Another offseason and the coaching carousel is starting to turn for NFL head coach candidates. Some coaches will be getting off as their seats have grown too hot. Others will be getting on to take their first ride hoping their turn is a magical one. Still a few will get a chance to take another spin on this exclusive ride.
Not all seats on this ride are as comfortable or scenic as others. Some will relish the opportunity for major overhauls as they put their own design into play. Others will move into comfier digs that only need a few tweaks to feel their own.
We get to watch everything unfold in the next few weeks. With that let’s dive into the expected vacancies and who should get a chance to sit in those coveted seats.
Brian Daboll – Offensive Coordinator Buffalo Bills
Brian Daboll has compiled an impressive resume over the years as a disciple of the vast “Bill Belichick Coaching Tree” with NFL stops in Cleveland, Miami, Kansas City and Buffalo.
As if learning under Belichick was not enough, Daboll has also worked with Nick Saban back when Daboll was the offensive coordinator for the 2017 National Championship team at Alabama.
Despite all the impressive work Daboll has put in over the years, it is his most recent work with the Bills’ offense, more specifically Josh Allen, that has put him on the radar as a future NFL head coach.
Daboll has been credited with developing Josh Allen, a raw prospect with athleticism and accuracy concerns into one of the best quarterbacks in the league.
It is widely understood that quarterbacks are the most important players in any football franchise and finding an All-Pro quarterback is like striking gold. Daboll has shown the ability to mold a quarterback into something great, a trait which has made him highly coveted.
It is this development along with the way he molded the offense since 2018 to best utilize his players talents that has me most intrigued. Allen has been steadily asked to do more in the offense as he has been developed.
The slow transition from a run-first offense utilizing 12-personnel (one running back and two tight ends) and 21-personnel (two running backs, one tight end) into an offense that uses 11-personnel (one running back, one tight end), as well as 10-personnel (one running back, zero tight ends), has been reliant on Allen’s development as a quarterback. Allen’s arm talent was always apparent, but it has been his development in decision making and read progressions that allowed this change.
Daboll also utilized his receivers effectively. The additions of Stefon Diggs and Cole Beasley allowed Daboll to run 11-personnel or 10-personnel on 80 percent of offensive plays. Moving Beasley into the slot and having a true number one receiver facilitated the increase in the use of spread formations.
Daboll’s offense in 2018 passed on 51.6 percent of plays and ran on 48.4 percent of plays. In 2021 the offense passed on 59.8 percent of plays and ran on 40.2 percent.
Despite the increase in passing attempts the Bills offense has finished in the top 10 in team rushing yards in three of four years from 2018 to 2021. Daboll likes to spread the touches with no player carrying more than 188 times in a season and no player rushing for more than 870 yards; both records being set in 2021 with the added game.
Allen has recorded over 100 carries and six rushing touchdowns in every season he has been a full time starter. In three of four seasons from 2018 to 2021 Allen has led the team in rushing touchdowns.
Daboll does not have a specific offensive philosophy, instead he is constantly trying to bring in new plays and find mismatches that can be exploited. This creates pressure on his players to learn fast but also a sense of trust that he believes in anyone’s ability to be the difference maker in the right situation.
Best fit: Chicago Bears
Daboll’s ability to develop a quarterback while playing to his strengths is something that would be refreshing in Chicago. A presence that would stabilize a young offense and build Fields into the franchise quarterback the team has not seen in over three decades.
Darnell Mooney reminds me of young Stefon Diggs and Cole Kmet would be a weapon that could be developed while being a safety blanket in the passing game.
Kellen Moore – Offensive Coordinator Dallas Cowboys
Moore was an incredible college quarterback for Boise State and an afterthought as a player in the NFL. Despite his playing career not panning out he has quickly risen up the coaching ranks. After retiring in 2017 Moore became the Dallas Cowboys’ quarterback coach.
The following year he was promoted to offensive coordinator. The Dallas offense has flourished under Moore’s leadership and Dak Prescott has taken incredible strides with Moore’s leadership.
