Tom Benson said on Monday, January 2, that it was Mickey Loomis' call. He declined to comment on the decision, deferring to Loomis' role as head of the press conference. The former Seattle executive has meteorically risen to power in the Saints organization since joining the team as a Director of Football Administration. It is now his job to hire the new coach in this most difficult of situations, with the help of player personnel director Rick Mueller and fellow executive Russ Ball, and under the guiding hand of owner Tom Benson and his legal advisors.
Dallas QBs Coach/Assistant HC Sean Payton
Prized assistant of Bill Parcells and former coordiantor to Jim Fassel, Payton is regarded as an offensive guru and several teams are already hot on his trail. In 2000 as Giants offensive coordinator, Payton helped Kerry Collins lead the Giants to the Super Bowl. Spent three successful years in New York before leaving for Dallas, where he was appointed quarterbacks coach, and then assistant head coach to keep other teams away. Hasn't had great success with his quarterbacks in Dallas but still very highly regarded. Was close to getting the Raiders job in 2004 and is still rumored to be Parcells' heir to the Cowboys job, whenever Parcells creates that opening by retiring. Interviewed with the Saints on Wednesday, January 11 and also interviewed with the Packers prior. Has emerged as the top candidate.
Former Packers HC Mike Sherman
Experienced and a safe pick for head coach, Sherman has tasted victory throughout his career and, perhaps thanks to Brett Favre, has always been at the head of a powerful offense. Has experience as a general manager and would bring much-needed scouting intelligence to the front office. Fired after the Packers fell apart this year, Sherman is garnering lots of attention in the open jobs, including the Jets. If something falls through with Sean Payton, Sherman is the next likely candidate.
Cleveland OC Maurice Carthon
Former Giants runningback is now a highly-thought of offensive coach. Interviewed already by Green Bay and Detroit, Carthon is another Parcells acolyte, serving under Tuna in New England, New York and most recently as Dallas' offensive coordinator. Spent last season with the Browns, where Reuben Droughns rushed for over 1200 yards behind a terrible offensive line. Was also with the Lions for two years, including one as their coordinator in 2002 when James Stewart had a 1000+ yard season. Interviewed with the Saints on Tuesday, January 10 and also interviewed with the Packers prior.
Former Rams HC Mike Martz
Mad scientist in looks and behavior, Martz is an offensive genius and was this website's favorite in the 2000 search. Since then, Martz's offensive genius has been overshadowed by questionable game management, chronic problems with special teams and a knack for creating tension in the locker room and front office. Has missed most of this season with a potentially fatal heart infection, and is expected to make a full recovery. Hasn't drawn much attention around the league, except from the Saints, at this point.
New York Jets DC Donnie Henderson
Has been the defensive coordinator for the Jets for the past two seasons, in each season has been undercut by offensive problems. Was the secondary coach for a ridiculously good Ravens secondary for five seasons prior to that. Fiery, intense, and tough on his players, Henderson is both charismatic and no-nonsense. Henderson, who is black, will reportedly be one of the Saints' first interviews, and not just to satisfy the league's requirement to interview at least one minority candidate. Interviewed with the Saints on Monday, January 9.
Pittsburgh O-Line Coach Russ Grimm
Like Haslett, is a current Steelers assistant from west Pennsylvania. A former "Hog" on the Redskins offensive line in the 1980s and a Pro Football Hall of Fame candidate, Grimm is annually linked to head coaching jobs despite not being a coordinator. Has "it": whatever is needed to be a successful NFL head coach and was a finalist for the Cleveland Browns head coaching job last season.
New York Giants DC Tim Lewis
Former Packers first-round pick (11th overall in 1983) as a cornerback and Giants defensive coordinator for the past two years. Tom Coughlin hired this former Steelers assistant as the first member of his new coaching staff and sings his praises regularly. Was the defensive coordinator for Steelers for four years, each year he had a top 10 defense. The Saints sought permission to interview Lewis, who is black, cannot be interviewed until the Giants are out of the playoffs.
Tennessee DC Jim Schwartz
Young (39), cerebral on-the-field playcaller for the Titans defense since 1999 who has the invaluable Bill Belichik link. Learned under Jeff Fisher and Gregg Williams. Former collegiate linebacker turned Keith Bullock into a Pro Bowler. Was a finalist for the 49ers job last year an done of those young coaches that seems destined to get a shot soon as a head coach.
Denver OC Gary Kubiak
A southerner and a collegiate quarterback at Texas A&M, Kubiak has been a player and a coach for the Broncos for the most part of the time since 1983. Once a backup to John Elway, Kubiak was Elway's coordinator for their back-to-back Super Bowls, and has done little but generate an elite running game as a coach. He followed Mike Shanahan from San Francisco to Denver in 1994 and has been there ever since. There is some question as to whether he would ever leave his near-immortal role in Denver for a job of his own, much less one in as difficult a situation as he would meet in New Orleans. Was interviewed by the Saints in 2000, will be hired by the Houston Texans once the Broncos' season ends.
University of Iowa HC Kirk Ferentz
Former NFL assistant probably has a life-time appointment in Iowa, where he has single handedly forged a national powerhouse. Ferentz has the pedigree - he was Bill Belichek's offensive line coach in Cleveland. Is mentioned every year when NFL jobs open up, and in response to that, Iowa has thrown the checkbook at him, signing him to massive raises and extensions each of the past two years. Is probably out of Tom Benson's pocketbook range and like Nick Saban, would likely only leave to the NFL if an ideal situation presented itself. The Saints are not an ideal situation.
Ravens OC Jim Fassel
Head Coach of the Giants for seven years, including their Super Bowl run in 2000, Fassel is a quarterback tutor, a disciplinarian, and an exceedingly safe bet for the front office. Has been pining in Baltimore under Brian Billick and his offense has been comatose under quarterbacks like Kyle Boller and Anthony Wright. The Saints have cooled on Fassel considerably.
Eagles OC Brad Childress
An understudy to Andy Reid, Childress is a mustache-sporting offensive artisan who has been around nothing but winning for most of this decade. He already has experience in the front office. The Eagles will try hard to keep him, but in the end will be unable to keep Childress. They barely hung on to him last year, and are bound to lose him this year. Hired by Minnesota.