Other than the Eagles, the entire NFC East hired new coaches. Like a draft pick, it’s going to take time before we know if they made the right choice. But also like a draft pick, that doesn’t mean we can’t evaluate them right now!
Who they hired: Mike McCarthy, despite the best efforts of Jason Garrett.
But even in the best of times—when confetti should’ve still been stuck to their clothing—one person who was then close to Rodgers remembers he would regularly call to vent that McCarthy didn’t have a clue what he was doing. He’d tell him that McCarthy frequently called the wrong play. That he used the wrong personnel. That they were running plays that worked one out of 50 times in practice. That McCarthy was a buffoon he was constantly bailing out.
”Mike has a low football IQ, and that used to always bother Aaron,” this source says. “He’d say Mike has one of the lowest IQs, if not the lowest IQ, of any coach he’s ever had.”
Mike McCarthy went 6-11-1 without Brett Favre or Aaron Rodgers at QB.
The runners up: The only other coach they interviewed was Marvin Lewis, so yeah between the two of them I also would have hired McCarthy. Jerry Jones was only interested in experienced head coaches, and that’s his prerogative and not entirely unreasonable, but four of the past ten Super Bowl winners, and five of the past ten Super Bowl winners that weren’t Bill Belichick were by lead by coaches in their first head coaching job. Why wouldn’t you want to at least explore that market?
What does the staff look like: Big on name power. Coaching prowess, well, we’ll see. Occasional wonderboy Kellen Moore is back as offensive coordinator. John Fassel, whose special teams units were really good when he coached under Jeff Fisher and nothing special units when he didn’t, brings the reputation of the former to Dallas. Mike Nolan, who’s biggest accomplishment as a head coach was getting to wear a suit during games, is the defensive coordinator. As a defensive coordinator, a job he hasn’t held since 2014, he doesn’t have much to offer, his Falcons defenses were 12th, 29th, and 32nd in DVOA, his defenses as a head coach were not much better. Human meme Jim Tomsula is the defensive line coach.
Why the Eagles should worry: The Packers front office during the McCarthy era rarely signed players they didn’t draft, and when they did it was to fill very specific roles. McCarthy was handcuffed by Ted Thompson, who looked internally to replace players rather than consider all options. The Cowboys have been excellent drafters in recent years, but they do not operate the same way. They go out and get players they want (and sometimes they’re actually good!). McCarthy won’t shop for the groceries, but at least he’s got a front office that will take a look at the grocery list he gives them.
Why the Eagles should not worry: If you haven’t already, you should read the link above. Even if you have when it came out last year, it’s good to read it again. It contains gems like:
The problem for McCarthy was that as the talent drained, he failed to innovate. His scheme went stale and he didn’t adapt. As one personnel man puts it, McCarthy “got full off his own juice.” He believed his system—not the Packers’ absurd amount of talent—was the foundation for the offensive success. But raw rookies cannot bust free one-on-one like, say, Jennings or Nelson or Jones.
Tension with Rodgers over the play-calling became part of the DNA of the offense itself. Rodgers felt the system was bland, so he increasingly played Superman.
Many believe Rodgers, the QB with the best career passer rating (103.1) in NFL history, was 100 percent justified in overruling his coach’s play calls, and that the Packers would’ve deteriorated more precipitously if he hadn’t put that cape on. The personnel man says the Packers’ passing offense was essentially “Get open” and that they basically ran the same routes for seven years straight, to the point where division rivals “constantly” called out plays pre-snap and jumped routes.
McCarthy felt he was the one who created this monster of an offense. A personnel man adds: “That was McCarthy’s big mistake. He wanted to be The Guy. He wanted to be The Reason. And he wasn’t that good.”
It didn’t help that McCarthy also was rotating his assistants between positions annually. He wanted them to gain more experience, but as [Ryan] Grant points out, this didn’t necessarily help the players. Many times, they felt as though they knew more about their position than their own coach.
”What guys did on defense did not matter,” [a former starter] says. “This is an offensive-minded team, and our quarterback is expected to bail us out. As defenders, we used to always talk about it. It’s like, ‘We whupped their ass today in camp. Are they going to finally run to us? Respect us?’”
The answer was a resounding “No,” and this player says the result was a “soft mindset” that’d constantly rear its ugly head. When Rodgers missed seven games in 2013 and nine games in 2017, the player remembers teammates outright quitting.
And this one is my favorite
About once a week, a meeting would start up and McCarthy was MIA. Players weren’t quite sure where he was while, for example, an assistant coach would run the team’s final prep on the Saturday before a game. Eventually, word leaked that McCarthy, the one calling plays on game day, was up in his office getting a massage during those meetings.
One player had the same massage therapist, and she let it slip that McCarthy would sneak her up a back stairway to his office while the rest of the team prepared for that week’s opponent.
This sounds a bit like Chip Kelly. Scratch that. A lot like Chip Kelly.
Who they hired: Joe Judge. No, not Judge Joe.
His resume: He worked for Bill Belichick. That appears to be the entire reason they hired him, which hoo boy, good luck with that.
