Grading all of the Coaching Hires
Denver Broncos: Nathaniel Hackett A
This was one of my favorite hires of the entire coaching cycle. If we are looking at what the Broncos need; they need an offensive coach who is enthusiastic and will bring the entire team together. The Broncos' last four coaches were all either older guys or defensive coaches. They needed to switch things up and bring in a youthful exuberance that can bring their offense to life. Lucky for them, Hackett is the NFL's version of Ted Lasso. An offense with Javonte Williams, Melvin Gordon, Courtland Sutton, KJ Hamler, Tim Patrick, and Jerry Jeudy should not be one of the worst offenses in the NFL. This team has so much talent and they need a coach who can put all of the pieces together. While he did have Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur to help him out in Green Bay, Hackett should be able to revive the Broncos' offense. It starts with the quarterback position; whether it be Aaron Rodgers or Blake Bortles, Hackett does a good job at bringing out the best in his quarterback. I could see Hackett pursuing a trade for either Aaron Rodgers or Jordan Love, and I could also see him taking a shot on Kenny Pickett in the first round. I believe Pickett is a perfect fit for Hackett's west-coast offense; if the two link up in Denver I could see the Broncos making a run at Patrick Mahomes and the AFC West. Whether or not Hackett chooses to pursue Pickett, I believe the Broncos hit a home run with this hire.
Chicago Bears: Matt Eberflus B-
This was undoubtedly one of the more interesting hires of this year's coaching cycle. The future of this team lies with Justin Fields, that isn't a question, and because of that, I thought the Bears would go with an offensive mind. With that being said, just because Matt Eberflus isn't an offensive coach, doesn't mean Justin Fields can't grow. Justin Herbert has looked phenomenal with Brandon Staley, a defensive coach, as the head guy. The same goes for Josh Allen with Sean McDermott, Lamar Jackson with Jon Harbaugh, and the list goes on. If we look at the big similarity between all of those situations; the offensive coordinators were all homerun hires. I don't know too much about Luke Getsy other than him being the Packers' quarterback coach and passing game coordinator last season. I do know that Rodgers had two of the best seasons of his career with Getsy as his coach. The Bears desperately need to establish a loving culture that isn't toxic. With Matt Nagy leading the way, it seemed like there was negative energy surrounding the Bears at all times. If Eberflus is anything like Frank Reich, I believe he will be able to establish that culture. I think all franchises should strive to establish a culture similar to the Colts'. If Getsy is able to develop Fields into the quarterback we all know he can be and Eberflus can bring his team together, the skies should be clear in the Windy City. With that being said, I would have really loved to see the Bears hire a coach like Eric Bieniemy or Byron Leftwich.
New York Giants: Brian Daboll A-
The Giants are in an incredibly awkward position from a roster standpoint. There are so many questions that come to mind when looking at their roster. Is Daniel Jones the guy? Is Saquon Barkley the same Saquon Barkley that we all know and love? Is Andrew Thomas a franchise left tackle? Should the Giants keep Kenny Golladay? The list goes on. With two first-round picks in this year's draft, I believe the Giants are in a prime position to rebuild. I believe Brian Daboll is a really good coach to lead this team through the fire and out the other end. Daboll has a bright offensive mind and is from the Belichick/Saban tree that is built upon discipline. Giants fans should have tempered expectations this year, but excitement for the future. I think the Giants are a few years away from really contending, but I do believe that Daboll was a very good hire.
Las Vegas Raiders: Josh McDaniels C
To be completely honest, I was not a big fan of this hire. I thought the Raiders had a perfect hire right in front of them with Rich Bisaccia, even if it was only for one more season. What Bisaccia did last season was beautiful, he was able to bring his team together despite tragedy and controversy. While he wouldn't have been the "sexiest" hire, I felt like he was the right guy for this job. Instead, Mark Davis decided to hire a guy who has a questionable history. I am a big believer in second chances but based on how things went down in Denver the first time for McDaniels and how he swerved the Colts a few years ago; I am a little concerned about McDaniels. Former Patriots assistants have had a difficult time establishing a healthy culture in their locker rooms and given McDaniels' history, I am worried about the direction this team may go. While I have no doubt that McDaniels knows the X's and O's better than anyone in the league, I am concerned about his ability to lead men. With that being said, McDaniels could have easily grown as a coach and leader these past few years. I am hoping he proves me wrong, but for now, I'll give the Raiders a C for this hire.
