- Ranking the New NFL Head Coach Hires
Ranking the New NFL Head Coach Hires
We had 8 NFL head coaching vacancies this offseason. That’s a quarter of the league with new head coaches this year. As of this week, all of these spots are filled and we know who will be at the helm for every team in the NFL.
But who got the best of these new hires? Let’s rank them from 8 to 1, the worst match to the best regime change.
8 ~ Raheem Morris to Atlanta
The Falcons hiring Raheem Morris is the biggest head-scratcher to me. Raheem Morris to Atlanta makes zero sense.
Atlanta needed an offensive-minded head coach to maximize their talent’s full potential. The Falcons need someone to fix Kyle Pitts and someone to utilize Bijan Robinson in the right way while he remains on his rookie contract. The Falcons need to decide if they can help Desmond Ridder’s lackluster start or have an eye for a rookie quarterback in the draft to develop.
To me, Morris accomplishes none of those items. Morris was a head coach from 2009-2011 with Tampa Bay (17-31 record) and was the interim Falcons coach in 2020 (4-7). In total, that’s a winning percentage of 35.6%. He’s always finished third or forth in the division anytime he’s been a head coach.
Why would you hire this guy?
7 ~ Dan Quinn to Washington
Dan Quinn opts to go from the Dallas Cowboys to division rival Washington Commanders. While you have to capitalize on the opportunity, it seems less like a “perfect fit” and more like “settling for the only available opening.”
Quinn inherits a defense that traded their best players Chase Young and Montez Sweat away midseason. There’s also a lot of uncertainty surrounding the offense. Is Sam Howell the guy? After being a Top 10 fantasy quarterback early in the season, he was getting benched late in the year. If you draft a quarterback in this deep 2024 class, you need an offensive mind to help develop that young prospect.
While Quinn helped the Cowboys defense, he has more on his plate. He was the Falcons head coach starting in 2015 before being fired after an 0-5 start in 2020. Quinn was 43-42 as a head coach and while he did have a Super Bowl appearance in 2016, he’s always going to be remembered for blowing a 28-3 lead in the Super Bowl to the New England Patriots.
And with the competitive NFC East rivals, Quinn might not fare too well in Washington.
6 ~ Jerod Mayo to New England
This is Mayo’s first head coaching gig and he’s been with the Patriots organization his entire life. After playing linebacker for the Patriots from 2008-2015, he returned as the inside linebackers coach from 2019-2023 before taking this head coaching gig.
While it was time for the Patriots to move on from Bill Belichick, those are daunting shoes to fill. Belichick delivered 6 Super Bowls, 9 conference championships, 17 division titles, and 18 playoff appearances to that organization from 2001-2018. Good luck to anyone who takes that responsibility.
This is a winning culture and Mayo was a part of that culture for so long, but what typically happens to those from the Bill Belichick coaching tree? Typically, they don’t succeed. Those failures happened for other organizations, and perhaps Robert Kraft would understand Mayo’s process, but what if he doesn’t? What if Mayo can’t tap into that Belichick Magic and the Patriot Way that brought them a dynasty?
5 ~ Mike Macdonald to Seattle
Macdonald has his first head coaching gig with the Seahawks, replacing another legendary coach in Pete Carroll. Thankfully for Macdonald, he’s been learning under the Harbaugh brothers. Macdonald was with the Ravens organization from 2014-2020 and again from 2022-2023 with John Harbaugh before he took a little break and joined Jim Harbaugh at Michigan, helping the Wolverines to a top-10 defense and a College Football Playoff appearance.
This could be a great hire or not so much. It’s his first gig, so we’ll see how it goes. Pete Carroll is currently an advisor and Executive Vice President for the Seahawks, so he can lend his knowledge to Macdonald as long as Carroll stays. He inherits a Seahawks team that went 9-8 the last two seasons and made the playoffs in 2022 with Geno Smith.
Will Macdonald keep Geno or will he overhaul this Seahawks team? He has stiff competition with the Rams looking revitalized and the 49ers making a trip to the Super Bowl. It’ll be an uphill battle to not finish third in this division.
