Poll: Which Team Made Best HC Hire?

With the NFL now in the two-week waiting period until its final meaningful game, 30 of the 32 teams are going through offseason motions. And some of those teams are still deciding on coordinators.

Unless another Patriots assistant reneges on an agreement post-Super Bowl, or Zac Taylor makes an 11th-hour decision to remain in Los Angeles rather than taking over in Cincinnati, the eight NFL teams in need of head coaches made their choices.

So, which franchise best positioned itself for long-term success?

The trend being offensive innovation to keep up with some of the ahead-of-the-curve offenses, six of the eight teams hired offensively oriented coaches.

By a substantial margin, the Cardinals won the outside-the-box trophy. After washing out as an NFL quarterback in the mid-2000s, Kliff Kingsbury spent more than a decade as a college coach. The 39-year-old groomed some sought-after NFL talent in Patrick Mahomes, Case Keenum and Davis Webb, while also bringing Baker Mayfield to Texas Tech for a short stay. But he finished his stay in Lubbock, Texas, with a sub-.500 record. The Cards added Vance Joseph and Tom Clements to be his top assistants. Because of their unconventional hire, the Cardinals will be one of the most interesting teams in 2019.

Bruce Arians‘ CBS stay lasting one year will bring one of the more interesting coaches in modern NFL history back to the sideline. Tampa Bay’s new coach is the oldest ever hired, at 66 years old. Arians will be tethered to Jameis Winston, and it does not sound like he has issues with that. Arians hired several former Cardinals assistants to help him attempt to snap the NFC’s longest active playoff drought. Arians led the Cardinals to their best season, record-wise (13-3 in 2015), since the franchise has been in Arizona but is also barely a year removed from retiring.

The Packers and Browns opted for OCs, the former seeing a major difference in Matt LaFleur‘s vision than those of the other coaches that interviewed. Cleveland made the biggest continuity move of this year’s HC-seeking octet,promoting Freddie Kitchens over candidates with more experience.

LaFleur’s Titans offense regressed from Mike Mularkey‘s final unit, with Tennessee ranking 27th in points scored last season. But the 39-year-old coach, who will be working with ex-Jaguars assistant Nathaniel Hackett in overseeing the back end of Aaron Rodgers‘ prime, trained under Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan. Kitchens rose from position coach to head coach in less than three months, but Mayfield’s performance in the second half of the season was obviously different from his play under Hue Jackson and Todd Haley.

Taylor and Adam Gase round out the offensively geared hires, the former being perhaps the highest-variance candidate among the non-Kingsbury wing.

Although Taylor was the Dolphins’ interim OC in 2015 and McVay’s quarterbacks coach this season, he spent 2016 running a Cincinnati Bearcats offense that ranked 123rd (out of 128 Division I-FBS teams) with 19.3 points per game for a 4-8 team and was the Rams’ assistant wideouts coach as recently as 2017. Gase led the Dolphins to the playoffs in 2016, but Ryan Tannehill‘s issues staying healthy and living up to his draft slot limited the former Broncos and Bears OC. The Jets saw enough to add the formerly in-demand assistant, who may be ready to bring longtime coworker Dowell Loggains with him to the Big Apple.

Denver and Miami went with defense, with the Broncos having no competition for 2018’s assistant coach of the year and, arguably, this decade’s top DC.

The Dolphins cancelled their Vic Fangio summit, and he will be in charge of elevating a Broncos team that finished with back-to-back losing seasons for the first time since the early 1970s. John Elway‘s plan to reinstall Gary Kubiak as OC also hit a snag, with the longtime friends’ disagreement on staffing leading to the Broncos hiring 49ers QBs coach Rich Scangarello. The Dolphins will become the fifth franchise to hire a Bill Belichick-era Patriots defensive coordinator (or de facto DC, in Brian Flores‘ case), following the Browns (Romeo Crennel and Eric Mangini), Jets (Mangini), Chiefs (Crennel) and Lions (Matt Patricia). Flores helped the Patriots to yet another top-10 ranking in points allowed — their 15th in the past 18 seasons — and another Super Bowl berth.

Vote in PFR’s latest poll and weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section!

Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

View Comments (25)
newest oldest

25 comments on “Poll: Which Team Made Best HC Hire?