In a similar situation to John Harbaugh, Judge was a good special teams coach for years, and then was given a position coach role and hired as a head coach after one year in it. That it worked well for Harbaugh guarantees nothing for Judge, and that teams still aren’t seriously considering special teams only coaches for head coaching jobs is ridiculous, but another coach with that background getting a head coaching job is a step in the right direction. You have to crawl before you can walk.
The runners up: Judge’s boss Josh McDaniels (why); still employed yet not employed Jason Garrett, Don Martindale, also known as the coordinator from the Ravens who doesn’t coach presumptive MVP Lamar Jackson; Mike McCarthy, who hasn’t won a Super Bowl more recently than the Giants have; Kris Richard, who McCarthy might not even keep around; Eric Bienemy, who once again was everyone’s favorite “we’re not interviewing him to fill the Rooney Rule, except we are” candidate; and Matt Rhule. Rhule was considered by many in the media to be a lock. The Giants were supposedly his “dream job” because he spent one season there as an assistant offensive line coach. He’s from there. The reality was he took the Panthers job before even interviewing. He apparently gave the Giants a chance to match, but the Giants had moved on by then. There will be no repercussions for the media members who spent weeks saying the job was Rhule’s. Nice gig if you can get it.
What does the staff look like: Not even Joe Judge knows. Both his offensive and defensive coordinator spots are not only vacant, there’s no one even rumored to be waiting in the wings.
This is not how it usually goes. Head coaches have a shortlist for the key positions when they go into the interview and usually bring the coordinator for the other side of the ball with them. Judge clearly didn’t have a short list or someone that was definitely going with him. Look at the rest of the division: McCarthy brought Nolan with him on day one, and Moore was immediately rumored to retain his job, which he did. Ron Rivera installed Jack Del Rio right away, Scott Turner was immediately rumored to be his offensive coordinator, which he is. These are the norm. Joe Judge hasn’t brought anyone with him and has no one rumored to be coming with him, which on top of looking like he is unprepared means that he’s not going to get top choices for his staff.
Seems like even Joe Judge is surprised the Giants hired Joe Judge to be their head coach!
Why the Eagles should worry: No one knows what to expect from Judge. The Cowboys and Redskins hired experienced coaches, there are years of games and philosophies to game plan off of. Judge is a wild card. That mystery should wear off by the second Giants-Eagles game, but if the first game is early in the season the unfamiliarity might be an advantage to Judge. Yeah, I got nothing for this section.
Why the Eagles should not worry: The Bill Belichick coaching tree is so bad that Mike Vrabel, who never coached for Belichick, is added to it to bolster it. I should try this tactic with my parents, have them congratulate me next time my sister gets a promotion. Plus Dave Gettleman is still in charge. At least he hired some computer folk this time.
Who they hired: Ron Rivera
His resume: With an MVP QB, Rivera lost a Super Bowl to a 39 year old who got benched earlier that year and who put up a passer rating of 56.6 in the Super Bowl, which was better than his own QB did. Both before and after that seasons he went 6-8 when that MVP QB started.
The runners up: The Redskins may or may not have interviewed Marvin Lewis and Eric Bieniemy, there’s been no official confirmation, and that’s understandable because I would not admit it if I interviewed with the Redskins.
What does the staff look like: Jack Del Rio is the defensive coordinator, and Scott Turner, who was Rivera’s QB coach the past two seasons in Carolina, is the offensive coordinator.
Del Rio has a reputation as a good defensive coordinator, but should he? The Broncos defense had some serious talent, and you’re not going to believe this but when Von Miller missed time in 2013 due to a suspension and torn ACL and overall just didn’t play that well, the defense was mediocre at best. And when a head coach in Jacksonville and Oakland his defenses, like his tea hi ms, stunk. I once worked with a guy who was offered a position coach job by Del Rio in Jacksonville. He turned him down because he felt he’d get scapegoated for being so extreme, and also because he was thoroughly unimpressed by Del Rio, he thought he was kind of an idiot. I think about that when I hear Del Rio get praised by the media.
Turner’s claim to fame is that his dad is Norv Turner and that Kyle Allen looked good for a few games. If he had worked for Sean McVay he might be a head coach candidate, though the league has stopped looking in McVay’s direction either because they realise it’s a waste of time or they ran out of people to choose from.
Why the Eagles should worry: It was thought that nobody worth a damn would ever even consider taking this job, but the Redskins landed a top tier available coach, and he’s assembled a staff that is full of experienced coaches, coaches he knows, and some that fit both descriptions, which is a pretty good place to be. Do the Redskins suddenly know what they are doing?
Why the Eagles should not worry: First of all, it’s WASTEAM. Second of all… it’s WASTEAM. They had vacancies at head coach and GM, and they hired the coach first and are now waiting until after the draft, which also means after free agency, to hire a GM. Brilliant plan, it’s like following the Jets blueprint from last year but with more chaos, somehow. And Rivera took himself out of the running for any of the other jobs by taking this job just two days after the regular season ended. Year in, year out, the Redskins are one of the worst, most dysfunctional, and most soulless franchises in all of sports. To be fair, the other options for Rivera were working for Jerry Jones, Dave Gettleman, or Jimmy Haslam. But still, make them earn it, get some leverage. Why rush to work for Dan Snyder?