 million a season and personnel control. That won’t happen in Tampa with Dominick still in place as the GM.
Plus, the Glazers, still cash strapped because of Manchester United, aren’t likely to shell out that kind of money even though the hiring would hugely excite the fan base.
I think Chudzinski is the best value of this group (Mularkey I would argue for perhaps, but I think he goes to Jacksonville). He has proven himself as a coordinator and tight ends coach and has familiarity with the Bucs, having coached against them twice this season. Plus he obviously knows the division.
Chudzinski also is familiar working with younger players, having coached at the University of Miami, and the Bucs are one of the league's youngest teams. Chudzinski is essentially the opposite of Morris (personality wise, too) and that’s usually the direction teams go after firing a coach.
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