4 ~ Brian Callahan to Tennesee
Callahan comes from Cincinnati as Joe Burrow’s offensive coordinator for his first job as a NFL head coach. Callahan has been instrumental in the Bengals run these last few years. He has helped develop Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and company. It’s obvious Tennessee hired Callahan to do the same for Will Levis entering his first year.
This is a transitional time for the Titans. Is Will Levis the guy? What does Tennessee look like with Derrick Henry potentially leaving this offseason? They have a slightly easier division than Macdonald has in Seattle, but the Titans still have to play CJ Stroud, Trevor Lawrence, and Anthony Richardson six times a year.
With any first-time head coach, you never know how it’ll go, but the Titans might need to allow Callahan full reign and embrace a rebuilding period for the team.
3 ~ Dave Canales to Carolina
The Panthers might have been the worst head coach opening. Worst team in the NFL at 2-15 and no first-round pick to show for it, which would’ve been #1 overall for whoever came in. Instead, Canales comes in and tries to rebuild from the ground-up starting at pick 33.
As I mentioned in this article, Dave Canales is the most logical candidate for the Panthers job if they are all in on Bryce Young. Canales resurrected the careers of Geno Smith (2022 Comeback Player of the Year) and Baker Mayfield (2023 NFC South Champion) when everyone counted those two out. Now he has the task of saving the career of Bryce Young and making David Tepper look like a genius.
With that said, Tepper is impatient and he might fire Canales in 12-18 months. But if he’s smart, he can give Canales time to save this organization and would be one of the best moves this offseason.
2 ~ Antonio Pierce to Las Vegas
Pierce was given the interim head coaching rights on October 31st after the Raiders fired Josh McDaniels following two embarrassing losses to the Bears and Lions. The team was 3-5 and the offense was stifled. Pierce immediately stepped in and put full faith in rookie QB Aidan O’Connell and relied on their running game with Josh Jacobs, starting his interim coaching status 2-0 against the Giants and Jets.
Pierce was 5-4 as the interim coach this year. More importantly, Pierce was 3-1 in the division with wins against the Chargers (63-21), Chiefs (20-14), and finishing the season with a win over the Broncos (27-14). After back-to-back wins against the Chargers and Chiefs, you knew Pierce was the right guy for the job.
Pierce has the Raiders playing hard for him, enough to finish 2nd in the division behind the juggernaut Kansas City Chiefs. This has Raiders fans excited for the future with Pierce at the helm, and it should.
1 ~ Jim Harbaugh to LA Chargers
Is this even a question? Teams have been begging Harbaugh to return to the NFL since the 49ers wrongfully let Harbaugh go in 2014. After 3 NFC Championship Game appearances, a Super Bowl appearance, and a 44-19-1 record in San Fransisco, Harbaugh was a hot commodity. Instead of staying in the NFL, he elected to go rebuild the Michigan Wolverines program and win the National Championship this year with an undefeated season. Along with a 37-3 record in his final three years at Michigan and three decisive wins against arch-rival Ohio State, Harbaugh might be one of the best head coaches in Wolverines history.
The Los Angeles Chargers fire Brandon Staley mid-season and finally convince Jim Harbaugh to return to the NFL. Enticing Harbaugh with franchise quarterback Justin Herbert, the Chargers hope Harbaugh can be the mastermind to get the Bolts past the Chiefs and deep into the playoffs. Keep in mind, outside of the COVID year at Michigan in 2020, Harbaugh hasn’t had a losing season since Stanford in 2008.
We’ve heard the last several years how much talent the Chargers have on their roster. But year after year, that potential was left untapped. If there is anyone who can change those fortunes, it’s Jim Harbaugh, who aims to be the 4th coach ever to win a National Championship and a Super Bowl (Jimmy Johnson, Barry Switzer, and Pete Carroll).
How will these coaches fare? Who do you think has the most success and what coach are you already anticipating their downfall? Let us know in the comments below.