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|Team||Head Coach||Offensive Coordinator||Defensive coordinator|
|ARZ||Steve Wilks (prev: Bruce Arians)||Mike McCoy (prev: Harold Goodwin)||Al Holcomb (prev: James Bettcher)|
|ATL||Dan Quinn (hired 2015)||Steve Sarkisian (hired 2017)||Marquand Manuel (hired 2017)|
|BAL||John Harbaugh (hired 2008)||Marty Mornhinweg (hired 2016)||Don Martindale (prev: Dean Pees)|
|BUF||Sean McDermott (hired 2017)||Brian Daboll (prev: Rick Dennison)||Leslie Frazier (hired 2017)|
|CAR||Ron Rivera (hired 2011)||Norv Turner (prev: Mike Shula)||Eric Washington (prev: Steve Wilks)|
|CHI||Matt Nagy (prev: John Fox)||Mark Helfrich (prev: Dowell Loggains)||Vic Fangio (hired 2015)|
|CIN||Marvin Lewis (hired 2003)||Bill Lazor (prev: Kenneth Zampese)||Teryl Austin (prev: Paul Guenther)|
|CLE||Hue Jackson (hired 2016)||Todd Haley (prev: Hue Jackson)||Gregg Williams (hired 2017)|
|DAL||Jason Garrett (hired 2011)||Scott Linehan (hired 2015)||Rod Marinelli (hired 2014)|
|DEN||Vance Joseph (hired 2017)||Bill Musgrave (prev; Mike McCoy)||Joe Woods (hired 2017)|
|DET||Matt Patricia (prev: Jim Caldwell)||Jim Bob Cooter (hired 2015)||Paul Pasqualoni (prev: Teryl Austin)|
|GB||Mike McCarthy (hired 2006)||Joe Philbin (prev: Edgar Bennett)||Mike Pettine (prev: Dom Capers)|
|HOU||Bill O'Brien (hired 2014)||None (no change)||Romeo Crennel (prev: Mike Vrabel)|
|IND||Frank Reich (prev: Chuck Pagano)||Nick Sirianni (prev: Rob Chudzinski)||Matt Eberflus (prev: Ted Monachino)|
|JAC||Doug Marrone (hired 2017)||Nathaniel Hackett (hired 2016)||Todd Wash (hired 2016)|
|KC||Andy Reid (hired 2013)||Eric Bieniemy (prev: Matt Nagy)||Bob Sutton (hired 2013)|
|LAC||Anthony Lynn (hired 2017)||Ken Whisenhunt (hired 2016)||Gus Bradley (hired 2017)|
|LAR||Sean McVay (hired 2017)||TBD (prev: Matt LaFleur)||Wade Phillips (hired 2017)|
|MIA||Adam Gase (hired 2016)||Dowell Loggains (prev: Clyde Christensen)||Matt Burke (hired 2017)|
|MIN||Mike Zimmer (hired 2014)||John DeFilippo (prev: Pat Shurmur)||George Edwards (hired 2014)|
|NE||Bill Belichick (hired 2000)||Josh McDaniels (hired 2012)||Greg Schiano (prev: Matt Patricia)|
|NO||Sean Payton (hired 2006)||Pete Carmichael (hired 2009)||Dennis Allen (hired 2016)|
|NYG||Pat Shurmur (prev: Ben McAdoo)||Mike Shula (prev: Mike Sullivan)||James Bettcher (prev: Steve Spagnuolo)|
|NYJ||Todd Bowles (hired 2015)||Jeremy Bates (prev: John Morton)||Kacy Rodgers (hired 2015)|
|OAK||Jon Gruden (prev: Jack Del Rio)||Greg Olson (prev: Bill Musgrave)||Paul Guenther (prev: John Pagano)|
|PHI||Doug Pederson (hired 2016)||Mike Groh (prev: Frank Reich)||Jim Schwartz (hired 2016)|
|PIT||Mike Tomlin (hired 2007)||Randy Fichtner (prev: Todd Haley)||Keith Butler (hired 2015)|
|SEA||Pete Carroll (hired 201)||Brian Schottenheimer (prev: Darrell Bevell)||Ken Norton Jr. (prev: Kris Richard)|
|SF||Kyle Shanahan (hired 2017)||None (no change)||Robert Saleh (hired 2017)|
|TB||Dirk Koetter (hired 2016)||Todd Monken (hired 2016)||Mike Smith (hired 2016)|
|TEN||Mike Vrabel (prev: Mike Mularkey)||Matt LaFleur (prev: Terry Robiskie)||Dean Pees (prev: Dick LeBeau)|
|WAS||Jay Gruden (hired 2014)||Matt Cavanaugh (hired 2017)||Greg Manusky (hired 2017)|
Steve Wilks, HC, ARZSigned away from Carolina, where he served as Sean McDermott's replacement as defensive coordinator, Wilks was a defensive coordinator for only one year at Carolina, but he was assistant head coach for the last three, serving as defensive backs coach in the first two years. Wilks has been Rivera's defensive backs coach going back to 2008 in Chicago, in fact. Schooling under Rivera appears to have served McDermott well in Buffalo, though it's interesting to note that McDermott had eight years of coordinating experience by the time he left Carolina. As a Rivera disciple, Wilks is expected to change Arizona's mostly 3-4 defense to a 4-3 scheme mimicking those of Rivera and McDermott. The scheme should emphasize press coverage and perhaps an especial focus on stopping the run.
Mike McCoy, OC, ARZMcCoy was Steve Wilks' choice to take over the Arizona offense upon the Cardinals hiring Wilks away from Carolina. Given Wilks' defensive background, it's probable that McCoy's position is one of real autonomy, and beyond some basic ground rules it should be McCoy's show to run. McCoy most recently served as offensive coordinator in Denver, though he served as either offensive coordinator or head coach in the eight prior seasons between Denver and San Diego. He's primarily overseen Kyle Orton (2009-2010), Tim Tebow (2011), Peyton Manning (2012), and Philip Rivers (2013-2016). McCoy's offenses have generally hovered around 580 pass attempts and 400 rush attempts per season, especially in non-Tebow years. Those figures would respectively rank ninth and 25th last year.
Al Holcomb, DC, ARZHolcomb has big shoes to fill as he replaces the accomplished Bettcher, but head coach Steve Wilks' background as a defensive coordinator might make Holcomb more of an assistant to Wilks than a truly autonomous coordinator. If they stick with the tradition of the Ron Rivera defensive style, then the Cardinals should abandon their 3-4 base for a 4-3 front. Chandler Jones and Markus Golden may go from mediocre OLB IDPs to elite DE options as a result. The Cardinals should play a press-heavy style of defense.
Dan Quinn, HC, ATLQuinn was a longtime student of Pete Carroll's prior to securing the head coaching job in Atlanta, with the main focus of his work being the defensive line before serving two years as defensive coordinator for Seattle beginning in 2013. Quinn's Atlanta defenses haven't approached the heights of his Seattle ones, but a breakout year could be in store after a couple years of stockpiling young, fast talent in the front seven. Quinn's 4-3 scheme should defend well sideline-to-sideline at the very least with players like Vic Beasley, Deion Jones, and Takarrist McKliney in pursuit.
