LOS ANGELES -- The proverbial first domino fell on Monday, when Jacksonville announced that interim coach Doug Marrone would remain in the role full time.
That leaves five coaching vacancies, for Denver, San Francisco, Buffalo, San Diego and, most relevant here, the Los Angeles Rams.
The Rams' interviewing party -- a group that is led by COO Kevin Demoff and also includes Les Snead, who might or might not remain general manager after this process is complete -- returned to Southern California on Monday and has some very important work ahead of it these next few days. Assistant coaches on playoff teams who continue on cannot be interviewed for the first time after this weekend, with second interviews only allowed the weekend before the Super Bowl. Once eliminated, of course, interviews can be scheduled at any time.
Last week, the Rams interviewed Steve Wilks, Harold Goodwin, Sean McVay, Josh McDaniels, Matt Patricia, Anthony Lynn and, before he came off the board, Marrone. This week, they're expected to interview Teryl Austin, Mike Vrabel, Vance Joseph and Kyle Shanahan, whose original interview was held up by weather. Other names might pop up, as well. A convenient one-stop shop for content related to all coaching vacancies can be found here. Below is a categorical look at the 10 names linked to the Rams.
Current title: Lions defensive coordinator, three seasons
Prior roles: Ravens secondary coach (2011-13) ... Florida defensive coordinator (2010) ... Cardinals defensive backs coach (2007-09) ... Seahawks defensive backs coach (2003-06)
Why he fits: Austin runs a very aggressive 4-3 scheme -- though he can also adjust well -- and has historically gotten the most out of his players. He can do well with a Rams group that features a solid defensive line and athletic linebackers, and he'd be very well-suited to improve a thin secondary. Austin has coached the secondary for Super Bowl teams in 2005 (Seahawks), 2008 (Cardinals) and 2012 (Ravens). He also has the magnetic personality that can thrive in a big market like Los Angeles, ESPN Lions reporter Michael Rothstein would tell you.
Why he doesn't: Austin interviewed for head coaching vacancies with eight teams the past two years and many believe this is the year he finally gets a gig. The Rams might not be a fit, though, for one very obvious reason -- their biggest need is someone who can fix the offense. And though Demoff has stressed that the organization would remain open-minded in its search, it's hard to hire someone like Austin unless he has an offensive-minded coach he can bring with him. The Lions won't let current offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter take the same job elsewhere. Maybe quarterbacks coach Brian Callahan?
Current title: Cardinals offensive coordinator, four seasons
Prior roles: Colts offensive line coach (2012) ... Steelers offensive line coach and quality control coordinator (2007-11) ... Bears assistant offensive line coach (2004-06)
Why he fits: Goodwin came up coaching offensive lines, which is nice for a Rams team that drafted seven offensive linemen from 2014-15 and has yet to see results. While he was in Pittsburgh, the Steelers frequently had strong running games. In Arizona, he helped spark the resurgence of quarterback Carson Palmer. The Cardinals improved 20 spots, from 32nd to 12th, in total offense in Goodwin's first year as offensive coordinator in 2013. In 2015, they had the best offense in the NFL.
Why he doesn't: Goodwin doesn't call plays. That task falls on Bruce Arians, one of the NFL's sharpest offensive minds. Goodwin has certainly gained a lot from working under Arians all these years, but going from an offensive coordinator who doesn't call plays to the head coach of a team that needs a lot of offensive help might be too big of a jump. Goodwin might need more seasoning.
Current title: Dolphins defensive coordinator, one season
Prior roles: Bengals defensive backs coach (2014-15) ... Texans defensive backs coach (2011-13) ... 49ers defensive backs coach (2006-10)
Why he fits: Joseph is the third successful defensive backs coach to emerge as a head coaching candidate for the Rams, who previously employed another former defensive backs coach -- Jeff Fisher. Under Joseph's watch from 2014-15, the Bengals' secondary led the NFL with 41 interceptions and limited opposing quarterbacks to an NFL-low 77.4 passer rating. In three seasons in Houston, the Texans allowed the NFL's lowest completion percentage (54.5). Joseph has a knack for developing young defensive backs. He's also an honest, clear communicator.
