The Philadelphia Eagles 41 to 33 win over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl 52 isn’t a month old and already 6 NFL teams have new head coaches. The Arizona Cardinals hired Steve Wilks. The Chicago Bears gave a coaching contract to Matt Nagy. Detroit went out and grabbed Matt Patricia from the New England Patriots. The Giants hired Pat Shurmur from the Minnesota Vikings.
The Raiders turned back to the venerable Jon Gruden while the Tennessee Titans decided to roll the dice with Mike Vrabel. Keep reading for a run down of the 2018-2019 NFL Season’s new head coaches…so far.
Biggest 2018 NFL Coaching Changes So Far
Arizona Cardinals – Steve Wilks
Wilks had been the Carolina Panthers’ defensive coordinator. He took over the coordinator position for Sean McDermott, who became the Buffalo Bills head coach before the season started. Wilks immediately turned the Panthers into a Top 10 defense in yards allowed per game. The Panthers only allowed 317.1 total yards per. Opponents rushed for 88.1 yards per versus the Panthers’ D. That ranked third in the NFL.
By hiring Wilks, Arizona is saying that they’re turning the page on the high-scoring, high-flying, Arizona Cardinals’ offense under Bruce Arians. Zona’s got some great pieces on defense. Wilks will have a lot to work with once he lands in the Valley of the Sun.
Biggest Question – Will Arizona’s defense improve enough to stop the great quarterbacks with Seattle, the L.A. Rams, and the San Francisco 49’ers?
The Cardinals battle Russell Wilson and the Seattle Seahawks, Jared Goff and the L.A. Rams, and Jimmy Garoppolo and the San Francisco 49’ers twice a season. That’s three of the best passing quarterbacks in teh NFL. If Goff takes the next step, he could be an all-pro. Garoppolo is already very good while Russell’s one of the top three quarterbacks in the league.
Can Wilks’ defense really stop those guys?
Chicago Bears – Matt Nagy
The Bears decided to go opposite of the Arizona Cardinals. While the Cardinals went with a fantastic defensive coordinator as their new head coach, the Bears decided to go with great offensive coordinator Matt Nagy.
How good was Nagy as offensive coordinator of the Kansas City Chiefs? He was so good that the Chiefs averaged 375.4 total yards per game. That ranked fifth in the NFL. Overall, KC ranked in the Top 10 in: passing yards per game, 256.5, rushing yards per game, 118.9, and points scored per game, 25.9.
Biggest Question: Will Nagy’s offensive play-calling success work with a different QB, RB, WR and TE?
Most of Nagy’s success as play-caller for the Kansas City Chiefs rested on the fact that he had QB Alex Smith, RB Kareem Hunt, WR Tyreek Hill, and TE Travis Kelce. Hunt was one of the best running backs in the NFL this past season. Hill is one of the top wide receivers in the league. Kelce might be the best tight-end in the NFL.
Say what you want about Alex Smith, but his stats say that he’s a terrific, veteran, quarterback. Smith continually completes close to 70% of his passes, year in and year out, while he also rarely turns the ball over. That’s what you want from your QB.
Nagy’s going from Smith, Hunt, Hill and Kelce to young skill players that have much growing up to do. QB Mitch Trubisky will be in his second season. Fantastic RB Jordan Howard will be in his third season. WR Kevin White can’t stay healthy while Chicago doesn’t have a tight-end close to Kelce’s ability. One player that Nagy might lean on this season is second-year RB Tarik Cohen. Cohen showed flashes his rookie season of being as good in the passing game as the Saints’ Alvin Kamara.
Detroit Lions – Matt Patricia
New England defensive coordinator Matt Patricia instituted a bend but don’t break defense after the Patriots’ 30 to 33 loss to the Carolina Panthers in Week 4. After instituting the new defense, Patricia’s D allowed 20 points or more only twice in the Patriots last 12 games. That’s close to amazing.