Steve Sarkisian, OC, ATLAs much as the Falcons offense had some promising peripheral numbers in 2017, Sarkisian was a clear failure relative to the standard set previously by Kyle Shanahan. Matt Ryan throwing for just 20 touchdowns is open-and-shut proof that this offense didn't have teeth when it needed them. The Falcons will continue to pursue an ostensible imitation of Shanahan's scheme, but it's fair to worry that Sarkisian just doesn't know how to do it.
Marquand Manuel, DC, ATLThe former NFL safety presumably cedes some amount of discretion to Dan Quinn, the team's defensive-minded head coach, but regardless of who presses which buttons this looks like a defense on the rise. A young coach himself, Manuel's own development might dovetail with that of his 4-3 personnel, which features a deep group of young, fast talent headlined by Vic Beasley, Deion Jones, and Keanu Neal.
John Harbaugh, HC, BALOriginally known as a special teams coordinator in Philadelphia, Harbaugh's legacy as a head coach probably links more to the defenses in Baltimore. Harbaugh has otherwise overseen an effective operation by almost any standard, but it is fair to wonder how much of that defense is attributable to Harbaugh specifically. The same thing happened with Brian Billick, who arrived to Baltimore riding a wave of praise for running the 1998 Vikings offense, only to clearly owe his Ravens success to the defense. Perhaps the organizational tendencies that led to these defensive outcomes can be more attributed to Ozzie Newsome, who's served in an executive capacity with Baltimore since 1996. Newsome will step down after this year and will hand off the GM role to Eric DeCosta, so it will be interesting to see if that triggers a paradigm shift of some sort. Harbaugh's long-term job security in Baltimore could also see its status change with the handoff in some unforeseen way.
Marty Mornhinweg, OC, BALMornhinweg is a bit of a dinosaur in today's environment, and enough time has passed that many people aware of him today might not even recall his infamous stint as head coach in Detroit in 2001 and 2002. He's rehabilitated his image since thanks to catching work under Andy Reid and John Harbaugh, but his 2017 product was poor enough that the long-buried ire against Mornhinweg is boiling up again. For whatever might be his fault – it's fair to question whether much at all is when you consider how badly the Ravens lack talent on offense – Mornhinweg resists the temptation to Establish The Run that so many coaches can't. The Ravens attempted the most pass attempts per game in 2016, and in 2017 they ranked 11th. The Ravens switched from a primarily three-wideout offense in 2016 to a primarily two-tight end offense in 2017, perhaps to both protect Joe Flacco in his return from a back injury as well as limit the exposure of the team's weak wideout rotation.
Don Martindale, DC, BALMartindale will have to meet a high standard of quality in taking over the Baltimore defensive coordinator position, as the team's defensive product has been basically the same from year to year going on two decades. Like the division rival Steelers, the names of coaches and players don't seem to matter for the outcome: they will run a 3-4 scheme and they will generally run it well. In a lot of ways, Martindale's work might just be following the directions of Harbaugh, as may have been the case with Pees before him. There are cracks in the personnel, but the general nature of the Ravens defense shouldn't change much with Martindale, who was promoted from linebackers coach.
Sean McDermott, HC, BUFMcDermott served as a defensive coordinator for Ron Rivera for six years before getting his head coaching opportunity in Buffalo, but both McDermott and Rivera would have to attribute their founding influences to the legendary Jim Johnson, who coordinated the defenses in Philadelphia from 1999 to 2008, with McDermott serving as a general assistant, secondary coach, and linebackers coach at various points between 2001 and 2008. McDermott was groomed as Johnson's heir, and served two seasons as defensive coordinator in Philadelphia before leaving in 2010 to join Rivera in Carolina. Johnson was one of the best defensive minds in NFL history, with his memorably great 4-3 schemes defined by ambitious blitzing and aggressive press coverage at corner. McDermott showed a strong yield in his first season, especially considering the mediocre talent level of his defensive personnel.
Brian Daboll, OC, BUFThe offense conducted by Dennison was presumably different than what the Bills front office – ever hostile to Tyrod Taylor – would actually like to see run. And with the Bills seemingly intent again on pushing Taylor away, it may be best to presume the Bills will end up with a less mobile quarterback and see a paradigm shift in their scheme as a result. Daboll was a one-off offensive coordinator for Alabama last year, but he's probably best understood as a scion of the Bill Parcells-Scott Pioli-Bill Belichick school after quietly serving offensive coordinator stints in Cleveland (2009-2010), Miami (2011), and Kansas City (2012). None of the results were promising, yet with the passage of time and Daboll's one-year apprenticeship under Nick Saban, it's hard to get a read on just what Daboll's nature may be these days. The last time he was offensive coordinator was a different era, but his proximity to Parcells and Pioli makes it reasonable to suspect an emphasis on the ground game. How well-schemed his approach might be is another matter, and similarly difficult to discern.
Leslie Frazier, DC, BUFFrazier is one of the league's most respected defensive assistants, but this is Sean McDermott's defense. Frazier is its trusted caretaker. For as long as McDermott is coach of Buffalo you'll see products like last year's, with the defense defined by its press-heavy 4-3 approach. It's ostensibly an imitation of the Ron Rivera Carolina defenses. Buffalo will need to improve its personnel in the secondary to avoid regression next year, but at the very least this defense will always play with a high motor and overachieve as a result.
Ron Rivera, HC, CARLike McDermott, Rivera received his initial tutelage under Jim Johnson in Philadelphia, where he served as linebackers coach from 1999 to 2003. Rivera left Philadelphia to serve as Lovie Smith's defensive coordinator in Chicago starting in 2004, at which point he had to work within Smith's Cover-2 philosophy rather than Johnson's suicide-blitz style of 4-3 defense. Given that Rivera's Carolina defenses feature a lot of press man coverage, it would seem that Rivera's inclination all along was to adhere more to the Johnson school of defensive scheming.
Norv Turner, OC, CARWith its rolodex evidently comprised solely of dynasty cases, Carolina soured on Shula and fired him following the team's postseason loss to the Saints. Bored of its 1970s nostalgia and eager to chase the 1990s instead, they were linked to Turner not long afterward. Turner was a legitimately good offensive coach for many years in the NFL, bad as his head coaching endeavors inevitably turned out, so there's some glimmer of hope here if Turner can adapt to the times. Still, he's historically been an I-formation, establish-the-run-to-open-the-pass kind of coach. He's never handled a quarterback remotely like the post-modern Cam Newton, and it's fair to worry that he really wouldn't know how.
Eric Washington, DC, CARWashington will merely conduct the defense rather than design it, as the defense is primarily the domain of head coach Ron Rivera. And yet, the last two coaches to hold this position – Steve Wilks and Sean McDermott – are now head coaches, so apparently Washington isn't someone to entirely disregard. The product will in any case remain a 4-3 defense focused on pressing the point of attack.
Matt Nagy, HC, CHINagy served as offensive coordinator under Andy Reid in Kansas City the last two years, and otherwise served Reid as an assistant going back to Philadelphia in 2008. Reid is one of the league's more pass-oriented coaches, but Nagy could take it to another level. Nagy is a former star Arena League quarterback, and his hiring of Chip Kelly disciple Mark Helfrich as offensive coordinator gives further reason to suspect Nagy will be on the cutting edge of NFL tempo and general aggression trends on offense. Nagy took over the playcalling for a sluggish Chiefs offense in the team's 12th game last year, and he instantly took it to heights that Reid couldn't. He specifically unleashed Tyreek Hill as a downfield threat after the wideout wasted a great deal of the previous year and a half running pointless drag routes. Hill totaled 457 yards and three touchdowns on 28 targets in the four games Nagy called plays. Expect Nagy to bring some spark to the Bears offense by scheme improvement alone, and expect Mitch Trubisky and Jordan Howard to get big usage volume.
