We know who got fired. We do not yet know who will be hired. Black Monday marks the beginning of a whirlwind "Closing Time at the Regal Beagle" courtship dance in which coordinators fly straight from playoff losses to job interviews and obscure college coaches trend on Twitter. If your team is in need of a head coach, you may spend more time wondering where Lovie Smith had lunch than planning your own lunch.
We do know that while NFL coaching jobs are coveted and rare, they are not created equal. Some situations are better than others. And some of the most qualified candidates -- starting with Mr. Smith, and including names like Bill O'Brien, Greg Roman and Ken Whisenhunt -- may soon be mulling multiple offers.
Let's rank the available head coaching jobs according to an eight-point analytic scale.
Boss Rating evaluates the merits of working for a particular owner or management team.
Quarterback Situation is pretty obvious.
The Building Block is a team's face-of-the-franchise superstar or other most valuable resource, like a top draft pick.
Young Talent is a survey of the middle-tier prospects and up-and-comers on the roster.
Salary Cap Situation and Free Agent Issues go hand-in-hand to determine just how much roster flexibility the new coach will have.
Quick Turnaround Potential factors both the available talent and the strength of the division: a sudden 10-6 start can make a coach's life much easier.
Check back later in the week if other coaches hit the unemployment line!
What Went Wrong With the Last Guy: Rob Chudzinski could not win with Jason Campbell at quarterback and guys like Fozzy Whittaker at running back. In other words, he was neither Vince Lombardi nor Alexander the Great.
Boss Rating: D. From the Trent Richardson trade to Brian Hoyer's depth chart leapfrog to the Chud firing, Mike Lombardi (no relation) and Joe Banner have established themselves as impatient hands-on executives trying to win back-to-back Super Bowls in early October. At times, it appears that Lombardi acts quickly so he can beat Banner to a decision, or perhaps it's vice versa. The Browns may be Lombardi's team, they may be Banner's, the execs may duke it out in the parking lot, or the IRS may confiscate the whole shebang if owner Jimmy Haslam's diesel receipts don't add up. But they will never be the head coach's team, unless he wades into the Game of Thrones.
Quarterback Situation: C-minus. The Browns have two first-round picks and Brian Hoyer, a steady young journeyman with a little upside who is also Lombardi's pet project. The franchise has 14 years of experience making dismal quarterback controversies out of first-round picks and pet-project journeymen.
Building Blocks: B. Two first round picks, the best deep threat receiver in the NFL in Josh Gordon, and Jordan Cameron, a cross between Antonio Gates and Jason Witten at tight end.
Young Talent: B-minus. There's a sprinkle of young stars and solid prospects around the roster, from Gordon and Cameron to Joe Haden. Mitchell Schwartz, Phil Taylor and Barkevious Mingo. There are also glaring deficiencies, starting with an entire backfield in need of replacement.
Salary Cap Situation: A-minus. The Browns will eat $6 million of Trent Richardson's dead money next year, but should clear the cap by at least $25 million, giving them wiggle room to extend Gordon and/or Cameron, pursue a free agent or two, or cut bait on Brandon Weeden without choking on the cap hit.
Free Agent Issues: B-plus. Center Alex Mack and safety T.J. Ward are the biggest names; Mack will likely be prioritized. The Browns have the space to play ball with any lower-tier free agents they like.
Quick Turnaround Potential: C-plus. Enough rebuilding took place in 2013 to allow two top rookies and an upgraded quarterback situation to make a difference, but the AFC North schedule remains an endurance marathon against three challenging opponents.
Overall Desirability: C-minus. The next Browns coach is the fifth in seven years, and he walks into a power struggle above him which is likely to undermine the roster below him. Cap money and draft picks are nice, but there is little evidence that the next coach will have any say in how they are used.
What Went Wrong With the Last Guy: Jim Schwartz's master plan for instilling discipline was to talk a lot about having a master plan for instilling discipline.
Boss Rating: C. The old Millen smell has been fumigated out, though it has not been replaced with anything invigorating. A top-to-bottom housecleaning is reportedly in the works; by the time the smoke clears, the changeover may be so thorough that team executives are driving Chevys.
Quarterback Situation: C+. Matthew Stafford is too good (and expensive) to replace but too inconsistent to do cartwheels over.
Building Blocks: C-minus. The Stafford-Calvin Johnson-Ndamukong Suh core is the most mixed blessing in all of football.
Young Talent: C. Ziggy Ansah, Larry Warford, and Joseph Fauria headlined an encouraging rookie class. The nucleus around the Stafford Trio, including DeAndre Levy and Louis Delmas, is not all that young. They have entered their prime and may never be better than they were around Halloween.