Before Moore became offensive coordinator of the Dallas staff Dak had never thrown for more than 3,885 yards or 23 touchdowns. In the two seasons Dak has been healthy with Moore as a coach Prescott has thrown for at least 4,449 yards and 30 touchdowns.
In his injury shortened season in 2020, Dak was on a historic pace for passing yardage and amongst the most touchdowns thrown in a season. The change in Dak can be attributed to Moore’s working with Prescott and a change in the offensive philosophy of the team.
The Dallas offense is defined by a lack of definition. Their success comes in many forms and that is what has made them so hard to stop. Dallas does not rank in the top ten in usage of play-action, run pass option (RPO), motion, or no huddle yet they rank no lower than third in success rate when utilizing any of these concepts. This can be traced back to Moore’s time at Boise State.
Chris Peterson was the head coach of Boise State during Moore’s time there. Peterson’s philosophy was to use many different player packages and concepts and see how the defense would react. It was from these defensive reactions; play calls, audibles, personnel packages, that Peterson would then counter to exploit opportunities created by the defenses choices.
Moore has used this philosophy to create the league’s number one offense in both yards and points per game. The Cowboys average 407 yards offense per game and 31.2 points scored per game. Dallas passes the ball 59.0 percent of the time versus running on 41.0 percent of plays.
Moore has had a top ten rushing offense in every year except for 2020 when the team finished 17th in the league. He has shown a tendency to prefer a bell cow back when rushing the ball. This can be attributed in many ways to having Ezekiel Elliott as his lead back. Elliott has averaged 260.67 carries a season with Moore as offensive coordinator.
The separation in touches between the starting running back and backup has decreased each year Moore has been the offensive coordinator. Tony Pollard had 130 carries compared to Elliott’s 237 in 2021. The running backs are also utilized heavily in the passing game with Elliott averaging 69 targets per year between 2019 and 2021 and Pollard averaging 35.3.
Best fit: Denver Broncos
Moore runs an offense that will utilize the abundant talent in the offensive skill positions. The skill positions for the Broncos are stacked. The offensive core of Javonte Williams, Jerry Jeudy, and Noah Fant are all under 25 years old. Courtland Sutton is only 26 years old.
Finding the quarterback to lead the team would be paramount to his and the team’s success. Moore would have to decide between a rookie or free agent. He would need to develop that player and make an impact like he has for Dak Prescott.
Byron Leftwich – Offensive Coordinator Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Byron was a solid college quarterback at Marshall University and was selected seventh overall in the 2003 NFL Draft by the Jacksonville Jaguars. He had an unspectacular career as an NFL quarterback. Leftwich bounced around the league and finished his career as backup quarterback for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2012.
It was Leftwich’s time in Pittsburgh where he developed a relationship with Bruce Arians that would lead to his becoming the Arizona Cardinals quarterbacks coach in 2017 . Leftwich became interim offensive coordinator for the Cardinals during the 2018 season but was subsequently let go as part of fired head coach Steve Wilks’ staff. Leftwich would reunite with Arians in Tampa Bay in 2019 as the Bucs offensive coordinator.
Arians gave control of the offense to Leftwich in 2020 and he used his offensive acumen, honed under Arians, to win the Super Bowl.
Leftwich uses a pass-first vertical offense that takes calculated risks to put pressure on the defense. In 2020 the Bucs ranked seventh in total offense, second in passing offense, and 28th in rushing offense. In 2021 Tampa Bay ranked second in total offense, first in passing offense, and 26th in rushing offense. With Tom Brady as quarterback this is not wholly surprising.
Inside of the offense Leftwich has made more adjustments to exploit weaknesses in other teams. Play action pass and pre-snap motion rates have gone up in 2021 from 2020.
Leftwich has also tailored his personnel packages to opponents from week to week. The offense traditionally leans heavily on 11-personnel from the shotgun but showed a willingness to use 12-personnel with Brady under center when teams preferred to use a two safety coverage.
