Anyone who had Jack Del Rio in their local "First Coach Fired" pool collected their handsome reward on Tuesday.
The opening in Jacksonville means that someone else will be getting a handsome reward in the form of a NFL head coaching job. There hasn't been much talk about candidates yet, but it will come as no surprise to hear Rob Ryan's name come up when such a list does materialize.
His charges with the Cowboys think he's got the right stuff and he's certainly got the family pedigree, but Ryan isn't without his negatives. His brother didn't get a job until he cleaned up his outward appearance and stopped chewing tobacco on the sideline, so, silly as it sounds, Ryan's look might work against him. There also are going to be some owners put off by the brash talk that's also a Ryan family birthright.
But the man can coach up a defense and if the Cowboys stay hot, there's a pretty good chance that Ryan is going to be on a lot of short lists this offseason. Which spots seem like the best bets for him to land? We'll take a look, starting with the only currently open job and working our way up from there.
Jaguars: Del Rio was a defensive oriented coach, so they might not want to move in that direction twice in a row. The presence of Blaine Gabbert at quarterback solidifies that belief. Ryan would generate a lot of buzz, though, and a team chronically short on it might want to use that, especially if new owner Shahid Khan is bluffing about his intention to keep the Jags in Jacksonville.
Colts: Very, very unlikely if the Polians remain in charge of the front office. They want a coach who is a puppet and that's not Ryan. It doesn't seem likely even if there's a regime change given the staid profile the Colts have opted for across the board.
Dolphins: They need to break in a quarterback, but that didn't stop the Jets from hiring his brother. Of course, Mark Sanchez's development isn't exactly a rousing endorsement of that decision. Miami feels like a team that's in the market for a big-name, experienced coach and they probably don't want to rob the Cowboys twice in a row for a coach, so this one feels lukewarm.
Chargers: Another spot where the extent of the changes will matter a lot. If G.M. A.J. Smith follows Norv Turner out the door, anything is possible. But if Smith stays it is hard to see a guy who followed Marty Schottenheimer with Turner making a choice as bold as Ryan.
Rams: It is hard to believe Steve Spagnuolo would be out after three years, but things have gone so wrong in St. Louis this year that it is getting more possible by the week. Ryan would be an interesting candidate, if only because the team could keep Josh McDaniels as the offensive coordinator instead of forcing a third system on Sam Bradford in as many years.
Buccaneers: We're now into the realm where it is hard to accurately gauge the future of the coaches. Raheem Morris has seemed overmatched at times this year, but he can probably survive. If he doesn't, Ryan could be a contender but it wouldn't be surprising to see them go in a more offensive direction.
Vikings: Leslie Frazier probably gets a second full year, although you could probably do worse than having Ryan aboard to sell people on getting behind the new stadium that the Vikes have been trying to get for years.
Giants: The prospect of the Ryan brothers sharing a stadium and the nation's biggest media market is too good to pass up. Unless you're the Giants, that is. Tom Coughlin might be done, but the buttoned-up Giants would sooner shut the franchise down than let Ryan run wild on their sideline.
Eagles: This is the most intriguing possibility of all. There's the connection to his father, the divisional rivalry angle and the fact that a defensive coach with half a brain could put the talent on the Eagles to great use. Throw in the fact that he'd make the Dream Team talk seem measured and you've got a winner. The best part is, Ryan can help make it happen by beating the Eagles in a few weeks.