By HCR Staff | Sept. 30, 2019
Here are some observations of head coaches from around the NFL prior to HCR’s Week 4 rankings:
- Sean McDermott broke the first rule of head coaching. While the Buffalo Bills fought a tremendous battle with the New England Patriots, head coach Sean McDermott broke the first rule of head coaching: don’t harm your own team. He made two ridiculous challenges and his otherwise haphazard use of timeouts left the Bills with none early in the fourth quarter of a close game. The Bills are a rapidly improving team, but McDermott let his emotions and frustrations cloud his judgment far too often.
- The New England Patriots have to make a move for a wide receiver. Perhaps we can suggest Minnesota Vikings WR Stefon Diggs? If the Pats stand pat (see how that works?), they risk wasting what looks like a historic defense. Julian Edelman is hurt, Josh Gordon as well, and rookie Jakobi Meyers is promising, but he’s not explosive. Add to this a complete lack of tight ends and an offensive line consisting of personnel that just joined the team in Week 1. This bears watching.
- It is becoming more and more apparent to us that Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury is in over his head. Defensive coordinator Vance Joseph has a passable unit on defense, but the offense has no idea what it is doing. The offensive production comes mostly from broken plays that rely on the talents of QB Kyler Murray, WR Christian Kirk and RB David Johnson. Most of the production also comes after the Cardinals have fallen well behind.
- Jon Gruden had his best day as the Oakland Raiders head coach. The Raiders were extremely crisp, playing with conviction and confidence in their schemes. The Indianapolis Colts were down their top two defenders in LB Darius Leonard and S Malik Hooker, and Gruden’s playcalling took good advantage of that. The question now is whether the Raiders can do this consistently…or will they continue to be, you know, the Raiders?
- With some luck, Bruce Arians’ Tampa Bay Buccaneers squad could be 4-0. Even with the NFL schedule-makers working against him, Arians is giving his squad what it lacked in the past: a confidence and swagger. That’s leadership. Arians is a big personality, and he wants his team to play that way too. The Los Angeles Rams are a cocky bunch, and the Bucs made them heel. Arians’ judgment during games won’t always be spot on, but he is more of a big picture head coach in any event. He and defensive coordinator Todd Bowles share the same vision, and their combination of grit, experience, and confidence may carry the Bucs a long way.
- Chicago Bears head coach Matt Nagy showed why it is important to have a firm grasp of your personnel and their abilities. In their beatdown of the Minnesota Vikings, Nagy had to rely on backup QB Chase Daniel. Daniel has been with Nagy a long time, and Nagy knows precisely what Daniel can execute and what he can’t. Once Daniel came in, out went the naked boots, and in came the pocket plays — to great success. Putting players in position to do what they do well is what good head coachess do.
- Don’t despair Detroit Lions fans. Yes, it was a tough loss, but the culture that GM Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia are installing is taking root. They want smart players who can perform to specific and changing game plans, and the personnel is starting to get it.
- Carolina Panthers head coach Ron Rivera is similar to Bruce Arians. However, we don’t see him atop our rankings because his in-game judgment is too iffy, but he’s a big picture leader who keeps it simple and brings the toughness. It’s pretty clear what his formula is: just put our best players in position to make plays. So, the defensive scheme is built around their speedy linebackers and their offense is centered around RB Christian McCaffrey. If McCaffrey doesn’t get 25+ touches under all circumstances, Rivera is going to want to know why. Rivera’s team has responded with two huge, physical wins, and the NFC South now looks like the old AFC North.
- The Minnesota Vikings look like a middle of the pack team, even though their talent (on paper) looks more top tier. This is not a good look. We believe offensive coordinator Kevin Stefanski is a bit in over his head — it’s just not true that every single guy under 35 with just the right amount of groomed facial hair is an offensive genius. Much of the Vikings’ offensive play design needs an overhaul. Their plays can be too slow-developing, and while QB Kirk Cousins gets much of the blame, we believe it to be unfair — he simply is asked too often to do things outside his physical abilities. Plus, the Vikings’ protection schemes are far too ambitious, and as a result, Cousins is looking at free runners constantly.
- Finally, even though Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator Kellen Moore shaves, we think it wise to delay the anointing process with him. 10 points with some of the most high-priced offensive talent in football (and that’s before QB Dak Prescott’s new contract)? Moore could well become a very good coach, but his lack of sophisticated game planning showed Sunday night.