For many NFL teams the regular season couldn’t end quickly enough, so that they could fire their head coach and move in a new direction. In fact, a few teams didn’t even wait until the next day before they sent their head coach packing.
Well, as quickly as they fired their previous coaches, these same teams are surprisingly hiring their new head coaches almost at the same pace.
Within the last few days, 5 teams have hired a new head coach. The following is a short recap of each team’s hiring:
On Wednesday, the Browns announced that they were going to not only keep interim offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens, but that they were also going to make him the 18th head coach in the team’s history. Kitchens had a great deal of success during the final 8 games of the season and built up a solid relationship with franchise QB Baker Mayfield.
This newfound partnership saw Mayfield excel over the second half of the season with 19 of his 27 TD passes coming under the new OC. Kitchens also helped rookie RB Nick Chubb become an explosive back in his offense. Under Kitchens, the Browns scored 23.8 ppg and the team went 5-3 down the stretch.
Just 3 days after the Bears were eliminated from the playoffs, the Denver Broncos made Chicago’s defensive coordinator Vic Fangio their new head coach as they signed him to a 4-year deal with a 5th year option. The 60-year old Fangio had been the Bears defensive coordinator for the last 4 years.
The 2018 Bears’ defense was one of the best in the NFL. Fangio will inherit a Denver defense that has the talent to be elite under Vic’s coaching.
With Fangio taking care of the defense, Denver will need to find someone to repair a struggling offense that does have some nice young pieces.
First, they will need to find a solution at QB as Keenum could be gone this offseason, should the Broncos choose to go that route. The one name that’s being rumored to step in and help with the offense is former coordinator and coach Gary Kubiak. If Elway can convince Kubiak to take this role then Denver is poised to make big strides in 2019.
In the most shocking of hires this offseason, the Arizona Cardinals went into the collegiate ranks to hire former Texas Tech head coach Kliff Kingsbury as their new coach. Arizona signed Kingsbury to a 4-year deal with a team option for the fifth year. Kingsbury is a former QB and is praised for the work he did in developing Chiefs QB Patrick Mahomes while in college.
Ahead of their big Divisional Round playoff game on Saturday, Mahomes made the following comments about the hiring of Kingsbury:
“I’m fired up for coach Kingsbury and his family. The Cardinals are getting an outstanding, football coach and an even better person. He’s smart, creative, passionate, and really understands how to develop and relate to players. I feel like he played a huge role in preparing me for the next step, and I’m grateful for that. This is a tremendous opportunity for him and I know he’s going to make the most of it.”
Unfortunately, not everyone is as excited about this hiring. Only time will tell if the Cardinals and Kingsbury can develop franchise QB Josh Rosen into an elite passer.
Bruce Arians spent one year retired before deciding to come back to the NFL and coach another team. Technically, he was still under contract with the Arizona Cardinals for this season. Fortunately for the Bucs, the two teams were able to exchange a few draft picks to compensate Arizona for Arians leaving the TV booth and joining Tampa Bay.
Arians becomes the 12th head coach in Tampa’s franchise history. Like most of the coaches recently hired, the Bucs signed Arians to a 4-year deal with a team option for the 5th year. Buccaneers owner Bryan Glazer made the following comments about the hiring:
“Bruce Arians is one of the NFL’s most well-respected coaches over the past two decades and we are excited to have him leading our team. Throughout this process, we focused on finding the right coach with a proven ability to elevate our players and lead our team forward. Bruce has played a large role in the development and career success of some of our league’s best players and we look forward to seeing him continue that work here with our franchise.”
Arians coached the Cardinals from 2013 to 2017 and finished with a 49-30-1 record. In 2012, he was the interim head coach for the Indianapolis Colts and went 9-3, which led to his hiring with Arizona. Arians is well known for his offenses and scoring. He will have plenty of talent to work with in Tampa.
For the defensive side of the ball, Arians is bringing in former Jets head coach Todd Bowles to run the defense. The two were paired together in Arizona. Bowles got his success there before heading to the Jets.
The Green Bay packers stunned NFL fans and pundits as they didn’t go with experience, but rather they went with potential by hiring former Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur to a 4-year deal with a team option for the 5th year. LaFleur also has worked under Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan, which lends to his reputation of being an offensive genius.
Packers GM Brian Gutekunst expressed praise for the Packers new head coach:
“Matt is smart, organized and has a great vision for the path forward for our team. His values and personality fit the culture of our organization. He has a tremendous ability to build relationships on multiple levels, which is a very important aspect in leading a football team.”
Out of all of the recent openings, LaFleur walks into the best scenario as he will have future HOF quarterback Aaron Rodgers at QB, several young pieces on offense, a solid o-line, and Mike Pettine remaining as the defensive coordinator.
With 5 teams locking up their head coaching vacancies, there are still three teams looking to find their next leader: Bengals, Dolphins and Jets. Out of these three teams, the Bengals have the most talent and could really use an offensive minded coach to maximize their weapons on offense.
The Dolphins appear to be at a crossroads on where they want the franchise to go and they could be the last team to fill their head coaching position. The New York Jets have a lot of money, a franchise QB, defensive talent, and the big market to attract any coach.
Right now, former Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is rumored to be the frontrunner for the Jets and the Bengals coaching jobs. I expect all three teams to get their head coaching vacancies filled by the Super Bowl.
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