Mark Helfrich, OC, CHIHelfrich is a straight-up bad coach if he has any substantial responsibility related to game planning or tactics generally, but the good news is his job title is ceremonial. Matt Nagy is in charge of this offense – Helfrich is just running his practices. But that Helfrich, a Chip Kelly disciple, was brought even for that makes it reasonable to suspect the Bears will run an uptempo offense with plenty of no-huddle and run-pass options for mobile quarterback Mitch Trubisky. Even if by volume rather than explosiveness or efficiency, this Bears offense might be able to pile up some stats in 2018.
Vic Fangio, DC, CHIFangio has been one of the best coaches in the league for a long time, but for some reason it wasn't until 2017 that the mainstream noticed. With a ragtag bunch at his disposal, Fangio quietly did what he's always done, which is basically coax a 150-percent outcome from his personnel, regardless of what it is. Fangio was the coordinator under the feared Jim Harbaugh 49ers defenses and should once again make the Bears a disruptive 3-4 defense even heavily-favored opponents groan at the sight of.
Marvin Lewis, HC, CINLewis was telling his players he expected to leave Cincinnati with about a month left in the season. Watching the product he put on the field last year, it sure seemed like Lewis wanted to leave, including earlier than that final month. John Ross was a healthy scratch after the team selected him ninth overall, and anyone who tells you there was merit to that approach simply doesn't understand how any of this works. The Bengals giving Lewis an extension after the season anyway seems like an incredible exercise in cynicism by both Lewis and owner Mike Brown. Brown has a use for Lewis because Lewis has never shown the results that create the public expectation of winning in Cincinnati, saving Brown from the PR hassle his indifference would otherwise bring, and Lewis was content to take the big check for a job he halfway walked out on a year ago. Lewis was hired in the first place because of the credit he received for the 2000 Ravens defense, but in Cincinnati he's mostly overseen bend-but-don't-break 4-3 defenses rather than the bloodthirsty 3-4 the Ravens famously ran. What does Lewis even do? No one calling shots in Cincinnati is curious about the answer. Perhaps he'll be hit with a genius epiphany and find new inspiration this offseason, but it almost seems like the re-signing of Lewis was done solely in the pursuit of stagnancy.
Bill Lazor, OC, CINLazor's results presented a clear upgrade to previous coordinator Kenneth Zampese, who was fired in-season last year, but the general nature of the Bengals offense is unlikely to be much different than its been in the past few years, especially if Cincinnati can't secure improved offensive line personnel. Andy Dalton attempted just 30.7 passes per game in Lazor's time as coordinator, so it's not as if he proved an explosive alternative to Zampese, merited as that firing might have been. The rot goes back to Marvin Lewis and that will likely remain the case as long as he's there.
Teryl Austin, DC, CINAustin is a respected 4-3 coordinator who did a good job of creating turnovers in Detroit. But if Lewis isn't running this defense, what exactly is he doing? Either Lewis mangles this too or he leaves the probably superior Austin to fully realize his own vision, but who's to guess which is more likely?
Hue Jackson, HC, CLEJackson is an offensive coach whose career accomplishments have obscured due to major recent failures in high-visibility settings. Jackson seemingly plotted against the front office of Sashi Brown only to see the new regime he helped usher in take away his offensive authority, handing it to Todd Haley instead. There's little doubt that Haley is the better offensive coordinator, but given the ambitious skullduggery in Jackson's recent past, he might be somewhat bitter about this. It's hard to see how the team politics in Cleveland make for a stable product.
Todd Haley, OC, CLEHaley is a good offensive coordinator, but this has the makings of a truly hilarious collapse. Hue Jackson is the head coach and ostensibly an architect of offenses. Yet he'll apparently have to swallow his pride and let Haley, a known hothead, take over his previous domain. Jackson already plotted openly against the Browns front office to secure his own grip on his job, so it'd be generous to think there will be fewer shenanigans this year, especially with the provocative Haley testing his patience. Or maybe it will all turn out fine, who knows. With Haley you can in any case expect a lot of three-wide sets and a generally aggressive disposition in the passing game. If the quarterback play is sound, this could set up a breakout scenario for Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman. That may be asking too much of the quarterback position, of course.
Gregg Williams, DC, CLEWilliams may have been a good defensive coach 20 years ago, but at this point he's mostly just a malignant personality who calls endless zone coverages because he can't figure out how to counter modern route combos. If last year is any indication, they'll likely struggle until he's fired.
Jason Garrett, HC, DALGarrett was hired by Dallas on the momentum of his offensive coordinator work under Wade Phillips, when Tony Romo broke out with 36 touchdowns in 2007. He was briefly known as a quarterback guru and a prodigal schemer as a result. That brand has been replaced with the run-obsessive approach of Dallas in recent years. Did Garrett undergo a personal conversion or were new terms dictated to him? Given Jerry Jones' consistent support for Garrett throughout too many embarrassing episodes to remember, it's fair to wonder if the run-heavy shift by Dallas was ordered by Jones and obediently executed by Garrett.
Scott Linehan, OC, DALLinehan has been the Dallas offensive coordinator since 2015, and in that time Dallas has established itself as an offense that reliably runs more often than others. It's hard to tell how much of this is of Linehan's own design and how much is him working within directives from Jason Garrett or Jerry Jones, because Dallas revealed this run-obsessive template in 2014, when Linehan's duties were limited to 'passing game coordinator.' In any case the Dallas scheme shouldn't be expected to change much, if at all, for the indefinite future.
Rod Marinelli, DC, DALWhereas the Dallas offense is difficult to reliably attribute between Garrett, Linehan, and Jones, the defense in Dallas looks like a decidedly Marinelli product. He's a 4-3 guy who's definitely one of the best front seven coaches in the league, routinely getting strong production out of the Dallas defensive line. The personnel he has to work with is questionable, however, especially in the secondary.
Vance Joseph, HC, DENA defensive coordinator before his hiring in Denver, Joseph seems to have delegated much of the defensive scheming in Denver to coordinator Joe Woods, leaving Joseph with more of a CEO-like function in his head coaching role rather than a hands-on manager of either the offense or defense. A defensive backs coach for all but two of the last 15 years, there generally isn't much data available on Joseph's nature or tendencies.
Bill Musgrave, OC, DENMusgrave replaces the fired McCoy. Musgrave has a lot of offensive coordinating experience, featuring stints with Carolina (2000), Jacksonville (2003-2004), Minnesota (2011-2013), and Oakland (2015-2016), and that he stretches back so far makes it reasonable to suspect he'll mostly call a traditional offense. He was much more pass-happy with the Raiders than he was in his Jacksonville era, though, as the Raiders hovered around a pass attempt volume of 600 in his two seasons there. He'll presumably lean more toward the latter scenario if the Broncos can reel in Kirk Cousins. If it's a rookie at quarterback, perhaps the offense will go into a shell.
