Coaching staff turnover was abundant this offseason, but most of that change occurred at the assistant level: while there were 33 instances of alteration among offensive and defensive coordinators, only seven new head coaches will be leading teams in 2018, a number that fits in nicely with yearly averages. Naturally, these seven new HCs are taking over clubs that are in something of a rebuild phase, as the Titans are the only team that made the postseason in 2017 before opting to make a coaching change at the top.
With that in mind, we’d like to ask PFR readers which new head coach will experience the most success during the upcoming campaign? While we aren’t solely asking about record (the Bears could stage a turnaround in 2018 and still not make the playoffs given their starting point and the strength of the NFC North, for one example), we’re looking mostly at wins and losses.
Here’s a refresher on the NFL’s new head coaches:
- Arizona Cardinals: Hired Steve Wilks to replace Bruce Arians
- Chicago Bears: Hired Matt Nagy to replace John Fox
- Detroit Lions: Hired Matt Patricia to replace Jim Caldwell
- Indianapolis Colts: Hired Frank Reich to replace Chuck Pagano
- New York Giants: Hired Pat Shurmur to replace Ben McAdoo / Steve Spagnuolo (interim)
- Oakland Raiders: Hired Jon Gruden to replace Jack Del Rio
- Tennessee Titans: Hired Mike Vrabel to replace Mike Mularkey
In the NFC, Wilks will be not only tasked with re-forming a defense that’s moving from a 3-4 to a 4-3 scheme, but deciding if and when to insert rookie quarterback Josh Rosen over free agent acquisition Sam Bradford. Nagy, meanwhile, has the benefit of leaning on veteran defensive coordinator Vic Fangio on one side of the ball, but he’s installing an all-new offensive system with weapons such as Allen Robinson, Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller, and Trey Burton. Patricia takes over a relatively stable roster in Detroit, but he’s looking up at the Packers and Vikings in the NFC North, while Shurmur will be asked to wring at least one more productive season out of 37-year-old signal-caller Eli Manning.
Moving to the AFC, Reich is the new lead man in Indianapolis after Josh McDaniels spurned the Colts; with a barren 53-man roster, Reich will need Andrew Luck at something close to full health. Gruden landed a $100MM contract to return to the NFL and Oakland, but after an offseason which saw the Raiders’ roster get older, it’s anyone’s guess if the Black and Silver can compete with Kansas City and Los Angeles in the AFC West. Vrabel takes over an already-contending Titans club after just one season as a defensive coordinator, but his addition of coordinators Matt LaFleur (offense) and Dean Pees (defense) drew considerable praise.
So, who do you like? Which of these coaches will post the most successful season in 2018?