Grading the New Head Coaching Hires in the NFL
The NFL has seven teams looking for new head coaches and five of them have already established a new leader in there organization. We are going to take a look at how well these coaches fit into their new role.
Robert Saleh (New York Jets)
The Jets were in need of an entire culture change heading into this offseason and that is exactly what Saleh brings to the table. He brings an intensity and leadership that has been lacking in New York for a very long time. In 2019, his 49ers defense ranked 2nd in the league in total defense and was the centerpiece of their Super Bowl run. While 2020 was a down year in San Francisco, you can't blame Saleh for working with a defense that was injured throughout the season. The Jets defense has been such a laughing stock for the past few seasons that fantasy owners would rush to the waiver wire to start players that were playing against the Jets. The question comes with how the offense will look under Saleh. The Jets organization needs to decide if they are going to run with Sam Darnold for the foreseeable future or take a gamble with a rookie QB like Justin Fields. All in all, Jets fans should be excited for this hire and you can't get much worse than Adam Gase.
Urban Meyer (Jacksonville Jaguars)
The Jaguars got there guy in Meyer. He is one of the most (if not the most) decorated and successful college football coaches of all time with 187 wins and 3 National Championships. The Jaguars needed a notable coaching hire to bring the organization into relevancy. This and with the potential number-1 pick Trevor Lawrence; all eyes will be on Jacksonville in 2021. There are some concerns with Meyer though. For starters, he has no NFL coaching experience and the pros are a much bigger beast than at the collegiate level (just ask Chip Kelly and Nick Saban). Also, his health concerns are what took him out of coaching prematurely. Can Meyer turn around a struggling franchise? Maybe, but with a very limited amount of talent and a division that features the Colts and the Titans, it's going to be a lot easier said than done.
Brandon Staley (Los Angeles Chargers)
The LA Chargers were the most underwhelming team in the NFL this season. With a playoff-ready roster, a mere 7-9 record wasn't going to keep Anthony Lynn around for too much longer. Much of the issues with the Chargers was their lackluster defense, ranking 23rd in total defense and giving up numerous double-digit leads. Insert Brandon Staley. The proclaimed "Sean McVay of defense" boasted the best defense in the league last year with the Rams and will automatically breath some life into this defense. The concerns come with the offense. Many Chargers fans were under the impression that Brain Daboll was the next HC for the Chargers and would capitalize on the success of Justin Herbert. Will this hire hurt his development? Staley would need to bring in a great offensive coordinator if they want to compete with the Chiefs and Patrick Mahomes and get the best of their young stud quarterback.
Arthur Smith (Atlanta Falcons)
The Falcons were pretty much in the same boat as the Chargers. They were a team that was infamous for their many blown leads in the 4th quarter. Unlike the Chargers however, they went an got an offensive minded head coach who not only established a dynamic rushing attack with Derrick Henry, but revitalized the career of Ryan Tannehill in Tennessee. The Falcons are in a "win-now" situation. Matt Ryan doesn't have many years left and are looking to get the most out of an explosive offense featuring star receivers Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley. A glaring hole with his scheme is that Atlanta has traditionally been a pass-heavy offense. He is going to want to establish a balanced attack and pound the ball on the ground, but he suffers a major downgrade in Ito Smith and a declining Todd Gurley at running back. Will Smith be willing to adjust his play calling to fit the strengths of his offense? If not, it might be a short tenure for the ex-coordinator.
Dan Campbell (Detroit Lions)
In what came as a shock to many fans in the football world, Dan Campbell was announced head coach of the struggling Detroit Lions this morning. He has been under the tutelage of Sean Payton for 4 years as an assistant head coach and a tight end's coach for the Saints. The Lions are taking a huge risk on a guy that has had very minimal coaching experience and a subpar record of 5-7 as an interim head coach for the Dolphins. Hopefully some of Payton's success will rub off on Campbell, but it's hard to have high expectations for someone with no coordinating experience. With candidates Eric Bieniemy and Brian Daboll still on the table it has us scratching our heads on why the Lions front office decided to go this route. The Lions wanted to establish something fresh, and they for sure got what they are looking for.