Joe Woods, DC, DENWoods is a longtime and well-regarded defensive backs coach whose history most closely links with Leslie Frazier, a fellow secondary-oriented defensive coach and one whose methods root in the 4-3. Woods might be a bit on the hot seat after the Denver defense declined in terms of points allowed last year, but the Broncos generally remained strong against both the pass and run – the points allowed was largely the product of the highly unfavorable time of possession and field positioning the destroyed Denver offense left them with weekly.
Matt Patricia, HC, DETKnown more for his rocket science background than anything in particular that's occurred on the field, Patricia heads to Detroit as an ostensible defense expert after serving as the defensive coordinator in New England since 2012. But a closer look at Patricia's history reveals a coach who's a jack of all trades rather than an expert in any particular field. Before switching to defensive coordinator in 2012, Patricia was the safeties coach in 2011, the linebackers coach from 2006 to 2010, an assistant offensive line coach in 2005, and a general offensive assistant role in 2004. Given that his experience emphasizes breadth more than depth, Patricia is perhaps a wildcard if not malleable generally. As far as his defense goes, expect the Lions to shed some of its 4-3 orthodoxy for more amoebic personnel in the front seven.
Jim Bob Cooter, OC, DETNew coach Matt Patricia seemed a tad resistant to the idea that he was compelled to inherit JBC as offensive coordinator rather than bring in his own guy, but Patricia probably didn't have as much choice as he'd like. Be it an incidental outcome because of Stafford's own progression or something Cooter helped influence, the Lions' franchise player had a career year last year, and tearing that foundation down seems objectively silly. Cooter's offense is weird in that it's pass-happy yet ball-control – normally pass-happy correlates with uptempo and ball control correlates with run-heavy schemes, but JBC is on his own weird beat. Patricia's arrival could force JBC to implement more running options, though, as Detroit's ground game has been pitiful for years.
Paul Pasqualoni, DC, DETPasqualoni has a long history in the Parcells/Belichick coaching tree, and he's presumably in Detroit to provide counsel to Patricia. The new head coach was previously the defensive coordinator in New England, so he might want to have a hands-on role in the handling of the Detroit defense, too. If so, Pasqualoni would be more like an assistant head coach. If the defense is under Patricia's general direction, then the Lions would probably show no loyalty to either of the 4-3 or 3-4, instead using amorphous alignments depending on matchups.
Mike McCarthy, HC, GBMcCarthy arrived to Green Bay after serving as New Orleans' offensive coordinator from 2000 to 2004 and a one-year stint as offensive coordinator in San Francisco in 2005. Don't confuse McCarthy's Saints connection for any similarity to Sean Payton – McCarthy was the coordinator for Jim Haslett. Based on what McCarthy's Green Bay offenses look like, it's difficult to identify any particular philosophy or intent aside from generic concepts. McCarthy prefers simplicity, and that's usually to your detriment when you don't have a quarterback like Aaron Rodgers to elevate the product.
Joe Philbin, OC, GBThe Packers offense didn't seem any different schematically in 2017, so the firing of Bennett seems like a scapegoat move. Philbin's arrival is unlikely to change much, either. The Green Bay offense traditionally is the domain of Mike McCarthy, and McCarthy seems somewhat partial to that conception of his role. The Green Bay offense traditionally features a rather simple serving of posts and sideline routes, and without Aaron Rodgers' superpowers the predictability of the scheme quickly becomes apparent.
Mike Pettine, DC, GBCapers stuck around the league about 20 years too long. Perhaps viable in the 90s, the schemes Capers put forth in Green Bay resulted in failures disproportionate to whatever lack of talent he may have dealt with. Pettine would almost by default have to be an improvement, but there may be reason to hope for genuine progress under his watch. Pettine is perhaps most commonly remembered for his ill-fated two-year stint as the head coach of the Browns, who he led in 2014 and 2015 before sitting out of NFL coaching entirely in the two years between then and now. He was regarded as one of the league's more promising up-and-coming defensive coaches at the time as perhaps Rex Ryan's top protege.
Bill O'Brien, HC, HOUO'Brien was long regarded as one of football's best quarterback coaches, and despite occasionally catching heat as the head coach in Houston, it generally looks like Houston is lucky to have him. Despite dealing with dubious personnel management under the watch of Rick Smith, O'Brien made Houston competitive without a real quarterback... until Deshaun Watson arrived. Even though Watson's skill set is drastically different from anyone O'Brien worked with previously, O'Brien showed the ability to adjust his methods to Watson's skills, and the result was immensely promising. O'Brien once tricked us all into thinking Christian Hackenberg would one day be a No. 1 pick, so it will be interesting to watch what he can do with a truly good quarterback like Watson over the long haul.
Romeo Crennel, DC, HOUO'Brien believes in the Parcells/Belichick approach to defense, which is founded on 3-4 principles. Crennel has decades of experience in that setting, and he should be able to pick up where Vrabel left off with little difficulty. If J.J. Watt and Whitney Mercilus are healthy, they should team with Jadeveon Clowney to make a high-pressure defense under Crennel.
Frank Reich, HC, INDHe'll probably regret it if Andrew Luck turns out to be damaged goods, but Reich takes over the Indianapolis head coaching job after occasionally seeing his name floated as an up-and-coming offensive coordinator for a few years now. It's difficult to get a read on what Reich's nature as a coach might be, because his last four years of offensive coordinator experience occurred under offensive-minded head coaches. In other words, how can we know what Reich will do on his own when he basically might have been following the directions of Mike McCoy (Chargers, 2014-2015) and Doug Pederson (Eagles, 2016-2017)? Reich is known as an experienced quarterbacks coach at the very least, and he has two years of experience coaching wide receivers, too. At 57 years old and a relic of late 80s, early 90s NFL, it's possible that Reich isn't as committed to or informed on the offensive approaches generally attributed to him over the last four years. He may be more like a Norv Turner than a Doug Pederson, in other words.
Nick Sirianni, OC, INDWith Reich presumably taking up some hands-on role with the Indianapolis offense, it would seem to leave Sirianni as an understudy to Reich rather than a true designed of the offense. Sirianni spent the last two seasons coaching wide receivers with the Chargers, and the two years before that he coached the Chargers' quarterbacks.
Matt Erbeflus, DC, INDAfter serving as defensive coordinator for Missouri from 2001 to 2008, Eberflus made the jump to the NFL and would go on to coach linebackers for Cleveland (2009-2010) and Dallas (2011-2017). He coached linebackers in both the 3-4 and 4-3 over those years, but he's expected to primarily lead Indianapolis to a 4-3 approach as defensive coordinator.
Doug Marrone, HC, JACPerhaps most memorably known as the guy who coached the Bills in 2013 and 2014 before a weird, bitter separation between the two, Marrone spent the next two years as an assistant head coach to Gus Bradley before replacing Bradley as the head coach in 2017. To Marrone's credit, the product was obviously a good one, and Marrone generally has shown competence as far as managing an NFL offense. With the defense too good to screw up, Marrone's model from 2017 should be sustainable. Marrone's offensive scheming consistently features high tempo, though he goes run-heavy when he has a lead.