Salary Cap Situation: F. Stafford-Johnson-Suh eat about 40 percent of the cap by themselves, and the Lions have used up most of their restructuring gift certificates. The situation actually gets worse in 2015, and in 2016 Johnson is slated to earn the deed to the Michigan Panhandle.
Free Agent Issues: D-plus. Center Dominic Raiola and tight end Brandon Pettigrew headline the major free agents. Both are replaceable, but the second tier includes defensive end Willie Young and running back Joique Bell, both of whom stepped up this season. It is never good to lose quality rank-and-file players so you can keep paying inconsistent superstars, and as stated already, the Lions aren't flush with cap breathing room.
Quick Turnaround Potential: D. The Packers will get better with Aaron Rodgers healthy, though they face a free agent crunch of their own. The Bears will also get better just by getting healthier. The new staff won't be able to point to a 7-9 season as a sign of progress the way a new staff in Cleveland could.
Overall Desirability: D. The Lions will be a hard team to improve and a harder team to put a new stamp upon. The new coach inherits players with talents that can't be taught, but a lot of bad habits to unlearn.
What Went Wrong With the Last Guy: Gary Kubiak built a sub-Shanahanian mini-empire that rose, crashed into the hull of the Patriots, crumbled, and sunk back into the sea.
Boss Rating: B. Robert McNair earned a reputation as a patient, deep-pocketed non-meddler before his December tantrum about Case Keenum finishing the season at quarterback. General manager Rick Smith was a hand-in-glove Kubiak symbiote, so there may be early friction if Smith sticks around.
Quarterback Situation: C-minus. Keenum flat-lined before getting injured, though he has backup potential. The top pick in the draft and zero real incumbents mean that potential applicants should start breaking Teddy Bridgewater scouting film down now.
Building Blocks: B+. J.J. Watt is one of the three or four best defensive players in the NFL. The top pick in the draft is always a valuable chip, even if it is already earmarked.
Young Talent: C. Watt is young. DeAndre Hopkins headlines the rookie class. Much of the offensive nucleus is old, however, which is what got the Texans into this predicament.
Salary Cap Situation: C. The Texans appear to be tight against the cap, but there are some easy cuts coming: Schaub and aging defensive backs Johnathan Joseph and Danieal Manning can trim $12-million off the top, for example. McNair wants a thorough housecleaning, so the new regime (and Smith) will be empowered to make some deep cuts.
Free Agent Issues: B. Antonio Smith is the top priority. Ben Tate and Garrett Graham lead the second-tier free agents, but they are potential solutions instead of problems: Graham's emergence, for example, could make Owen Daniels an easy-to-swallow cap casualty.
Quick Turnaround Potential: A. The Texans play in a soft division and have a host of starters coming off injured reserve next year.
Overall Desirability: B. Penn State Bill O'Brien had the inside track for this job when we went to press; both McNair and the Texans fanbase are amenable to O'Brien's tough-guy persona, and he could provide a schematic jolt to an offense that played like 1997 had never ended. Whoever takes the Texans job inherits a defense that should get good again quickly. A .500 record should be easy to achieve; the next step will be far steeper. Kubiak faced the same problem, and O'Brien (or whoever) must hope McNair is as patient with him as he was with Kubiak from 2006 until a few weeks ago.
What Went Wrong With the Last Guy: Leslie Frazier was weak tea Brad Childress. Childress was weak tea Andy Reid. For three-and-a-half years, the Vikings have been coached by lukewarm water.
Boss Rating: C-plus. Zygi Wilf is reportedly a scoundrel in his corporate affairs, but he has been both deep-pocketed and relatively laissez-faire as an owner. New facilities are on the horizon, which is a perk.
Quarterback Situation: F. Two chipped-and-dented prospects are actually worse than one. Neither scatter-armed Christian Ponder nor Post Traumatic Schiano Disorder sufferer Josh Freeman looks like a long-term solution, but both are just talented enough for second-guessing. The eighth pick in the first round takes the Vikings out of Teddy Bridgewater territory and into the realm of Ponder-like blunders.
Building Blocks: B+. Adrian Peterson is a Hall of Famer, a consummate pro, and a workhorse back who can carry the load while a new quarterback develops. Age and mileage keep him from rating an A.
Young Talent: A-minus. All three of the Vikings first-round picks from 2013 showed some promise. Harrison Smith is one of the best young safeties in the NFL, and Matt Kalil will anchor left tackle for years. The last two Vikings drafts have been very productive.
Salary Cap Situation: B. The Vikings have cash to spend (probably around $25-million), though they also have some in-house needs.
