By Juan C. Lozano | July 5, 2018
There are a host of new offensive and defensive coordinators throughout the NFL this season. Over the next few weeks, HCR will take a look at these coaches, who will have a profound impact on their new team’s fortunes.
Last week, we looked at the new offensive coordinators in the AFC. Today, we’ll examine the new NFC offensive coordinators:
PRIOR POSITION: Offensive Coordinator, Denver Broncos
PRIOR OC EXPERIENCE: Denver Broncos (2009–2012; 2017)
REPLACES: Harold Goodwin
BIGGEST CHALLENGES: The Cardinals offense suffered in 2017 when workhorse David Johnson went down in Week 1 with a wrist injury. This hasn’t stopped the Cardinals from building around Johnson and seeking to implement an offense heavily based on the running game. There isn’t much depth behind Johnson, so McCoy must balance his workload. … Left tackle D.J. Humphries and left guard Mike Iupati missed the majority of last season with injuries. Both return and their contributions are needed to establish a power running game and to protect whoever lines up under center. … Veteran QB Carson Palmer retired after the season and there are no quarterbacks on the roster that were there in 2017. The starter will likely be veteran Sam Bradford, although first-round pick Josh Rosen is expected to give a strong challenge for the starter’s spot. … The receiving corps is largely unproven and/or inconsistent outside of mainstay wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and tight end Jermaine Gresham.
PRIOR POSITION: Offensive Coordinator, Minnesota Vikings
PRIOR OC EXPERIENCE: USC (1984), Dallas Cowboys (1991–1993), San Diego Chargers (2001), Miami Dolphins (2002–2003), San Francisco 49ers (2006), Cleveland Browns (2013), Minnesota Vikings (2014–2016)
REPLACES: Mike Shula
BIGGEST CHALLENGES: The challenge here is in making the appropriate use of quarterback Cam Newton’s considerable talent. After an MVP season in 2015, Newton has slumped the last two seasons. He’s not the most accurate quarterback, but injuries to key personnel and wide receivers that can’t get open consistently hasn’t helped matters either. Newton has a penchant for running for tough yards, but there’s significant risk in having him do that. He’s not a young quarterback anymore. He’s 29 years old. Turner has to find the balance of not running him into the ground but making sure he remains a running threat.
Newton runs so frequently because the Panthers lack a dynamic and dependable running back. Last year’s first-round pick Christian McCaffrey was largely ineffective taking carries at running back but excelled in the passing game. … Greg Olson returns at tight end, but expect rookie tight end Ian Thomas to play a large role in the passing game. The wide receiver group added veterans Torrey Smith and Jarius Wright to join a host of younger wideouts including the improving Devin Funchess and young receivers such as Curtis Samuel and this year’s first round pick D. J. Moore.
PRIOR POSITION: Head Coach, Oregon
PRIOR OC EXPERIENCE: Colorado (2006–2008), Oregon (2009–2012)
REPLACES: Dowell Loggains
BIGGEST CHALLENGES: This should be one of the most improved offenses in the NFL. The Bears spent considerable resources upgrading the talent level. Head coach Matt Nagy will call plays, although Mark Helfrich will have the offensive coordinator title.
The team significantly improved the wide receiver corps by adding veterans Allen Robinson and Taylor Gabriel via free agency and super-productive Anthony Miller in the draft. They also added tight end Trey Burton in free agency. … Second-year quarterback Mitch Trubisky is well suited to run the Nagy/Helfrich offense, which will take advantage of his running ability through the use of run-pass options. … There should be plenty of carries and passes out of the backfield to the running backs, the powerful Jordan Howard and the dynamic Tarik Cohen.
GREEN BAY PACKERS:
PRIOR POSITION: Offensive Line, Indianapolis Colts
PRIOR OC EXPERIENCE: Allegheny (1990–1993), Northeastern (1995–1996), Harvard (1997–1998), Green Bay Packers (2007–2011)
REPLACES: Edgar Bennett
BIGGEST CHALLENGES: Joe Philbin returns to a position he held from 2007-2011. Much of the team’s offensive woes in 2017 were attributable to the absence of Aaron Rodgers due to a collarbone injury. The Packers were just 4-3 in games that Rodgers started. … It isn’t just Rodgers’ health that will shape the Packers 2018 campaign. They have oft-injured players at key positions. Right tackle Bryan Bulaga has had two major knee surgeries. Wide receiver Randall Cobb has had nagging injuries that have contributed to two disappointing seasons in a row after having signed a big contract. In 2017, the team’s top three running backs (Ty Montgomery and rookies Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams) all missed time due to injury. … Davante Adams is the team’s most consistent wide receiver after veteran Jordy Nelson was released. The off-season acquisition of tight end Jimmy Graham should help Rodgers considerably, especially early in the season when the young wideouts may not be ready to contribute.
