This week’s network-wide question for the SB Nation NFL sites is, “Who is the assistant coach on your team most likely to become a future head coach, including coordinators and position coaches?”
That’s a tough question for a Cleveland Browns team that could be on the cusp of firing their own head coach, Hue Jackson. Most often, coordinators are the ones looked at for head-coaching gigs. Cleveland doesn’t have an offensive coordinator and their defensive coordinator, Gregg Williams, probably won’t receiver another top gig after Bountygate. Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor has survived several regime changes, but doesn’t seem interested in moving up.
There is one position coach on the defensive side of the ball who came to mind right away, though, and that is defensive line coach Clyde Simmons. During his playing days, he was a 4-time Pro Bowler and a 2-time All-Pro. After having a coaching fellowship with the Jets in 2010, he spent four years with the Rams as their assistant defensive line coach before becoming the Browns' defensive line coach this year.
It can't be lost on people that Simmons has helped lead a very young defensive line group, contributing to the Browns' drastic improvement against the run in 2017. Heading to Week 14, the Browns are 6th in the NFL in allowing 96.9 rushing yards per game, but 1st in the NFL in rushing yards allowed per play (3.32 YPC). Those marks were actually better prior to DE Emmanuel Ogbah suffering a season-ending injury.
Ogbah was having a solid second season, both as a top run defender and a pass rusher. DE Myles Garrett has been a good pass-rushing threat. Even though it may not look like it, Danny Shelton is playing some of the best football of his career, and that came in a year in which he switched from the 3-4 nose tackle to a 4-3 defensive tackle. Rookies Larry Ogunjobi, Caleb Brantley, and unknown Trevon Coley have all seen meaningful playing time.
Despite all the success, I wouldn’t bet on anyone hiring Simmons as a head coach any time soon...but with my hand forced to pick someone, he seems to have some potential. And if you read this article from back in 2010 when he got his coaching start with the Jets, you can see the positive reputation he has.