At its core the vertical offense will utilize 11-personnel with other personnel packages being used in specific situations. The goal is to create one-on-one matchups downfield that the wide receivers can win.
Stretching the defense vertically is designed to create big plays. A secondary benefit is run lanes open up as defenses pull defenders off the line and out of the box into deeper coverage.
Leftwich’s offense uses the running game as a complement to the pass game. When running the ball he prefers to use the “Duo” man blocking scheme roughly 40 percent of the time. The goal is to get as many double team blocks at the line of scrimmage as possible.
In the running game Leftwich has also shown he will make adjustments. The use of the outside zone rose after teams began stacking players in the box. Outside zone takes advantage of the space created on the edges by the defense moving players into the box.
With Byron as offensive coordinator Tampa Bay has not had a 1,000 yard rusher or a running back with 200 carries in a season. The most touches in a season for any running back came in 2021 by Leonard Fournette who had 180 carries and 69 receptions.
Best fit: Las Vegas Raiders
The AFC West is a division with two of the highest powered offenses in the league in the Kansas City Chiefs and Los Angeles Chargers. The Raiders may be feeling a need to keep up with the Jones’.
Leftwich would bring with him an offense that pushes vertically and scores points. With a solid quarterback in Derek Carr he has a signal caller that has the skills to run his offense.
Hunter Renfrow has developed into one of the top slot receivers in the league. Darren Waller is an incredible athlete who will create matchup nightmares all over the field. Josh Jacobs fits the mold of the offense as a good running back with receiving ability.
Eric Bieniemy – Offensive Coordinator Kansas City Chiefs
Bieniemy was a Heisman finalist as a running back for the University of Colorado. He played in the NFL for nine years but never attained the level of success he had in college.
Bieniemy returned to Colorado in 2001 as a running backs coach to start his coaching career. He moved to UCLA in 2004 and got his first job in the NFL as a running back coach for the Minnesota Vikings in 2006. He became the Vikings offensive assistant head coach in 2010.
Bieniemy returned to the University of Colorado after the 2010 season to become their offensive coordinator. He then returned to the NFL in 2013 as the running backs coach for the Kansas City Chiefs, under Andy Reid. Reid promoted Eric to offensive coordinator in 2018.
The Chiefs offense has been a juggernaut ever since Bieniemy became offensive coordinator. Kansas City has finished in the top five in total offense, passing offense and top six in scoring every year.
The offense ran by Bieniemy has been developed and collaborated with Head Coach Andy Reid over many years. The offense’s foundation is the West Coast offense that Reid learned from Mike Holmgren. This version utilizes more vertical concepts than a traditional West Coast offense.
There are many notable names that have flourished under the leadership of Bieniemy. Patrick Mahomes has developed into one of the league’s top quarterbacks. Tyreek Hill is one of the league’s top wide receivers. Travis Kelce is the league’s top tight end.
The passing game has been incredibly focused on Hill and Kelce. No other wide receiver or tight end has had more than 59 receptions, 693 yards receiving, or 6 touchdowns in a season.
Kareem Hunt had 7 receiving touchdowns in 2018. Oddly enough, outside of 2018 with Hunt, the running back position has been lackluster.
The passing game has excelled while the running game has been pushed to the back. Kareem Hunt ran for 824 yards on 181 carries in 11 games in 2018 for the Chiefs. That is the most rushing yards of any running back in a season with Bieniemy as offensive coordinator.
Part of this has been due to injuries at the position and questionable talent. 2021 saw the team have the most rushing attempts of any in the four years under Bieniemy.
Kansas City has been amongst the most pass heavy offenses in the four years with Bieniemy as offensive coordinator, passing 61.86 percent of plays on average.
The Chiefs have used 11 and 12 personnel almost exclusively in these years. With 11-personnel being used on 60 percent or more of plays every year. 12-personnel has been used at least 20 percent in every year except for 2020 where it was utilized 17 percent. In 2020, 11-personnel was used 74 percent of plays.
No other personnel group has been used more than five percent of the time.
