The curtain is about to close on the 2019 NFL season with Super Bowl LIV in Miami, but the offseason is just starting. Pending an extremely unlikely firing, all 32 teams are set on their respective head coaches for next year’s campaign. Only 5 teams partook in a head coaching search this year, down from 8 in 2019 and 7 in 2018.
Jaguars coach Doug Marrone breathed a sigh of relief after reports of his firing did not come true, whereas former Cowboys coach Jason Garrett was not as fortunate. Ravens OC Greg Roman, Chiefs OC Eric Bienemy, and 49ers DC Robert Saleh all were noteworthy head coaching candidates due to success this past year, but none were hired by new teams.
5 other distinguished men were chosen instead, to fill the vacancies of the Panthers, Redskins, Cowboys, Giants, and Browns; so without further adieu, let’s rank all 5 head coaching hires from worst to first.
5. Giants: Joe Judge
When the New York football Giants lost out in the Matt Rhule sweepstakes, they signed Patriots special teams coordinator Joe Judge to a 5-year contract. Judge was the dark horse candidate for the job, and the media speculated that many other candidates had a better shot at earning the job.
Judge ranks at the bottom of all five hires mostly due to his age and inexperience. He is 38 and has no major offensive or defensive coordinator experience, but he has been around the Patriots organization since 2012, so he certainly knows what a winning culture is like.
4. Panthers: Matt Rhule
After leading the Baylor Bears to an 11-3 record and a Sugar Bowl berth, Rhule was at the top of the list of candidates for many teams. He ultimately agreed on a 7 year, $62 million deal to become the sixth head coach in the short history of the Carolina Panthers. You could easily make the case to rank Rhule third on this list, but he lands at fourth due to his lack of NFL experience. Being successful in college doesn’t always translate to the NFL, but the future is promising for Carolina Panthers fans.
3. Browns: Kevin Stefanski
The Cleveland Browns hired Kevin Stefanski to become their first head coach of the 2020s after having 6 of such in the 2010s. Stefanski has been with the Vikings organization since 2006, working his way up through the years until he became quarterbacks coach in 2017 and offensive coordinator in 2019.
In 2017, Case Keenum had his best year as a pro, posting career highs in passer rating, yards per attempt, and TD to Int ratio. This past year, under Stefanski’s guidance, Kirk Cousins posted career highs in passer rating and TD to Int ratio. Next on the list for Stefanski is Baker Mayfield, whom the Dawg Pound hopes will return to the form of his rookie season.
2. Cowboys: Mike McCarthy
Mike McCarthy spent the last year out of a job, studying film and diving into the analytics of the game. A year ago he said, “I’ll be locked and loaded and ready to go for next year.” After 9 mediocre years of the Jason Garrett era, the Cowboys hired the 1-time Super Bowl Champion head coach.
Despite only getting one ring in 10+ years with Aaron Rodgers at the helm, McCarthy is a proven winner and has a postseason record of 10-8. With the Cowboys offense and defense ranking 1st and 9th in yards and yards allowed, respectively, it was apparent last year that coaching was the problem. McCarthy is set up for success in Dallas, but the expectations will be very high.
1. Redskins: Ron Rivera
Hiring Rivera was one of the few quality moves made by Dan Snyder’s organization in recent years. Rivera made it clear from day one that there would be a culture change in Washington, something extremely needed after a frustrating 3-13 season. Despite his old fashioned ways and tough love coaching style, Rivera is one of the most beloved coaches around the league and has already filled out a reputable assistant coaching staff.
In 2015, Rivera turned Cam Newton into an MVP quarterback as the Panthers earned a trip to Super Bowl 50. The Redskins hope that success will translate to Dwayne Haskins Jr., who struggled mightily in his rookie season. Nonetheless, hiring Rivera is a step in the right direction for an organization that has yet to make it to an NFC Championship in the Dan Snyder era.
Great analysis. Agree with the rankings.