NFL rumors: Josh McCown headlines dark horse 2021 head coach candidates

Recent NFL rumors suggest Josh McCown could make the leap from player to head coach in very short order.

By Matt Fitzgerald
Aug 22, 2019; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Josh McCown warms ups before a game against the Baltimore Ravens at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

With the NFL regular season coming to a close this Sunday, there will soon be even more head coaching vacancies to fill for 2021.

As a result, we’ve arrived at a time where dark horse candidates are being buzzed about, and current Houston Texans emergency quarterback Josh McCown stands out from the pack.

NFL rumors: Josh McCown emerges as possible 2021 head coach candidate

CBSSports.com insider Jason La Canfora spoke with multiple sources around the league and compiled a list of potential out-of-the-box hires.

While there were multiple unheralded coaches from the Canadian Football League and a several other names of note, McCown definitely stands out as a unique possibility.

[McCown] has seen the game from every angle and he has been beloved everywhere he has gone as a football junkie who has a sublime ability to connect with people. […] He is a natural teacher who knows the QB position inside out…It’s only a matter of time before this happens.”

– Jason La Canfora on Josh McCown

McCown, 41, is a pro football journeyman who’s spent time with 12 different NFL teams, and even played in the short-lived United Football League for the Hartford Colonials in 2010. What an odyssey indeed.

Related: NFL coaching candidates: Best head coach options for 2021

NFL rumors: Why Josh McCown would be a great head coaching hire

NFL rumors: Why Josh McCown would be a great head coaching hire
Aug 24, 2018; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterbacks Sam Darnold (14) and Josh McCown (15) watch second half of play against the New York Giants at MetLife Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Noah K. Murray-USA TODAY Sports

Although he’s never been a consistent starter, McCown has a wealth of knowledge. The lack of continuity in his career that created so much upheaval in his livelihood was actually, in retrospect, what makes him so cut out to be a coach.

Having to adjust so many times to new offensive systems, different locker rooms, all kinds of personalities and winning and losing cultures makes McCown a true one of one among coaching candidates.

The obvious caveats are McCown is still an active player and has only coached at the high school level. That said, he’s widely respected around the NFL and has helped mentor young quarterbacks throughout his career, more recently with flamed-out Johnny Manziel in Cleveland — who showed significant growth in Year 2 before off-field issues derailed him — and Sam Darnold for the New York Jets. Darnold and McCown built a close relationship during the 2018 campaign, the former’s rookie year.

Having a head coach who’s played the most important position on the field and has proven his ability to help signal-callers grow in their roles is invaluable for teams who have youthful talent at that spot. Search committees may see that special quality in McCown and at least give him a shot at an interview.

Realistically, McCown is bound to be a year or two away from making this leap, yet it speaks volumes about his upside and future on the sidelines that he’s being bandied about this early.

Related: NFL coaching rumors: P.J. Fleck garnering interest for 2021 openings