Nathaniel Hackett, OC, JACHackett ran the Jacksonville offense for the past two years, to mixed but improving results. Particularly when adjusting for the run-heaviness of his offenses in Jacksonville, Hackett has shown a consistent pursuit of tempo in his two years at the helm. In 2016 the Jaguars threw 626 passes versus 392 carries, logging the league's second-fastest tempo. Last year, afforded the luxury of playing with safe leads much of the time, the Jaguars went super heavy on the ground, finishing with 527 carries and pass attempts alike. They finished with the 18th-ranked tempo in that case, but when adjusting for run-heaviness, that's still a relatively quick-moving offense. If the Jaguars bring back Allen Robinson, there's reason to think the Jaguars might sustain or improve their high rate of points per drive.
Todd Wash, DC, JACWash accepted the Jacksonville defensive coordinator gig in 2016, and the results of his work need no elaboration. Jacksonville's 2017 defense was one of the best in distant memory, and if he maintains that sort of momentum Wash figures to get on the head coaching radar in a hurry. Initially a defensive line specialist under Jon Gruden and Raheem Morris in Tampa Bay, Wash took direction from Gus Bradley and thus the Pete Carroll coaching tree from 2011 to 2015.
Andy Reid, HC, KCThe game seems to be passing Reid by a bit, but if he's still observant he'll notice that his former understudy, Matt Nagy, gave him a Get Out of Jail Free blueprint with the playcalling he displayed after Reid surrendered the playcalling duties following Kansas City's 11th game last year. Nagy showed Reid the light – the key was to attack more downfield, especially with Tyreek Hill, instead of attempting a dink-and-dunk offense. If Reid learns the lesson, he'll try to mimic the approach Nagy outlined in that stretch, in which Nagy impressed so much it launched him into a head coaching role with Chicago. Reid still is one of the league's best quarterback coaches and is generally one of the more pass-happy coaches in the league, but the methods that served him so well for most of the last 15 years need to adjust to recent paradigm shifts. If Reid keeps in motion the offense that Nagy helped lift off, it should be a good show with Pat Mahomes at quarterback.
Eric Bieniemy, OC, KCHe still coaches quarterbacks exceptionally well and has his moments of cleverness, but the game seemed to largely pass Andy Reid by in 2017. The highs for the Chiefs offense generally correlated with when Reid surrendered playcalling duties to the since-departed Nagy, raising the legitimate fear that the Chiefs fall back down to earth if once again left to Reid's intuitions. Perhaps Nagy showed Reid the light, and perhaps Reid and Bieniemy can build off the blueprint they stumbled into late last year. But given that Reid was calling plays before turning to Nagy out of necessity, it's no guarantee that Bieniemy has substantial say over Kansas City's direction.
Bob Sutton, DC, KCSutton oversaw the Chiefs defense starting in 2013, and since then he has generally established himself as one of the league's more accomplished defensive coordinators, if only for how long he's held down the job. He'll catch heat for last year's bad Kansas City defense, but you'd probably have to chalk up most of its struggles to the personnel. The Eric Berry injury threw off the whole blueprint, exposing the severely lacking talent at cornerback especially. When at the top of his game, Sutton's defenses are defined by pressure from the edges and ballhawking in the secondary.
Anthony Lynn, HC, LACPrior to the Chargers hiring Lynn as head coach, he had 16 years of experience coaching running backs, four years of experience as assistant head coach, and one year of experience as an offensive coordinator. An outward advocate of 'Ground and Pound' football, Lynn is probably one of the more retro-minded head coaches in the league. He was a special teamer running back in his seven-year NFL career, and as a running backs coach he was taught by coaches like Bill Parcells, Mike Shanahn, Jack Del Rio, and Rex Ryan. With 90s-era coaches over him until this point and a dinosaur offensive coordinator like Ken Whisenhunt, we shouldn't look for Lynn's teams to be on the cutting edge of innovation.
Ken Whisenhunt, OC, LACWhisenhunt was overmatched as a head coach, but his results as an offensive coordinator tend to be pretty good. Last year was his second year as the Chargers' offensive coordinator, and the results were somewhat uneven but generally above the average. Despite being widely known for coaching the Cardinals with Kurt Warner and three 1,000-yard wide receivers, Whisenhunt has more of a moderate leaning than those offenses, led by Todd Haley, might have implied. The Chargers figure to run a decidedly balanced offense as long as Whisenhunt is in charge of it.
Gus Bradley, DC, LACBradley is a Pete Carroll disciple who memorably burned out as head coach with the Jaguars after previously establishing himself as a defensive coordinator in Seattle. The Chargers defense showed strong results under his leadership last year, though, so by now it's probably safe to say that Bradley is one of the league's better coordinators despite his Jacksonville struggles.
Sean McVay, HC, LARMcVay's first season with the Rams couldn't have been much more promising. He set the bar awfully high for himself going forward and generally will struggle to improve on the job he did in 2017, but McVay looks like a potential dynasty builder. Clearly more prescient than the vast majority of NFL coaches, McVay's fresh perspective as a 32-year-old head coach allows him to see things that older NFL coaches, apprenticed under premises that have long since expired, simply aren't capable of imagining. Like Doug Pederson and Sean Payton, McVay's pre-snap scheming is ambitious and fixated on the task of gaining numbers advantages at whatever point of attack the defense might give them. He raises the tempo of the offense when there's blood in the water, then scales it back once he has a lead. The extent of his 2017 success leads you to suspect that McVay will be one of the top coaches for a long time – he seems more an innovator than an imitator. His development is a credit to Jay Gruden, who employed McVay as an assistant from 2010 to 2016.
Wade Phillips, DC, LARPhillips is quite simply one of the best defensive coaches in league history. Give him Aaron Donald to work with and you're going to have no trouble creating pressure and turnovers. The Rams run defense was weak on the ground last year and Phillips does have a history of his defenses allowing chunks of yardage at various points, but when his personnel is on the upswing he can mold truly smothering defenses like his ones in Denver. Many of the Rams' key defensive contributors were young in 2017, so improvement in Year 2 is certainly possible.
Adam Gase, HC, MIAOnce known as one of the league's brighter up-and-coming offensive minds due to his ability to to coax decent showings out of Tim Tebow and Jay Cutler, Gase's prospects since have badly tarnished. The results in Miami have been thoroughly discouraging, and his willingness to complain publicly about the difficulty of his job gives the impression that he is unhappy and truly at a loss for ideas. With that being the case, whatever credit he gets for his handling of Tebow and Cutler is rather unconvincing by now. Gase's Miami offenses have been defined by a league-low for tempo, a lack of identity, and the sense that everyone involved is somehow underachieving. He needs to worry about making it through the 2018 regular season, assuming he even wants the job.
Dowell Loggains, OC, MIALoggains was the offensive coordinator in Chicago the past two years and had another two-year coordinator stint in Tennessee (2012-2013). Otherwise a quarterbacks coach by trade, Loggains' independent tendencies as a coordinator are unclear after working under retro-minded coaches Mike Munchak and John Fox. Given Adam Gase's background as an offensive coach, Loggains' role with Miami might mostly be that of a glorified quarterbacks coach, in any case.
Matt Burke, DC, MIABurke's first year as defensive coordinator didn't go so great, as the Dolphins went on to allow 26 touchdowns versus nine interceptions through the air, and 2,211 yards from scrimmage to opposing running backs. The former linebackers coach probably deserves some leash for now, though, because the personnel on the Miami defense wasn't good at all. Unfortunately for Burke, that's unlikely to change. There's not much edge-rushing talent in this 4-3 defense, and the cornerbacks in particular appear vulnerable.