Free Agent Issues: C. Jared Allen and Kevin Williams are both on the wrong side of 30, but both were still effective this year. Everson Griffen, Allen's designated successor, is also a free agent. Look for the Vikings to lock up Griffen while letting Allen and Williams walk; a defensive-line-and-leadership rebuild will be second on the new coach's agenda, after quarterback.
Quick Turnaround Potential: C. Peterson and the young talent could produce a 10-win season in a weak division given competent quarterback play, but the NFC North will never be weaker than it was when injuries crippled the Packers and Bears this year.
Overall Desirability: B. Frazier did not trash team headquarters on his way out the door, unlike some of the other coaches on this list. His successor will not have to soothe many hurt feelings or restore basic trust and confidence, and the team has drafted well for two years, kick-starting the rebuild. The next coach will have to find a quarterback quickly, but with Peterson and some foundation players in place, that's the kind of challenge a new coach should be eager to tackle.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
What Went Wrong With the Last Guy: Greg Schiano taught us that respecting other human beings is not a job requirement in an NFL head coach, but it sometimes helps.
Boss Rating: C-plus. The Glazer family no longer runs the Buccaneers like a penny-pinching outpost of their soccer empire, but they do keep enough distance to let the American football people do their job. Buccaneers GM Mark Dominik was also fired, so the franchise is docked a half-grade due to organizational uncertainty.
Quarterback Situation: C-plus. Mike Glennon could be the next coach's Nick Foles. He is also low-cost and low-profile enough that the new regime can explore alternatives without creating a situation.
Building Blocks: B. Darrelle Revis, Lavonte David, and Gerald McCoy provide blue-chip talent at each level of the defense.
Young Talent: A. The Buccaneers are stacked with youngsters: Glennon, running backs Doug Martin and Mike James, tight end Tim Wright, defenders David, Mason Foster, Mark Barron, and Jonthan Banks, and others.
Salary Cap Situation: C-minus. The Bucs are tight against the cap, with the structure of Revis' deal being the biggest pill. McCoy, Carl Nicks, and Vincent Jackson's cap numbers are also whoppers right now. McCoy is a prime restructuring candidate, while Vincent may be too valuable to lose, so some mid-tier starters (particularly on the offensive line) may be cap casualties.
Free Agent Issues: A. On the other hand, the Buccaneers have few in-house free agents to worry about.
Quick Turnaround Potential: C+. The NFC South is brutal, but a new coach could reap immediate positive results by treating his players better than Gulag inmates.
Overall Desirability: B+. Have we mentioned Florida's weather and tax policies? The new Buccaneers coach could enjoy a Chiefs-caliber rebound in 2014. Like the Chiefs, the Buccaneers are laden with defensive talent and have just the right pieces for a ball-control offense. They are just looking for some common sense and stability from their coaches, both strategically and from a motivational standpoint. Few teams offers as many easy-to-address problems and viable in-house solutions as the Buccaneers.
What Went Wrong With the Last Guy: Mike Shanahan built his dream home on the corner of Paranoid Delusion Avenue and Self-Fulfilling Prophecy Boulevard.
Boss Rating: F. Dan Snyder likes to claim that he learned a lot from each Redskins extinction event. This time he learned that if he hands a great deal of power to a coach or chief-of-operations, that subordinate might go crazy and steer the franchise straight through the "Bridge Out" sign. This was the wrong lesson to learn, and the Redskins' only hope is that he has learned it as poorly as all his previous lessons.
Quarterback Situation: A. The combination to the door on the Robert Griffin dungeon is 27-11-22-10: John Elway's touchdown-interception ratios in Shanahan's two Super Bowl years.
Building Block: D. Griffin counts toward the last section. Alfred Morris is part bell-cow, part system-product. There is no first-round pick, limiting the new coach's ability to infuse talent quickly and chart a new course.
Young Talent: C+. Remember, this was a playoff nucleus five months ago. The Redskins are not as old or as depth-depleted as they have been entering past regime changes.
Salary Cap Situation: C. The Redskins have some wiggle room and should be able to take care of some in-house issues while pursuing roughly two percent of the free agents on Snyder's Santa list.
Free Agent Issues: B. Brian Orakpo is the top priority player, and the Redskins should be able to accommodate him. Defensive backs like DeAngelo Hall and Brandon Meriweather can help the organization by moving on.
Quick Turnaround Potential: B. The NFC East is weak, and a franchise superstar was held hostage for three losses which he could have turned into wins at season's end. A coach could take this exact roster to .500 simply by not going Full Metal Nixon.
Overall Desirability: C. Robert Griffin and a solid young nucleus would make this an ideal landing spot in most circumstances, but the lack of a first-round pick is an reminder that future Redskins coaches must always pay for past mistakes and cope with the ever-present owner.