Best fit: Miami Dolphins
Bieniemy brings an offense that would expect a lot out of Tua Tagovailoa. He would tailor the system to fit Tua.
The offense has the ability to change to fit the quarterback like it did going from Alex Smith to Patrick Mahomes. Jaylen Waddle is not Tyreek Hill but he is fast and one of the best young receivers in the game.
The dolphins need to add talent in the backfield and receiving core but they have $69 million in cap space available in 2022. Bieniemy would be able to hand pick the players he wants to transform the roster to his vision.
Doug Pederson – Former Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach
Pederson was an undrafted quarterback out of Northeast Louisiana University. He was mainly a career backup/practice squad player who spent time in the World Football League for a few years.
Doug had one season in 1999 under Andy Reid for Philadelphia where he was a starter for 9 games before a rookie Donovan McNabb replaced him. It was in his time with Philadelphia where he developed his relationship with Reid.
In 2009 Pederson was hired as an offensive quality control coach for the Philadelphia Eagles by then head coach Andy Reid. In 2011, Doug was promoted to quarterbacks coach.
When Reid went to Kansas City as head coach in 2013 Pederson went with him, but this time it was to be the offensive coordinator. Pederson would get his first chance to call plays in 2015 after a 1-5 starting record by the Chiefs. He excelled in his new found responsibilities and the team won the final 10 games of the season.
The success Pederson had as a play caller propelled him into the limelight and onto the head coaching radar. In 2016 Pederson was hired to be the head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles.
Pederson would coach the Eagles through the 2020 season having early success as a head coach. He led the Eagles to a SuperBowl win in 2017 and playoff appearances in 2018 and 2019. After a 4-11-1 season in 2020 the Eagles fired Pederson.
Pederson comes from the Andy Reid coaching tree and uses some of the same West Coast based offensive philosophies. In most years under his leadership the Eagles were extremely pass heavy, hovering around the 60 percent mark on passing plays versus running.
In his most successful season as coach, 2017, the Eagles actually were much more run-centric, passing on only 55.47 percent of plays. Despite the variations in pass play utilization Pederson’s offense has used two personnel packages almost exclusively every year.
Pederson ran 11-personnel or 12-personnel on over 90 percent of all plays in every season as a head coach of the Eagles. No other personnel package was used more than three percent of the time.
Pederson prefers quick throws and utilizing the middle of the field. When Foles was his starter his offense utilized more run-pass-option (RPO) than when Wentz played. With a more mobile quarterback Pederson prefers to add this wrinkle to his offense.
It is hard to determine if some of the concepts that were utilized in his offense in 2020 were Pederson’s because of the turmoil and heavy influence that Jeffrey Lurie and Howie Roseman had in Philadelphia.
In 2020 offensive consultants were brought in and Pederson did not agree with their ideas. This was evident as the year was a disaster.
In Doug’s time as head coach the most rushing yards any player had was 867 by Miles Sanders in 2020. No wide receiver had over 1,000 yards receiving in a season. Tight end Zach Ertz had 1,163 yards receiving in 2018, it is the only time any player for the Eagles in Pederson’s tenure had over 1,000 yards receiving in a season.
There was not a single running back, wide receiver, or tight end with double digit touchdowns in a season in Pederson’s time with Philadelphia.
Despite his label as a quarterback guru there was only one notable season for any quarterback under Pederson. In 2017 Carson Wentz threw for 3,296 yards and 33 touchdowns in 13 games.
Outside of that shortened season the most yards thrown by any quarterback was 4,039 and 27 touchdowns in 16 games during the 2019 season.
Best fit: New York Giants
A return to the NFC East to Philadelphia is where I see Pederson. A franchise in turmoil needs a calming force and experience, like that of Pederson.
Running an offense that uses Daniel Jones’ athleticism as an asset will help create a flow in offense. By using RPO’s it will also allow the offense to focus on Saquon Barkley, the best player on the team. If healthy Barkley can carry the offense.
