By Rick Bouch

In the high stakes of professional football, there is a win-now mentality that hovers over every head coach in the league. Win now or you’re out. When teams falter, and teams will fail, head coaches are cast aside like the trash at your backyard barbecue. An exit for one head coach though means an opportunity for another, and there are several quality coaches who make up the next wave of NFL head coaches.

Matt Patricia, Defensive Coordinator, New England Patriots

When teams win, there has to be reasons why and many of those reasons are the assistant coaches on the staff. Patricia, who has been on the Patriots staff since 2004, has been behind the team’s success on defense despite a roster lacking in superstars.

Patricia, who graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute with a degree in aeronautical engineering (yes, he is a rocket scientist), has served in his current role since 2012. His name has come up over the past few years in connection with other NFL head coaching jobs. At some point in the near future, the 42-year-old will likely take the reins of a franchise.

Teryl Austin, Defensive Coordinator, Detroit Lions

Over the past two offseasons, Austin has sharpened his interviewing skills. His name has been associated with almost every opening the past few years. A former defensive back, Austin has been the Lions defensive coordinator since 2014.

He won a Super Bowl as an assistant in Baltimore and is considered one of the best defensive minds in the game. Austin’s time is coming soon.

Josh McDaniels, offensive coordinator, New England Patriots

Like Patricia, McDaniels received a lot of interest after the Patriots Super Bowl victory last year. Many figured he would be out the door, but the 41-year-old decided to stay in his current position.

And why not?

He has the best quarterback in the league and a nice set of weapons to work with. He has served as a head coach previously, a failed stint in Denver in 2009 and 2010. McDaniels is more mature now and will become a head coach when he wants.

Mike Vrabel, defensive coordinator, Houston Texans

Vrabel was an All-American at Ohio State and played 14 years in the NFL. Immediately following retirement, Vrabel became an assistant at Ohio State then moved on to the NFL in Houston in 2014.

The Texans have been very good defensively over the past few years and Vrabel was part of the reason why. After coaching linebackers for three seasons, Vrabel will serve as the defensive coordinator in Houston in 2017.

Steve Spagnuolo, defensive coordinator, New York Giants

Another great defensive mind, Spagnuolo was the architect of one of the greatest upsets in NFL history. In the 2007 Super Bowl, it was the Giants that beat favorite New England. That win helped Spagnuolo land the head coaching job in St. Louis.

While his three years there were far from a success, Spagnuolo’s defensive prowess will likely earn him another shot at leading a franchise.

Best Of The Rest

There are a number of guys that will receive some attention when a head coaching job becomes available. Pat Shurmur, offensive coordinator in Minnesota, is a former NFL head coach (Cleveland). Bill Callahan has served as a head coach in Oakland and at the University of Nebraska. Tom Cable and Mike Smith have also been head coaches in the league. The youngest candidates would be Chicago offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains (36) and current Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter (33).

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