Minnesota Vikings: Kevin O'Connell B+
I feel "good" about this hiring; I don't love it, but I don't hate it. I never felt like there was a problem with the Vikings' offense, it was the defense that I had concerns about. With that being said, if the Vikings did end up going offense, I thought it was important that they hired a coach that runs the west coast system. Their offense is built perfectly to run the outside zone scheme (which they've been running for the past few years) and for that reason, I do like the hiring of O'Connell. I thought that Mike McDaniel would have been an even better hire, but O'Connell isn't a bad call. O'Connell needs to hire an experienced defensive coordinator. Despite having Danielle Hunter, Eric Kendricks, Anthony Barr, and Patrick Peterson, the Vikings' defense couldn't stop anybody last season. The Vikings need to find a way to sure up their defense, but I like what they are building with Kwesi Adofo-Mensah calling the shots from the front office. I am a fan of the coach and general manager being of similar age because that means they use similar jargon and are able to communicate in a mutual way. It is something that gets overlooked but I think will pay off in the long run.
Jacksonville Jaguars: Doug Pederson B+
In a similar light to the Bears, this hire revolved entirely around their young quarterback. Trevor Lawrence would benefit greatly from a coach that knows the position and not many coaches know the position better than Doug Pederson. Pederson is from the Andy Reid tree and will bring a downfield passing attack with him. Schematically, I feel like this is a great fit for Lawrence to become the quarterback that we all believe he is capable of becoming. The only reason I don't have a higher grade on this hire is because Shad Khan had an even better hire right in front of him. Kahn chose Trent Baalke over Byron Leftwich. The Jaguars could have hired their former quarterback as their head coach but chose to retain Baalke instead of hiring Adrian Wilson as their general manager. I think that Lawrence can do wondrous things in both of these systems, but I feel as if Wilson and Leftwich would have been a better combo than Pederson and Baalke.
Miami Dolphins: Mike McDaniel A+
And just like that... I have a new favorite NFL head coach. Mike McDaniel has been "my guy" for a few years now; he is someone that I have felt was destined to be a great NFL head coach. On top of his witty humor and youthful spirit, McDaniel is an extremely innovative thinker and is a "player's coach". He is one of the masterminds behind the 49ers' unconventional offense and I could see a few of the 49ers' players following his path in free agency this offseason. This hire puts Tua Tagovailoa in the best position to succeed. Similar to Jimmy Garoppolo, Tagovailoa falls in the middle tier of quarterbacks who isn't going to "Woah" anybody but will put his team in a position to win. While I do believe the Dolphins will need to make some upgrades on the offensive line and at the fullback and running back position, I think this team could be in a position where they can win now. One player that I can't wait to see McDaniel use in his offense is Lynn Bowden. While there will never be another Deebo Samuel, I believe Bowden will inherit a role similar to Samuel's. The Dolphins' defense is already in place and the offense now has a mastermind calling plays. If the Broncos hiring Nathaniel Hackett was a homerun, then this was a grand slam.
Houston Texans: Lovie Smith F
I just don't understand this hire. There is no other way to put it... this just doesn't make sense to me. I don't understand why the Texans would fire David Culley in the first place if they were just going to promote their defensive coordinator, who wasn't getting looks to be a head coach from anywhere else. The three finalists for this job were Smith, Josh McCown, and Brian Flores. The Texans picked the worst candidate of the three. On the bright side, the Texans will be able to keep Pep Hamilton as their offensive coordinator, but I just don't understand this hire whatsoever.
New Orleans Saints: Dennis Allen B+
This hire made all too much sense. Dennis Allen was destined for a second chance at a head coaching gig and he will be able to retain the culture that was built by Sean Payton. Allen was able to rebuild the Saints' defense and was very deserving of a second shot as a head coach. The Saints have a lot of work to do; starting with getting under the salary cap. After that, the Saints need to figure out what they are doing at the quarterback position. While Taysom Hill is still under contract, he is expected to make an immense amount of money. If Allen chooses to cut ties with Hill, he will be able to pick his quarterback and save a lot of money. I feel as if that would be the best thing the Saints could do, but Allen will have a lot of work to do. The only reason this hire doesn't get an A is that for a second I thought they were going to hire Eric Bieniemy. Bieniemy's chance of being a head coach is long overdue, and it would have been great to see him coach the team he grew up watching. With all that being said, Allen was a phenomenal hire and I'm excited to see what he does with the team.