Why he doesn't: The Dolphins' defense wasn't very good in Joseph's first year as an NFL coordinator. Miami gave up the fourth-most yards during the regular season, then surrendered 30 points in a wild-card loss to the Steelers.
Current tile: Bills interim head coach, one season
Prior roles: Bills offensive coordinator and running backs coach (2015-16) ... Jets assistant head coach (2014) ... Jets running backs coach (2009-13) ... Browns running backs coach (2007-08) ... Cowboys running backs coach (2005-06) ... Jaguars running backs coach (2003-04)
Why he fits: Two words: running game. Under Lynn's watch, the Bills have boasted the NFL's most effective rushing attack each of the past two years. Lynn helped Fred Taylor rush for a combined 2,796 yards from 2003 to '04, then helped Jamal Lewis have back-to-back 1,000-rushing-yard seasons from 2007 to '08. From 2009 to '13, the Jets -- with four different lead rushers -- averaged 136 rushing yards per game, third-highest in the NFL during that time. Lynn is the perfect man to help a Rams running attack that declined drastically in Todd Gurley's second season.
Why he doesn't: Like Goodwin, Lynn doesn't have much experience as a play-caller, doing it in only the final 13 games of 2016. He also never worked with quarterbacks until he became offensive coordinator this season, which would bring serious questions as to whether he could actually help 2016 No. 1 overall pick Jared Goff. That inexperience might not jibe for a Rams organization that needs a quick turnaround in an impatient market.
Current title: Patriots offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, five seasons
Prior roles: Rams offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach (2011) ... Broncos head coach (2009-10) ... Patriots offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach (2006-08) ... Patriots quarterbacks coach (2004-05) ... Patriots defensive assistant (2002-03)
Why he fits: McDaniels has spent 13 years learning under Bill Belichick and working with Tom Brady, and along the way he has developed into one of the game's most innovative offensive minds. The Patriots finished within the top 10 in points in all nine of McDaniels' seasons as offensive coordinator. That includes 2007, when McDaniels was at the controls of an offense that scored a then-record 75 touchdowns. And it includes 2016, when McDaniels masterfully adjusted while being without Brady for the first four games and without Rob Gronkowski for the final five.
Why he doesn't: McDaniels didn't handle his first head coaching gig well. He bickered with Jay Cutler and Brandon Marshall, reportedly tuned out his assistant coaches, did not make sound personnel decisions and wound up in the middle of a videotaping scandal. McDaniels was only 33 when he took that job and said he has since grown. The Rams would really be counting on that if they gave him the job. McDaniels didn't necessarily help them in 2011, a 2-14 finish with an offense led by Sam Bradford and Steven Jackson.
Current title: Redskins offensive coordinator, three seasons
Prior roles: Redskins tight ends coach (2011-13) ... Redskins assistant tight ends coach (2010) ... wide receivers coach and quality control coordinator in United Football League (2009) ... Buccaneers offensive assistant (2008)
Why he fits: Kirk Cousins was a fourth-round pick who sat behind Robert Griffin III for the majority of his first three seasons. McVay helped elevate him to a star. With McVay as offensive coordinator from 2015-16, Cousins ranked third in completion percentage, fourth in Total QBR and fifth in yards per attempt. During that time, the Redskins' offense gained the sixth-most yards in the NFL. McVay has quickly become an aggressive play-caller who loves to throw the ball downfield. He also projects himself well and has quickly gained a reputation as a standout interviewer. ESPN Redskins reporter John Keim highlighted some of McVay's traits here.
