Now that Super Bowl LI is officially in the rear-view mirror we will begin to look forward to the 2017 NFL season.
A new season of hope and promise for many teams that fell short in 2016. Six of those teams that fell short will be starting the offseason with new faces in the head coaching position.
Big names like John Gruden, Sean Payton, and Jim Harbaugh were thrown around, but to the dismay of many fans, the status quo remained and all six head coaches were promoted from coordinator positions.
Every team should think very highly of their new hire, but do we? Here is our ranking for the six new coaching hires.
1. Kyle Shanahan – San Francisco 49ers
I wanted to move Shanahan down this list after that collapse in the 4th quarter of Super Bowl 51, but I’ll try to cut him some slack, and he was the hottest name on the market after Black Monday. His offense has pretty much been the model of success wherever he has been the offensive coordinator, something he will try to emulate with his new team.
Last season with the Falcons, his offense put up gaudy numbers (2nd in NFL in total yards and 1st in total points) and his quarterback, Matt Ryan, won NFL MVP. He implemented an offense that was as dangerous through the air as it was on the ground.
Now he faces an extremely tough task in San Francisco that doesn’t have nearly the talent that he enjoyed in Atlanta.
New, and first time GM John Lynch will be with Shanahan to hand pick a new 49ers roster. First order of business: Quarterback. Do they keep one that is already on the roster (Kaepernick, Gabbert, etc.), take a rookie QB with the 2nd overall pick in the Draft, or go after someone in Free Agency/ Trade market.
This is one of the many tough tasks that Shanahan will face in his first few months as Head Coach of the 49ers.
2. Vance Joseph – Denver Broncos
Vance Joseph may not be a name that is as well known on this list, but it is a name that is highly respected around the NFL and someone that has been seen as an up and coming coach for quite some time.
When Elway hired Kubiak as head coach two years ago, he interviewed Joseph for the defensive coordinator position and was ready to add him to Kubiak’s staff, until his team at the time (Cincinnati Bengals) blocked him from leaving. He also worked under Kubiak and Wade Phillips in Houston.
Last season, Joseph headed a Dolphins defense that was elite at times and yet very malleable at others. He will have to find consistency as he enters the high-pressure title of Head Coach of the Denver Broncos.
He is, however, entering a situation that is far better than the other five coaches on this list. The Broncos are only one-year removed from winning Super Bowl 50 and will have more experience at quarterback after missing the playoffs last season. The league standard at defense should be returning all 11 starters, and former secondary coach Joe Woods was promoted to the defensive coordinator position with the departure of Wade Phillips for L.A.
Perhaps the greatest thing Joseph did in his first week as head coach was bringing Mike McCoy back as offensive coordinator. McCoy had great success as the OC in Denver before he took the head coaching job in San Diego. He will be in charge of vastly improving the offense that really slowed the team down last season, and will be tasked with bringing out the best in young QBs Trevor Siemian and Paxton Lynch.
Joseph has great leadership qualities, and Elway hopes that he will do a great job in preparing the team and overseeing the sidelines on game days.
3. Anthony Lynn – Los Angeles Chargers
Typically when one head coach is fired, the next one hired is generally a stark contrast from the previous coach. This is fairly accurate for the Chargers hiring of Anthony Lynn.
Mike McCoy was a fairly loose coach, that all the players loved, but the team at times lacked discipline (as was evident with the Chargers losing so many games in the final two minutes).
Lynn is a much more rigid, old-school football coach. Fundamentals and discipline. Don’t get me wrong, his players will still love him, but he will demand a discipline out of them that may not have been there before.
A running backs coach for many years, he was promoted to offensive coordinator for the Bills last year when there OC was fired after the first few weeks. Later in the season, he was promoted to head coach when Rex Ryan was relieved of his duties.
The offense flourished under his guidance and GMs around the league could see the discipline that he imposed.
With the Chargers moving up to Los Angeles this offseason, they need a leader that will keep the team focused and football ready each and every week (see 2016 L.A. Rams for what NOT to do).
Ken Whisenhunt was retained as offensive coordinator to keep some continuity with an offense that was very solid all season, and Gus Bradley was brought in as defensive coordinator.
I could see the Chargers making the playoffs in 2017 if the AFC West could send four teams. Unfortunately, they cannot so the Chargers will probably be on the outside yet again, but they will make great strides of progress.
4. Sean McDermott – Buffalo Bills
Another name that doesn’t jump off the page, but McDermott had a phenomenal tenure as defensive coordinator for the Carolina Panthers.
McDermott pretty much had every defensive coaching title in the book during his time in Philadelphia from 1999 – 2010 before he became the defensive coordinator in Carolina for five seasons.
In 2015 the Panthers finished sixth in overall team defense and Sean McDermott finished second runner-up for Defensive Coach of the Year.
McDermott will need to install this same smashmouth defensive philosophy in Buffalo. He has been known to implement a variety of blitzes, in part due to his mentor, the late great Jim Johnson.
He brought Rick Dennison over from Denver to be his offensive coordinator who will be faced with the decision on their starting quarterback. Many think the organization has moved on from Tyrod Taylor and is ready to give Cardale Jones and shot and potentially take another QB with their first round pick.
Nothing flashy about McDermott, but it is a solid hire.
5. Sean McVay – Los Angeles Rams
McVay is at the bottom of this list strictly for the fact that his resume is so small, as he just turned 31 years old. Just let that sink in. A 31-year-old is the head coach of a billion dollar franchise.
Now no one is denying what he has accomplished in that short amount of time. He helped to groom Kirk Cousins into one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL. Last season, as offensive coordinator, he guided the Washington Redskins to the third-ranked offense.
His grandfather is the great John McVay, former GM of the San Francisco 49ers, so you can say that football greatness is in his blood.
He brought over Wade Phillips from Denver to oversee the defense, which is a fantastic hire as he will unleash the Rams defense and superstar Aaron Donald.
Arguably McVay’s largest task will be to groom former first round pick, Jared Goff. He brought in former Falcon’s quarterbacks coach Matt LeFleur to help him with this new challenge. Unfortunately for him, his success will primarily rely on the success of Jared Goff.
Definitely an experiment but the Rams made the biggest splash with the hire and McVay will bring plenty of passion and energy to the sidelines.
6. Doug Marrone – Jacksonville Jaguars
Maybe a smart hire for the Jags, but definitely a boring one. Marrone, former coach of the Syracuse Orange, and failed head coach of the Buffalo Bills, was the offensive line coach for the Jags all season before being promoted to head coach after Gus Bradley was fired.
During his interim stint, the team played relatively well and exhibited more passion and discipline two-fold.
This was enough to show management that he was the man for the job.
Like I mentioned earlier, typical when a coach is fired management will be looking to give the team a facelift, steer the team in a new direction.
Maybe Marrone’s offensive mind vs. Bradley’s defensive mind was enough of a change for the Jaguars.
One move that I did love was that they brought in Tom Coughlin as VP of Football Operations. Coughlin built the Jacksonville organization from the ground up, so it will be good the fans, the city and franchise to have him back in the building.