clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

NFL head coaching tracker: 1/8

NCAA Football: Texas Tech at Iowa State Reese Strickland-USA TODAY Sports

The four words likely most synonymous with this upcoming NFL offseason are “the next Sean McVay,” at least as they relate to head coaching hires. Seemingly every franchise that has an opening is looking for the next young and energetic offensive innovator, and those that are desperate will do anything to get a guy similar to the Los Angeles whiz kid.

To begin the week, we saw two teams go after and secure coaches that fit this description, and another franchise fill their void at the head spot with a more proven commodity. Let’s take a look at some of the hirings that have gone on so far (and be sure to stay tuned as we’ll continue to update this as the positions are filled):

Green Bay Packers hire Matt LaFleur (1/7)

NFL: Indianapolis Colts at Tennessee Titans Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports

The Packers chose to go in a different direction after over a decade of service from Mike McCarthy, and seem to be skewing pretty far from what the perception of what McCarthy had become in his last few years. That perception was a pretty negative one, and painted a picture of an old school coach who refused to adapt to the new NFL, which ultimately held Aaron Rodgers back.

Whether that’s actually true or not is a moot point considering it probably was the right time for that marriage to end. A new one begins in the hiring of LaFleur, who theoretically falls into the aforementioned “next Sean McVay” category.

While LaFleur has worked with McVay and Kyle Shanahan, helping to get the most out of Jared Goff as the coordinator in his 2017 bounce back year, he’s not quite as accomplished as those first two guys were when they were hired. He was brought in by Mike Vrabel to be the play caller for the Titans last season in an effort to get the most out Marcus Mariota, but the lack of talent and poor play from the quarterback led to them being ranked 25th in the league.

Some of that had to fall on LaFleur which makes this hire a bit of a head scratcher, but there’s always more to a story than the initial evidence may suggest. It could be the Packers see LaFleur as a CEO style coach who brings more to the table than just scheme, something more likely to reveal itself in the interview room than on a stat sheet.

If that’s the case, fair enough to the Packers for getting their guy, especially since Aaron Rodgers covers up for a lot more than most quarterbacks. Still, you'd hope LaFleur can get the most out of the all time veteran (and the rest of this team), or we may see Rodgers’ career continue to drift.

Buccaneers “close to announcing” Bruce Arians as head coach (1/8)

NFL: Arizona Cardinals at Seattle Seahawks Joe Nicholson-USA TODAY Sports

Well, that was a quick retirement. Following the 2017 season, Arians stepped away from football citing health reasons and a desire to spend more time with family, but after just a year in the booth with CBS it appears he’s back in the game.

Arians never seemed to take to broadcasting in the way he looked like a natural fit to, and rumors began to bubble up about him making a comeback while the season was still going on. For that reason, it’s not a total surprise to see him back, though the location wasn’t necessary expected.

All the buzz surrounding him seemed to connect him with Cleveland and Baker Mayfield, though it looks like he’s drawn the job of the Jameis Winston reclamation tour. Public opinion has significantly soured on the former #1 overall pick, so it’ll be up to Arians to try and turn him around in a contract year.

Since that seems to be a bit of a long shot, it’s conceivable the Bucs brass told their new coach he isn’t intrinsically tied with Winston, though it’s been made clear the former Florida State Seminole will be with the team in 2019. We’ll see how the relationship between the two pans out, but it’s another person who’s closely connected with Arians who makes this a pretty intriguing hire.

That would former New York Jets head coach Todd Bowles, who got the Gang Green job in 2015 on the strength of his resume as Arians’ defensive coordinator in Arizona the few years prior. Those two pairing back up could prove to make this a worthy hire for Tampa Bay, assuming they can figure out the quarterback spot.

Arizona Cardinals hire Kliff Kingsbury (1/8)

NCAA Football: Kansas at Texas Tech Michael C. Johnson-USA TODAY Sports

The Cardinals zeroed in on a guy they had been looking at for a while, and announced the move Tuesday afternoon:

This is an intriguing move that seems to have potential to go in two different directions: it’ll either work, or backfire in terrible fashion. To a degree this appears to be another McVay associated wish-cast, though it’d be unfair to Kingsbury to not mention his track record with quarterbacks.

After being a record setting player himself at a Texas Tech (and a brief NFL career) he’s worked his way up the college coaching ranks, alongside some pretty impressive names. Case Keemun, Johnny Manziel, Baker Mayfield, Davis Webb, and Patrick Mahomes headline the guys he’s had under his tutelage, with the only issue being most of those guys are more known for their college success.

This isn’t to say Kingsbury’s offensive philosophy can’t translate to the NFL, as many well respected names have respect for former Red Raider head coach. This includes Mahomes (who recently endorsed him to be come a head coach), McVay (who offered him an advisory position on the Rams), and Bill Belichick (who was looking at him as a potential replacement for Josh McDaniels if the coordinator were to leave New England).

Regardless, his offensive prowess doesn’t seem to be the issue here. Rather, it’s whether his leadership skills can translate to the NFL which is an entirely different deal than the big 12, and if he can assemble a roster and coaching staff that will equate to NFL success.

Of all the hires that have taken place so far, this one is certainly the most fun. As for how well it works, only time will tell, but there are a lot of questions to be answered before now and the 2019 season.