Why did Detroit hire Patricia? The Lions could use some work on offense. That’s mostly due to personnel outside of great QB Matthew Stafford. With a couple of key free agent moves on offense, Detroit should be a decent team on that side of the ball this season.
Patricia’s got some pieces to work with on defense as well. That’s probably why the Lions decided to go with Patricia instead of an offensive-minded coach.
Biggest Question – Is Matt Patricia a head coach?
The Lions hired great defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz to be their head coach a few years ago. Schwartz didn’t pan out as a head coach. He sure panned out as a defensive coordinator for the Philadelphia Eagles this past season.
Some coaches are better at being coordinators than they are at being head coaches. Josh McDaniels, who turned down the Colts’ head coaching position last week, is one of the Patriots’ coordinators that decided he’s a much better coordinator than head coach.
We’ll see how Patricia pans out. Not everybody is designed to be the guy where the buck stops.
New York Giants – Pat Shurmur
The Giants named Vikings’ offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur as their head coach. Shurmur called plays for an offense that ended up ranked eleventh in the NFL in yards averaged per game. Minnesota racked up 356.9 total yards per match up. The Vikings averaged 23.9 points per game. Minnesota rushed for 122.3 yards per. They passed for 234.6 yards per game.
Biggest Question – Will Pat Shurmur have the same success in the rushing attack with the Giants as he did with the Vikings?
The Vikings weren’t a great rushing team. However, they averaged over 120 rushing yards per game because Shurmur could lean on a great defense. The Vikings didn’t have to throw the football. You don’t have to throw the football, you can try and play keep away, when your defense ranks first in the NFL.
The Giants’ D is one of the worst in the NFL. The G-Men also have one of the worst offensive lines in the league. What sort of success will Shurmur have with such a disastrous team?
Oakland Raiders – Jon Gruden
Jon Gruden has decided to once again be a head coach in the NFL. Gruden has been ESPN’s NFL Monday Night color commentator for years. Oakland’s been waiting for Gruden to finally get over the fact that they traded him to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for a Round 1 draft pick.
Gruden won a Super Bowl while the head coach at Tampa Bay. The Raiders had to pay a fine due to the Rooney Rule because, pretty much, they decided that Jon Gruden was their head coach before interviewing anybody else.
Biggest Question – Has the game passedd by Jon Gruden?
The last time Jon Gruden coached in the NFL was 2008. That’s a full 10 years between head coaching gigs. No doubt, Jon Gruden knows how to coach football. But, will he know how to coach football in 2018? A lot has changed since 2008.
If Gruden is as well at communicating to his players in 2018 as he was in 2008, the Raiders could challenge for the Vince Lombardi Trophy. It’s difficult to find a more talented team, player to player, in the NFL.
Tennessee Titans – Mike Vrabel
I love the Titans hiring Mike Vrabel as their head coach. The first thing Vrabel stated is that he’s going to institute a college football spread offense to utilize QB Marcus Mariota’s talents. I think that’s a great idea. Mariota has proven efficient at playing in the pocket. He’s much more dangerous when allowed to run with the football. Just the running threat should help Mariota become a better quarterback.
Biggest Problem: A spread offense will help Mariota excel…if defensive coordinators don’t figure out Vrabel’s spread offense.
I wrote this as a problem, not a question. The biggest issue with the spread offense at the NFL level is that it’s been tried before with only limited success. Defenders are so much faster at the NFL level that spreading things out doesn’t always work.
Will Vrabel’s gamble work? I hope it does because he’s got a fantastic football mind. I’ll tell you one thing, Mike Vrabel won’t mess around with playing both Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray. Expect Henry to start and get most of the carries.
Eagles offensive coordinator, new head coach
The Indianapolis Colts rebounded nicely from last week’s Josh McDaniels fiasco. They announced the hiring Sunday of Philadelphia Eagles offensive coordinator Frank Reich as their next head coach. As of now this is the last of the 2018 NFL coaching changes.