Mike Zimmer, HC, MINPerhaps the best contender to Bill Belichick in the league's Ornery Rankings among head coaches, Zimmer's 24 years of NFL-level coaching seem to have whittled his fuse down a bit. He spent 14 of those years as a defensive coordinator, seven as a defensive backs coach, and the last three as a head coach. He still has his hands all over the defense despite technically working as a head coach at this point, and presumably has less of a role managing the Minnesota offense. As a defensive coach, Zimmer has always called a 4-3 scheme with press coverage, but in the last ten years or so he's seemingly developed a greater interest in blitzing.
John DeFilippo, OC, MINWith Shurmur poached by the Giants, the Vikings were pleased to land a replacement as widely coveted as DeFilippo, who will get a chance to prove himself in a coordinator role after his work coaching Carson Wentz earned him a promotion. It's anyone's guess what specific scheme he'll put forth – the personnel isn't quite the same as what he had in Philadelphia, especially in terms of height among the pass catchers, and the quality of the tight ends generally. If DeFilippo can tell which way the wind is blowing, though, he'll probably try to emulate the new guard of coaching that's propelled his ascent to this point, pursuing a blueprint along the lines of those illustrated by Doug Pederson and Sean McVay.
George Johnson, DC, MINEdwards is Mike Zimmer's trusted right-hand man with the Minnesota defense, but the defense is still Zimmer's. A longtime defensive coordinator prior to arriving in Minnesota, Zimmer's approach has evolved slightly over the years – he's probably become more aggressive with age – but his defenses have always centered around the theme of a confrontational, man-coverage 4-3. With personnel as good as Minnesota's, the approach is one that has brought great success of late.
Bill Belichick, HC, NEAt this point it's difficult to argue against Belichick as the greatest coach in NFL history. Despite his initial expertise resting mostly in defensive coaching, he's the rare coach that seems to have a central role in planning all three phases of the game, and he generally gets great results in doing so. He's adjusted his approaches over the years, and lately his product has been defined by an aggressive, uptempo passing game and amorphous defensive scheming that doesn't neatly categorize as either 3-4 or 4-3.
Josh McDaniels, OC, NEMcDaniels forgot about Andrew Luck's shoulder for a moment and absent-mindedly agreed to take the Colts' head-coaching position while in that fog, but he snapped out of it eventually and fled Indianapolis on alienated terms. So he's back in New England, where he'll try to dig his claws in long enough to secure the succession from Bill Belichick's eventual retirement. It's likely that Belichick and Tom Brady had some substantial say in the look of New England's offenses throughout the years McDaniels served as their offensive coordinator – a total of nine seasons now – so it's difficult to get a read on just what McDaniels can claim credit for. Since his two-year stint as Denver's head coach was built on Tim Tebow, an extreme anomaly of a quarterback, his time as a head coach doesn't lend reliable insight to his broader tendencies, either. For now the specifics with McDaniels are probably moot – this offense will be correctly attributed to Brady and Belichick as long as they're present.
Greg Schiano, DC, NEThe occasionally disgraced former head coach of Rutgers and the Buccaneers was out of notable coaching work from 2013 to 2015 before taking up work as Urban Meyer's defensive coordinator at Ohio State. For all the problems that have followed Schiano, his solid reputation as a defensive coach mostly seems merited, so it wouldn't be surprising to see him put together some good defenses under Belichick's broader directives.
Sean Payton, HC, NONot many are likely to remember, but Payton was once a briefly disgraced offensive coordinator way back in the 2000 season when his then team, the Giants, made a Super Bowl run after head coach Jim Fassel very visibly took away Payton's playcalling duties following a 3-4 start to the season. Nearly 20 years later, and Payton is an almost infallible NFL offensive mind despite a few bumps in the road since taking over as New Orleans' head coach in 2006. Payton's tenure has crossed different paradigms, and he as much as anyone has shown an ability to adapt to changing times. An uptempo, aggressive playcaller who's always looking for ways to dictate personnel advantages, it'd probably be fair to attribute Payton as a trail blazer for the new generation of innovative coaches like Doug Pederson, Sean McVay, and Kyle Shanahan.
Pete Carmichael, OC, NOCarmichael is probably a good teacher of quarterbacks, but his title as offensive coordinator is likely ceremonial for the most part. The Saints offense has long been the creation of Drew Brees and Sean Payton, and that will remain the case.
Dennis Allen, DC, NOAfter failing as Oakland's head coach from 2012 to 2014, Allen headed to New Orleans as a defensive assistant in 2015 before taking over for the imploding Rob Ryan. Most of the results under Allen have been memorably bad, but for about the last ¾ of the 2017 season the Saints emphatically turned a corner, particular in pass defense. The run defense remained vulnerable, but with a loaded secondary the Saints will have the luxury of singling out their run-stopping personnel going forward.
Pat Shurmur, HC, NYGShurmur's first stint as a head coach didn't go so well in 2011 and 2012, when he finished with a 9-23 record, but that's a small sample in a setting where basically no one succeeds. Primarily an apprentice of Andy Reid's, Shurmur's positional coaching background specialized in coaching quarterbacks, and Reid is among the best in league history as far as that one skill goes. Shurmur gets another shot as head coach after calling the Minnesota offense last year, where his product withstood the losses of Sam Bradford and Dalvin Cook. The loss of either player would typically be sufficient reason for an offense to collapse, but Shurmur set up Case Keenum for overachievement in Bradford's place, propelling an unlikely drive to the NFC Championship game. It will be interesting to see how Shurmur's scheming might change now that he's not working underneath Mike Zimmer, a generally conservative coach. Shurmur spent three years as offensive coordinator for Chip Kelly in Philadelphia, and Kelly presumably wouldn't have hired Shurmur if not for the two sharing an enthusiasm for uptempo offenses. Shurmur's arrival should at least stabilize the value of Odell Beckham, Sterling Shepard, and Evan Engram, but upside scenarios seem quite plausible too.
Mike Shula, OC, NYGPat Shurmur was the head coaching hire following the dismissal of Ben McAdoo, and as an offensive-minded coach he'll likely serve the most influential role in the design and execution of the Giants offense. And yet, despite his recent firing from Carolina, Shula is a coach of some considerable dignity as an offensive coordinator, so perhaps Shurmur will delegate extensively. Regardless of the split in responsibility between Shurmur and Shula, the fact that Shurmur is mostly a product of the Andy Reid system means the Giants can probably expect the Giants' approach to be a mostly modern one, with perhaps a partiality to throwing the ball. With Odell Beckham and Sterling Shepard available, the concepts Shurmur used with Adam Thielen and Stefon Diggs should translate for the most part.
James Bettcher, DC, NYGBettcher looks like a nice hire for the Shurmur regime, as Bettcher's availability on the market was no reflection of his success as a defensive coordinator. He ran the Cardinals defense the last three years, and only ended up fired because Arizona's new head coach – Steve Wilks – is a former defensive coordinator himself, and one with a different schematic preference. Bettcher ran an amorphous 3-4 defense under Bruce Arians, and that approach was presumably influenced if not founded on the concepts of Todd Bowles before him. He had good personnel at his disposal, but Bettcher mostly showed promise given that the defense didn't drop off much with Bowles' departure. His test will be somewhat different in New York, as the rebuilding Giants defense just doesn't have 3-4 personnel. If his showings in Arizona are any indication, Bettcher should be able to adjust, though.