Despite their awful showing in 2021 the Giants have a solid receiving cast. Finding ways to use Kenny Golladay, Kadarius Toney, and Evan Engram to their potential would be paramount for Pederson.
Nathaniel Hackett – Offensive Coordinator Green Bay Packers
Nathaniel Hackett is a hip hop dancer, lover of Austin Powers in Goldmember, and a funny guy. He is also a coach that knows how to build relationships with his players. A coach for which players will go the extra mile, even former players.
Hackett is a coach that is incredibly intelligent in his football knowledge and an outside the box thinker. He is a leader that others want to follow.
Nathaniel is the son of Paul Hackett. Paul was head coach at USC and Pitt in college. Paul was also an NFL assistant coach in various capacities for over 20 years. Nathaniel played linebacker at UC Davis, the school where his dad started his coaching career.
Hackett spent time as a coach in college for UC Davis, Stanford, and Syracuse. He started his NFL coaching career as an offensive quality coach. He has been an offensive coordinator for Buffalo, Jacksonville, and is currently in Green Bay.
Hackett spent many years coaching under Doug Marrone but his offensive philosophies are heavily influenced by his father. Paul was a West Coast offense guru and Nathaniel takes after his father in that regard.
The offense Hackett runs is a much more traditional version of the West Coast offense than has been popularized in recent years. This original intent of the West Coast offense was to stretch teams horizontally across the field and create space for players to make plays.
This is done through heavy receiver packages and short to intermediate distance throws with the occasional deep pass. This holds true for the Packers.
Aaron Rodgers’ average depth of target in 2021 was 7.7 yards, good for 17th in the league. On completed passes Rodgers’ average depth of target was 5.3 yards, ranking 19th in the league. Green Bay pass catchers combined for 2,401 yards after the catch in 2021, ranking fourth in the NFL.
The main personnel packages have been consistent the three years that Hackett has been with Green Bay. 11 personnel is used the most, at least 55 percent of the time each year with 12 personnel being used the second most, at least 20 percent of the time. These two personnel packages accounted for at least 79 percent of all packages each year.
The receiving game focuses on wide receivers, who on average have a 60.1 percent target share. In the three seasons with the Packers Davante Adams has had at least a 23.4 percent target share.
Running backs average a 22.0 percent target share. Tight ends are the least utilized in the passing game with a 17.9 percent target share.
The offense has only had a receiver with 1,000 or more receiving yards two times. Davante Adams just missed in 2019 with 997 yards. The top receiver for the offenses has been targeted 127 times or more in five of eight seasons in a Hackett led offense. There have been only two seasons where multiple receivers were targeted more than 100 times.
The Packers offense is a pass first offense but is in the middle of the league in pass play percentage every year Hackett has been offensive coordinator. In 2021 Green Bay passed on 58.4 percent of plays, ranking 18th in the league. In 2020 they passed 56.23 percent of the time and in 2019 they passed 59.81, good for 22nd and 16th in the league respectively.
Some of these numbers can be attributed to positive game scripts where running was the prudent thing to do later in the game.
The run game for Hackett has been utilized effectively. In his eight years as an offensive coordinator in the NFL he has had a 1,000 yard rusher three times. There have been five running backs to have 10 or more touchdowns in a season for Hackett.
He tends to prefer a clear cut number one back but has utilized running-back-by-committee when talent or injuries dictate it.
Best fit: Minnesota Vikings
A move inside of the NFC North to the bitter rivals of the Green Bay Packers could inspire some deep seeded hatred for Hackett but it would be the best choice. The talent of the Vikings roster is unquestioned.
The ability to rally the team together after the stories about how Mike Zimmer treated players will be one of Hackett’s biggest assets.
With one of the top five running backs in the league and one of the top pass catching duos in the league Hackett will have plenty of options to use.
The future of Cousins will be a tough choice to make but there is proof that ownership will spend money to get players it believes will make them successful.