  1. Michael Chaney

    The link doesn’t work for app users, so I’ll comment my thoughts. I personally love the Browns’ hire of Kitchens and could talk ad nauseam about it, but I also really liked the Bucs’ hire of Arians. If there’s someone that can get the most out of Jameis, it’ll be him, and I like the movie to bring Bowles in to try fixing up the defense.

  2. sameichel

    I love the bengals eventual hire of zac Taylor because he brings a Sean Mcvay offensive background which what the bengals need to utt Ross and mixon correctly

    • trout27

      You can’t win in the NFL without a top
      QB. Gase wasn’t responsible for personnel decisions so he was hamstrung. He will be very successful with the Jets.

      • tsolid

        Gase ran the best players out of town. Ravens made playoffs with Lamar Jackson. Well known in the media that players were pretty much cheering when he got fired.

      • 700Level

        As an Eagles fan, I’d like to thank Gase and the Dolphins for giving us Jay Ajayi last year during our SB run for a 4th round draft pick.

  3. kenleyfornia2

    Tying Winston to Arians is an awful decision. That team needs to start fresh, not hold onto Winston because they are afraid of him being a bust. He is a bust and the 5th year option shouldn’t have been picked up. If Washington can cut a guy they tied three 1st round picks into then anyone can be cut.

  4. TheTruth12

    With the way their current teams are built I can’t see the Bucs, Dolphins, Cards, Bengals having success for awhile. Winston isn’t the answer for the Bucs, Rosen isn’t the answer for the Cards, Dolphins should’ve gone offensive minded, Bengals are a dumpster fire. I will say about the Dolphins though if they give Flores time to build a culture like the Pats did with BB it could be successful. Kitchens is by far the best hire imo

    • joeshmoe11

      How are the Bengals a dumpster fire? They’re one of the youngest teams, have a competent QB, AFC’s leading rusher, AJ and Boyd outside and whatever he can extract from Ross.

      Oh, I get it. People irrationally hate the Bengals for some reason

      • kenleyfornia2

        The Bengals would have won the division if all their key players didn’t get hurt for sure

      • Ian Burton

        The hate isn’t irrational. The Bengals suck and the years of Marvin’s conservative draft style hasn’t helped them to become a respectable team. They play a good game but once you put them under the bright lights they go limp.

      • TheTruth12

        Irrational? Nah it’s facts when’s the last time the Bengals were an actual threat? They literally have not won a single thing in 17 years. Dalton, Green, Atkins, all key players all at least 30 Dunlap and Glenn gonna be 30 this season. At best they’re gonna finish 3rd in the North next year

  5. afsooner02

    Packer fan/owner….I’m meh about LaFleur…didn’t love it, but it wasn’t hiring kingsbury bad either. Just glad McCarthy is gone.

    • itslonelyatthetrop

      I don’t think it was the best hire, but I hope he works out. How can you not root for that guy?

  6. beantownmassacre

    I think Arians is the best hire. Kingsbury in Arizona could work out, they just need to give him some time

  7. itslonelyatthetrop

    I think Adam Gase will turn out to be the best hire of the group. Or the worst. No in between.

  8. Edmund Dantes

    Definitely Kitchens with the Browns. He’s put together a stellar staff around him, most in the know calling nothing less than “high powered.” Just because he’s not a known name everyone outside Cleveland doesn’t have a clue. The Browns are the youngest team in football and has the top front office now with Wolf, Hightower and Dorsey. Dorsey built that KC team, took Mahomes when everyone was calling him a bust. Dorsey brought Aaron Rogers to Green Bay among many other all pros, and now Dorsey has hit home runs on all his moves in Cleveland. The Browns have 11 draft picks again this draft and can basically buy their way to almost any player with the 2nd most money in the NFL. That’s right, keep on talking shit… The head coach matters, but if he can’t get players he’s outta gas… Definitely Kitchens! You’ll see….

  9. crosseyedlemon

    This is not an easy question to answer. Some of these coaches were hired specifically to develop young QBs. If they do that well but neglect other positions do we rate that a good hire or not? Ultimately a coach is only as good as the talent he has to work with which further complicates the voting here. Some on this list could be good short term fixes but not necessarily the best long term choice. The only thing we can be certain of is that none of the teams decided to tank immediately by hiring Hue Jackson.

  10. Jack0207

    Flores for the Miami Dolphins. They have a better team than people realize. The defensive scheme was atrocious. If they can find a corner opposite of Howard and put McCain back at slot you could be looking at a top 10 defense.

Leave a Reply