It is only Week 14, butreports of Urban Meyer-created dysfunction in Jacksonville and speculation about offensive-wonderkid Joe Brady’s next destination has already begun to fuel the 2022 NFL coaching carousel. While teams will likely have household names such as Eric Bieniemy, Brian Daboll and Todd Bowles at the top of their lists, I am going to dive into some of the underrated head coaching candidates and their best fits around the NFL.
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The only thing I am sure about at this point in the NFL season is that the transitive property is not applicable to the NFL. The Titans beat the Bills, Chiefs, Colts, Rams and Saints but have had gut-wrenching losses to the Jets and Texans. This epitomizes the energy of this NFL season, where no one team is the clear favorite and where nobody really knows what is going on. This is especially the case in the AFC.
As I watched the 49ers get shredded by Colt McCoy and James Conner on Sunday, it felt as if I had been watching a poorly coached team. Then I remembered that in the football community, especially on Twitter, it is a cardinal sin to criticize Kyle Shanahan: the revered offensive guru and mastermind. While Shanahan is not on the hot seat in this case, a game like this begs the question of whether NFL teams should blindly pursue the best-looking, most innovative offensive mind that is available in the offseason. While NFL teams are no longer hell-bent on hiring anybody who has shaken hands with Sean McVay, I believe it would be useful to examine the different types of head coaching that exist in the NFL and evaluate the hiring process as a whole.
The team we should take more seriously
This offseason, like many before it, was full of hope for Jacksonville Jaguars supporters. With the addition of quarterback Trevor Lawrence and Head Coach Urban Meyer, it felt like the entire organization had received a much-needed facelift. Meyer’s catchy slogans including “+2 Mentality” and “Own It,” the team's evolution into a players-first organization, improved strength and conditioning programs and plans for a brand-new training facility made it feel as if a genuine culture shift was afoot in Duval County. But after five weeks, it appears that Meyer has brought the toxicity from his past to the Jaguars.
Sports fans, by definition, are hopeless and idealistic reactionaries. We sit glued to our seats, trying to extrapolate the bigger picture of the individual decisions, games and players that we watch.
Which QB should the 49ers select at No. 3?
NFL Network called it “the throw of the pro day season.” There was one particular throw in Zach Wilson’s pro day that stood out to NFL scouts and Twitter alike. "The throw" had the former Brigham Young quarterback in a sprint right bootleg, rolling toward the left hash and hitting receiver Aleva Hifo in-stride 60 yards downfield, as Wilson was still drifting to his left.
Washington Football Team
With Lori Locust and Maral Javadifar on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' sideline and Sarah Thomas serving as a referee, Super Bowl LV exemplified the reality that women can and will be successful in the National Football League. Thomas was the first woman to officiate a Super Bowl while Locust and Javadifar became the first female coaches to win a Super Bowl. Earlier this week, Maia Chaka made history when she was hired as the NFL’s first Black female referee. It is clear that women are becoming increasingly involved in the NFL. While Thomas, Chaka, Locust and Javadifar have captured the national headlines recently, one very talented woman in the NFL has flown completely under the radar.
With the Lions trading Matthew Stafford to the Rams for Jared Goff and Carson Wentz heading to the Colts, the quarterback carousel is beginning to take shape. The Colts were always the ideal destination for Wentz, as the move would reunite him with head coach Frank Reich, the former Eagles offensive coordinator under whom Wentz had the most success. In exchange for Wentz, the Colts sent a third-round pick and a conditional second-rounder, a fair haul given Wentz’s terrible 2020 season.
While Tom Brady deserved the Super Bowl MVP on Sunday night, a lot of people on Twitter wanted the honor to go to Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ defensive coordinator Todd Bowles, an integral member of one of the NFL’s most diverse coaching staffs this season. In addition to Bowles, Tampa Bay has three other Black coordinators: assistant head coach Harold Goodwin, offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich and special teams coordinator Keith Armstrong. The Buccaneers also have two women on the coaching staff, with Lori Locust serving as the assistant defensive line coach and Maral Javadifar as the assistant strength and conditioning coach. By winning the Super Bowl with this staff, the Tampa Buccaneers proved to the entire NFL world that minority coaches have a place in this league.
By trading for Matthew Stafford, the Los Angeles Rams have made a major statement to the rest of the NFL: they are in it to win it. To acquire the former No. 1 pick, the Rams sent their 2022 first-round pick, 2023 first-round pick, 2021 third round pick and starting quarterback Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions. This season revealed that the Rams have a Super Bowl-caliber defense that is held back by their offense, reinforcing the widely held belief that the Rams win in spite of Goff — and not because of him.
NFC West: San Francisco 49ers
Steals of the Draft
With the 2020 NFL Draft beginning on April 23, months of speculation will soon come to a close. Until then, here is my final mock draft projection for the first round.
As the Class of 2024 is currently making choices about where to go to college, it reminded me of an exercise that I did with my college counselors during the beginning of my college selection process. I came into the meeting with a list of schools, and we placed them into categories “difficult," “reasonable" and “likely."
While the headlines of free agency were stolen by Tom Brady signing with the Buccaneers, the Cardinals robbing the Texans by landing DeAndre Hopkins, the Eagles rescuing Darius Slay from the Lions and the Dolphins making Byron Jones the league’s highest paid corner, several teams made quieter moves that will pay serious dividends during the season.