Todd Bowles, HC, NYJRegardless of Bowles' eventual legacy as a head coach, in the meantime it's probably safe to say that he's one of the league's most respected defensive backs coaches of the past 20 years or so, and most indications are that he's adept at calling a defense generally. Following consecutive 5-11 finishes as a head coach, though, the heat will likely be on Bowles from this point onward. He's in a tough spot in the sense that his fate will likely be determined by the effectiveness of the Jets offense, but his skill set limits what he personally can do to address it.
Jeremy Bates, OC, NYJThe Jets fired Morton after he wildly exceeded expectations. Attributing a logical explanation to that action just isn't possible. Bates is an in-house promotion who served as quarterbacks coach under Morton, so it's hard to imagine a profound shift in approach. A decline in quality is a plenty reasonable fear, however, especially when last year's offense entailed a career year from Josh McCown. Where this all gets weirder is with the fact that Bates appears to have been without football work from 2013 to 2016 after getting fired as Chicago's quarterback coach in 2012. Bates is credited with one year of offensive coordinator experience: the 2010 Seahawks. That was the year Matt Hasselbeck threw 12 touchdowns to 17 interceptions as they got just 573 yards (3.5 YPC) and six touchdowns out of Marshawn Lynch in 12 games.
Kacy Rodgers, DC, NYJRodgers has the title, but the defense is presumably dictated by head coach Todd Bowles to a great extent. Rodgers is an experienced defensive coach whose past work was mostly in the form of defensive line coaching, including alongside Bowles in previous stops at Dallas and Miami.
Jon Gruden, HC, OAKGruden last coached in 2008, when his Tampa Bay team missed the playoffs with a 9-7 record. His seven seasons in Tampa Bay (57-55) were preceded by four seasons in Oakland (38-26), and he was regarded as one of the league's top coaches throughout most of both stretches. Originally a wide receivers coach with the Mike Holmgren staff in Green Bay, Gruden served as offensive coordinator for Philadelphia from 1995 to 1997 before getting his shot with the Raiders. Gruden's offenses were generally successful, but low tempo, and in hindsight it's fair to worry whether he owes half of the credit for his Super Bowl victory to defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. Whether Gruden attempts to change with the times or stick to his decade-old methods is something that's difficult to anticipate going into 2018, but don't expect him to take the league by storm.
Greg Olson, OC, OAKJon Gruden is an offensive coach who originally drew from the Holmgren school of coaching, but who knows what Gruden might have on his mind after watching the game from afar for the past decade. It's also anyone's guess whether Gruden puts his hands on the Oakland offense or instead leaves it to Olson's discretion. Olson coached the quarterbacks for the Rams last year, and served as the offensive coordinator for Gruden's 2008 Tampa Bay team. It's Olson's second stint as offensive coordinator in Oakland after previously serving in the role in 2013 and 2014. Olson hasn't had much in the way of offensive coordinator success, but he also hasn't had much stable talent to work with. His two years in Oakland featured Terrelle Pryor in one and rookie Derek Carr in the other. In Jacksonville he dealt with a young Blake Bortles. With the Rams it was Marc Bulger and Gus Frerotte. It seems we can expect something more air-oriented than the traditional NFL offense, but the magnitude and quality of that dynamic are tough to predict.
Paul Guenther, DC, OAKGuenther arrives to Oakland from Cincinnati, where the Bengals generally saw good 4-3, bend-don't-break schemes, but it's difficult to tell whether any of that might be attributable to Marvin Lewis.
Doug Pederson, HC, PHIPederson was for a long time known as the humble backup to Brett Favre in Green Bay, but Pederson's impressive work as a coach shows he's a great deal more curious than his famous former teammate. He played under Andy Reid in Philadelphia for one year in 1999, and ten years later Reid would hire him as his offensive coordinator. Despite schooling extensively under Reid, Pederson's perspective is clearly fresher, and the work he's done running the Eagles offense since 2016 indicates an astute ability to pragmatically exploit a status quo. Basically, Pederson's ideas don't seem owed to anyone in particular, or at least not Reid alone. Some of Pederson's concepts seem more similar to someone like Chip Kelly or Rich Rodriguez. He wasn't taught to buy into such spread systems by his previous coaches, who likely regard such things the same way they would black magic. So that means Pederson gravitated toward them on his own correct suspicion that they'd give him an upper hand against NFL defenses as they're currently run. Pederson seeks to spread a defense thin by stressing the weakest spot, then preempting the defense's adjustment attempt by attacking the new vulnerability even more aggressively. Thus far, it seems like his one true tendency is taking what the defense gives him, however he has to.
Mike Groh, OC, PHIThe son of Al Groh, Mike was the in-house replacement at offensive coordinator after Frank Reich headed to Indianapolis. Groh figures to surrender a great deal of authority to Pederson, but Groh is someone to monitor as an ascending name in a suddenly prestigious organization.
Jim Schwartz, DC, PHIA hot name for head-coaching searches, Schwartz has at the least established himself as one of the league's clearly top defensive specialists. The emphasis is on disruption in the front seven, with burst and motor on the edges designed to throw off the balance of the whole offense. It generally works, at least when you have the pass-rushing personnel he does in Philadelphia. If he gets his hands on some improved cornerback talent, this defense could get even better under Schwartz.
Mike Tomlin, HC, PITHeading into his 12th year as Pittsburgh's head coach, Tomlin is more of a fogey than you'd normally expect of a 46-year-old coach. Perhaps his advanced coaching experience has aged him somewhat, but even his methods are retro. Tomlin originally schooled under the Tony Dungy/Monte Kiffin/Lovie Smith style of 4-3 Cover-2 defense, and while he's taken up the 3-4 approach in Pittsburgh – as the Steelers Constitution apparently dictates – Pittsburgh still uses more Cover-2 tactics than basically any other team. Most have concluded that Cover-2 simply isn't viable with the recent rule changes and strategic adjustments made by NFL offenses, but to Tomlin's credit it worked well enough last year, holding quarterbacks to just 20 touchdowns and 16 interceptions. Regardless of his current credentials as a defensive coordinator, the fact that Tomlin made the playoffs eight times in 11 years – including six division titles – is a credit to his overall management abilities.
Randy Fichtner, OC, PITBen Roethlisberger no doubt had extensive say in how the Steelers offense conducted itself over the Haley years, and in-house promotion Fichtner figures to work closely with Roethlisberger as they basically attempt to repeat Haley's scheme. No matter Roethlisberger's level of credit or Fichtner's adeptness, Haley is an objectively standout passing game coordinator and his exit could hurt some aspect of Pittsburgh's offense. This could be a situation similar to Steve Sarkisian taking over for Kyle Shanahan in Atlanta, though Antonio Brown's otherworldly talent should prove immune at the least.
Keith Butler, DC, PITJust like Baltimore, the names of coaches and players change in Pittsburgh but the defense just doesn't. There will be 3-4 fronts, blitzing, and dirty play galore, and somehow all changing names and faces don't seem to matter.
