Buffalo Bills, Sean McDermott: Rex Ryan was fired after two disappointing seasons. He’d always been known for coaching great defense and zany antics. However, the Bills finished last season with a below-average defense.
Anthony Lynn was the most likely successor. After all, Lynn had been a highly successful assistant coach and was named the Bills’ interim head coach for the last game of the season. However, the Bills went with Sean McDermott, a deserving candidate, whose personality sharply contrasts that of Rex Ryan. It’s no secret that Rex Ryan’s teams have had discipline issues, and that’s something McDermott is sure to address.
McDermott excelled as a defensive coordinator for the Panthers with defenses that have consistently ranked towards the top of the league. McDermott, a first-time head coach, will have the former Vikings’ head coach, Leslie Frasier, as his defensive coordinator.
Denver Broncos, Vance Joseph: Gary Kubiak resigned due to health issues after the season ended. John Elway spoke about Vance Joseph’s vision and leadership after making the hire. Joseph was one of the more sought-after assistant coaches in the league. His biggest challenge will be improving the Broncos’ stagnant offense.
Vance Joseph has spent most of his career as a defensive backs coach. Last year, he was hired by the Dolphins to be the defensive coordinator. It was a disappointing year for the Dolphins’ defense, which ranked near the bottom of the league statistically and was decimated by injuries. Injuries would be the only possible excuse for a disappointing performance from the Broncos’ elite defense.
Jacksonville Jaguars, Doug Marrone: Gus Bradley was fired after four seasons with a 14-48 record. The team seemingly responded well with Marrone as the interim head coach. Previously, Marrone coached the Bills to a 15-17 record over two years. But he inexplicably opted out of his contract after leading the Bills to their first winning season in over a decade. Since then, he’s been the assistant head coach/offensive line coach in Jacksonville.
There’s talent on this roster, but the main point of emphasis will be addressing the struggling quarterback, Blake Bortles. And that leads to the controversial decision to promote Nathaniel Hackett from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. Then again, this offensive pair (Marrone & Hackett) has had success together at Syracuse and with the Bills.
Los Angeles Rams, Sean McVay: Jeff Fisher is out of the NFL after 22 seasons as a head coach (17 with the Titans and 5 with the Rams). Apparently, the Rams decided upon a fundamental shift in experience and hired the NFL’s youngest coach (age 31). However, the addition of Wade Philips as the defensive coordinator will make matters much easier. Philips has struggled as a head coach, but he’s been consistently one of the best defensive coordinators in the business.
Sean McVay has received much of the credit for the transformation of the Redskins’ offense over the last six years. Rams fans are hoping that some of that success will carry over to one of the worst offenses in the league. They’ll need to be patient because McVay’s pass-happy philosophy will take time to develop with this roster.
Los Angeles Chargers, Anthony Lynn: As mentioned earlier, Anthony Lynn was presumed to be the next head coach of the Bills after being named interim head coach. Lynn was one of the most prized assistant coaches in the league. He has a proven track record of brilliantly scheming the run game. His specialty should complement the Chargers’ roster, which has a solid passing attack but a below-average ground game. Although this is Lynn’s first time as a head coach, he has two former head coaches as his coordinators—Ken Whisenhunt and Gus Bradley.
San Francisco 49ers, Kyle Shanahan: Don’t cry for Chip Kelly. He was fired by the 49ers, but he received nearly every man’s dream job as a commentator for ESPN. The 49ers landed one of the splashiest hires in Shanahan. It was only a matter of time before he received his first head coaching opportunity. His results have been quite impressive in his 13 years as an assistant coach in the NFL.
He was obviously groomed under the West Coast offense of his father, Mike. However, Kyle has masterfully modified that philosophy to fit his personnel and the modern NFL rules. If given time, there’s no reason to believe that Kyle Shanahan won’t have similar success in San Francisco. However, patience has not been a strength of the 49ers’ ownership. Shanahan is the fourth head coach for the 49ers in four years.
|Team||Out||New Head Coach||OOBG Grade|
|Buffalo Bills||Rex Ryan||Sean McDermott||A|
|Denver Broncos||Gary Kubiak||Vance Joseph||B-|
|Jacksonville Jaguars||Gus Bradley||Doug Marrone||B-|
|Los Angeles Chargers||Mike McCoy||Anthony Lynn||A-|
|Los Angeles Rams||Jeff Fisher||Sean McVay||B+|
|San Francisco 49ers||Chip Kelly||Kyle Shanahan||B+|