Mike McDaniel – Offensive Coordinator San Francisco 49ers
Mike McDaniel played college football at Yale. He has been a coach in the NFL for 14 years. In all of his time in the NFL he has worked with Kyle Shanahan. He was the run game coordinator for the 49ers for four years before being promoted to offensive coordinator in 2021.
McDaniel has developed a run game in San Francisco that seems able to use almost any player effectively. A testament to his ability as a coach. The real magic has happened when he is given a star player.
Elijah Mitchell emerged as a dominant runner this year posting 207 carries for 963 yards rushing and five touchdowns in 11 games. An unexpected compliment to Mitchell in the run game was wide receiver Deebo Samuel. Samuel had 59 carries for 365 yards rushing and 8 touchdowns.
The ability to see possibilities and talent in players and how to use them best is what has made McDaniel a hot commodity.
He is quite often the smartest guy in the room but he is the furthest thing from arrogant. His quirky demeanor and joking manner allow him to make connections with his players.
His analytical side and observational skills allow him to recognize opportunities others don’t see.
The 49ers were an offense that was evenly split in run versus pass in 2021. They ran on 48.42 percent of plays, the fourth highest rate in the league. The offense used 21 personnel 36 percent of plays, a rate 12 percent higher than the next closest team. 11 personnel was used on 46 percent of plays.
The uniqueness of the offense continues into the way motion was used. San Francisco ran some form of motion on 83.7 percent of plays, a rate more than 19 percent higher than the next closest team. They ran on snap motion 42.4 percent of the time, a rate more than 15 percent higher than the next closest team.
This motion was used to help in several ways. With motion it is easier for the quarterback to determine if the opposing defense is running man or zone coverage. If the motion man is followed it is almost guaranteed to be man.
This is also done to create confusion in the defense. Lastly it gives players like Samuel a running start on jet sweeps and other plays. It is a wrinkle in the offense that McDaniel uses better than any other coordinator in the league.
McDaniel runs a version of the West Coast offense. The offense is a master class in misdirection, nuance, and player utilization.
McDaniels’ deep knowledge and innovation rooted in old school concepts are on display. This version is much more run heavy than most other teams.
The core of the offense is the outside zone running scheme. It is the base off of which all other plays and concepts flow. A heavy dose of play action is used to capitalize on defenses focused on the running game.
Short to intermediate crossing routes along with motion are designed to make defenders “rub” against one another and be behind or lost in coverage. This is a system developed by the Shanahan family and seemingly perfected by McDaniel.
The passing game was a solid compliment to the running game. Breakout star Deebo Samuel and tight end George Kittle were the focus of the passing game. Both players finished in the top five in receiving yards at their respective positions despite missing time during the season.
The passing game also utilized fullback Kyle Juszczyk as the most targeted back this season.
Best fit: Jacksonville Jaguars
While bringing in a coach to focus on the development of Trevor Lawrence is what everybody expects, McDaniel is the coach who will utilize all of the players best for the Jaguars.
With a great young running back in James Robinson and talented, yet unproven player in Travis Etienne, the running game could be a true powerhouse. Add in the multi-faceted talents of Laviska Shenault and it is salivating to think of what interesting plays could be schemed in the enigmatic brain of McDaniel.
The focus on the run game will take pressure off of Lawrence. This will allow him to develop without the weight of the world on his shoulders.
The Jaguars are expected to have $69 million dollars in cap space for the new coach. They also have the first overall pick in the draft. These will help to add talent that is desperately needed.
What’s your take on these coaches, and where do you think they’d fit best? Drop us a comment to tell us your predictions for the coaching carousel!
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A fantasy football degenerate with an extreme love for the game. The only position Sam has ever played in any form of competitive football is armchair quarterback.
An affinity for football and watching games together was a part of growing up for him and his three brothers. 30 plus years as a Vikings fan has made him a glutton for punishment and a believer that he can do something his hometown team can’t, put together a championship roster.
Now 22 years into his fantasy football general manager career he is here to offer insight, advice, and the same hope for championships that he desperately clutches to for his Purple People Eaters.