PRIOR POSITION: Quarterbacks, Philadelphia Eagles
PRIOR OC EXPERIENCE: San Jose State (2011), Cleveland Browns (2015)
REPLACES: Pat Shurmur
BIGGEST CHALLENGES: DeFilippo is the Vikings’ third offensive coordinator in three seasons. After reaching the NFC Championship Game, the Vikings parted ways with quarterback Case Keenum in favor of adding free agent Kirk Cousins from the Washington Redskins. It is anticipated that DeFilippo will bring over elements of the Eagles offense that was so successful a season ago. I would expect to see more run-pass options (RPO) with Cousins as well as a horizontal passing game. Cousins will be handing the ball off to Dalvin Cook, who is coming off an ACL injury, and Latavius Murray. The team will miss Jerick McKinnon, who was a jack of all trades for the team. McKinnon is now in San Francisco. … Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen are two excellent receivers, but there isn’t a great deal of depth behind them. They signed Kendall Wright to replace Jarius Wright but they haven’t gotten what they expected from first-round pick Laquon Treadwell.
At tight end, Kyle Rudolph is a steady presence. … The offensive line is the weak link. They improved from a disastrous 2016 campaign but there isn’t any elite talent along the line outside of possibly Brian O’Neill, a second-round pick who should take over at right tackle.
NEW YORK GIANTS:
PRIOR POSITION: Offensive Coordinator, Carolina Panthers
PRIOR OC EXPERIENCE: Tampa Bay Buccaneers (1996–1999), Carolina Panthers (2013–2017)
REPLACES: Mike Sullivan
BIGGEST CHALLENGES: Giants head coach Pat Shurmur will call plays while Mike Shula will be the offensive coordinator. Shurmur explains Shula’s duties in this article. There was an absence of talent on this roster after early injuries to key personnel helped derail the Giants’ 2017 season. QB Eli Manning is 37 years old. One of the issues in New York was the play of the offensive line and the team spent considerable resources improving it by signing Nate Solder to play left tackle, adding Patrick Omameh from the Jaguars and spending a second-round pick on guard Will Hernandez. This should be a much improved line. … Saquon Barkley, the number two overall pick, is expected to contribute as a runner and a pass catcher. Odell Beckham Jr. returns from a broken ankle to form a dynamic receiver duo with Sterling Shepard. There isn’t a lot of depth, though, as was seen by last year’s struggles.
PRIOR POSITION: Wide Receivers, Philadelphia Eagles
PRIOR OC EXPERIENCE: None
REPLACES: Frank Reich
BIGGEST CHALLENGES: Eagles head coach Doug Pederson will call plays, although Mike Groh has the title of offensive coordinator. The big challenge for the Eagles will be keeping everyone healthy and happy. Quarterback Carson Wentz is coming off an ACL injury. Before that injury, Wentz was active in the run game and it will be interesting to see if this will continue after the injury. I anticipate he will be a little less active when running the ball and instead seek to get the ball to his playmakers – and there are plenty of them. Last year’s trade for RB Jay Ajayi improved the team’s running game. Undrafted free agent Corey Clement is a threat in the passing game as well as taking handoffs. There are other young backs behind them. The Eagles are deep at this position. In front of the running backs is an offensive line that might be the best in the game. The wide receiver position is set with veteran Alshon Jefferey, much-improved Nelson Agholor, new addition Mike Wallace and the emerging Mack Hollins. … TEs Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert are considerable talents that will give defensive coordinators fits.
It’s an impressive group in Philadelphia. The only foreseeable challenges are health and any internal strife that might affect the long-term success of the offense.
PRIOR POSITION: Quarterbacks Coach, Indianapolis Colts
PRIOR OC EXPERIENCE: New York Jets (2006–2011), St. Louis Rams (2012–2014), Georgia (2015)
REPLACES: Darrell Bevell
BIGGEST CHALLENGES: QB Russell Wilson appeared to do everything for Seattle in 2017. As good as he is, he can’t do it all himself. He was the team’s leading rusher and. of course, leading passer. The problem is there isn’t much talent on the roster. The team’s offensive performance was pitiful at times and didn’t reflect the talent they had on the team. Seattle somehow and inexplicably in recent years got away from the strong running game that allowed them to dominate in the early part of this decade. Also, it was by far the most penalized team in the NFL. They were frequently in “and long” situations last season after devastating penalties early in drives. … Seattle is expected to return to running the ball the way they did when they had Marshawn Lynch on the roster. They spent a first-round pick on Rashaad Penny, who joins Chris Coker to lead the running back corps. Wilson’s primary wide receivers are Doug Baldwin and Tyler Lockett. Outside of these two, there isn’t much in the way of proven talent. The team signed 34-year-old Brandon Marshall. However, it’s doubtful that he can bring them the type of contribution they need to get back to being one of the elite teams in the conference. Seattle lost tight ends Jimmy Graham and Luke Willson in the offseason, so this position is thin as well. … The offensive line regressed in recent years. New offensive line coach Mike Solari has his work cut out for him. Right tackle Germain Ifedi was the most penalized player in the NFL. Left tackle Duane Brown, acquired in a mid-season trade from the Houston Texans, is the group’s best player. The team added D.J. Fluker but surprisingly added only one offensive lineman via the draft.