Posted on January 24, 2018, by Bryan Zarpentine
Since the end of the 2017 season, seven NFL teams have hired a new head coach. A couple of those have yet to become official, but for all intents and purposes, all seven teams with a head coach vacancy have filled it. It’s only natural to not only recap those hires but also evaluate how each team faired with their decision to fire their old coach and hire a new one.
7. Titans, Mike Vrabel
To be fair, the Titans appear to be quite excited about hiring Vrabel. That being said, he has limited coaching experience and just one year of experience as a coordinator in the NFL. He does bring plenty of credibility from his playing days. But one has to wonder if he’ll be in over his head as an NFL head coach. On top of that, the Titans fired Mike Mularkey after he led them to the Divisional Round of the playoffs.
6. Colts, Josh McDaniels
It’s all but official that McDaniels will be hired by the Colts after the Super Bowl. On the surface, bringing in an offensive minded coach seems like a great fit if Andrew Luck comes back healthy in 2018. However, McDaniels had a troubling time as head coach of the Broncos in 2009 and 2010, going 11-17 before being fired less than two seasons into his tenure. McDaniels was also the head coach when the team drafted Tim Tebow, which was just one of a few questionable decisions he made in Denver. He may have learned a lot from that experience, but this is still a risky hire.
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5. Bears, Matt Nagy
The Bears needed a head coach who could work with quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. That’s exactly what they got in Nagy, who did great things with Alex Smith in Kansas City over the last five years. However, at age 39, one has to wonder if Nagy has the coaching experience to turn the Bears around. The team is an absolute mess right now, as Chicago’s problems go far beyond the quarterback position. If Nagy can develop Trubisky, the Bears should be in good shape. However, the young, first-time head coach still has a lot on his plate.
4. Cardinals, Steve Wilks
Wilks is another example of a new head coach with limited experience as a coordinator. However, coaching defense under Ron Rivera is a nice line to have on one’s resume. Wilks has an aggressive defensive philosophy and brings it to a team with plenty of defensive talent. At the same time, he has to find Arizona’s quarterback of the future. However, Wilks has the tools to make the Cardinals one of the top defensive teams in the league and a team that can compete for the playoffs right away.
3. Lions, Matt Patricia
There may be no better preparation for being a head coach than working under Bill Belichick for 14 years. Like most of the new hires this year, Patricia doesn’t have any prior experience as a head coach. But he’s spent a lot of years at Belichick’s side and should understand better than most first-time head coaches how to build a roster, implement a game plan, and make in-game adjustments. Of course, he has a lot to prove, but his ceiling as a head coach figures to be quite high.
2. Raiders, Jon Gruden
Gruden’s return to Oakland was headline-grabbing, but it’s not quite a slam dunk move by the Raiders. For starters, Gruden is costing them $10 million per season, on top of the money still owed to Jack Del Rio, who signed an extension a year ago. Also, while Gruden is well-respected throughout the league, he’s not exactly one of the all-time greats. In 11 seasons as an NFL coach, his record is just 14 games above .500. He made the playoffs just five times in those 11 years and was just 2-4 in the playoffs outside of his Super Bowl year with the Bucs. In short, it’s a massive commitment and huge risk for a coach who’s been out of the league for nearly a decade.
1. Giants, Pat Shurmur
With Shurmur, the Giants won the coaching carousel. To be fair, the Giants had one of the more appealing openings. Nevertheless, they landed a coach with a long history of developing quarterbacks. Whether Eli Manning returns next season or not, that’s one thing the Giants will need moving forward. Few will hold it against Shurmur that he had two rough seasons as head coach of the Browns. If anything, that experience should serve him well this time around. Obviously, the Giants have a lot of work to do after a disastrous 3-13 season. But it’s a good bet that Shurmur gets things turned around sooner rather than later.