Why he doesn't: Well, you know, he's really, really young. McVay will be 31 by the end of this month. And though he has packed a lot of NFL experience in a very short time, McVay -- grandson of former Giants coach and 49ers vice president John McVay -- is still evolving as a play-caller and a leader.
Current title: Patriots defensive coordinator, five seasons
Prior roles: Patriots safeties coach (2011) ... Patriots linebackers coach (2006-10) ... Patriots offensive assistant (2004-05)
Why he fits: Patricia, a trained aeronautical engineer, is one of the NFL's brightest minds and has had unquestioned success. Since he stepped in as defensive coordinator in 2012, the Patriots have given up the NFL's fewest points. Patricia has been calling the defensive plays since 2010. And like McDaniels, he has benefited from an entire NFL career of working under Belichick. Those who know him consider Patricia a tireless worker to whom players easily respond.
Why he doesn't: Like with any other defensive-minded coach, a limited offensive background will hurt Patricia on a Rams team that is motivated mainly by improving its lackluster offense. Patricia, however, did play center in college and called plays for the offensive line. If nothing else, interviewing Patricia is a very good way for the Rams to get feedback on their roster. Demoff sees this process as an ideal opportunity for that.
Current title: Falcons offensive coordinator, two seasons
Prior roles: Browns offensive coordinator (2014) ... Redskins offensive coordinator (2010-13) ... Texans offensive coordinator (2008-09) ... Texans quarterbacks coach (2007) ... Texans wide receivers coach (2006)
Why he fits: He isn't the game's most coveted offensive coordinator for nothing. In nine seasons in that role, Shanahan -- son of Super Bowl-winning coach Mike Shanahan -- has guided six top-10 offenses. He made Griffin the Offensive Rookie of the Year, helped turn Matt Schaub into a Pro Bowl quarterback and has made Matt Ryan an MVP front-runner this season. Under Shanahan, the Falcons scored an NFL-leading and franchise-record 540 points in 2016. His scheme -- a wide-zone running game, which would require quick reads from Gurley, and lots of play-action -- is appealing to the Rams' personnel.
Why he doesn't: It might take a while to grasp Shanahan's offensive concepts, as evidenced by the Falcons' disappointing showing in 2015. There are also the usual questions about assembling a staff and leading a group that come with your typical rookie coach.
Current title: Texans linebackers coach, three seasons
Prior roles: Ohio State defensive line coach (2012-13) ... Ohio State linebackers coach (2011)
Why he fits: Vrabel has far more playing experience than anybody on this list, having spent 14 years as a linebacker for the Steelers, Patriots and Chiefs. After his playing career ended, Vrabel rose quickly as a coach, spending three years coaching linebackers and defensive linemen at his alma mater and then spending three years coaching linebackers for the Texans, where he helped develop Jadeveon Clowney and Benardrick McKinney. Now he's getting coaching interviews. Vrabel is considered an excellent teacher and motivator.
Why he doesn't: He is seen in some circles as a potential head coach, but that is probably still years away. Vrabel has only ever been a position coach and has no experience as a coordinator. He needs that responsibility first, which is why it was surprising to see the Rams request an interview in the first place. They may see him as a potential replacement for departed defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who is now in Cleveland.
Current title: Panthers assistant head coach and defensive backs coach, two seasons
Prior roles: Panthers defensive backs coach (2012-14) ... Chargers defensive backs coach (2009-11) ... Bears defensive backs coach (2006-08)
Why he fits: Wilks has spent a lot of years working under Ron Rivera, most recently helping with scheduling and planning, so he is familiar with the logistics of a head coach. He has also done a lot in the secondary despite having very little in the way of draft picks and free agents, most notably leading a Super Bowl-caliber group that led the NFL in interceptions in 2015.
Why he doesn't: Wilks, like Vrabel, still needs experience as a coordinator. He is reportedly next in line with the Panthers if current defensive coordinator Sean McDermott lands a head coaching job this offseason. That is the natural next step.