20 head coaching possibilities for 2016

5 of 21

January 24, 2014; Kapolei, HI, USA; Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Mike Shula during the 2014 Pro Bowl practice at Kapolei High School. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Mike Shula

Currently – offensive coordinator Carolina Panthers

Shula’s name is rarely mentioned as a head coaching candidate but this could be the year that changes. The Panthers have a highly potent offense without big name players. He has helped develop Cam Newton though into a superstar quarterback. Oh, and the Panthers haven’t lost yet (at the time of this writing).

Shula has an extensive coaching history that has included previous stints as an offensive coordinator and a head coach at Alabama where he was replaced by Nick Saban. What makes Shula an intriguing option is that he has  earned his rise by accomplishment and has done his time in the NFL coaching ranks. He started as an assistant with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and eventually returned to them as an OC. In Carolina he began as a quarterbacks coach and was promoted to OC in 2013.

For all his experience with differing coaches and teams, Shula’s biggest obstacle has probably been his name. The son of Hall of Fame coach Don Shula, Mike will never likely meet the expectations of that name. His brother David was the head coach in Cincinnati long ago and couldn’t separate from his legendary father. Eventually the product and play on the field led to his firing.

Mike is neither his brother nor his father but he is likely going to get his chance to be a head coach soon. If not this year.

Next: Adam Gase