Ranking The 2021 NFL Coaching Hires (So Far)

Five NFL coaching hires are (basically) made--how do they rank?

The NFL coaching carousel provided us with seven vacancies this offseason, and five of them have been filled. While the General Manager position is equally important in most of these locations, head coaches is what most of you want to read about, right? That works out well, since it's what I want to write about, too!

As we expand our offerings here at The Chairshot, you'll be hearing more from some of us on topics other than wrestling--and the NFL might be the biggest. Hopefully this will give you some insight into how I look at the NFL, and what to expect. I'd love to hear your thoughts and feedback, so hit me up on social media @ChairshotGreg or even email me at gregdemarco@thechairshot.com. And if you are looking for a home to cover the NFL, hit me up.

We have two vacancies remaining that I will cover in another article (the Houston Texans and the Philadelphia Eagles), but here are the five so far, with my analysis and rankings.

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(San Diego) Los Angeles (Super) Chargers hired LA Rams Defensive Coordinator Brandon Staley

You know when a team makes a draft pick based on talent and not need? That's what this looks like to me. Staley is a defensive guy, with a meteoric rise through the coaching ranks. I love me some defensive football (run the ball!), but his success or failure will come in large part to the offensive staff he puts together to support second year quarter back Justin Hebert and the young offense.

Detroit Lions have all but hired New Orleans Saints Assistant Head Coach & Tight Ends Coach Dan Campbell

I love this (potential but likely) hire. LOVE IT. One phenomenon that I can't really get with in the NFL is hiring an "offensive/defensive minded head coach." If I were making a hire, I would look for the CEO type to lead the football team, and make sure we have the best coordinators in place. That likely means paying a high price for those coordinators, but that's what it takes to be successful. Dan Campbell is a charismatic leader, and will build a culture. He can't do it all (very few can), so you do need to surround him with the best people. But he's already better than Matt Patricia.

Atlanta Falcons hired Tennessee Titans Offensive Coordinator Arthur Smith

Smith had a really great two years under Mike Vrabel in Tennessee, and Matt Ryan can still go--giving him time to draft a quarterback now and sit him for a year--but I have to be honest here: Arthur Smith strikes me as a guy who will turn out to be a better coordinator than head coach. And there is nothing wrong with that, NFL coordinators make more than the majority of Americans and then some. There are plenty of clichés that we can throw out for Arthur Smith to be successful, but to me comes down to one thing, at least on the offensive side of the ball: can Todd Gurley be Derrick Henry? Because as great as Smith did in Tennessee, he did it on the legs of Henry's 3500 yards and 33 touchdowns on the ground (even more when you add in his receiving numbers). That'll make any coordinator look great.

New York Jets hired San Francisco 49ers Defensive Coordinator Robert Saleh

A player's coach, Robert Saleh is a blue collar guy who I think the New York fanbase will love. He's also the first Muslim American NFL head coach, a milestone that shouldn't be ignored. He looks the part, talks the part, and from what I can tell, coaches the part. He's bringing Mike LaFleur with him to be the Offensive Coordinator (and he'll probably lose him in the next two years to a head coaching job), and if these two take off in their upgraded roles, this could be a hiring that rivals that of Mike Tomlin in Pittsburgh in 2007. Good for the Jets.

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Jacksonville Jaguars hired Urban Meyer

I could call him "former Ohio State head coach" Urban Meyer, but I could also list Florida, Utah, and Bowling Green. While Meyer has his issues (leaving jobs high and dry, even if it's for a good reason), this hire is a slam dunk. Urban Meyer plus Trevor Lawrence is going to be great, they have a ton of salary cap available for 2021, they seem to have just over a million picks in the upcoming draft (okay, eleven), and simple math will really help this team: cap space + head coach + no state income tax = desirable free agent destination. This team can be a contender in two years. 

How do I rank them? I've already clued you in to how I think, so you may have figured some of that out. Either way, here is the answer:

  1. Robert Saleh, New York Jets

  2. Dan Campbell, Detroit Lions

  3. Urban Meyer, Jacksonville Jaguars

  4. Brandon Staley, Los Angeles Chargers

  5. Arthur Smith, Atlanta Falcons

Time, and not just one year, will tell if these coaches are successful in their new homes. All are first time NFL head coaches, and some of the best (Bill Belichick and Pete Carroll, for example) didn't find major success in their first head coaching gig. For all of these hires, the potential is there. The law of averages tells us not all five will be major successes, but it also tells us some likely will.

How would you rank the hires? Drop a comment, reply to this email, or hit me up @ChairshotGreg and gregdemarco@thechairshot.com to let me know!


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