It’s foolish to think you can evaluate something while it is ongoing. One of the big differences between professional and amateur bettors is what they do during the off-season. While pros study player movement, stats, and make observations, the public turns its attention to other sports and only begins to ponder the NFL shortly before the season kicks off.
While the 2016-17 season isn’t completely wrapped up just yet, five NFL teams have already made coaching changes. Here’s an in-depth look at the new hires and what it will likely mean to their teams’ betting prospects going forward.
New Coach: Anthony Lynn
A longtime Rex Ryan assistant, Lynn gets his first head coach gig at the age of 48. He lost his only game as the Bills’ interim coach in Week 17 this season. He has spent the majority of his coaching career focused on the running game, which makes sense since he played the position at Texas Tech and (in a reserve role) with the Broncos and 49ers. It has been assumed based on his pedigree that he wants to run the ball, control the clock, and play conservatively.
Old Coach: Mike McCoy
McCoy went 27-37 in four years and lost 23 games over the final two seasons. The Chargers were consistently one of the most injured teams in the league during McCoy’s tenure. They lost too many games that they led early on, but overall, probably achieved more than their talent dictated in a difficult division.
If the Chargers stay healthy, they have some pieces in place. On paper, Lynn doesn’t appear to be dramatically better than McCoy, but he might not be any worse either. The AFC West is still tough, and with the team moving to LA, the challenges for Lynn will be significant, but not impossible.
New Coach: Sean McVay
The youngest coach in NFL history, McVay will need wisdom beyond his 30 years to succeed. He has a good pedigree; grandpa John was the GM of the 49ers dynasty. He also has more experience than you might expect; he has been on Washington’s staff since 2010, and was the offensive coordinator for the past three years.
Old Coach: Jeff Fisher
One of the least appreciated coaches in the NFL, it was time for the Rams to have a new voice. Fisher went 31-45-1 with St. Louis/LA, but his track record in Houston/Tennessee (142-120) is evidence he can coach. Things certainly went south the last couple of seasons, though, and he may lack an ability to communicate with modern players.
There will be growing pains as McVay takes the reins in LA. McVay worked wonders with Kirk Cousins in Washington, but he was working with an embarrassment of riches, especially at receiver. Nothing we’ve seen from Jared Goff to date suggests he can play to Cousins’ level, and LA’s lack of legitimate targets won’t help. While Fisher drew rightful criticism, especially towards the end of his tenure, he wasn’t the biggest problem.
Adding to McVay’s challenge, the LA Coliseum will not generate a great home-field advantage. This coaching change may work in the long-term, but is a tough sell for the 2017-18 season.
New Coach: Sean McDermott
McDermott brings tremendous defensive experience having worked on the defensive side of the ball for Andy Reid and then taking over as DC for the Panthers to (mostly) great success. McDermott doesn’t have the persona of the guy he’s replacing, Rex Ryan; in Buffalo, that’s a good thing.
Old Coach: Rex Ryan
Ryan is neither the brilliant mind he thinks he is, nor the idiot that many label him. He went 46-50 with the Jets and 15-16 in Buffalo. He is a solid defensive coach (the last couple seasons notwithstanding) who has a bit of an attitude issue. He’ll be better off calling plays for some defense than leading a team.
McDermott is a strong hire by the Bills. They get a good defensive coach without the extra noise. Buffalo is a hard city to win in, but McDermott is a team player, and the Bills are only a year or two away from a playoff roster if they draft well.
New Coach: Vance Joseph
Joseph, the former defensive coordinator in Miami, was a well regarded assistant with a strong defensive background. Before becoming a DC, he also served as a secondary coach with the 49ers, Texans, and Bengals. He should love being with an organization that is building around defense. Hiring former Charger coach Mike McCoy to run the offense is also a tremendous move.
Old Coach: Gary Kubiak
He wasn’t as good as his 61-64 record in Houston, winning a bad division just twice in eight years. Yet, he probably deserved more credit than he received when the Broncos won it all two years ago. He was just over .500 in the NFL, which is on par with his coaching talents.
Factoring in the addition of McCoy as OC, this feels like a perfect fit. A young and defensive-minded new coach joins a team that’s leaning on its D to stay competitive. Joseph has put in his time, and is well respected. If the Broncos can bolster some key positions on O, this could work immediately.
New Coach: Doug Marrone
The Jags aren’t known for strong decision making, and this feels like a dumpster fire. Somehow Marrone got an NFL gig after going 25-25 at Syracuse. Then he went 15-17 with the Bills and opted to leave because he thought he could land a better gig. He couldn’t. He ended up as a position coach with Jacksonville. As the only guy on staff with previous head coach experience, he fell into the interim role when Gus Bradley got fired. You need to go back a decade to when he was the offensive coordinator with New Orleans to see a reason Marrone deserves a shot.
Old Coach: Gus Bradley
He went 14-48 in four years with the Jags, and it was just as bad as the record indicates. The Jags had some talent at the end, but this was still a tough spot to succeed. Bradley’s resume as the former defensive coordinator with the Seahawks is much stronger than anything Marrone has done.
I’m looking forward to betting against Marrone. His tenure in Buffalo was not awful, but he ruffled feathers, and then overplayed his hand. Don’t be fooled by Jacksonville’s more competitive outings to close the year. That is not the person you want leading your organization.
Photo Credit: Keith Allison [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons
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