It's time for an NFC-centric session of football-marriage counseling.
In part one, I took a look at the five new AFC head coaches, and how their hirings would impact their respective franchises.
Now it's time to invite the five new NFC head coaches to take their turn on the counseling couch (which I assume looks a lot like Goodell's famous draft chair), for evaluation.
Brian Daboll - New York Giants
Brian Daboll is a strong hire for the Giants and fans should be celebrating, despite a slightly controversial hiring process. Daboll has coached on five Super Bowl winning teams and most recently as the offensive coordinator in Buffalo, where he took Josh Allen from a raw athlete to the current preseason favorite to win NFL MVP.
The Giants need a lot on offense. Despite having the most expensive wide receiver room in football, it was also one of the least productive in the league last year. After the Giants declined his fifth-year option, quarterback Daniel Jones enters the final year of his rookie deal. It took several season for Daboll and the Buffalo staff to make Allen into the monster he is today. There is a good chance that even if Jones has a strong season, the smarter and more cost-effective option would be to draft a new and cheaper quarterback with higher upside to grow with this roster.
While Saquon Barkley is saying all the right things ahead of the new season, he is going to have to prove he is still a high-end offensive weapon once kickoff begins.
On the defensive side of the ball the Giants have a lot of roster related issues once you get past the immensely talented defensive line. The defensive staff is led by Don Martindale who joins the Giants after nearly a decade with the Baltimore Ravens. Martindale has consistently produced above average defenses in Baltimore, but he traded in his job leading the highest rated secondary in football, according to Pro Football Focus, for a bottom end pass defense in New York.
I think this coaching staff should have what it takes to build something in New York, but it's going to take them a few years because they have to redesign this roster that was destroyed by previous GM Dave Gettleman. In the NFL most coaching staffs don't always get the luxury of that kind of time, so Daboll and company need to show the ability to maximize the potential of those on the team right now, like first round pick Kayvon Thibodeaux, who was unfortunately injured in a preseason game.
Matt Eberflus - Chicago Bears
Matt Eberflus comes over to the Chicago Bears after leading a dominant defense in Indianapolis over the last several years. The idea behind this hiring is clearly to bring back the mentality that defined the great Bears teams of the past. The success of this franchise, much like Eberflus' career, is built on turnovers and defensive dominance. However, I have two major concerns surrounding this hiring.
First, Eberflus and the Bears seem to have alienated the best young defensive player on their team. Linebacker Roquan Smith has expressed his frustration over his contract offer and what he called the Bears "refusal to negotiate in good faith." Smith also said the "new front office regime doesn't value me" which is incredibly concerning when you figure Smith should fit into a similar role in Eberflus' defense that Shaquille "Darius" Leonard filled with tremendous success for the Colts. Why is a player you think would stand to benefit immensely from Eberflus feeling alienated? This can't be good.
The second concern is that I don't know how this hiring helps maximize franchise quarterback Justin Fields. You can make an argument that the Bears have surrounded Fields, who they traded multiple first round picks to select, with the worst set of skill position players in football. New offensive coordinator Luke Getsy is relatively unproven, most recently serving as the quarterbacks coach for the Packers. While Getsy is receiving praise from Fields, when you consider that Fields only NFL level comparison is his year under former head coach Matt Nagy, it's hard to put much stock in this review.
Kevin O'Connell - Minnesota Vikings
The Vikings opted to go with Kevin O'Connell as their new head coach, fresh off a Super Bowl win as offensive coordinator with the Rams. While budding superstar wide receiver Justin Jefferson is a big fan of what he is seeing from O'Connell, I'm not as easily convinced.
I worry O'Connell might be riding off the coattails of running an offense truly led by the wizard Sean McVay. O'Connell had the benefit of an incredibly prolific veteran quarterback in Matt Stafford and the elite receiving talents of Cooper Kupp. I'm not sure this passing attack reaches similar heights in Minnesota even with elite wide receivers.
In my article covering best bets for NFL win totals, I compared the hiring of O'Connell to how Adam Gase got a job with the Jets following the Broncos Super Bowl 50 win. While quarterback Kirk Cousins is reuniting with O'Connell who coached him during his time in Washington, those teams also had the benefit of McVay and Mike and Kyle Shanahan on those coaching staffs.
It's hard for me to see anything too special here. While defensive coordinator Ed Donatell has been coaching in the NFL for nearly as long as O'Connell has been alive, he inherits an aging secondary and a defense the Vikings used their first three picks in the 2022 draft to try to supplement.
It's hard to think the defense won't lose a little with the departure of head coach Mike Zimmer. The continued commitment to Kirk Cousins, in my eyes, will always put a ceiling on what this team can achieve and I won't be surprised if in a few years we see O'Connell pushing the front office for a new QB in the draft or free agency to try to extend his tenure in Minnesota.
Dennis Allen - New Orleans Saints
The Saints hiring of Dennis Allen from within the organization is actually more about what the team lost than what they gained. This will be the first season without Sean Payton as head coach of the Saints since 2006.
While most of the coaching staff remains the same, with Pete Carmichael staying at OC and Allen sliding up from defensive coordinator. there shouldn't be massive adjustments to the Saints scheme on either side of the ball, but the magic of Sean Payton is that he was one the best in-game coaches in football.
Payton was known for running a bunch of scripted plays early in a game out of a host of different formations. Once he saw how defenses were matching up to those formations, Payton would correctly identify and ruthlessly exploit defensive weaknesses. As long as Carmichael, who has 13 years in the Saints organization himself, can continue to coach in-game adjustments effectively, then the Saints should be in stable hands even without Payton.
Todd Bowles - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
To me, Todd Bowles is the least intriguing hire of the off-season. Bruce Arians was a charismatic head coach who loved to stretch the field, but we all know the Bucs offense is run by Tom Brady with the support of OC Byron Leftwich, whom Brady reportedly loves.
Bowles has already been running the Tampa Bay defense for several seasons. Very little should change on either side of the ball for a loaded Bucs roster helmed by the greatest player to ever do it, and if you are a Bucs fan that is exactly what you want to hear.
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