- Brian Daboll, Giants (Former Bills OC)
The hottest head coaching prospect signed with the Giants and lands No. 1 on my list. He has a more impressive resume than any other rookie head coach. He has been with Josh Allen since his rookie year and developed Allen into a top 3 QB. He was able to hone Allen’s skill and limit his flaws. Daboll has experience working with Bill Belichick and Nick Saban. His first true test will be to see if he can give Daniel Jones a Josh Allen Type of resurgence. It’s a long shot and I personally think Jones is a lost cause. Daboll will most likely struggle in his first season, and draft a QB in 2023. But the team will definitely see improvement. Daboll seems to have the relationship with his players that Joe Judge thought he had. As long as he doesn’t run a QB sneak on 3rd and 9, he’s an upgrade.
2. Nathaniel Hackett, Broncos (Former Packers OC)
Vic Fangio could have been a solid coach for the Broncos. Unfortunately, he never got the Offensive Coordinator or the QB right. The Denver defense hit some bumps, especially after the Von Miller trade, but they were still one of the top defenses in the league. The only problem is that this is an offensive driven league. The Broncos signed the former Packers OC in Nathaniel Hackett and if Hackett can bring in Aaron Rodgers, he will easily solve the Broncos biggest problem. But if Rodgers manages to stay in GB, the Broncos will either be forced to reach on a QB prospect in this years draft, or find a bridge gap QB. Neither option has worked out well for them in the past. Expect the Broncos to struggle in their first year, like the Giants. QB needy teams will be QB needy and this draft has an underwhelming QB class. But the Offensive mind of Hackett will definitely improve the offenses production. Denver is stacked on offense, with the exception of quarterback.
3. Kevin O’Connell, Vikings (Former Rams OC)
Against my better judgement, I’m ranking O’Connell higher than I normally would. O’Connell has the reputation of being smart and detail oriented. The only problem I have with him is that he never called the plays. He has the ceiling of a Kyle Shanahan and the floor of a Matt Nagy. Nagy hardly ever called plays as OC for the Chiefs and his playcalling with Chicago was absolute garbage. The positive of O’Connell is that he is going to an offense with a ton of weapons. Kirk Cousins can stay around and be the bridge QB for another year or two and the offense could rise to that of Green Bay, but it’s the defense that could be O’Connell’s downfall. Being one of the youngest coaches at 38, he lacks the experience that guys like Hackett and Daboll have. A one-year coordinator now thrust into the Head Coaching role could be dangerous, but the Vikings should be equipped to handle it.
4. Matt Eberflus, Bears (Former Colts DC)
The hottest DC lands in Chicago as the next Bears Head Coach. I was originally upset at this hire due to the fact that the Bears should have taken one of the top OC’s like Hackett or Daboll, but the Bears hired Former Packers QB Coach Luke Getsy as the OC, who was most likely on track to be a Head Coaching candidate next year. Eberflus stated that he would not be calling plays on offense or defense and would simply take an overall leadership role, which the bears sorely need. Nagy was to dead set on running his offense the way he wanted it to run instead of formatting the offense around his players strengths. The defense suffered through many injuries including losing Mack, Hicks, and a majority of there secondary for most of the season and they still kept the team in games despite the offense’s stagnant performance every game. Eberflus’ success depends solely on developing Justin Fields, and if he fails to bring in someone who can do that, he’ll be out of a job like every other Bears head coach failed to do.
5. Doug Pederson, Jaguars (Former Eagles HC, retired)
Doug Pederson probably may have the highest pedigree of the new HC’s but the Jacksonville front office is a mass that he now has to navigate through. The positive is lots of draft capital, cap space, low expectations, and he’s got the former number one pick Trevor Lawrence and the No. 1 pick in this years draft. That’s a lot of space to work in, but there’s also a lot of room to screw it up. Most likely, Jacksonville will suck for the next 2-3 years, but this year and next will be vital in rebuilding the team. There’s also the fact to consider regarding Pederson’s ugly exit with the Eagles. He seems to be entering another strained front office situation. Hopefully for Jags fans, it turns out better than last time.
6. Dennis Allen, Saints (Promoted from DC)
Dennis Allen takes one of hardest coaching jobs available. At best the 2021 cap will be $185M with the Saints are currently $81M above that figure according to the league’s figures. They have no QB, their star RB has been arrested and faces charges that could send him to prison, and they’ll likely lose Michael Thomas this offseason as well. With not a lot of resources, the Saints promoted Dennis Allen. Probably the best candidate for the Saints to be quite honest. Not many coaches would want to take their chances with that job and promoting a DC that was getting looks from other teams is the right way to go. An already respected coach in the eyes of the Saints players, Allen can keep the defense the strength of the team while rebuilding the offense. The Saints are actually primed to retake the South despite the coaching change. If Allen can get Jameis Winston to play average ball, it’ll be a breeze, or as Saints fans may say, a Brees.
7. Josh McDaniels, Raiders, (Former Patriots OC)
We all know the deal with Josh McDaniels. He has a terrible history being a Head Coach and questionable decisions have lead to many teams not taking the chance on him. But the Raiders decided to be the ones to take a chance on the one guy most wouldn’t. It’s possible that McDaniels has matured since his time with the Broncos and the three hours he spent with the Colts. He has been around Tom Brady for most of his career so that’s something. Hopefully he can bring some of that playmaking ability to Vegas for Carr or whoever they have at QB.
8. Mike McDaniel, Dolphins (Former 49ers OC)
Mike McDaniel is a weird dude. He’s this years version of Nick Sirianni from Philly. He’s just odd. Go listen to him talk in his press conferences and his first conversation with Tua. He is the NFL’s version of the super smart kid who is socially awkward kid who was probably promoted too quickly, but got the job because people thought he could handle it. He’s lower on this list for that reason and the fact that the Dolphins should never have fired Brian Flores. But since they did, it should be noted that the Dolphins went from being a sneaky good playoff team to soon to be rebuilding in just one season. I think the team needs more work than some think. Everyone is looking for that next Sean McVay, a young wunderkind, but there’s only one McVay. If McDaniel can get the respect of his players and staff I think he could work out. But the odds are against him. He’s going into a team that needs a change at QB and a complete retooling of the offense, entirely. Not to mention that he has to deal with the drama regarding the questionable ownership. Good luck, Mike.
9. Lovie Smith, Texans (Promoted from Texans DC)
I have so much respect for Lovie Smith, but it honestly seems like he’s been set up for failure. It makes no sense to fire David Culley after he definitely exceeded all expectations, only then to promote the DC that he hired a year before. This team is not built to succeed right now and everyone knows it. Lovie will improve the already bad defense but he has nothing really to work with on either side of the ball. Judt like the Jags, the front office is an embarrassment. This team was really about to hire Josh McCown as their Head Coach, but was bullied out of it due to fear of the ridicule from around the league. Lovie deserves better than this. What will likely happen is they’ll be bad but win a few games and show a little bit of promise yet the team will fire him after a season or two. Lovie is beloved by his players and will get the best out of them, but that’s not good enough for Casserio and McNair. Lovie is just another scapegoat.