Grading the NFL Coaching Hires

There were eight head coaching positions open at the start of the playoffs. It now looks like they’ve all been filled. Let’s look at the hires and whether they were the right move or not.

Green Bay Packers: Matt LaFleur

The Green Bay Packers decided to hire Matt LaFleur. It looks like they are looking to take a page from the rest of the league’s playbook by hiring a young, offensive mind. This makes sense considering you want to take advantage of the 5 or so years of Aaron Rodgers that you have left. Many people were surprised by this hire because of LaFleur’s lack of success in Tennessee. The Titans offense was abysmal for most of the year, except for the last stretch where Derrick Henry went off. They ranked outside the top 20 in most major categories. However, I don’t blame LaFleur for that. It’s tough to get anything going with Marcus Mariota at QB. He’s often injured and never really took the next step since being drafted. However, there were times this year when he looked really good, which could be a sign of things to come for Green Bay and Aaron Rodgers.

Grade: B

Arizona Cardinals: Kliff Kingsbury

Kingsburg was fired as head coach of Texas Tech, then became OC of USC for about 5 minutes before being hired by the Cardinals. This was another case of a team with a young quarterback looking to find a young, offensive mind to pair him with. I’m not thrilled with this hire. Kingsbury had Patrick Mahomes at Texas Tech and never accomplished anything significant with him. Not being able to utilize a talent like that at the college level scares me. Maybe there were other factors involved but I’m not too optimistic. This Cardinals team does have some talent on offense so maybe he can put it together.

Grade: C-

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Bruce Arians

I love this hire. Bruce Arians was great as the interim for the Colts and then took over a meh Cardinals team and made them a playoff team. Even last year, with injuries everywhere and a strong division, Arians was able to go 8-8. The Bucs were 5-11 this year but had a top 5 offense. With Arians at the helm, the Bucs could make a leap and even sneak in as a wild card team.

Grade: A+

New York Jets: Adam Gase

Another hire that I really like. Gase was never really given a chance in Miami. They were always floating around a decent record so they refused to fully rebuild. As a result, Gase was stuck with a lot of players that he didn’t sign or draft. He also was stuck playing with backup quarterbacks a lot because Tannehill could never stay healthy. Putting him with the Jets puts him in a perfect situation. The Jets are in a rebuild but already have some great young talent on offense and defense as well as a potential franchise quarterback. The Jets also have a ton of cap space (2nd most for 2019) so if they make some splashy moves, they could be in a position to be a contender quickly.

Grade: A-

Miami Dolphins: Brian Flores

Probably my least favorite hire. Brian Flores was the “defensive coordinator” for the Patriots. People always want to hire coaches from the Belichick tree because they have such great success with New England. However, they rarely seem to work out when they leave. And Brian Flores may be the least accomplished Belichick coach thus far. He didn’t even really run the defense, Belichick did. This felt like a reach by the Dolphins. They look like they are hoping to get a little Patriot influence on their team. However, I’m not sure if it’ll work out for them.

Grade: D

Cleveland Browns: Freddie Kitchens

If the Browns had started the season with Gregg Williams and Freddie Kitchens, they probably would’ve been in the running for a playoff spot. The team was much better with those two as HC and OC respectively. The Browns decided to stick with one of those pieces and hire Kitchens as their next HC. I like this hire a lot because Baker thrived under Kitchens. However, Kitchens has very little experience. I would’ve liked to see them stick with Williams as HC and keep Kitchens as the OC. However, this still feels like a good hire.

Grade: B+

Cincinnati Bengals: Zac Taylor (probably)

The Bengals are most likely going to hire Rams’ QB coach Zac Taylor. Just like nearly everyone else, the Bengals are hoping to go with the young, offensive mind to bolster their offense. Hiring someone who worked for McVay is also a good move, as it may bring that spark that McVay brings to LA. However, with little experience calling plays or running an offense, Taylor could be in over his head.

Grade: C+

Denver Broncos: Vic Fangio

As a Bears’ fan, this hire hurts me. However, it’s an interesting hire by the Broncos. Fangio is the only guy on this list who isn’t either young or offensively minded. However, it looks like John Elway is hoping to play to his team’s strength, which is its defense. With Fangio coaching guys like Von Miller and Bradley Chubb, I imagine Elway is hoping that his team can make a run like Peyton Manning’s last season. He’s hoping that the defense is great and that the offense is good enough. However, with the Chiefs and Chargers looking strong, it may be a few years before the Broncos can make a run.

-Stephen Brown III (@sbtrey23)

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