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Hard Count Episode 18-15: Chargers, Eagles and coaching candidates

My thoughts ahead of Week 16 in the NFL

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL playoffs are right around the corner, and we now know for certain the Tampa Bay Buccaneers won’t be anywhere to be seen this post-season.

We’ll have plenty to discuss about the Bucs as the calendar moves into a new year, but here are three things I wanted to discuss with all of you right now.

OFFSIDES: Disrespecting the Chargers

NFL: Los Angeles Chargers at Kansas City Chiefs Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The hottest team in Los Angeles right now isn’t the Lakers and it isn’t the Rams. It’s the Chargers.

Who runs the AFC West? Most would say the Kansas City Chiefs do. However, after their dramatic comeback win over the Chiefs, the Chargers are tied for the lead in the division with two games to play.

In Week 16, Los Angeles faces the Baltimore Ravens at home and the Chiefs travel to Seattle to play against the Seahawks who have plenty to play for.

Don’t sleep on the Chargers. They’re the best chance Los Angeles has at a championship, right now.

FALSE START: Don’t bury the Eagles just yet

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Los Angeles Rams Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

It looked like the Philadelphia Eagles were going to be next in a catalog of Super Bowl hungover teams who win or make it to the big game just to miss the playoffs entirely the next season.

Well, after a letdown loss by the Dallas Cowboys and a big win over the Rams by the Eagles, things have gotten a little more interesting and it may not be time to bury the champs quite yet.

Philly fans are Buccaneers fans this weekend as a loss to Tampa Bay in Dallas drops the Cowboys to 8-7 with one game remaining.

The Eagles have to take care of their own business of course as the 10-4 Houston Texans come in looking to secure Philadelphia’s off-season plans.

If things go right for the defending champions, then Week 17’s divisional contest filled schedule will carry a ton of weight with Dallas traveling to face the New York Giants and Philadelphia headed to D.C.

FREE PLAY: Coaching candidates

NFL: Tennessee Titans at Dallas Cowboys Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

I don’t know many people who feel like Dirk Koetter has a realistic shot at returning for 2019 as the head coach of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

That being said, I figure now is a good time to give my top three of possible coaching candidates. So, here they are.

KRIS RICHARD, DALLAS COWBOYS PASSING GAME COORDINATOR AND DEFENSIVE BACKS COACH

Richard was on the top of my list of candidates until the Glazers announced they would be bringing coach Koetter back for 2018.

Unless this happens again, Richard will be at the top of my list again, and for good reason.

Until this year, Richard had been groomed by Seattle Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll and was part of the staff which helped create the fabled ‘Legion of Boom’.

Moving on to Dallas, he’s been a big part of the improvement Dallas’ defense has seen in 2018. The Cowboys are among the league leaders in scoring defense, total yards allowed and rushing yards allowed. They’re Top-10 in passing yards allowed as well.

After spending three years as the defensive coordinator in Seattle and with this successful experience with the Cowboys, Richard is a man on the way up. Tampa Bay needs to take a good hard look at him as their next head coach, if they do indeed move on from Dirk Koetter.

JOHN HARBAUGH, BALTIMORE RAVENS HEAD COACH

With this season being his eleventh leading the Baltimore Ravens, Harbaugh has gotten his team to the post-season six times, but have failed to make the playoffs since the 2014 season.

Despite their four-year drought, Harbaugh’s only losing season came in 2015 when his squad finished 5-11. His team’s finished with eight or more wins in both 2016 and 2017, and with their Week 15 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, have eight victories up to this point in 2018.

The Ravens want to be serious contenders, and this much is understandable, but with many other franchises trying to fight their way simply into playoff contention on a regular basis, Baltimore’s unwillingness to stick with a successful coach may give the Bucs an opportunity to land a proven leader this off-season.

PETE CARMICHAEL, NEW ORLEANS SAINTS OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR

Sean Payton and Drew Brees get a whole lot of well-deserved credit for the Saints’ offensive successes since they moved to NOLA, but Carmichael deserves his share too.

Carmichael has been with the Saints since 2006 - the same year Peyton and Brees arrived.

Since then, New Orleans has had an offense ranked sixth or better in the NFL every single season and has had the top offense in six.

One of the biggest abilities the Saints have had over the past twelve years with Peyton and Carmichael has been flexibility.

Just this year alone New Orleans has won seven games where Alvin Kamara touched the ball fewer than 20 times while also winning seven games this year while Drew Brees threw for fewer than 250-yards passing.

In fact, in two road wins in 2018, Brees didn’t have a single passing touchdown and in the six games Kamara failed to find the end zone this season the Saints averaged almost thirty-points.

Offensive flexibility is big in New Orleans, and has helped the franchise sustain a high level of performance and success for over a decade. Bringing Carmichael into the building could help end over a decade of underperforming in Tampa.

Poll

If the Bucs move on from Dirk Koetter, who’s your next head coaching hire?

This poll is closed

  • 41%
    Kris Richard
    (69 votes)
  • 14%
    John Harbaugh
    (24 votes)
  • 15%
    Pete Carmichael
    (26 votes)
  • 13%
    No! Keep Dirk Koetter!
    (22 votes)
  • 15%
    Other (Comment)
    (26 votes)
167 votes total Vote Now