Pete Carroll, HC, SEAOnce a flamboyant pioneer among a stale crew of NFL head coaches, Carroll has started to blend in more with the establishment in recent years, though the emphatic dominance of Seattle at their peak means it probably would be unwise to write off Carroll even as his team stares down a rebuilding phase. With more discretion over Seattle's direction than most head coaches, the fact that Carroll exploited the big picture so effectively, especially with his defensive innovations, means he's a threat to adjust to the changes around him and make another charge. (Of course, the way he ditched USC with sanctions looming might mean he could jump ship on Seattle if things get too bad). Since taking over in 2010, Carroll led the Seahawks to six playoff appearances, two Super Bowl appearances, and one Super Bowl trophy, with his lopsided 4-3 and emphasis on long-armed press corners proving a brilliant Moneyball scheme. Perhaps it's a coincidence that Carroll's recent relative decline occurred as a number of other teams poached his coaching staff and imitated his personnel approach, but none of Gus Bradley, Dan Quinn, or Robert Saleh have succeeded in that imitation attempt to this point.
Brian Schottenheimer, OC, SEAFiring Bevell just to hire Schottenheimer is a top-five all-time example of 'one step forward, two steps back.' Bevell's obsession with establishing the run was obnoxious, but the failures of the Seattle offense last year was the work of poor front office work. The offensive line and running back personnel has been especially bad, but even the pass catchers are underwhelming. Bevell was a scapegoat and that the Seahawks hired Schottenheimer shows they completely failed to identify their issues. Schottenheimer oversaw failure vanilla offenses with the Jets from 2006-2011, and the Rams from 2012-2014. Regardless of the specific approach Schottenheimer takes, the Seattle offense will continue to be defined by Russell Wilson's endless struggle to transcend the trinkets and trash surrounding him.
Ken Norton Jr., DC, SEANorton was fired last year as the conductor of Oakland's horrible, underachieving defense, but the organization-wide dysfunction during his tenure might pass off some of that blame to Jack Del Rio. Norton in any case might be more of a glorified linebackers coach in Seattle with Pete Carroll forever deciding the approach of the defense. The personnel is on the way down, but the methods shouldn't change in Seattle.
Kyle Shanahan, HC, SFAlong with Sean McVay and Doug Pederson, Shanahan is one of the league's cutting-edge offensive minds, and the three of them figure to inspire a great deal of attempted imitation in the upcoming years. The offenses of all three coaches are largely defined by their ambitious pre-snap scheming, but Shanahan stands out from the trio for his commitment to high tempo. Perhaps he'd slow the tempo if his team had more leads than they did in 2017, but Atlanta's Super Bowl loss to the Patriots, badly as it went, gives the impression that Shanahan generally intends to call a fast and aggressive offense as a matter of constant policy. With Jimmy Garoppolo in the fold, Shanahan's smart schemes and aggressive approach could prove explosive for fantasy football. They're going to run a lot more plays than most teams, and they're probably going to be more effective than most teams on a per-play basis, too.
Robert Saleh, DC, SFA product of the Pete Carroll coaching tree, Saleh probably gets a free pass for San Francisco's poor 2017 defense given the lack of personnel. Given his recent proximity to the Seahawks and Jaguars, the 49ers can be expected to pursue a press- and blitz-heavy defense defined by an amorphous front seven and long-armed corners once they have their preferred personnel.
Dirk Koetter, HC, TBKoetter spent nine years coaching Boise State and Arizona State between 1998 and 2006, which put him on the map as an NFL offensive coordinator prospect. A five-year stay in Jacksonville preceded a three-year run in Atlanta, where Koetter made his case for head coaching consideration by overseeing Matt Ryan's breakout 2012 season. His Atlanta offenses were defined by a pass-happy approach with ambitious downfield throwing, but his offenses in Tampa Bay since 2015 have been much more lethargic. Jameis Winston's turnover proneness perhaps dictated this outcome, but Winston has yet to hit 600 pass attempts in a season after Ryan averaged 631 pass attempts per year under Koetter. If not concerns with Winston, then perhaps Koetter's recent timidness might be the result of him feeling pressure as a head coach that he didn't as a coordinator? Whatever the case, Koetter is deservedly on the hot seat after last year's offense, loaded with talented pass catchers, took a step backward under his watch.
Todd Monken, OC, TBDirk Koetter is a recently promoted offensive coordinator himself, so it's fair to question whether Monken has much autonomy here, especially after the failure-riddled Koetter reiterated his intention to continue calling plays in 2018. Monken has a history of conducting strong offenses at the college level, but in this context it's hard to see what his mark would even be.
Mike Smith, DC, TBThe formerly respected head coach of the Falcons heads into his third year as Tampa's defensive coordinator, and be it a product of himself, the personnel, or both, it's been a dumpster fire. Given the franchise's general doubling down on its stagnant direction, it's difficult to see why much would change.
Mike Vrabel, HC, TENA longtime star linebacker for Bill Belichick in New England, Vrabel only coordinated Houston's defense for one season before getting the promotion to Tennessee's head coaching role. Prior to that, Vrabel coached linebackers for three years in Houston, and three years coaching Ohio State's defensive line and linebackers before that. At 42, Vrabel is one of the league's younger head coaches and probably doesn't quite have the same level of orthodoxy driven into him as some of his more tenured peers. He worked under a relatively progressive coach in Bill O'Brien, and his hiring of Matt LaFleur (ex: Rams) for offensive coordinator is further reason to think Vrabel will be open to some of the NFL's more post-modern strategies. Vrabel's defense should generally classify as a 3-4 but otherwise might be open to more amoebic formations.
Matt LaFleur, OC, TENWith recent connections to Kyle Shanahan (2015-2016, quarterbacks coach) and Sean McVay (2017, offensive coordinator), LaFleur appears to be a top candidate among the new wave of NFL coaches, and his proximity to those two names is a promising sign for Marcus Mariota, a decidedly mold-breaking talent who went to complete waste under Mike Mularkey. Mularkey's fingerprints were all over the stumbling Tennessee offenses despite Robiskie's technical title as coordinator. Innovative pace and personnel management is exactly what Mariota needs, and LaFleur seems a strong bet to provide as much.
Dean Pees, DC, TENPees saw great success in Baltimore, and this will be his chance to prove that he wasn't just executing the bidding of John Harbaugh or otherwise riding the momentum of Baltimore's tradition of standout defense. LeBeau is probably one of the most accomplished defensive coaches in league history, but in recent years the game clearly passed him by. The good run-stopping defense from last year should persist, and Pees' arrival gives reason to hope the pass defense might take a step forward in 2018. Head coach Mike Vrabel should also have his hands on the defense to some significant extent.
Jay Gruden, HC, WASGruden's name may have allowed him to start a rung or two higher than others in the coaching ladder, but his work as an offensive coordinator in Cincinnati from 2011 to 2013 was somewhat impressive given that he coaxed two 30-touchdown seasons out of Andy Dalton's first three seasons in the NFL. Gruden seems to have his hands on the Washington offense and probably deserves some credit for the development of Kirk Cousins. Gruden's offenses are generally balanced and low-tempo, so that he generally extracts good results is probably a credit to the quality of Gruden's tactical sensibilities.
Matt Cavanaugh, OC, WASGiven Jay Gruden's background as a hands-on offensive coach, Cavanaugh is probably just a quarterbacks coach with a patronizing job title. Cavanaugh was previously an offensive coordinator for the Bears (1997-1998), Ravens (1999-2004), Steelers (2005-2008), and otherwise was a quarterbacks coach from 2009 to 2016 before getting promoted to coordinator last year. Expect this scheme to remain unchanged as long as Gruden is the coach.
Greg Manusky, DC, WAS
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